Law Sure to Beat Cults: Article
As different countries in the world step up the fight against dangerous religious organizations, cults will ultimately lose their battles with the law.
The Overseas Edition of the People's Daily, the leading newspaper in China, made the comments today in a signed article headlined "Law Is Sure to Beat Cults."
In July, China launched a nationwide campaign against Falun Gong and other cult groups. They asked Interpol, the international police body, to help arrest Li Hongzhi, head of the Falun Gong " research society." Chinese authorities have since arrested and sentenced a number of key members of the cult.
"No countries have been lenient in dealing with cults," the article said, noting that cults have been popular in developed countries since the 1960s.
In the United States, there are 2,000 to 5,000 cult groups, involving 10 million to 20 million people. France has 172 such organizations with 160,000 followers. The Japanese Aum Supreme Truth has lured 14,000 in Japan and 35,000 in Russia and another large number in foreign countries. In recent years, China has also been plagued with various kinds of cults.
It is not strange to have cults, either in Europe and the United States or in China, the article said, calling them a product of history. In modern society, some people cannot handle the increasing stresses of society and thus have lost their spiritual way, it said.
All cult groups share the same characteristics: advocating worship for the cult leader, practicing spiritual control over the members, fabricating evil theories, collecting funds from the followers, organizing underground groups and threatening society, according to the article.
However, no government has shown mercy toward cult activities. The US government has on several occasions used its military to combat cults, while other western countries, including Japan and Italy, have also taken steps to deal with evil religious organizations.
The article condemned the Falun Gong organization, which has two million members, blaming it for disrupting society in the guise of a religious group or meditation training center, and holding it responsible for profiting from illegal activities, causing over 1,400 deaths, and plotting 78 unlawful gatherings.
The article challenged Falun Gong as a form of meditation incorporating deep-breathing exercises, saying the cult leader, Li Hongzhi, had learned deep-breathing techniques just two months before claiming he was a "great master" of the practice.
Li told his followers that all existing sciences are not scientific and mankind could not be free from danger until he, the "great master," opens a "heavenly eye" on the head of the people, installs a "Wheel of Buddha" in their stomach, or "releases their souls from purgatory at a higher level."
Li has stolen the Buddhist term "Wheel of Buddha" and created an evil cult disguise as a mixture of Buddhism and Taoism, the article said.
Not only has Li shamefully borrowed religious terms to describe the beliefs of the Falun Gong, but he has also accused major religions of being "low-level" and incapable of true forgiveness for wayward believers, the article said.
The government treatment of Falun Gong is an internal affair of China, the article emphasized. Meanwhile, the government has always adhered to the principle of governing by law in dealing with the cult, it added.
The majority of the two million Falun Gong believers are unaware of the true nature of the cult and have followed it blindly, the article said. The government has made distinctions between daily fitness routines and cult practices, between ordinary and key members of the cult, between normal, legal religious activities and the activities organized by Falun Gong, and between those who made mistakes before the ban on the cult and those who made mistakes after the ban.
Former Falun Gong practitioners who have left the cult body and no longer participate in the activities will not be punished. Most of them are now leading a normal life.
The article criticized the governments of the United States and some other western countries for their groundless criticism of China's anti-cult campaign.
Over the past few months, the United States has led the western countries to intervene China's internal battles against Falun Gong, issuing a government report, in September, a Congress hearing, in October, and imposing a recent government sanction, according to the article.
Not long ago, the US House of Representatives and the Senate passed a joint bill attacking China's anti-Falun Gong drive and showing outright support for the Chinese cult. The US government has even granted refugee status to some Falun Gong members.
Ironically, it said, the US government has warned Americans of possible cult activities to endanger society on the eve of the new millennium.
The real aim of the US government's backing of Falun Gong is to aid hostile forces in China and block social and economic development in the country, the article said.
Cults have to be dealt with in two ways -- prevention and crackdowns, the article said, adding that this is the practice of all countries.
In the United States, thousands of non-government organizations have been working to raise public awareness about the dangers of false religions and the harm done to victims of cult groups. More than 10,000 Americans have signed a petition against cults.
The Aum Supreme Truth in Japan is now closely watched by police and judicial departments as well as ordinary people. In the United Kingdom, a special non-government body has been set up to discuss the issue with young people.
Since the beginning of this year, the Chinese government has set the abolishing of cults as a key task for law-enforcement departments and adopted the principle of "combining prevention and crackdowns, with prevention as the primary focus."
The Ninth National People's Congress Standing Committee passed a resolution urging governments and judicial departments at all levels to prevent the emergence and spread of cults and make this a long-term task in order to maintain social stability, according to the article.
It quoted a French anti-cult organization official who proposed that international cooperation is necessary for fighting cults as many of them have formed transnational networks. Some large cult bodies have been known to set up their headquarters in countries with a lax legal system.