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Does Falun Gong claim itself to be a religion?

2009-04-08 Author:China Association for Cultic Studies

Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong, states time and again that Falun Gong is not a religion and "doesn't have anything to do with today's religions."


Li Hongzhi claims in his article, "Falun Dafa is not a religion, but future generations will regard it as one. It is taught to human beings for the purpose of cultivation practice, rather than to establish a religion." (Dafa Will Forever be Pure Like Diamond)


"Ours is not an institutional religion, so don't regard us as such." (Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Canada)


On July 26, 1999, interviewed with Netherlands TV in New York, Li said: "It (Falun Gong) has no difference with such things as the common Qigong, the Taiji and the morning exercise popular in the Western countries. People do morning exercise of Falun Gong for one or half an hour, and then go to work. They are all ordinary members in the society, not organized as a religion."


Li Hongzhi emphasizes repeatedly that Falun Gong does not possess the basic elements to form a religion.


 "Every Falun Gong practitioner is a member of society, and each has his own job or career. It's only that they go to the park to do Falun Gong exercises for half an hour or an hour every morning, and then they go to work. We don't have various provisions that people have to follow, as religions do, nor do we have any temples, churches, or religious rituals. People can come to learn or leave as they please, and we have no membership rosters. How is it a religion?" (Some Thoughts of Mine)


But Li Hongzhi instigates his followers to put on religious mask when he considers it would be more advantageous for him to do so.


"So in Western society, if the average person comments on whether you are a religion, you needn't reply, and you don't need to take it that seriously. If a government, social organization, administrative department, congressional representative, etc. says that you're a religion, you no longer need to tell them that we're not. If legal issues are involved, you can handle things as a religion and go by the related legal provisions. So under these circumstances you can say it is a religion, especially when it involves legal matters. Are you all clear on this?" (Teaching the Fa in the City of Los Angeles)