Evil Cult or Persecuted Minority? Conspiracy Theories Surrounding Falun Gong and the Government of the People’s Republic of China

In: Handbook of Conspiracy Theory and Contemporary Religion

Falun Gong emerged in the aftermath of the Qigong Boom of the 1980s and 1990s. Founded by the charismatic Li Hongzhi, the organisation was soon to attract the unwelcome attentions of the government of the People’s Republic of China. By the last year of the twentieth century, Falun Gong was banned in China, just ahead of Li’s flight to the United States. In the years that have followed, a number of conspiracy theories have been proffered by both sides of the debate, each making an impassioned plea to a Western audience to legitimise their actions. This chapter examines some of those theories, along with the possible reasons for their existence. It also features a brief account of the author’s unwitting participation as an actor in one such conspiracy.

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