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This lesson plan is supplemented with material from

Lesson plan: China's Falun Gong movement

January 16, 2001
Web posted at: 4:41 PM EST (2141 GMT)

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Students will be able to:

  • Describe Falun Gong.
  • Assess and defend their opinions about whether Falun Gong is a religion, a cult or a spiritual movement that can be applied within numerous religious philosophies.
  • Gain a comparative understanding of the world's religions. (Challenge)


National Council for the Social Studies
IX. Global Connections

High school students should be able to think systematically about personal, national and global decisions, interactions and consequences, including addressing critical issues such as peace, human rights, trade and global ecology.

Materials article, "China counters claims of crackdown against sect"
Internet access

Suggested time

One class period


1. Discuss with the class that Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is said to be a form of qigong that aims to refine the body and mind through special exercises and meditation similar to tai chi. But Falun Gong also incorporates Buddhist and Taoist principles, combined with exercise and mind-body connection. Falun Gong distinguishes itself from other qigong practices by emphasizing not only physical but also moral character. The group denies being a religion and says it is "a network for transmitting information and practices in which people may dip on an incidental basis or more regularly." For background information, see the article "What is Falun Gong?"

2. Have students read the article "China counters claims of crackdown against sect" and ask the following:

  • What did the Chinese government disclose about Falun Gong followers? Why do you think they are now disclosing the number of prisoners who are Falun Gong followers?
  • A Hong Kong-based rights group says at least 10,000 Falun Gong members are being held, and the Chinese government says that it has punished 242 people. Why do you think there is a significant difference in the number given by the human rights group and the number given by the Chinese government?
  • Why do you think the Chinese government sends people to labor camps for up to three years without trial? Do you think this would be a fair practice in the United States? Explain your answer.
  • Why do you think the Chinese government claims that Falun Gong is a cult and threatens public order and communist rule? Why do you think the government is questioning Falun Gong followers? Do you think this is harassment?

3. Have students research the basic tenets of Falun Gong. Ask them to also define "religion" and "cult." Have students analyze the information they have collected and determine if they think Falun Gong is a religion, a cult or neither. Students must support their position with specific details.

4. Have students share the information with class. Create a bar graph on the board illustrating how students categorize Falun Gong.


Have each student answer the following: Which categorization of Falun Gong received the most student votes? Which got the least? Why do you think the class voted this way?


Students can write summaries addressing the who, what, when, where and why of Falun Gong.


Use's "World religions" lesson plan to allow students to compare and contrast different religions of the world.

Falun Dafa
Report on the Falun Gong
The Falun Gong movement
Falun Dafa & Falun Gong

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