Religion News Report
Archived News items about religious cults, sects, and alternative religions
Spiritual Society or Evil Cult?
TIME Asia, July 2, 2001
Not much is known about Li Hongzhi, 48, the man who created Falun Gong in 1992. He worked as a grain clerk in northeast China's Liaoning province. He played trumpet in a troupe run by the forestry police in neighboring Jilin. And then he wrote a very odd book that affected millions.
Li's rambling dissertation, Zhuan Falun, has only added to accusations that Falun Gong is a cult. Li writes he can personally heal disease and that his followers can stop speeding cars using the powers of his teachings. He writes that the Falun Gong emblem exists in the bellies of practitioners, who can see through the celestial eyes in their foreheads. Li believes "humankind is degenerating and demons are everywhere"—extraterrestrials are everywhere, too—and that Africa boasts a 2-billion-year-old nuclear reactor. He also says he can fly.
Wacky, perhaps. But is Falun Gong a cult? Not necessarily, if classic characteristics of cults are taken into account. A reckoning:
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