China Issues Anti-Cult Law

(October 30, 1999) The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) issued an anti-cult law on October 30, 1999 to prevent and combat cults such as the now banned Falun Gong sect.

The decision to outlaw and punish Falun Gong and other cults is passed at the 12 session of the 9th NPC Standing Committee, which opened here today.

It calls on courts, prosecutors, police and administrative judicial organs to be on full alerts of cult activities and smash them rigorously in accordance with the law.

Cult organizations that have destroyed normal social orders and stability through illegal gathering, led to the deaths of practitioners and rapes of women and swindled money should be dealt with severely, the decision says.

It also stresses that deceived followers and practitioners should be differentiated from cult leaders. Local governments are asked to take necessary measures to educate those deceived while punishing a small number of cult leaders and those who have committed crimes.

Religious cult is a problem faced by many governments in the world. Over the past few years, a number of cult organizations, such as Falun Gong and Zhu Shen Jiao (or the principal god), appeared in China, damaging social orders and stability.

China has made great success in combating the Falun Gong cult in the past three months.

In the past three months, the Chinese Government has made great success in combating the Falun Gong Cult. In order to prevent and combat such cults in the future, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress adopted a legislative resolution on banning heretic cults on Oct. 30. On the same day, the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate also issued judicial explanations on laws regarding cult-related crime. The Chinese Embassy hereby provides the contents of the above-mentioned documents and other relevant information for your better understanding of the true nature of the Falun Gong Cult and the Chinese Government’s efforts to maintain social stability and protect the welfare of its people.

Legislative Resolution on Banning Heretic Cults

BEIJING, October 30 — The 12th Session of Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) today adopted a resolution concerning the banning of heretic cult organizations, prevention measures against them and punishment for cult activities.

The following is the full text of the NPC resolution:

To maintain social stability, protect the interest of people, safeguard reform and opening up and the construction of a modern socialist country, it is necessary to ban heretic cult organizations, and prevent and punish cult activities.

Based on the Constitution and other related laws, the following decision is hereby made:

. Heretic cult organizations shall be resolutely banned according to law and all of their criminal activities shall be dealt with severely.

Heretic cults, operating under the guise of religion, Qigong or other illicit forms, which disturb social order and jeopardize people’s life and property, must be banned according to law and punished resolutely.

People’s courts, people’s procuratorates, public security, national security and judicial administrative agencies shall fulfill their duties in carrying out these tasks.

To be severely dealt with according to law are those who manipulate members of cult organizations to violate national laws and administrative regulations, organize mass gatherings to disrupt social order, and fool others, cause deaths, rape women, swindle people out their money and property or commit other crimes with superstition and heresy.

The principle of combining education with punishment should be followed in order to unify and instruct the majority of the deceived public and to mete out severe punishment to the handful of criminals.

During the course of handling cult groups according to law, people who joined cult organizations but were unaware of the lies being spread by the group shall be differentiated from criminal elements who organize and take advantage of cult groups for illegal activities and/or to intentionally destroy social stability.

The majority of the deceived members shall not be prosecuted, while those organizers, leaders and core members who committed crimes shall be investigated for criminal conduct; those who surrender to the authorities or contribute to the investigations shall be given lesser punishments in accordance with the law, or be exempt from punishment.

. Long-term, comprehensive instruction on the Constitution and the law should be carried out among all citizens, knowledge of science and technology should be popularized and the national literacy level raised. Banning cult organizations and punishing cult activities according to law goes hand in hand with protecting normal religious activities and people’s freedom of religious belief.

The public should be exposed to the inhumane and anti-social nature of heretic cults, so they can knowingly resist influences of cult organizations, enhance their awareness of the law and abide by it.

. All corners of society shall be mobilized in preventing and fighting against cult activities, and a comprehensive management system should be put in place. People’s governments and judicial bodies at all levels should be held responsible for guarding against the creation and spread of cult organizations and combating cult activities. This is an important, long-term task that will ensure social stability.

Judicial Explanations on Crimes by Cults

BEIJING, October 30 — China declared today the launch of detailed judicial explanations on laws regarding crimes committed by cults.

China’s top judicial and procuratorial organs, the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, also declared that the explanations take effect as of today.

Under the explanations jointly issued by the two departments, “cult groups” in Article 300 in the Criminal Law refers to those illegal groups that have been found using religions, Qigong or other things as a camouflage, deifying their leading members, recruiting and controlling their members and deceiving people by molding and spreading superstitious ideas, and endangering the society.

Section 1 of Article 300 in the Criminal Law stipulates that ” those who organize superstitious sects and secret societies or use superstition to violate laws or administrative regulations” are subject to three to seven years imprisonment, and those whose cases are extremely serious are subject to seven years imprisonment or more”.

Under Section 2 and 3 of the article, those who set up or use superstitious sects and secret societies or superstition to deceive people and cause death of others are subject to the penalties as indicated in the previous section.

Under the two sections, those who organize and use superstitious sects, secret societies or superstitions to sexually exploit women or swindle money or property should be punished according to articles on rape and swindle in the Criminal Law.

Under the explanations, those who organize and use sects and commit one of the following activities should be penalized according to Section 1, Article 300 in the criminal law:

  1. gathering people together to besiege and charge government organs, enterprises or institutions, and disrupt their work, production and teaching and research activities;
  2. holding illegal assembly, demonstrations to incite or deceive, or organize their members or others to besiege, charge, seize, disrupt public places or places for religious activities, or disrupt social order;

III. resisting departments concerned to ban their groups, or resuming the banned groups, or establishing other sects, or continuing their activities;

  1. instigating, deceiving or organizing their members or others to refuse fulfilling their legal obligations, and the case is serious;
  2. publishing, printing, duplicating or distributing publications spreading malicious fallacies, and printing symbols of their sects; and
  3. other activities that violate the state law or administrative regulations.

According to the explanations, a case is regarded as “serious” if it involves any of the following while conducting the activities in the previous article:

  1. setting up organizations or recruiting members across provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities that are under direct administration of the central government;
  2. collaborating with overseas groups, organizations and individuals for sect-related activities;

III. publishing, printing, duplicating and distributing, either in terms of volumes or sales values, a large amount of publications spreading fallacious ideas and printing symbols of sects; and

  1. instigating, deceiving or organizing their members or others to violate state laws, administrative regulations, and resulting in serious consequences.

Under the explanations, setting up or using superstitious sects, secret societies or superstition to deceive people and cause death of others in Section 2 and 3 of Article 300, refers to the cases of establishing or using sects to mold, spread superstition or fallacies, deceiving their members or others to practice fast, inflict wounds upon themselves, or prevent patients from taking normal medical treatment and resulting in deaths.

The explanations says it will be a “serious offense” if the following occurs:

  1. causing three deaths or more;
  2. causing fewer than three deaths but serious injuries for many people;

III. those who have received criminal or administrative penalties for engaging in cult activities continue to establish or use sects to deceive people and result in deaths; and

causing other special serious consequences

Under the explanations, those who establish or use sects to mold, spread superstition and fallacies, instigate and coerce their members or others to commit suicide or inflict wounds on themselves, should be punished according to laws on intended murder or intended harming offenses under causes in the criminal law.

Those who organize and use superstitious sects and sexually exploit women or young girls by seducing, coercing, deceiving or other ways should be punished according to clauses on rape, or raping underage girl offenses, under the criminal law.

Those who swindle money or property by establishing or using sects or other means should be punished according to articles on swindle offenses in the criminal law.

Offenses of establishing or using sects to organize, scheme, carry out and instigate activities of splitting China, endangering the reunification of China or subverting the country’s socialist system should be handled according to relevant laws on endangering state safety offenses, as stipulated in the criminal law.

All the money and property collected by sects or criminal offenders who use sects to violate laws, and tools and publicity materials used for criminal activities, should be confiscated according to law.

Those who organize, plot or use sects for criminal activities and those enthusiastic participants who refuse to mend their ways despite repeated admonition should be investigated and affixed the criminal offense responsibility according to the criminal law and this explanations, it says.

But those who surrender themselves to law enforcement departments, or who perform meritorious services, should be given lenient penalty or exempted from penalty according to law, it says.

Those who were deceived or coerced into sects and had already withdrawn from the sect will not be considered as offenders.

Falun Gong Revealed as Structured Cult

There is plenty of evidence to prove that Falun Gong is no ordinary illegal organization, but in fact a cult, a commentary published in People’s Daily of Oct. 28 concludes.

A prominent feature of a cult is its hierarchical structure, through which practitioners strictly follow the instructions of their senior member and are willing to sacrifice themselves for this spiritual leader. Li Hongzhi, founder of the Falun Gong cult, demands that his disciples think, act and even give their lives at his command.

Members of a cult are subject to a systematic form of mind control, and Falun Gong is no exception. Li entices his disciples with the bait of physical fitness, brainwashes his followers with his heretical ideas and intimidates Falun Gong practitioners with his “super powers.”

In order to gather more followers to his flock, Li fabricated heretical ideas such as the “doomsday” theory and the belief that the Earth will explode so as to frighten his disciples into following his instructions without question.

Li said he alone can postpone the explosion of the Earth, he alone can help Falun Gong practitioners enter heaven, and Falun Dafa alone can save all human beings.

Incomplete statistics indicate that more than 1,400 people across China have died as a result of practicing Falun Gong, and hundreds of others have suffered psychological distress.

The Falun Gong organization collected money from its followers through the illegal publication and sale of books, pictures, video and audio tapes, and other forms of communication which spread Li’s lies.

Li and other core members of the organization became rich through exploiting the wealth and labor of Falun Gong practitioners and by dodging taxes. Li is reported to have fat bank accounts overseas.

According to the commentary, Falun Gong is also a tightly organized cult. Its supreme organ in China is the Falun Dafa Research Society (FDRS) in Beijing. Under the FDRS, there are 39 general stations, 1,900 instruction centres, and 28,263 exercising sites, controlling a total of 2.1 million practitioners.

Li tricked the practitioners of Falun Gong into joining his “kingdom,” and gradually separated them from mainstream society, eventually convincing them to fight against it.

Since Li ordered his followers to surround Guangming Daily in August 1996, Falun Gong has held 78 illegal demonstrations, each with more than 300 people. Thousands of followers gathered outside Zhongnanhai, the compound accommodating the Communist Party’s Central Committee, on April 25 this year in the most flagrant breach of the law.

No government can turn a blind eye to the cult’s illegal deeds in threatening people’s lives and social stability. The Communist Party, which takes the welfare of its people as its prime concern, will take firm action in its ban on cults.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Security Official Says ‘Anti-Cult’ Laws May Be Needed

By: Gren Manuel Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

Updated May 24, 2001 12:01 a.m. ET

HONG KONG — The city’s top security official said “anti-cult” legislation was under consideration because such groups threatened to spill over into the city from the rest of China.

Without naming the China-banned spiritual movement Falun Gong, Secretary for Security Regina Ip said that since China opened up its economy in the 1980s, cults have proliferated there.

“Many developments in Hong Kong are as a result of spillover from the mainland,” she said. “As a responsible government we have to keep a watch on that.”


Join a discussion: What do you think of China’s handling of the Falun Gong situation?

The statement to legislators is the first time that a government official has explicitly linked the city’s consideration of the proposed law to the situation in mainland China. Previous comments from Ms. Ip’s boss, Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa, concentrated on the activities of cults in the West and Japan.

Although legal in Hong Kong, Falun Gong is banned and persecuted in the rest of China. However, Beijing’s allies in Hong Kong have been pressing authorities here to act against the group, which advocates deep-breathing exercises and meditation.

Beijing’s supporters charge that the group is using Hong Kong as a base from which to attack China. Leaders of the movement deny they have any political agenda and argue their group isn’t a cult.

The most concrete action taken against the movement by Hong Kong authorities was blacklisting around 100 international practitioners who were prevented from entering Hong Kong to protest during the visit about three weeks ago of Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

Ms. Ip’s comments further what many view as a cat-and-mouse game with the Falun Gong issue. She told lawmakers Wednesday that Hong Kong needs to “keep a close watch” on groups that could threaten public order; however, the tone of her speech was less aggressive than in previous debates. She repeatedly stressed that no decision had been made on the proposed law.

Yeung Sum, vice chairman of the city’s Democratic Party, said the city already had enough laws to protect residents against cult activities. “We don’t need special legislation against cults.”


France: Assembly Passes Extreme Anti-Cult Law, Making Brainwashing a Crime (June 22, 2000)

A new, and really extreme, anti-cult draft law dated 30th May 2000 and unveiled on June 6, authored by MP Ms. Catherine Picard and signed by all French Socialist Members of the National Assembly, was approved unanimously on June 22 in the National Assembly and now awaits approval by the Senate to become effective. The Socialist Party is the party of France’s Prime Minister. The National Assembly, if anything, made the draft law worse, by changing the perimeter from a school, hospital or similar where cults cannot operate from 100 to 200 meters (making it impossible for cults to operate at all almost everywhere), allowing cities to deny building permissions to cults and allowing private anti-cult organizations to promote and become parties in court cases against cults. These amendments were approved against the opinion of the government itself, and elicited strong reactions by human rights organizations and the mainline churches (Catholic and Protestant). As a result, Justice Minister Elizabeth Guigou (no friend of the “cults” and author of an earlier strong-worded anti-cult circular letter to courts) called fopr a “pause” and a re-examination before the law is approved by the Senate. In the French Senate anti-cult feelings are stronger than in the Assembly; the government, however, should be able to delay the vote.
The draft law contains 11 articles derived in part from several former proposals, including the one by Senator About.
The main features of the draft law are as follows: 1. Article 1 provides for the dissolution of a corporation or association whose activities “have the goal or effect to create or to exploit the state of mental or physical dependence of people who are participating in its activities” and which infrige “human rights and fundamental liberties”, when this association, or it managers (or de facto managers) have been convicted “several times” (how many times is not specified) for offenses such as fraud, illegal practice of medicine, and several other criminal offenses. The introduction makes it clear that this combination of mind control, infringement of “human rights”, and “several” criminal convictions is the definition of a “sect” or “cult” now regarded as legally workable.
The procedure of dissolution is judicial and can be introduced in front of a civil court by the local prosecutor or by any person which has an interest in the matter (including, apparently, anti-cultists).
2. Articles 2 to 5 create a corporate criminal liability for corporations or associations falling under Article 1 in cases where only personal liability existed.
3. Article 6 is punishing any person which participates to the reconstitution of a corporation or association which has been dissolved with 3- year prison term and a Francs 300,000 fine. Article 7 calls for the renewed dissolution of an association which has been refounded after a first dissolution.
4. Article 8 forbids the set up of any offices, seat, church, advertisement or advertising activity by sects (i.e. the associations and groups defined as per Article 1) in the perimeter of 200 m (as amended by the Assembly) from a hospital, a retirement house, a public or private institution of prevention, curing or caring, or any school from 2 to 18- year -old students. If this interdiction is violated, the sentence is 2 years of imprisonment and a Francs 200,000 fine and the corporation or association can be condemned itself. Cults or sects (as defined above) may also be denied building permissions or licenses by the cities.
5. Article 9 is punishing any promotion or propaganda done by an association or group falling under Article 1 “intended for young people” (age not defined) under penalty of a Franc 50,000 fine, applicable to both individuals and associations.
6. Article 10 is establishing the new crime of mental manipulation “Mental manipulation” (in fact “brainwashing”, although this term is not used) is defined as any activity or activities “with the goal or the effect to create or to exploit the state of mental or physical dependence of people who are participating in the group’s activities and to infringe human rights and fundamental liberties; to exert repeated pressions in order to create or exploit this state of dependence and to drive the person, against its will or not, to an act or an abstention with is heavily prejudicial to her”. The penalty is 2 years of imprisonment and a fine of Francs 200,000 If the victim is particularly weak due to its age, illness etc.. the penalty is 5 year and Francs 500,000. Following the amendments by the Assembly, court cases may be brought by anti-cult organizations, who will participate as parties in the case and may collect damages from the cults.
Penalties will apply to associations as well as to individuals.


Anti-Cult Law in Israel

10- February 2016- A law proposal aimed against “harmful cults” is about to be voted upon in the Israeli parliament (the Knesset). Blow is a summary of how this came to be, and what the response of local academics.

In 2009 and 2010 there were two high-profile “cult” stories in Israel, both leading to long incarceration sentences of the leaders (Goel Ratzon and Elior Chen). The ministry of Welfare and Social Services responded by forming a committee that issued a strongly anti-cult oriented report in 2011. This, in turn, brought a group of academics to claim –both to the relevant minister and the media- that the report was in discord with academic research, parliaments and courts around the world [attached]. More on this can be found in an article Marianna Ruah-Midbar and I published a while ago.

In the past five years, both processes continued without much influencing one another. The ministry of Welfare and Social Services seems to be committed to fight “harmful cults” (as they call them), cooperating with the main anti-cult civil organization in Israel. And we academics have formed an organization of our own, MEIDA, aimed at providing balanced information on NRMs in the fashion or Prof. barker’s INFORM –and headed by Prof. Boaz Huss, Dr. Rachel Werczberger and myself. We have good working relations with the ministry, but they believe mind control theories are, in some cases, correct, and are acting accordingly.

Last year, a law proposal was handed to the Knesset aiming at, basically, outlawing cults. It was never voted upon, but was handed again to the current Knesset, and this time it will most likely be voted upon during February 2016 [attached]. It is supported by 18 Knesset Members (out of a total of 120), from all parties –which means that it is quite likely to be approved. This is still a long process, with three rounds of votes, and even if the law is passed, the government still needs to decide to finance it in order for it to become operational –but, at the moment, it seems like the government actually approves of the law, so it may very well finance it.

In short, it is possible, perhaps even likely, that the state of Israel will soon have a law making cults illegal on the basis of theories of mind control. This law not only sentences leaders of cults to 10 years in prison, it members of cults, that is, to define them as legally unfit to handle their own affairs.

This is mostly done by that law distinguishing between “cults” and “harmful cults”. The distinction is a bit vague in the law, but the gist of the matter is that once any kind of legal felony has been committed in a cult –it becomes a harmful cult, and then the law applies to it.

In response to the law coming back to life, MEIDA has issued a position paper which we have sent to several Knesset Members and minsters [attached].

Attached to this brief summary of the events is a translation of MEIDA’s position paper to English, an unofficial translation to English of the proposal law, and the original response of academics to the 2011 report.

We academics hope this law will not pass without listening to not only what we have to say, but heeding past attempts at anti-cult legislation around the world, existing court rulings and academic research on the subject. We believe dialogue, instead of unilateral action, is the way to proceed.