Religion 95
Religion Senior Symposium
December, 2000
Swarthmore College

Editor's note: The original title of the paper was: Martyrdom Past and Present: ".Christians in the 2nd and 3rd Centuries, and Falun Gong Practitioners Today".

(Download the Word .doc file)

If the ancient examples of faith, such as both testified to the grace of God, and wrought the edification of man, have for this cause been set out in writing that the reading of them may revive the past, and so both God be glorified and man strengthened, why should not new examples be set out equally suitable to both these ends? For these in like manner will some day be old and needful for posterity, though in their own time because of the veneration secured to antiquity they are held in less esteem.[1]

-From "The Passion of Ss. Perpetua and Felicitas,"Christian martyrs, 203 CE

Daytime, Tiananmen square. A small group of people rush into the square, striking a qigong stance, sitting in the lotus position, or unfurling banners that read, "Falun Gong is Good." They come day after day, young and old, educated and illiterate, rich and poor, male and female, appealing to the Chinese communist government to stop its persecution of their spiritual practice: Falun Gong. Some days they arrive in the hundreds, or even thousands,[2] knowing full well the violent consequences that await them. They risk everythingloss of home, job, arrest, torture, and even deathsimply to defend their faith.[3]

To the outsider, they may seem fanatical, mystical, strange, or downright crazy. The media have often capitalized on this potential, sensationalizing these committed believers, making them seem unintelligible, or even deluded. In the words of New York Times reporter Craig Smith:[4] "China's actionshave led to at least a dozen deaths But little light has been cast on why so may people feel Falun Gong,[5] founded seven years ago and now claiming millions of adherents, is worth dying for. Nor is it widely understood in the West that aspects of the movement, or cult, suggest that its followers are misled"[6] Through examining history, however, we learn that actions similar to those of Falun Gong practitioners have been similarly misunderstood. For in their time, Christian martyrs were called members of a "new-fangled cult,"[7] and considered misled,[8] among other accusations.[9] Yet today they are venerated. Smith and others provide interpretations of Falun Gong practitioners' actions that are simplistic, and accessible to those unfamiliar with both Falun Gong and the history of Christian martyrdom. These limited, derogatory representations do little to inform, and even threaten to lend support to the persecutors. A more sophisticated reading is in order. Seeing Falun Gong practitioners' actions through the lens of Christian martyrdom texts complicates easy assumptions and interpretations, and allows for a deeper understanding of them.

As one enters the world of these believers, one is able to understand, at least in part, what motivates them to die for their cause. Both the Christian martyrdom texts and Falun Gong texts demonstrate that they view the events surrounding their persecution as a cosmic battle between good and evil; this in turn affects their perspective on the identities of the actors involved. This includes those who renounce their faith, their persecutors, and themselves. They view those who renounce their faith as succumbing to, or even complying with the Devil. Their persecutors are viewed in relationship to evil, often as the Devil himselfhe who is utterly contrary to good. Their personal identities fall away, and they view themselves solely in relationship to their spiritual practice, as those who uphold good in the universe. In addition, they view their actions as not only a powerful force against evil, but as something that will earn them an eternal, heavenly reward in the future. Their perspective on the gravity and consequences of their actions is far beyond what outsiders can imagine; only by entering their world may we understand them.

In part one I will discuss trends in primarily two Christian martyrdom texts, "The Passion of Ss. Perpetua and Felicitas" and "The Martyrdom of the Christian Blandina and Three Male Companions."[10] First I will give samplings of what sorts of suffering they endured for their faith, then will discuss their cosmic motivation for this: Their view of their persecution as a battle between good and evil in which they and their persecutors are central, and their hope for an everlasting reward. In part two I will discuss Falun Gong in relationship to these texts, uncovering similarities between the past and present. Finally, in part three I will provide a summary, will discuss avenues for further scholarship, the significance of such scholarship, and what the discussions here may indicate for scholarship and for Falun Gong in the future.

Christian Martyrdom Texts, 2nd and 3rd centuries

I. How They Suffered

The holy martyrs endured punishments beyond all description.[11]

Before understanding martyrs' responses to their persecution, it is necessary to first discuss what exactly some of their persecution consisted of. The brutal methods that were used on those in the Blandina and Perpetua texts ranged from simple verbal abuse and cramped prison cells, to an electric chair of sorts and being thrown to the beasts. All of this was done to convince them to simply offer up some incense to the city's gods, or offer a sacrifice to them,[12] but they refused, rather choosing to keep their own religion pure.

It is written of one male's body, Sanctus', that after extreme torture in the arena it was "one whole wound and bruise, contracted, having lost the outward form of a man."[13] Blandina's torturers are said to have tried every method they knew to break her, from dawn till dusk, until her body was "all mangled and covered with gaping wounds" and they were utterly exhausted by her endurance.[14] Another, Alexander, was "placed in the iron chair and scorched, so that the fumes rose from his body."[15] Some were thrown to wild beasts such as leopards and bears,[16] their throats were cut,[17] or they were beheaded.[18] While this was a somewhat common form of entertainment in certain areas during the 2nd and 3rd centuries, to the modern reader it is shocking, to say the least. Many may wonder why these people were willing to endure so much suffering, even to the point of death, simply to remain true to their faith.

II. The Cosmic Battle

And I perceived that I should not fight with beasts but with the Devil.[19]

It is clear from their actions that these people had tremendous courage. If we step inside their world, we may come to understand where this courage came from. They rose above the horrors through their profoundly spiritual, supernormal, cosmic understanding of these events. The martyrs saw this not as a struggle between Christians and their persecutors, but as a battle between good and evil, an opportunity to fight for God against the Devil.

Prior to Perpetua's struggle for her life, she had a vision. In that vision, she saw herself in the amphitheater, engaged in literal hand to hand combat with a mysterious "adversary,"[20] whom she defeats. Perpetua realized what this meant about her forthcoming day of martyrdom, saying "And I perceived that I should not fight with beasts but with the Devil; but I knew the victory to be mine."[21] She saw herself as on the side of God in the battle against the Devil. Perpetua did not see herself as a victim of persecution, but as an active participant in defeating evil, empowered by the divine. The same was true for Blandina. After Blandina's endurance under torture amazed her oppressors, she proclaimed, "I am a Christian, and with us evil finds no place,"[22] explaining that her endurance stemmed from a Christian's power to fend off evil. These martyrs saw themselves as agents of the divine, and surely this perspective gave them strength.[23]

Not only do these texts indicate that the martyrs themselves saw their actions as a part of a cosmic battle, but those who wrote about them cast their stories in this light as well. One author sets the scene in this way at the beginning of one of the texts: "the adversary fell upon us with all his mightNevertheless the grace of God was our captain on the other side, rescued the weak, and ranged against the foe firm pillars, able by their endurance to draw upon themselves the whole attack of the evil one."[24] In this text, God is the "captain" of the good warriors, strengthening them in their battle against the evil. This sort of battleground imagery permeates the texts. Blandina is described as being nearly invincible, as various forms of torture and brutality did not stop her. She was thus put in prison again, to be brought out for another conflict later on. The author writes that this happened so that "she might conquer in still further contests, andrender irrevocable the sentence passed on the crooked serpentin many rounds vanquish[ing] the adversary."[25] This is certainly no poor victim in the hands of cruel oppressors, but rather a gladiator who will crush the opposition, simply by staying firm in her faith in the face of evil.

Those who did renounce their faith were viewed as part of the losing side. This perspective on those who betrayed the faith surely motivated the martyrs to forbear to an even greater extent. They felt that one chooses either one side or the otherthe Devil's, or God's; that is, there was no real choice in their minds. One person who denied his faith is described as having been "devoured" by "the devil."[26] Even giving a thought to going over to the other side was seen as surrendering to evil: "those who were apprehended confessed without doubting, nor did they bestow even a thought upon the persuasion of the devil."[27] The Blandina text tells of a woman who had denied her faith. She gave a though to the perils of hell that might await her, and thus quickly came back to the side of the Christians.[28] Thus the lines appear clear for them: If they were to be on the side of God, they needed to be firm, unwavering. Otherwise, they were doomed.

It is clear that these martyrs and writers cast the situation as a whole in cosmic terms, but they also did so with the identities of the individual actors involved. They were identified primarily in relationship to the cosmic battle, not as individual persons. This was true for both the persecutors and the persecuted. When a mad heifer was prepared by the persecutors for attacking Perpetua and Felicitas, it was "the Devil" who made her ready, not people.[29] And it was "the Devil" who invented new torture devices after the conventional ones did not succeed,[30] and "the Devil" was the one using horrible punishments to try to force the believers to say slanderous words against their faith.[31] In these texts, those who attacked the Christians were seen as representations of the Devil. These martyrs and writers viewed nothing in ordinary terms, as their faith fundamentally informed their perspective on the events. They saw every thing and every person involved as a part of the struggle with evil.

These martyrs saw themselves as such active participants in the battle that their individual identities fell away, as well, and their personal characteristics lost importance. They abandoned themselves to become part of something greater. When Sanctus was tortured so that he would say something to incriminate himself, he:

set the battle against them with such firmness that he would not even state his own name, or the people or city whence he came, or whether he were bond or free. But to every question he replied in Latin, 'I am a Christian.' This he confessed again and again, instead of name and city and race and all else, and no other word did the heathen hear from his lips.[32]

Alexander responded similarly, saying, "A Christian,"[33] when the governor asked who he was. In Pagans and Christians, Robin Fox writes that, under threat of death, it was fairly common for Christians to refuse to reveal any personal information or their place of origin, but rather to say that they were from a "universal Church." Some said their names were Daniel, Elijah, and so forth; others said that the city they were from was Jerusalem.[34] All of the above examples demonstrate again how fundamentally the martyrs viewed things in terms of their faith, to the point of leaving all of their other personal, worldly characteristics behind. In the face of death, the only thing that mattered was that they held onto their faith, and remained on the side of the good, to the end.[35]

III.Eternal Reward

The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared

with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward.[36]

The martyrs' perspective on the events around them gave them great strength and determination, and sometimes even joy. They found joy not only in the belief that they were assisting God in battling evil, but in their faith that they would be rewarded for their sacrifice. One descriptor writes that when the day of martyrdom came, "the day of their victory dawned," and "they proceeded from the prison to the amphitheater as if they were on their way to heaven."[37] Indeed, many viewed martyrdom as a ticket to heaven. As they distanced themselves further and further from the things of this worldtheir families, personal identities, then bodiesthe texts imply that they became closer to the world to come. Perpetua is depicted as having a special connection with the divine, and God revealed to her in many visions the reward she would receive for her martyrdom. In one vision she saw many other martyrs up in heaven with the angels. She then joined them, and "God stroked our faces with His hand."[38] In another vision,[39] God revealed to her that in her martyrdom she would be victorious over the Devil, and would therefore "go in triumph to the Gate of Life."[40] One author writes that the burden of the suffering Christians was lightened by their hope in the promise of reward.[41] These texts convey that the Christian community believed that martyrs were special friends of Godbelievers who were a cut above the restand would be given due reward.

Today that belief has carried on, in modern day terms. That is, Christian martyrs are venerated and even prayed to, due to the belief in their special connection to God. Their sacrifices are seen as one of the foundations of Christianity, and their courage and conviction are admired.[42] As the old saying goes, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." It all began with faith as their motivation--faith that what they were doing was a powerful force against evil, and faith that they would be rewarded for their suffering.

The Current Persecution of Falun Gong Practitioners

The same faith motivates Falun Gong practitioners today. Though there are obvious differences in time, place, and belief system, practitioners' views on their persecution and suffering are quite similar to those of the Christian martyrs discussed above. Reading the current situation in light of historical events allows us to understand it more fully. In this section I will look at how Falun Gong practitioners have suffered amidst the persecution, and at their view of it as a cosmic battle. I will demonstrate how in this understanding of events, there also appear similar views on what denying one's faith means, a blurring of identities, and a hope for eternal reward. They, too, view little of the current situation in ordinary terms, as their faith fundamentally informs their perspective.

Falun Gong practitioners have experienced horrors on par with some of those described above. Many have been beaten to death because they will not renounce their faith. A Wall Street Journal report of one such case is particularly harrowing:

The day before Chen Zixiu died, her captors again demanded that she renounce her faith in Falun Dafa. Barely conscious after repeated jolts from a cattle prod, the 58-year-old stubbornly shook her head. Enraged, the local officials ordered Ms. Chen to run barefoot in the snow. Two days of torture had left her legs bruised and her short black hair matted with pus and bloodshe crawled outside, vomited and collapsed. She never regained consciousness, and died on Feb. 21.[43]

This is just one of many such stories. Like the martyrs discussed above, thousands of Falun Gong practitioners in China have "endured punishments beyond all description."[44] They have reported cases of rape, drugging, physical mutilation, subjection to various torture devices, beatings with pipes, and other severe mental and physical tortures, carried out by authorities.

Many Falun Dafa practitioners view the Chinese government's attack on their practice as an attack by evil on righteousness, but more specifically, they view it as an attack by the evil forces in the cosmos on the Great Law of the cosmos.[45] In a short essay in an online journal, one practitioner describes the persecution of Falun Dafa as "evil forces desperately try[ing] to destroy the Great Law," and "demons sabotaging the Great Law."[46] Due to their cosmic perspective on these events, they thus view their actions within the persecution to have cosmic implications: "With thousands of hearts togetherthe beautiful monument of Dafa will destroy the devils."[47]

Like the Christians above, some Falun Dafa practitioners see those who renounce their faith as succumbing to evil, and allowing it to get the upper hand. One practitioner describes people who signed papers promising not to practice Falun Gong anymore: "Just because so many people surrendered, the demons were able to claim their 'victory.'"[48]

Also within this supernormal perspective on these events lies a different view of their oppressors and themselves. Just as with the Christians descriptions', persecutors in these texts are sometimes described in non-human terms. One article by Li Hongzhi, Falun Dafa's founder, discusses "the evil" taking practitioners away to detention centers, etc.[49] Again, each and every element in these events is viewed in terms of cosmic proportions, so the identities of the oppressors are blurred with the evil forces, and practitioners identify themselves with what they see as the greatest good force. Just like Sanctus and others, Falun Dafa practitioners often refuse to reveal personal information. They identify themselves only in terms of their practice, even after severe torture. When asked who they are, some reply "Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance"what Falun Dafa calls the supreme nature of the universe, the three words that describe most simply the Great Law (Dafa) of the universe.[50] When asked where they are from, some reply, "the universe." In their essays on the internet, they identify themselves as "One Falun Dafa Practitioner," and some call themselves, "A Particle of the Great Law." Just like the Christians above, they refuse to comply with their oppressorsthe evilby revealing personal information, and instead reinforce their view of themselves in relationship to their beliefs.

Besides these motivating factors lies the hope of future reward for their actions. One practitioner sees practitioners' responses to the situation in China as the means for gaining eternal life: "Let's validate the Dafa to the people of the world, in spite of the risks, in spite of detention, and in spite of death. Amidst this tribulation, we will gain our everlasting and blissful life."[51] Another writes of similar hopes, demonstrating a joy similar to that mentioned above:

people claim the life in this world to be the most precious; but to a true practitioner, death only means the abandonment of the human body. It is an end to the suffering experience of humans in this dimension, and an entry to the real beautiful, kind, honest, and compassionate new world. What an event to celebrate![52]

Falun Gong practitioners and the Christians discussed above have hope in the same reward for their actions against evil. They do not see death as something to be feared, but as the joyous outcome of their sacrifice.


Where is their God? What profit has their religion brought them, which they have preferred to their own life?[53]

They introduce into our midst a certain strange and new-fangled cult.[54]

The Martyrdom of the Christian Blandina and Three Male Companions, 177 CE

But little light has been cast on why so may people feel Falun Gong, founded seven years ago and now claiming millions of adherents, is worth dying for. Nor is it widely understood in the West that aspects of the movement, or cult, suggest that its followers are misled...[55]

--New York Times, 2000 CE

Religious scholarship allows us to walk in the footsteps of martyrs, to see things through their eyes. It fundamentally recuperates the martyrs of the past and present, making them intelligible. The scholar of religion sets aside popular renderings, instead retrieving the martyr's voice and world view to look at events as an insider would. Through such scholarship we are able to see that these people are not dying for Christianity, or Falun Gong, but are actively defeating the power of evil in the world, and earning eternal life. They are not misled, but instead conscious, willful participants in an astounding drama with cosmic stakes. They are not cult members, but persons who have been deeply transformed by their emerging faith practices. They are persons who interpret themselves and the world around them through a profoundly spiritual lens; it is this that informs their incredible courage. By stepping into their world, one finds dynamic, complex persons who resist casual dismissal with pejorative rhetoric.

As I have argued, a more complex reading of these persons is necessary to begin understanding them. Through this reading, we discover, at least in part, their motivations for being willing to go to their deaths. They are fortified by their supernormal, faith-based perspective, which allows them to see their persecution as a battle between good and evil, and as something that will earn them eternal reward. This thus informs their view of those who deny their faith, their persecutors, and themselves.

There are many other fascinating comparisons that could be done with these texts alone, but which are beyond the scope of this paper. These would allow one to have an even deeper understanding of martyrdom in these traditions, both from an insider's and outsider's perspective. One could examine the meaning of the teacher's suffering for his followers,[56] martyrs' relationships to their bodies and suffering, the notion of sharing in divine power or becoming divine, the association of persecution with eschatology, the function of visions, others' astonishment at the martyrs' superhuman qualities, accounts of incredible resilience under torture, retribution for persecutors' actions, and teaching and conversion of others in prison; these are but a few of the parallels apparent in the texts studied here.[57]

Religious scholarship on Falun Dafa is in its infancy, as is the practice, and there is much work yet to be done. Such work has immediate relevance to public discourse and perceptions about current events relating to the field of religion. Misrepresentations and misinterpretations can have serious consequences, intentional or not. In this case, for example, people's perception of Falun Gong today certainly informs their desire to support or dismiss their struggle for religious freedom in China. This in turn can affect public policy, and affect, or even save lives.

In light of the many parallels cited above, the change in perception of Christian martyrs over the years may suggest a similar trend in perceptions of Falun Gong martyrs in the future. Should they continue to endure in their struggle, scholarship should anticipate that change in public perception, even while mass media may reinforce current popular misunderstanding.[58]

What the author of the Perpetua text wrote may apply today: "For these in like manner will some day be old and needful for posterity, though in their own time because of the veneration secured to antiquity they are held in less esteem."[59]

Works Cited

Fox, Robin Lane. Pagans and Christians. New York: Knopf, 1987.

Hongzhi, Li. "Rationality" Clear Wisdom. August 9, 2000.


Johnson, Ian. "Practicing Falun Gong Was a Right, Ms. Chen Said, Up to Her Last Day." The Wall Street Journal. April 20, 2000.

Kraemer, Ross, ed. Maenads, Martyrs, Matrons, Monastics. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1998.

Petroff, E.A. Medieval Women's Visionary Literature. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Smith, Craig. "Rooting Out Falun Gong--China Cracks Down on Mysticism." New York Times. April 30, 2000.

Author Unknown. "Some Reflections of Mine as I Clear My Thoughts." Clear Wisdom, June 24,2000. (translated from Chinese)


Author Unknown. "Breaking Through the Boundaries of Thoughts About Individuals' Cultivation." Clear Wisdom, June 12, 2000. (translated from Chinese)


Author Unknown. "Reflection on Cultivation During the Fa-Rectification of the Universe." ClearWisdom, October 3, 2000. (translated from Chinese)


[1] E.A. Petroff, Medieval Women's Visionary Literature (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 70. The quotation continues: "So shall no weak or despairing faith suppose that supernatural grace, in excellency of martyrdoms or revelations, was found among the ancients only; for God ever works what He has promised, to unbelievers a witness, to believers a blessing."
[2] See press coverage of October 1, 200 appeals on the square, where at least 1,000 were arrested on that day. October 1 is the Communist National Day, the anniversary of when the party took control in China. It is clear that if at least 1,000 made it onto the square, many times that number tried, as the government was checking trains, cars, buses, and everywhere they could to prevent practitioners from making it to the square to appeal on the day when the Party is supposed to be in its glory.
[3] To date, Amnesty International cites 77 cases of practitioners dying for their faith. Other sources cite even more.
[4] Smith's story is interesting. After he published a misleading and afactual article in The Wall Street Journal, he was forced by the Journal to call disgruntled practitioners and apologize. He has not written for the Journal since, and is now writing similarly misleading articles for the New York Times. The Times has not responded to letters to the editor in the same courteous way that the Journal did. He thus continues to spread misinformation.
[5] Falun Gong is also known as Falun Dafa. I will use these names interchangeably.
[6] Craig Smith, "Rooting Out Falun GongChina Cracks Down on Mysticism." (New York Times. April 30, 2000), 1. Smith argues that Beijing's behavior towards Falun Gong practitioners becomes understandable in light of their beliefs and practices. He cites beliefs in things such as spirit possession, heaven, and persons' ability to heal others as indicators that practitioners are misled.
[7] From Ross Kraemer, ed. Maenads, Martyrs, Matrons, Monastics (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1998), 313. Entire quotation reads: "They introduce into our midst a certain strange and new-fangled cult."
[8] Ibid., 312. Entire quotation reads: "Where is their God? What profit has their religion brought them, which they have preferred to their own life?"
[9] One favorite of their detractors was that they were cannibals, and even ate their own babies.
[10] Ibid., 304-313.
[11] Ibid., 306.
[12] Because Christian martyrs refused to acknowledge other gods, they were often blamed for endangering the well being of the city and its leaders, as others believed that sacrifices, etc., were needed in order to appease the gods.
[13] Ibid., 307
[14] Ibid., 306.
[15] Ibid., 311.
[16] Petroff, 76.
[17] Ibid., 76.
[18] Kraemer, 311.
[19] Petroff, 73.
[20] She uses this term to refer to her opponent, which may itself be an allusion to Satan, as "the adversary" is commonly used in the Bible for Satan.
[21] Petroff., 73. One idea represented here is that if the good does not give in to the evil, it remains victorious, even upon death.
[22] Kraemer, 306.
[23] The Perpetua text makes clear a few times that she was active in choosing her martyrdom, and that it was when she chose to end the battle that she died. In addition, the agency and plan of God are maintained throughout both texts, showing that the entire drama was his will. Both of these are two more examples that the writers of, and participators in these texts saw evil as constantly subordinate to God and his servants in terms of its power.
[24] Kraemer, 304. "The evil one" is a common term in the Bible for the Devil.
[25] Ibid., 310. Here and elsewhere, the text italicizes certain words for emphasis.
[26] Ibid., 307.
[27] Ibid., 309.
[28] Ibid., 307.
[29] Petroff, 76.
[30] Kraemer, 307.
[31] Ibid., 306.
[32] Ibid., 306.
[33] Ibid., 311.
[34] Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians (New York: Knopf, 1987), 422.
[35] These texts sometimes identify the martyrs as Christ-like, in imitation of his suffering, and in sharing in his power. This is another important dimension to their perspective on martyrdom, but which I cannot address any further here (see note 56 for more).
[36] Kraemer, 304.
[37] Petroff, 75.
[38] Ibid., 74.
[39] As mentioned above, on p. 5.
[40] Petroff, 73.
[41] Kraemer, 308.
[42] For example, the Blandina text is in a section of Kraemer's book, entitled, "Holy, Pious, and Exemplary Women."
[43] Ian Johnson. "Practicing Falun Gong Was a Right, Ms. Chen Said, Up to Her Last Day" (The Wall Street Journal. April 20, 2000).
[44] Kraemer, 306.
[45] I have put a great deal of time and energy into studying this practice, and thus it would be impossible for me to cite references for all details. One translation for "Dafa" is "Great Law," and practitioners believe that not only to be the name for their practice, but the name for the Great Law of the universe, or cosmos.
[46] Author Unknown. "Some Reflections of Mine as I Clear My Thoughts" (Clear Wisdom, June 24, 2000), 2. http://www.clearwisdom.net/eng/2000/Jun/24/PO062400_1.html (translated from Chinese)
[47] Author Unknown. "Breaking Through the Boundaries of Thoughts About Individuals' Cultivation" (Clear Wisdom, June 12, 2000), 4. http://www.clearwisdom.net/eng/2000/Jun/12/PO061200_1.html (translated from Chinese)
[48] "Breaking Through," 3.
[49] Li Hongzhi. "Rationality" (Clear Wisdom. August 9, 2000). http://www.clearwisdom.net/eng/2000/Aug/12/JingWen081200.html
[50] One of practitioners' goals is to assimilate to this nature completely.
[51] Author Unknown. "Reflection on Cultivation During the Fa-Rectification of the Universe" (Clear Wisdom, October 3, 2000), 2. http://www.clearwisdom.net/eng/2000/Oct/03/PO100300_3.html
[52] "Breaking Through," 2.
[53] Kraemer, 312.
[54] Ibid., 313.
[55] Smith, 1.
[56] Both the martyrdom texts discussed here and Falun Gong indicate belief that their teacher (Jesus or Li Hongzhi) bears sins for students through suffering, and in the process diminishes evil. They also see themselves as sharing in this suffering and bearing sins on their own.
[57] These all appear in some form in the two martyrdom texts, but do not all appear in the four Falun Gong texts cited here. Some stem from outside knowledge of Falun Gong beliefs and practices.
[58] Here I am addressing what I consider misconceptions about Falun Gong. This does not mean to imply that there are not people who do understand and support Falun Gong. In fact, many have drawn similar parallels to the ones I am drawing here, just in a less systematic or detailed manner.
[59] Petroff, 70.