This article addresses some confusion about critiques that question the Falun Gong/Falun Dafa movement and practices. Please see the link to a video I've just made on this subject at the bottom of this article, note that this article isn't the script for the video, although they share common ground.
When I have pointed out the thought reform characteristics of Falun Gong in the past I have found some resistance, is it any wonder that out of a vast movement of millions that some find reasons to protest a critic's sharp opinion. I'll explain, in my responses, often I express the thought reform and other harmful cult traits, I feel the need to repeat myself to clarify the facts, out of a movement of millions the fringe practitioner in the west will not be like the devout of china.
I state the obvious and because of the confusion of the responses I receive from the truly faithful.
The average responses from the movement are to dismiss one claim and then claim victory for themselves, this often comes in the form of asserting non-truths to make their beliefs seem to be real, such as the insistence that a critic is working for the Chinese Communist Party. The other form is a bit more honest, debating the sources. When researching the thoughts and actions of religious movements we can be lead astray by the errors and biassed work of other critics, we may be able to stand on the shoulders of giants and yet find ourselves deceived. It was the great Charles Darwin who stated that he stood on the shoulders of giants, referring to how the naturalism he came to understand was not purely his work, since it is the work of generations to understand how evolution works, indeed science has added a great deal to the theory. In this way, we find that a creationist may stand on shoulders of giants, not that this means by any automation that they, nor you by extension, are factually correct in your opinions. This is the great problem of sources, and from whence they emanate.
Darwin stood on ideas and facts that were based in reality, and demonstrably so, creationists of the Christian or Muslim varieties simply do not. What you base your claims upon being pivotal, it is vital that when you do a critique that you don't base your research on one source, or a series of very poor sources. What kind of shoulders are you standing on if these giants are merely allowing you to stand tall in an illusion? We, therefore, require the need to no just pick our comrades for the best source, nor should we accept the first few results from a google search.
So what sources are there in regard to the movement, Falun Gong?
The most vocal is the group itself, secondly, we have some Chinese Communist sites that report on their concerns, this can be fear mongering. The third kind of source is not one nor the other, this is the area of thought and reporting that is in part covered by anti-cult groups, and sometimes fundamentalist Christians who will call anything that isn't their own belief a cult. In my videos, my primary sources are respectable and reasonable anti-cult groups, these are typically non-profit groups that share concerns over cult characteristics, and very often from former supporters and their families. Not that this is considered fair by Falun Gong standards, they even insult the Chinese-Americans who fled China many years ago and end up with a son or daughter join Falun Gong, return to China, and may never be heard of again. Possibly due to the Chinese government's oppression of the average Chinese person, and so, a Falun Gong protest in China can end up as a painful affair. In this way we should condemn the Chinese Communists, the oppression is something that shows how bad that government can be, however, we shouldn't then ignore the harmful traits of Falun Gong.
So what are the traits that we have been warned about?
The Chinese state-run media claim that Falun Gong is a dangerous group because they aren't conformist as far as the communist view of society, some reports suggest they're a death cult, this is in part due to members who protested by setting themselves on fire. The Falun Gong websites always claim they have a wonderful group, that they have the keys to personal growth and wellness, and other things you might expect. Whereas, the anti-cult groups often refer to the worst cases, mostly because that is their mandate.
Web sites such as Cult News[.com] and Cult Education[.com], will share reports from former members, broken families, those who've looked at the beliefs, and naturally such reports don't focus on those supporters who simply use the tai-chi styled practices. It is that fringe follower who is most willing to discuss because they aren't a worshipper of the founder, 'Master' Li Hongzhi, and so they are shocked and react to the claims relating to the devout since the out shell of the group differs greatly from the inner core.
One can practice as a Roman Catholic and be an open homosexual, you don't need to accept every rule, just as with Falun Gong, one can be a practising person and not a devotee to the cult of Master Li Hongzhi. I can see that many Christians are Christian in name alone, or by name and the most comforting traits of the faith, with Falun Gong, it is the same for moderates who lack blind devotion. So it is little wonder that a person who reads their material and believes the practices are creating perfected health and personal growth will think a critic of a whole layer of the group they haven't really heard of is the trouble rotten core of the movement.
Now, the cult traits most often expressed, they include the demands for devotion, thought reform [or brainwashing] methods, the donations by millions of supporters that fund the group and keep the 'Master' in finery, the deaths that relate to rejecting modern medicine and medical treatments in favour of spiritual methods, the deaths of members who set themselves on fire, the lies over China carrying out large genocides of their members. The conspiracy theories about critics being communists paid for by the Chinese Communist Party, the radical claims of the leader, the claims to be greater than the Buddha and Jesus by Master Li, the pseudoscience, including Master Li's claim to great discoveries and new sciences. A wide variety of ideas that barely touch the fringe supporters while impacting deeply millions of people, many of which are in China, but this is not exclusively the case. Probably the most common and disturbing ones relate to how people act, friends and family don't get a personality from their loved ones, they end up preaching, even ignoring utterly the facts when confronted by them, presuming the great enemy, Communism, must have created the whole thing to make Master Li look bad. Now, ask yourself, is it any wonder that we who oppose such irrationality would decide to criticise such a movement and the inner group, the cult of Li Hongzhi?
Those who repeat the Chinese Communist claims and those we repeat the Falun Gong claims may well stand on the shoulders of giants, yet it is we who value the quality of information over the quantity of claims who stand taller.
Lastly, I want to remind you of a little-discussed problem, that former members of Falun Gong are hounded on the internet, if they dare start a blog or vlog then they face the devout who bark them off their Blogger and Youtube. Imagine a person who was devout, trying to rehabilitate themselves through a video log, and they are spammed with insults and flagged for hate speech, this is yet another sickening aspect to beliefs and devotion. So you're free to disagree, yet it is demanded that you remain silent, otherwise you must be an employee of the Chinese Communist Party, or perhaps a person who is spiritually unwell or negative. Putting it plainly, with such opinions you can't really win, and where you use facts, they have endless excuses and evasions.
My latest video on the Falun Gong cult.