By Xueying Luo & Rongyi Zhang
The beat pounding half a block away caught people’s ears at the Glen Gove St. Patrick’s Day Parade. A splash of 19 yellow-clad drummers stood out in a mostly green parade on March 19. The group of men and women, members of the Chinese Cultural Association of Long Island, had joined the parade to raise awareness of Falun Gong, a controversial Chinese religion that has been banned in its country of origin.
Falun Gong is a meditative, spiritual practice which originated in China in 1992. Flushing, Queens, is home to the largest Falun Gong following in the United States. Falun Gong’s principles are truthfulness, compassion and forbearance. But the Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance, a group also based in Queens, keeps denouncing it as an evil cult.
“When I practice Falun Gong, I have a good feeling, [peace of] mind, and it also helped treat my nose bleeding,” Jimmy Mo, an instructor of Falun Dafa from East Setauket, said.
Mo suffered a severe nose bleeding in 1996. But when medicine prove ineffective, he started practicing Falun Dafa, and he says the bleeding stopped.
The Chinese government first defined Falun Gong as an evil cult in 1999, and started arresting its leaders and followers. Since its establishment in 2008, the Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance, has claimed that Falun Gong is harmful to society.
The debate between the Falun Gong and its opponents will not likely be solved soon. In 2016, Falun Gong filed a lawsuit against the Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance, accusing it of persecuting Falun Gong followers in the United States. The suit is asking a Federal Court to step in and issue an order to keep Anti-Falun Gong groups away.
“Since 1999 Falun Gong was banned, and [its followers] were brutally persecuted in China,” Mo said. “A lot of [our members] lost their lives, but we just want to show people what Falun Gong really is.”
Every Sunday, Falun Gong followers gather together at the Town of Brookhaven, in the New Village Community Center, in Centereach, to practice their exercises, which also include meditation, Qigong and simple standing movements. “When I get frustrated with my job, my relationships or whatever it is, I can find that peace in myself,” Lorraine Kabacinski, a Falun Gong follower, said.
“Falun Gong is damaging the image of Chinese immigrants and they keep claiming that Chinese government killed their followers and even took organs,” Michael Chu, the chairman of Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance, said. “Falun Gong followers often show violent pictures to Flushing residents. Many Parents are afraid of bringing their kids to Main Street.”
The suit is still ongoing, but the judge may be inclined to let the two groups settle out of court, Chu said.