4 Common Misconceptions about Falun Gong

From the 1999 onset of its persecution against Falun Gong, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has used its massive, state-run media apparatus to slander Falun Gong and justify brutality against practitioners. With help from China’s television sets, radios and newspapers, the CCP has perpetuated negative stereotypes, twisted words, spread falsehoods and even staged events, stopping at nothing in its effort to demonize the peaceful meditation practice of Falun Gong. The CCP’s deception has influenced public opinion within China, and many of the lies continue to resurface in Western media reports. The following discourse outlines several of the most controversial, yet ubiquitous misconceptions that have stemmed from the CCP’s malicious campaign.

Why is there a Nazi Swastika on the Falun Emblem?

The Falun emblem has nothing to do with Nazism. People are often confused about the swastika on Falun Gong’s emblem. For thousands of years, the swastika symbol has denoted concepts such as ‘auspiciousness,’ ‘eternity’ and ‘the whole of Creation,’ among cultures across the world, especially within Buddhism. Hitler, however, misappropriated the swastika to represent the Nazi Party and it has since carried an unfortunate stigma. As Falun Gong contains teachings of the Buddhist tradition, the swastika in the Falun emblem is associated with the same positive connotations that have been understood since ancient times.

For more information on this topic, see Where the Swastika was Found 12,000 Years Before Hitler Made Us Uncomfortable About It

Is Falun Gong a Cult?

Falun Gong is not a cult. It was not until Falun Gong became overwhelmingly popular in China that the previously-supportive CCP brandished accusations of cultism. Tellingly, Falun Gong has had no similar issues outside of China and neither has it been labeled a cult in any of the 70 other countries where it is practiced. Western religious scholars have also noted that Falun Gong does not possess the defining characteristics commonly associated with dangerous cults.

Prior to 1999, several small, violent, extremist religious groups, including Aum Shinrikyo in Japan and the Branch Davidians in Texas, came to be widely known along with other conspiratorial or suicide cults. Seeking to stir up ire and suspicion in its ensuing propaganda campaign against Falun Gong, the CCP has falsely associated these violent religious cults with Falun Gong at every opportunity. The term ‘cult’ is itself vague in definition and prone to misuse, making it all-too-easy for the CCP to manipulate public opinion by foisting the label upon Falun Gong without providing a shred of factual evidence.

At present, Western media reports on Falun Gong can still be found reiterating the CCP’s unfounded accusations. Friends of Falun Gong understands that providing a balanced view is a priority for these media organizations; however, we hope that in the future, more in-depth research is conducted before reprinting damaging propaganda buzzwords like “dangerous cult.”

For more information on this topic, see Misconceptions: An “Evil Cult”?

Is Falun Gong Politically Adversarial Toward the CCP?

Falun Gong does not have a political agenda. The CCP perpetuates this lie as another justification for its persecution against Falun Gong. In reality, Falun Gong has no political attachment and practitioners engage in political activities on an individual basis, as they see fit.

Tangentially, Falun Gong practitioners advocate, in any social medium, for the CCP to stop persecuting Falun Gong, for every person imprisoned or detained on Falun Gong-related charges to be released (including legal representatives of practitioners), and for holding accountable those that have committed crimes against humanity in the persecution against Falun Gong.

Do Falun Gong Practitioners Set Themselves on Fire?

Falun Gong practitioners never self-immolated on Tiananmen Square. In 2003, several supposed Falun Gong practitioners set themselves on fire in a “protest” on Tiananmen Square; however, the teachings of Falun Gong strictly prohibit suicide, killing, and all violence. Furthermore, the False Fire documentary carefully analyzes video footage of the incident, concluding that the proceedings were obviously staged by the CCP and carried out with intent to defame Falun Gong.

The CCP publicized its propaganda stunt relentlessly, effectively turning many Chinese against Falun Gong and in turn boosting public support for the persecution campaign within China. Today, many people within and outside of China still associate Falun Gong with self-immolation.

The False Fire documentary is included here for your consideration.