In defense of cults?

13 Feb

There’s been a lot of news about the Scientology issue on Wikipedia, and rightfully so. But today I came across something rather interesting: it appears that Scientology is not the only cult that has exploited Wikipedia with self-promotional articles. Another cult, no less dangerous, which has succeeded in doing so under the radar is Falun Gong.

The truth is that I know very little about Falun Gong. I’ve seen their protests when I lived in New York, and found them to be quite chilling. In my mind I identified them with other victims of Chinese repression.

Today, however, I came across some information about Falun Gong on another site that I frequent. The person who posted is not Chinese, but American, and his concern is about his parents, who were also drawn in to the cult. I am copying here his summary of their beliefs:

*Belief that alien technology is used in computers and can warp people stopping them from taking up the faith. Falun Gong believers are of course protected from alien brainwashing
* Illness is caused by karma and if you use modern medicine it pushes the illnesses into another dimension and it will come back in another form. Only by following their book and doing their meditative exercises can you live an illness free life. If you do get sick that is just small amounts of karma coming to the surface. If you are seriously ill you should not take up the faith because your reason for joining will be to be cured and that is not a genuine reason.
* Attachments are evil
* Films and video games featuring demonic themes ie Buffy TVS and Anne Rice novels are evil and warp people
* Anti-homosexuality
*A rejection of inter-racial marriages (In my case this was very difficult for me to accept because their [his parents’] marriage is an inter-racial one)

Speaking with someone who knows more about them, I was told that Falun Gong also have plenty of money and that they don’t disclose their business links. In that sense they sound eerily like Scientology.

The problem is that unlike Scientology, no one is watching their Wikipedia pages, so that the information reads more like promotional literature than anything else. In the opening paragraph I learn that they are a “spiritual discipline” and that they teach “the principles truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.” In the following paragraph I am told that this twenty-year old cult “has a heritage in a centuries-old tradition of “cultivation practice” and that a prominent Sinologist regards them as “one of the most important phenomena to emerge in China in the 1990s.” The following paragraph is all about how these supposedly innocent people are being persecuted by the Chinese government. It is just propagandistic foreplay to Section 3.2: “Persecutions in Mainland China,” a summary of a more extensive article, “Persecution of Falun Gong.”

There is, all in all, just one paragraph about the controversy surrounding Falun Gong in the main article (at the beginning of the section on Academic Attention), and it is quickly countered.

So my question is: Why the disparity? Even if I wonder about the the consequences of banning Scientology, I can understand why it happened. On the other hand, why is Falun Gong allowed to use Wikipedia as a propaganda platform to promote its homophobic, racist, anti-technology, anti-medicine bullshit? Shouldn’t it be accorded the same attention? According to Wikipedia, this is a group with 70-100 million followers (personally, I don’t believe it, but that’s another story). The imbalance is startling.

So, David Gerard and others, perhaps it’s time to look into this as well. I’d do it myself, but you know …

(Blogspot.com, June 5, 2009)

Text from: http://www.facts.org.cn/puop/201102/t124589.htm

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