In an ongoing analysis redacting events that lead to the Raelians successfully creating a promotional bonanza last month, many pundits have been critical of how easily the "cult" manipulated the media for puff pieces and featured coverage.
But the Raelians are not the only "cult" that seems to be good at conning the press.
Witness the willingness of journalists to frequently provide a pulpit for the Falun Gong followers of Li Hongzhi, from which they preach their version of events in China and allegations of "persecution."
Recent coverage included a sympathetic look at the group's ongoing vigil near the New York City Chinese Consulate, reports North Jersey.com.
However, this report like so many others does not mention Hongzhi's racist teachings and his penchant for condemning gays. The Falun Gong leader teaches that interracial marriage is evil and that homosexuals are an abomination.
But North Jersey.com simply says, "the movement focuses on perfecting individual moral character by reflecting on truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance."
How does racism and bigotry perfect "moral character" or reflect "compassion" or "forbearance"?
And what about Hongzhi's writings touting his supernatural powers, special revelations and claims about alien beings from outer space? Is this the "truthfulness" the reporter is referring to?
According to this recent article Falun Gong is simply, "a spiritual movement based on traditional Chinese 'qigong' meditation exercises."
But how do space aliens fit within "traditional Chinese 'qigong'"?
Most reports about the Raelians did include the bizarre beliefs held by that group. But for some reason many within the media either don't research Falun Gong in-depth, or simply refuse to report about the group's strange claims.
North Jersey.com says that Hongzhi started Falun Gong "in part as a response to a lack of medical care in China."
But Hongzhi's "response" was to teach his followers that the practice of Falun Gong would somehow affect their physical health and/or ailments. This led many to reject "medical care," which often led to death.
When the Chinese government responded to Falun Gong largely as a public health hazard, Hongzhi organized a mass protest, an unsettling spectacle in orderly China.
Since that time the Falun Gong leader has played the media to promote his supposed role as a "victim." And the NYC vigils recently reported are part of carefully coordinated effort, managed through a network of well-organized Hongzhi operatives.
The Raelians claim a global membership of 55,000, though experts estimate their number is actually closer to 5,000.
In similar fashion Falun Gong makes unsupported claims that they have "millions" of members. And the press often reports this with little if any critical balance.
What are the facts about Falun Gong?
It seems that the group called an "evil cult" in China, is led by a man much like Rael, who cynically manipulates both his followers and the media for his own purposes.
And though Hongzhi's devotees may be arrested and/or jailed, their leader lives comfortably tucked away in "exile."
Isn't it time for pundits to scrutinize this "cult" leader and his brand of self-promotion? It seems Hongzhi's media hype deserves the same critical analysis offered up concerning coverage of the Raelians and their claims.
(Cultnews.com, January 22, 2003)
Original text from: http://www.cultnews.com/?p=1157