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Falun Gong: The Cult You Should Be Watching

Below are the notes from Episode 42 of my Who’d a Thunk it? Podcast.

  • Episode 42: Falun Gong AKA Falun Dafa
  • This topic lead me down a unique rabbit hole. Most episodes of this podcast is me finding a topic I find interesting.
    • usually something non-divisive like the song Rainbow Connection or at least something in the past like stories from WW2 that aren’t currently up for debate
  • Then, to turn that topic in to a podcast I research… I watch YouTube videos, read Wikipedia, and a few articles from reputable news sources about that topic. That’s it. That is the recipe I use for the Who’d a Thunk it Podcast…. But this topic, for this episode is different… this topic is current and is on-going.
  • Now, I follow a reddit page that is all about Hong Kong’s struggle against the Chinese Communist Party. I saw a post that talked about the 3 T’s (Tibet, Taiwan, and Tiananmen – 3 Events, 3 stains on the Chinese Communist Party’s reputation and history that they will not talk about). I recognized all 3 T’s and understood why they would be protested by the Chinese Government. But In the comment section someone mentioned the 2 C’s (I found out they stand for Cults and Criticism).
  • Now I understand why Criticism would be on the list of things China doesn’t allow with China’s president banning something as trivial as Winnie the Pooh because someone pointed out that he held a resemblance to Disney’s honey eating bear…. , but CULTS?! What story is behind the connection between the CCP and cults? Those are like two of my favorite things to gossip about: Oppressive Communist Regimes and Cults. Now on this Reddit post I’m finding out the two are connected via China?! !!! I had to dig deeper.
The Reddit post.
  • First I watched a 30 minute ABC news story that was interesting, but something in the back of my head said they were tip toeing around something. Like they were afraid to go deeper.
    • So next I watched a video from Falun Gong themselves titled “In Their Own Words.” I thought: alright, sounds like they are trying to give an un-edited type of perspective on their own group. I’ll give it a shot. It featured people from New York saying how nice the practice is, how much it made their lives better, and how evil the CCP is… but there was ZERO talk about the group’s spiritual beliefs and of course, it had that propaganda stench to it… like they all were pushing something on the viewer.
    • Then, unsatisfied that I had NOT gotten to the meat and potatoes of the subject::: the source I typically look for, that being the the unbiased, yet, interested perspective… , I started reading article after article. Each story either tried telling me how innocent the Falun Gong people were and how evil CCP was OR, every other article just told me how crazy Falun Gong was and how China isn’t that bad…. it was obvious I had stumbled upon something rather big. I stumble upon a battle of sorts that had permeated the internet. The worlds news source was riddled with mostly biased stories, and hardly any middle-of-the-Road takes on the Falun Gong VS Chinese Communist Party’s debacle.
    • That’s when I clicked on the 19 minute long YouTube video that looked the least professional… Titled: “This Chinese Cult is Not Your Friend” – by J.J. McCullough – He is this Canadian guy, like full-on Canadian with the “A-Boot” pronunciation and everything. J.J. McCullough’s opinion on Falun Gong and the CCP most aligned with my own, and it turns out he works for the Washington Post.
    • I just wanted to share this process in particular because it was a VERY different experience from most of of the episodes that I do. This episode is about an on-going Propaganda war between a successful international Cult and a communist government quickly becoming the next world power…
    • Normally I would arrange the information I got from each source in any order I saw fit, as to construct a narrative. But because this topic is ongoing (because history hasn’t yet etched this story’s narrative in to stone yet, with a nice ending everyone can agree on), I’ve decided to just give the information in the same order as I consumed each news source. There won’t be a set narrative. This won’t be a nice story with a beginning and end, and I chose to do that so you the listener can form your own opinion.
  • First let me begin with Google’s definition of a Cult:
    • a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object. –
    • a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.
    • a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.
    • I bring up this definition because Falun Gong is widely regarded as a Cult.
  • The ABC’s Foreign Correspondent report gave a good background on the Falun Gong:
    • Started in China in 1992 – based on traditional meditation and breathing exercises called Qi Gong. (chee – gong).
    • When I was Looking in to the exercises myself, I thought: I’d be willing to try them. They seem beneficial and are an ancient practice pasted down by generations to help heal people. I imagine they help alleviate stress… But Falun Gong is different from the Qi Gong exercises.
    • The leader of Falun Gong added a supernatural layer to the Qi Gong meditation.
    • The Leaders name is Li Hongzhi (Lee Hong-Shuh) promises his followers will be able to return to heavenly kingdoms where they once existed before and supposedly teaches his followers how to levitate.
    • By the end of the 1990’s Falun Gong had 10’s of millions of followers. The Chinese Communist Party saw that Li Hongzhi’s movement/cult was commanding more power from the Chinese people than the government and basically tried to shut down Falun Gong.
    • The Chinese Government took 10’s of thousands of Falun Gong members and placed them in to “Re-Education camps” where they were locked up indefinitely. The CCP wanted all members to renounce their new faith.
    • The Chinese Government labeled Falun Gong as an evil mind-controlling cult and to combat it…. they locked Falun Gong practitioners all up in camps, demanded they all act with complete obedience toward the government, and basically the Chinese government acted like a cult themselves…Those are ABC’s words.
    • When the Chinese government started cracking down on his movement, Li Hongzhi got the heck out of dodge. In 1997 he became a US citizen and in 1998 moved to New York State.
    • Master Li got to work setting up a retreat in a rural area; Deer Park, NY. It has been over 2 decades since the Falun Gong leadership moved to the US
    • Today you can see practitioners meditating/exercising in parks, usually with yellow shirts and coats on in Upstate New York. They Believe that this meditating/exercising improves health of the mind and body.
    • BUT One of the main criticisms of Falun Gong is that it encourages its practitioners to rely solely on its exercises and leader for their health. Some practitioners are convinced they don’t need western medicine, and therefore they find themselves in an early grave.
    • ABC interviewed an Australian family who’s mother passed away from a stroke due to high blood pressure. Her mother was on medication, but when she joined Falun Gong she stopped the medication. Her daughter said “it would have taken 2 tablets a day and she would still be with us now.”
    • ABC interviewed Falun Gong’s VP who stated that going to the doctor is not a forbidden thing within their Spiritual Movement. If someone doesn’t go to the doctor, that is their own choice.
    • However, former members of Falun Gong described a social pressure not to seek out Western Medicine, as it was shamed within the Falun Gong community.
    • Personally I understand the VP of Falun Gong’s logic: each individual’s actions are their own choice. That keeps them out of legal trouble. … but
  • Let me read another definition:
  • Other former members described the atmosphere at Falun Gong compounds like Dragon Springs in upstate NY, as oppressive.
Dragon Springs
  • There is a Belief that Master Li can read everyone’s minds at all times and that he “knows” aliens walk among us.
    • Master Li also Believes that “race mixing” humans is an Alien plot to drive humanity farther from the gods. So therefore, to Falun Gong, bi-racial people are demons, or at the very least inferior.
  • Then ABC went in depth on Falun Gong’s political connections. Namely their support for the Trump Administration.
    • Donald Trump has been famously tough on China. That has been a major theme in the Trump administration. Falun Gong therefore sees Trump as an ally, as they see CCP as the ultimate evil.
    • To support the Trump Administration, Falun Gong has been connected to media outlets like The Epoch Times, Honest Paper, and Pure American Journalism
  • Officially Falun Gong and Epoch Times deny any connection between each other, but ABC interviewed a former employee of Epoch Time’s Australian division who says that is a lie, and that virtually everyone who works for The Epoch Times is a Falun Gong practitioner.
    • And you probably have heard of Epoch Times in the form of an Ad because Falun Gong has spent millions of dollars funding social media campaigns for them.
    • The fact finding website Snopes.com has been investigating Epoch Time’s activity on Facebook and found that a network linked to Epoch Times called “The BL (or the Beautiful Life)” have been creating fake Facebook groups and accounts that support the Trump administration.
    • They took pictures from the internet of random people to create these fake accounts. They were sloppy enough to use a picture of the very famous actress Helen Mirren for one of their fake posts.
    • When snopes exposed The BL, they began to use AI generated images as profile pics for their fake account. But AI technology isn’t quite up to the task yet. These had distorted faces with black eyes and drooping eye brows. That shows the lengths the Epoch Times and allegedly Falun Gong will go to in order to sway public opinion.
  • Because getting Trump re-elected was of cosmic importance to them.
    • Facebook Banned the BL and Epoch times from advertising further in August of 2019. Facebook estimated they spent $9.5 Million in ads and reached 55 Million users.
    • Snopes found that the BL network was being run out of Vietnam by former Epoch Times employees, but Epoch Times denied any connections. Once again, that sort-of sounds like Plausible Deniability to me.
    • What does Falun Gong say about all this political meddling? Their Vice President stated that from an organizational point of view they don’t have any policy on how their members should vote. There is no written rule.
    • Although “Master Li” hasn’t been on camera for years, ABC showed a clip of him from 1999 saying: “I only teach people to be good, to be free of disease and do exercises, and to reach higher moral standards. I make people’s hearts better.”
    • In conclusion to what ABC had to say about Falun Gong. They lightly touched on the the supernatural beliefs of Falun Gong, and explained their new shady political involvement (namely their support for Donald Trump and conservative America). ABC also talked to a few families who suffered tragedy at the hands of Falun Gong’s growing movement, and went in to great detail on how they have been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party

That is all the farther I’ll go for this episode. I like to keep my episodes under 20 minutes if possible. But I’m not done with this topic. I have a lot more to say. I consider this topic fascinating and a goldmine of information. Tune in next week to hear the second half of my story on Falun Gong.

In the meantime, I have posted the written accompanying Blog post, the written version of this podcast, on WordPress.com. I’ll leave a link in the description.

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