- The mass arrests in China of members of the Falun Gong
sect follow several weeks of investigation by the Chinese authorities.
- The operation bears the hallmarks of a government running
- The Falun Gong sect - which seemingly came out of nowhere
to mobilise tens of thousands in peaceful protest - is the Communist government's
- Its rapid rise in seven years seriously challenges the
Marxist doctrine that religion is the opiate of the masses and will die
out as human progress is made.
- Party members in its ranks
- Instead, while the movement's claim of 100 million members
looks optimistic, it appears to have numbers to rival membership of the
Communist party and has been attracting party officials into its ranks.
- Followers practise meditation inspired by a cocktail
of religious beliefs, and remain devoted to their leader in exile, Li Hongzhi,
who preaches a particular brand of salvation from an immoral world.
- China has long had a policy of banning religious groups
it deems superstitious and permits only a handful of established religions,
answerable to the state.
- Its policy of suppression has provoked frequent protest
from human rights groups.
- It has also driven groups underground, where they have
multiplied and become more radical.
- Filling the spiritual void
- Buddhist and Christian sects and folk religions are flourishing
across China in a religious revival scholars attribute to a spiritual vacuum
left in the wake of Maoism.
- Last month the Communist Party launched a campaign to
stamp out so-called superstition and promote Marxist materialism among
- In the former Soviet Union, Communism failed to stamp
out religion, which now thrives where Communism has faded.
- China, it seems, remains committed to the ideological
battle, many would say against the odds.