Interviewee: Li Jie, reporter of Facts.org.cn
1. What kinds of people participate in the work of xiejiao（destructive cults）prevention in China? Why? Why did you decide to take up this work?
There are mainly three kinds of people involved in the work of xiejiao-prevention in China. One is government functionaries. Starting from 1999, governments at all levels in China have set up departments for guarding against and handling xiejiao cases, such as the State Council office for Guarding against xiejiaos and Handling xiejiao Cases. So have all the provinces (cities, counties). Their major tasks are: to coordinate the work of all related departments, carry out investigations and study, strengthen cooperation with organizations of other countries, protect the basic human rights of the citizens and protect citizens against harm done by xiejiao.
The second is NGOs, such as China Cultic Studies Association. They are made up of people of all circles, including religion, law, journalism, science and technology and volunteers. They aim to help the general public know how to recognize and keep away from harmful religious movements.
The third is volunteers, including former members of xiejiaos, their family members, xiejiao researchers. For instance, Wu Yuxia is a former Falun Gong practitioner in the city of Shijiazhuang, north China’s Hebei Province. After she quit the Falun Gong xiejiao, she wrote a novel “The Dream of Heavenly Kingdom” and has become a volunteer to help other Falun Gong victims. Another is Shi Xingwang, who has tracked down the Church of Almighty God, also known as Eastern Lightening, after his wife came to believe it. He created a website called “Family of Xiejiao Victims” to provide assistance to xiejiao victims.
I have come into contract with many xiejiao victims and their family members, including the family of Wang Jindong, who tried to burn themselves on the Tian’anmen Square in Beijing on January 23, 2001. Many of them were originally kind-hearted people, but fell into the xiejiao trap because they wanted to keep fit and pursue a better life. But after being brainwashed, they were acting and speaking in eccentric ways, thus leading to the break of husband-wife relationship, of families and the death of family members.
Some resorted to self-mutilation and even killing others, bringing great calamities to families and society. From 2000, I began to take up of the work of helping xiejiao-members and save a number of victims. This work is very rewarding as it can help people. Xiejiao-prevention work is likely to become my life-long cause.
2. How does China understand beliefs and scope of belief? In what circumstances the law interferes in religious activities?
Article 36 of China’s Constitutions provides: Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. The state protects normal religious activities. No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state. Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination.
The state attacks and stops criminal activities that jeopardize state security and public safety by exploiting religion.
3. How to coordinate state organs and the public in carrying out the xiejiao prevention work? Apart from the functions of providing information, what are other functions of social organizations in the xiejiao-prevention work?
Xiejiao-prevention work needs the participation of all members of the society. In China, the work is led by the government, with social organizations as the supplement and the masses as participants. Some localities have creatively carried out activities of encouraging families to refuse xiejiaos and creating xiejiao-free communities.
Social organizations are playing a more and more important role. They release alert information about xiejiao activities, expose xiejiao deception, provide tips to the people for identifying and guarding against xiejiaos, and help xiejiao followers get away from them. The Gulou District of Nanjing City established a people’s organization called “Love Home”, which has successfully helped more than 50 Falun Gong followers kick the xiejiao. We have also carried out research and provided information for government departments in their policy decisions. In addition, we have put up a platform for the communication between the government and the people.
4. In the present-day, many xiejiaos are international. Have you exchanged experience and information with Western scholars and social activists that study xiejiaos? Which country’s xiejiao-prevention experience are you interested in or you think, are beneficial? Conversely, what experience does China have to share with Western countries?
As a NRM research website, we are watching closely the developments of the global NRMs research and translating their information. We are open to cooperation with any cult research agencies and individuals. Of course, there are also some victims, experts and scholars who have contacted us and provided us with useful information and researches.
France has passed a law cracking down on destructive sects. On May 30, 2001, it adopted the About-Picard Law to strengthen the attack against cult activities. In March 28, 2014, the Fifth District Court 006Ff the State of Utah, USA, passed the ruling, depriving the Mormon members of their rights as guardians of their children. Former president of the American Psychologists Association has provided mental counselling to Falun Gong victims, helping them return to their families and the society. Russia has designated the “Zhuan Falun” and other propaganda books as extremist publications. I am keen on the above subjects, which are worth our borrowing.
5. What other dangerous xiejiaos are there in China apart from Falun Gong? What troubles they have created? Give me some information about these xiejiaos.
Falun Gong is the most harmful xiejiao in contemporary China. It has caused more than 2,000 deaths. From May 25 to June 27, 2003, Falun Gong follower Chen Fuzhao of Cannan County, Zhejiang Province killed 16 innocent people by using rat killer in order to enhance his “gong”. At present, Falun Gong is still instigating its followers not to see the doctor or take medicine when ill, harming the health of the followers.
The fairly active in recent few years is the xiejiao known as the Church of Almighty God or Eastern Lightening. Its leader is Zhao Weishan, who is now in the United States. The xiejiao distorted the “Bible”, saying that the almighty god is the only real god, which has incarnated in the image of an oriental woman. They call her “female Christ’. On December 21, 2012, the xiejiao declared the “doomsday of the world”. On May 28, 2014, six followers were publicizing the xiejiao at a MacDonald restaurant in the city of Zhaoyuan, Shandong Province. They asked a woman customer for her telephone number. The women refused to give them. They then beat the woman to death in the presence of the customers. This case shocked the whole country.
There is another xiejiao, called “Society of Disciples (Mentu Hui),”, also known as “San-shu Christ”, “Kuangye Zaimen” and “Mengtou Jiao”. It was founded by a peasant called Ji Sanbao in Shaanxi Province. He died from a car crash in December 1997. He professed to be a Christ or “Sanshu”, the incarnation of the god, using “Sanshu” to replace Christ in the Bible. The Society of Disciples (Mentu Hui), advocated for doomsday, asserting that there would be calamities toward the end of the 20th century. People who refuse to believe him would all die. He asserted that prayer can cure diseases and urged his followers not to take medicine. He said that he can make the dead alive. He said that each person eats 100 gram of grain and it is not necessary to plant crops, as the god would bestow them with inexhaustible sources of grain. The Mentu Hui deceived people of their money and property, causing some followers to go mad, engage in self-mutilation and suicide. Some patients only prayed for healing and died without going to the hospital.
Other xiejiaos include Supreme master ching hai, Huazang Zongmen, “Xue-Shui-ShengLing”(Blood, Water and Holy Spirit) and Sanban Puren Pai.
6. Are there any more Falun Gong followers in the present-day China? What is the attitude of Chinese general public toward Falun Gong followers?
Statistics show that there were about 2 million Falun Gong followers by the end of June 1999, when the Chinese government banned it. Now, most of them have quit it, leaving about several ten thousand. The figure is very small as compared with the 1.3 billion people. Falun Gong has totally lost its market in China. Even pupils of primary schools know that Falun Gong is a xiejiao.
Falun Gong followers are xiejiao victims. China persists in the policy of uniting and educating the over-majority of the followers and punishing by law only a tiny number of crime-committing followers. The followers who have quit the organization are not discriminated against in society and are taken good care of by their families. The daughter of Wang Jindong, who burned himself on the Tian’anmen Square, has been obsessed with Falun Gong for years. Now she has returned to a normal life in society and teaches in a kindergarten. Luo Xiangming, leader of a Falun Gong coaching station in Quchou County, Hebei Province, returned to a normal life and took up a job at the county’s Taxation Bureau after quitting Falun Gong. He has even joined the Communist Party of China.
7. What law-violating activities have Falun Gong followers committed after it was banned?
The common features of xiejiaos are anti-humanity, anti-soci