I hung out with some Falun Gong
"practitioners," as they like to be called, for a few months while in college, and even went to a couple of their closed-door study group
s, feeling much like some sort of investigative journalist
. Anyway, they were, indeed, harmless people. Being from The South
, I was used to the wholesale acceptance of evangelical
religious figures, just not Zen Dao
Li Hongzhi, the personality cult behind Falun Gong, is a riot. The more I hung out with Falun Gong people, the more I realized that Master Li is to Falun Gong as Kim Il Sung was to North Korea. People worship him because they really think he's a divine figure: some of the practitioners claimed to have had visions of him bleeding or in pain when they narrowly escaped death or injury. If that doesn't put Christian images into your head, consider this: he even indirectly compared himself to Jesus in the Zhuan Falun book by saying that both he and Jesus were manipulators of the same forces of life (I don't have the book now, so I can't give you the exact terminology).
The followers of Falun Gong are nice, if fanatic, people... again, much like born-again Christians. So maybe Li Hongzhi is to China as Jesus was to Rome? Who knows.