Friends of Falun Gong’s Response to NBC’s Dishonest Reporting

[Photo Caption: Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade commemorating the 20th anniversary of the persecution of Falun Gong in China, in Washington on July 18, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)]

We were disappointed to see NBC’s and Rachel Maddow’s recent pieces. In attempting to discredit their media rival The Epoch Times, these reports make misleading and biased claims about the Falun Gong practice. In doing so, NBC has essentially joined with genocidal criminals and furthered the same lies used to justify violence against religious believers.

Falun Gong is a meditation practice centered on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. Since its inception in China in the early 1990s, it has attracted practitioners around the world, who experienced spiritual, mental, and health benefits by adhering to its tenets in daily life. Since 1999, however, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), fearing the practice’s popularity, made a preemptive strike against what it deemed a challenge to its political power—despite the fact that Falun Gong explicitly forbids mixing spiritual cultivation with politics, and did not demonstrate any desire to undermine the CCP’s control.

Thus began two decades of persecution that continues to this day, an effort with the stated goal of physically eliminating Falun Gong, beginning with the destruction of its texts and its practitioners. The unimaginably violent crackdown experienced by Chinese practitioners is well documented by and various human rights organizations. At the hands of state police, they have experienced torture, forced labor, rape, brainwashing, and organ harvesting.

In response to these unjust brutalities, practitioners in China and around the world have done the valiant thing—they spread truth to counter lies, and told the world what they had experienced. They clarified the facts about what Falun Gong is, why they practice, what the CCP is attempting to do, why, and how.

At the beginning, no one believed them. Faced with members of an obscure spiritual practice claiming that genocide is being committed against them in secret Chinese prisons, many media chose to take and spread the word of Chinese authorities instead. That was understandable, if unwise.

Yet now, faced with overwhelming evidence (sadly, 20 years worth) that the persecution is all too real, it is inexcusable to pretend that killing people for practicing their faith is somehow acceptable. The NBC and MSNBC pieces willfully misconstrue certain teachings in Falun Dafa, misrepresent them in an esoteric light, suggesting that Falun Dafa’s unique worldview means that it is engaged in secretive and dangerous things. In fact, all of Falun Dafa’s books and materials have always been available for public download. Anyone interested can easily peruse them, free of charge.

The writers call the practice “cult-like” because they don’t understand it, and clearly made no genuine effort to. This is precisely the same tactic employed by the CCP, using misinformation to single out and ostracize a group they want to persecute. Falun Gong was in the 1990s practiced by one out of every 13 people in China, partly because the practice welcomed anyone interested; everyone knew a family member, coworker, or neighbor who practiced either seriously or just gave it a try out of curiosity. It was part of the popular culture, much like yoga is today in the United States. The CCP knew this as well, which is precisely why it worked so hard to separate Falun Gong from ordinary society by labeling it a “cult.”

This misdirection on the part of the writers equates to flipping through the Bible and suggesting that because Christians believe Jesus turned water into wine, they deserve to be put to death. Falun Dafa’s teachings, and those of any religion, for that matter, might not be to the taste of everyone—that’s the point of having freedom of faith. People can choose to subscribe to any creed, or none at all, so long as we do not brutalize each other over our differences. That freedom is precisely what Falun Gong practitioners have been asking for, and what everyone in the free world should support rather than undermine.

[signed by Alan Adler, Executive Director, Friends of Falun Gong]