Experts warn of damage by religious cults

China Daily/January 10, 2009

Shenzhen: Destructive cults are harming people and society by preaching extreme doctrines, devastating lives and livelihoods, and using violence and terrorist means to resist sanction, experts warned Friday.

The warning came at an international forum on cultic studies that opened in Shenzhen on Friday.

"New cults emerge widely in the world now, while due to some special defects of the cults, they easily turn destructive, and harm people and society," said Zhang Xinying, secretary general of the Center for the Study of Destructive Cults at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"And Falun Gong is an organization like this, which is also agreed on by more and more people with insight from abroad," Zhang said.

Rick Ross, an expert devoted to the study of destructive cults from New Jersey, US, said according to his communication with Falun Gong members, he noticed the members have [...] uniformed tendencies [regarding] racism, homophobia, medical neglect and protests.

"The complaints about Falun Dafa I have received are most directly related to teachings about putting 'spiritual cultivation' above seeing doctors and taking prescribed medication for a patient," he said.

Falun Gong was banned in China in July 1999 as an insidious cult.

Most of the forum's total 19 essays written by experts from both home and abroad are devoted to analyzing the characteristics of destructive cults and offering suggestions such as using legal restrictions, social remedies and psychological intervention to help people suffering from the destructive cults.

Cao Shengjie, former president of the China Christian Council, said that to resist destructive cults, churches should strengthen reconstruction of theological thinking to clarify the correct content of Christian belief, put more emphasis on the training of pastors and lay leaders, and expose the harm of heretical destructive cults.

"The destructive cults may directly hurt believers, create chaos and divisions in the church, damage the image of Christianity and agitate people to oppose the government, so churches should not tolerate the destructive cults and it is our responsibility to expose and resist them," she said.

Pierre Picquart, director of the International Consulting Center and Research about China, said all governments, international organizations and associations should initiate measures to fight against dangerous sects for social stability, individual liberty and the respect of social institutions.

"China is confronted by the Falungong cult. But it is not alone in this combat, because we are all concerned by the development of the destructive cults in the world," he said.

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