“I heard a rumor about your church…“
Shincheonji Doesn’t Disclose Their Name?
A popular point of criticism against the Shincheonji Church of Jesus is regarding their methods of evangelism and how they host certain fellowship events as they do not disclose the name of their religious group from the beginning. Often, critics will leap to the conclusion that Shincheonji is trying to “hide” their identity and use propaganda as a form of deception to recruit people into the church.
However, blindly believing in these misguided accusations largely ignores the decades of persecution and discrimination the Shincheonji Church has received and is ongoing today. The current pandemic has allowed larger mainstream churches to blame Shincheonji for spreading the virus within the Republic of South Korea. The spread of misinformation has swayed public opinion to where even political leaders are marginalizing the church.
For the past few months, nearly 6,000 cases of discrimination have been recorded by the congregation members of the Shincheonji Church, as their own family members and friends turn on them for carrying out their personal beliefs.
Two Cases of Death in Shincheonji
Both in 2007 and 2017, two female congregants died from physical abuse caused by religious persecution, one woman’s husband beat her senseless and the other suffocated in the process of coercive conversion. As fundamentalist Protestant pastors feed lies into the minds of family members that their loved ones are part of a “cult,” drastic measures are taken to forcibly convert the victim. The pastors of the Christian Council of Korea, mainly consisting of mainstream denominations, utilize “deprogramming businesses” to profit off the emotional and physical trauma of Shincheonji congregation members.
Charging families thousands to have their loved one kidnapped and confined in a space to meet with “cult counselors” and listen to their teachings under coercive measures. While coercive conversion has been outlawed in many free countries, like the United States, as it is seen as inhumane and a violation of basic human rights, within the Republic of South Korea these practices remain present.
Is Your Coworkers a Shincheonji Member?
In examination of the workplace discrimination and persecution, the congregation members receive on a daily basis, it becomes more apparent as to the reasoning behind their discrete methods. Not openly listing their name at fellowship events is not a crime as the purpose behind being so wary lies originates from fear of harassment.
As the name of Shincheonji Church is consistently and maliciously slandered today through false testimonies from previous, disgruntled members, both the leaders and the congregation members are unjustly vilified, resulting in them needing to be overly cautious to protect their own lives.
What Does the Media Say about Shincheonji?
Without the protection of their religious freedom, the Shincheonji Church has been forced to invent their own protective measures to avoid further abuse and prejudice. Yet, in recent months, several articles are now being published by CENSUR and the USCRIF with support of international of human rights organizations calling for the persecution of Shincheonji, a religious minority, to cease.
Shincheonji’s “Front” Organization
As Shincheonji’s Chairman, Lee Man Hee, has also founded peace organizations, like HWPL which was granted special consultative status by the United Nations, he is recognized globally by various political and religious leaders for being a messenger of peace. Furthermore, many of these world leaders support the work of Chairman Lee despite being aware of the slander and misinformation permeating the media about Shincheonji.
To counter the lies and the slander, the Shincheonji Church is releasing articles on the truth about its doctrines and peace efforts across the world, Yet, rather remaining complicit against the religious persecution of the mainstream, the church also calls for justice against their persecutors. By exposing the cases of injustice against their congregation members, many critics mistake these articles as propaganda about Shincheonji portraying a false image.
However, other religious and political leaders, who are not a part of the Church, are also speaking out in support of Chairman Lee and his peace efforts across the globe calling for the persecutors to be held accountable and hate speech to stop.
Lee Man Hee’s Shincheonji Books
Additionally, Chairman Lee has published various books based on the Bible and its scriptures fulfilling today, if someone is interested in Shincheonji’s teachings then those resources are available today. Accusations targeting Shincheonji’s methods of outreach often ignore the validity of the teachings and instead criticizes how members’ behave and how they choose to carry out their beliefs.
Shincheonji Breaks Families Apart
Conflicts between family members over differing religious views only grow as defamation and lies about Shincheonji’s intentions spread through social media. To avoid violence and harassment, congregation members avoid publicly affiliating themselves with the church not out of deception but out of fear of losing their jobs and their lives.
If those spreading hate speech would be held accountable for the lies they speak so freely, then the Shincheonji Church would not need to go under a different name when they do outreach.
Where Does the Gossip Come From?
While the protestors think they are doing the work of justice by spreading the gossip about Shincheonji and Lee Man Hee, they disregard the 12,000 pastors of the Christian Council of Korea (CCK), who were accused of crimes involving physical violence, fraud, and embezzling.
However, since the majority of the slander is driven by the CCK’s jealousy toward Shincheonji, they are able to cover their own wrongdoings by blaming others to avoid new outlets from researching and discovering their own crimes.
As Shincheonji experienced exponential growth from 2007 to 2018, from 76,000 members to 200,000, their presence did not go unnoticed by the fundamentalist Protestant pastors. Instead of examining the teachings of the newly found church, the CCK decided to condemn Shincheonji’s existence through spreading rumors about its Chairman.
Did Lee Man Hee Claim to Be the Korean Jesus?
Chairman Lee has never spoken nor written that he is the second coming of Jesus Christ, yet countless new articles spread this rumor to defame and ridicule this religious minority to prevent people from wanting to attend Zion Mission Center.
Regardless of the countless slandering articles, Shincheonji continues to endure with a 95% attendance rate and many of its international congregation members continue to persevere as they make great effort to bring light to the injustices occurring against the church.