Religion News Report
Archived News items about religious cults, sects, and alternative religions
Among the Believers
In places like Washington, adherents abound
TIME Asia, July 2, 2001
On weekday mornings Kery Wilkie Nunez does her Falun Gong exercises with two or three commuters next to a subway station outside Washington.
With its slow-motion calisthenics and Buddhist philosophical bedrock, Falun Gong seems incontrovertibly Chinese. But the world is a hungry place for new beliefs. And while Falun Gong has been labeled a dissident movement within China—which is how many non-Chinese first heard about Falun Gong and became interested—there are practitioners around the globe with little or no political agenda. Adherents say Falun Gong practice groups can now be found in more than 40 countries and that Master Li Hongzhi's writings have been translated into 10 languages.
The number of Americans who have traded yoga, or perhaps idle mornings, for Falun Gong can't be accurately guessed—there is no central office, no dues—but a sampling in the nation's capital suggests they are truly into it (most have read and reread Li's writings) and that Falun Gong's appeal has spread far beyond the Chinatowns and university campuses where it first took off in the U.S. "It is very powerful," says Dr. Gary Feuerberg, a government statistician in Washington, who has been practicing Falun Gong since 1998. It was so powerful, in fact, that Feuerberg found it scary, and stepped back from the practice for two months to make sure he was not being sucked into a cult. He returned. "It change my body and my head," he says. "It makes you a better person."
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