Falun Gong: a narrative of pending apocalypse, shape-shifting aliens and relentless persecution

Farley, Helen (2014). Falun Gong: a narrative of pending apocalypse, shape-shifting aliens and relentless persecution. In James R. Lewis and Jesper Aa. Petersen (Ed.), Controversial New Religions 2nd ed. (pp. 241-256) New York, NY, United States: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199315314.003.0014

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Author Farley, Helen
Title of chapter Falun Gong: a narrative of pending apocalypse, shape-shifting aliens and relentless persecution
Title of book Controversial New Religions
Place of Publication New York, NY, United States
Publisher Oxford University Press
Publication Year 2014
Sub-type Research book chapter (original research)
DOI 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199315314.003.0014
Open Access Status
Edition 2nd
ISBN 9780199315314
Editor James R. Lewis
Jesper Aa. Petersen
Chapter number 13
Start page 241
End page 256
Total pages 16
Total chapters 23
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, emerged in the northeast of China in 1992 with adherents striving to achieve the ultimate aim of transforming the human flesh body into an immortal Buddha body. Although originating just over two decades ago, its doctrines, beliefs, and practices are drawn from much older Buddhist and Taoist canons and most directly from qigong (Adams 2011). Even so, Falun Gong's founder, Li Hongzhi, claims that it offers a highly personalized cultivation practice for everyone irrespective of social standing, socioeconomic background, or status (Adams 2011). Western scholars view Falun Gong as a new religious movement (NRM), though any connection or claim to religion is strenuously denied by its adherents (Ownby 2005).

Although no official membership records are kept, Falun Gong claims some 100 million adherents around the world (Adams 2011). Outside of China, Falun Gong has attracted a massive following including a large proportion not of Chinese origin (Melton 2001). As Falun Gong spread quickly through China, it similarly spread to Chinese communities around the world in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and throughout Southeast Asia (Melton 2001). Since 1999, Falun Gong adherents have been regularly appearing at public events throughout Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Taiwan, and Canada, promulgating the message primarily through promoting the five meditative exercises. They also try to generate awareness of the human rights breaches against their members by the Chinese government (Adams 2011). By doing so, they hope to pressure Western governments into condemning the actions of the Chinese state (Ownby 2005). This chapter will provide an overview of the practices, doctrine, and history of Falun Gong but will particularly focus on the controversies inherent in this movement, specifically it will examine the complex alien and anti-science theology of Falun Gong and conclude with an examination of the movement's clashes with the Chinese government and consequential apocalypticism born of those struggles.
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Created: Fri, 12 Sep 2014, 15:48:27 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry