Monday, April 20, 2009

The Biggest Church in the World

According to 2005 statistics compiled by the South Korean government, approximately 46.5% of the South Korean population expresses no religious preference. Of the population, 29.3% are Christian (of which 18.3% profess to be Protestants and 10.9% to be Catholics), 22.8% are Buddhist, and the rest belong to various other religions.

South Korea has the largest mega church in the world. The Yoido Full Gospel Church has over 250,000 in attendance on an average Sunday. The membership is well over 800,000. It is reported that the 10 largest mega churches are in Seoul.

The Protestant Church demands a great deal of the Christians. The common understanding would be: no alcoholic beverages, no smoking, no work on Sunday,not to participate in the Korean Confucian Rites and to tithe, besides taking all the teachings of Jesus seriously. The Korean Protestant Church, for the most part would be evangelical and puritan in tradition.

It is difficult to make general statement about the Protestant Churches since they do differ much among themselves. The Yoido Full Gospel Church’s website says that “Full Gospel” means taking literally the Bible and accepting fully and totally all that is in the Bible. They list the Seven Theological Foundations of the Full Gospel as:

Faith in the Cross on Calvary

Faith in the Fullness of the Holy Spirit

Faith in the Spreading of the Gospel to All the World

Faith in the Good God

Faith in Christ Who Carries Our Diseases

Faith in Christ Who Will Return

Faith in Sharing (blessing through tithing)

We as Catholics would have little difficulty with most of this but the emphasis on the Gospel of Prosperity would have to be qualified a great deal.

The following report below was taken from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea.

2008 Annual Report on Religious Freedom in North Korea

“This report is based on a survey of 2047 North Korean defectors who entered in South Korea between 2007 and 2008 and on the data of 345 cases of religious persecutions in North Korea with 252 related persons.

According to the report, 99.7 percent of respondents said they cannot freely practice their religious belief in North Korea. When a North Korean practices or proclaims his/her religious belief in public, possesses religious things, or comes in contact with religious people, he/she is persecuted in North Korea.

Mr. John Yun Yeo-sang, who as an expert member of the CRKP took a charge of the survey and prepared the report, gave suggestions for solution to relieve and prevent the North Koreans from the religious persecutions: a regular monitoring of the reality of religious freedom and persecution in North Korea; working on a method to prevent North Koreans from the religious persecution and help its victims; inter-Korean religious exchanges and examination of a connection between humanitarian aid of the religious world to North Korea and the extension of religious freedom; strengthening official and unofficial religious approaches to North Koreans; organizing an interreligious federation to extend the religious freedom in North Korea; strengthening assistance to North Korean defectors in South Korea in practicing their religious belief; developing a long-term strategy for evangelizing North Korea.

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