James R. Lewis
James R. Lewis is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Tromsø. He is well-published in the field of new religious movements. His publications and edited volumes include The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements, Controversial New Religions (with Jesper Petersen), Scientology, Children of Jesus and Mary (with Nicholas Levine), and, most recently, Violence and New Religious Movements.
When it became evident that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was on the verge of banning the Falun Gong movement, Li Hongzhi, the movement’s founder, and his family escaped China, relocating permanently in the United States. Subsequently, the dramatic crackdown on Falun Gong in 1999 made international headlines. From the safety of his new home, Master Li encouraged his followers left behind in the PRC to vigorously demonstrate against the Chinese government, even if it meant imprisonment or even death.
Further, Master Li actively discourages his followers from telling outsiders about his esoteric teachings; rather, he explicitly directs them to say that Falun Gong is just a peaceful spiritual exercise group being persecuted by the PRC. Not only has Falun Gong succeeded in propagating their side of the story in the media but the group will vigorously protest any news story that disagrees with their point of view. In more recent years, Falun Gong has attempted to silence critical scholars, including two of the contributors to the present volume.
Enlightened Martyrdom: The Hidden Side of Falun Gong provides a comprehensive overview of Falun Gong: the movement’s background, history, beliefs and practices. But whereas prior treatments have generally tended to downplay Falun Gong’s ‘dark side,’ in Enlightened Martyrdom, we have made an effort to include treatments of the less palatable aspects of this movement.
Table of Contents
Introduction: by James R. Lewis
Chapter 1: Falun Gong: Between Sectarianism and Universal Salvation, by David A. Palmer
Chapter 2: The Religion and Politics of Falun Gong, by Junpeng Li
Chapter 3: From Healing to Protesting through Martyrdom, by Susan J. Palmer
Chapter 4: Perils and Promises of Forbearance, by Gareth John Fisher
Chapter 5: Aliens and the Apocalypse: Li Hongzhi and Popular Culture, by Stefano Bigliardi
Chapter 6: Dehumanization, Demonization, Deification and Delegitimization: Falun Gong’s War of Words, by Xudong Ning
Chapter 7: Breathing Subversively: Inside Falun Gong, by Heather Kavan
Chapter 8: Falun Gong’s Attack on Academic Freedom, by Helen Farley
Chapter 9: Innocent Victims of Chinese Oppression or Media Bullies? Falun Gong’s In-Yuor-Face Media Strategies, by James R. Lewis
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