Falun Gong Grows In U.S. Too

In China, being a member of the Falun Gong could get you arrested. In America, that you won't get arrested, but you may get suspicious glances. CBS News Correspondent Jeffrey Kofman reports.

Believers like Gail Rachlin say that the group's exercises make her feel better.

"I feel like I've been reborn in terms of my physical health," says Rachlin, a media consultant in New York. My energy level is much more balanced."

On Friday, followers of Falun Gong protested in front of the Capitol Building in Washington, demonstrating against China's decision to outlaw the group. With the help of recruiting drives, support in the U.S. for Falun Gong - a mixture of mysticism and movement - is growing.

There are even Falun Gong employee groups at a number of major corporations. But those corporations wouldn't talk publicly, fearing that what may be good for their employees, may not be good for their business - especially business with China.

The movement claims millions of followers in China. Last spring they rattled the Chinese leadership with this silent protest demanding recognition as a religion. Instead Falun Gong was labeled a dangerous cult.

"To a certain extent I find it is cultish," says Perry Link, a professor of East Asian Studies at Princeton University.

But Link also says that while the practices are harmless, the size of Falun Gong's following is seen as a threat to China's Communist Party, as are the claims of the group's founder, Li Hongzhi.

"He claims that he stands very high in the history of religious leaders, above, for example, Buddha, above Jesus Christ," Links says.

Whether it really is a simple series of exercises or something to be feared, those who practice Falun Gong know they may pay a price.