The persecution of Chinese people who practice Falun Gong, a program of exercise and meditation, has inspired several Indianapolis residents to take to the road to educate others about the "horrific crime against humanity."

Joe and Lixuan Tackett, who follow the spiritual practice, got the idea to educate others about the situation in China as a way of positively filling time while Joe Tackett was off work for health problems. They had heard of similar "car tours" in other states.

The Tacketts have been meeting with Indiana mayors, newspaper editors and reporters, and community members to talk about how the Chinese government is imprisoning Falun Gong practitioners and harvesting their organs for transplants. They stopped in Richmond recently.

"The only way it can stop is if you bring evil to light," Joe Tackett said. "A human rights issue is one thing, but when you get to taking their organs, that becomes a crime against humanity." Practice and persecution

Falun Gong is a spiritual practice, similar to Tai Chi, which is based upon the principles of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance and involves five sets of exercises, Lixuan Tackett said.

Falun Gong received a widespread introduction in China in 1992 and grew to be practiced by 70 to 100 million Chinese, she said. At first, the Chinese Communist Party's government supported Falun Gong for its health benefits. However, in 1999, when the number of Falun Gong practitioners exceeded the membership in the Chinese Communist Party, the practice was outlawed and the persecution began.

"It became something they (the government) couldn't control," Joe Tackett said.

Persecuted Falun Gong practitioners are often imprisoned in work camps. Recent investigations indicate the imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners are used as a living organ bank. They are custom-killed so their hearts, livers, kidneys, and corneas can be harvested and sold for organ transplants at huge profits.

There Chinese hospitals -- many of which that are military hospitals -- that advertise on their Web sites that organ transplants can take place in one to two weeks after a patient arrives at their hospital. Most of the transplant recipients are from outside China and pay for the privilege.

Canada's former Secretary of State David Kilgour and human rights attorney David Matas made an independent investigation of the organ-stealing crimes against Falun Gong practitioners.

In that report, the findings of which were presented to the U.S. Congress in September 2006, one transplant recipient told investigators he went to China twice seeking a kidney. During his first visit four possible kidneys were made available to him but none of those proved compatible. He returned about two months later and another four kidneys were made available and one of those was compatible. The recipient was told to have come from an executed prisoner.

However, the question whether the prisoner was executed for his crimes or for his organs remains.

Lixuan Tackett said the execution rate for prisoners has remained at about 16,000 in China while the transplant rate has increased disproportionately.

China also has no organ program like the one in the U.S. She notes that from 1994 to 1999, China had 18,500 organ transplant cases. In comparison, from 1999 to 2005, after Falun Gong was outlawed, China had 60,000 organ transplant cases. How can something good be bad?

It was those types of statistics that intrigued Joe Tackett about five years ago. That's when Tackett, who has a martial arts background, got interested in Falun Gong after reading snippets about the crackdown on its practitioners in China.

"I couldn't understand why you would persecute people for doing exercise that were beneficial," Joe Tackett said.

Lixuan Tackett had a graduate school friend who practiced Falun Gong at the University of Texas-Houston. She saw how her friend benefited and started the practice in October 1998. Her colds and fatigue fell away and she was filled with energy.

"Mainly, the principles attracted me. I feel the power. When I want to be good, I can be. It just brings the peace in my life. My heart feels more peaceful," Lixuan Tackett said. "It's almost impossible to be angry."

After Falun Gong was outlawed in China, she said, "I asked myself, 'What's wrong with truthfulness, compassion and tolerance?' Nothing's wrong, so I will continue to follow it."

Joe Tackett said those against the practice have characterized it as a [slanderous term omitted].

"We send no money, we're not on a roll or list. Members have jobs, families, kids," he said. "There's no membership in Falun Gong." Any man's death diminishes me

Although Falun Gong is practiced in Indiana, what do the tragedies in China have to do with Hoosiers?

Joe Tackett answers that question with quotes from "Meditation XVII" of Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, a 1624 poem by John Donne:

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."