Sunday, March 8, 2020

Coronavirus and Shincheonji

Whenever we have a man-made tragedy not infrequently we have the makings of the scapegoat. In the recent spread of the Coronavirus in Korea with the largest numbers of those infected outside of China, it is natural to look for reasons. The government is high up there as part of the reason for not closing the borders to Korea from China. Also, the Shincheonji Church of Jesus (The New Heaven and Earth Church of Jesus) for being the center of the spread of the virus in Daegu (a city in North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea).

It's easy to understand why the Shincheonji Church has been criticized and considered one of the sources of the spread of the coronavirus. The secrecy of the movement and the failure to be proactive at the start of the spread in Daegu is a sufficient reason for the criticism.

In the beginning, some of the members gave the impression of non-cooperation with the efforts being made in society. This has changed recently. They also have almost 60% of the numbers infected in Daegu.

Also, the movement is considered a cult by many of the Christians in the country which means they have gained little sympathy. Members who belong to the movement number close to 300 thousand in Korea; it started less than 40 years ago by a charismatic leader. A Catholic priest who has made a study of the movement is written up in both Catholic papers with feature stories on the movement.

He mentions the pseudo-religious groups and cults in his article and says: "It is no exaggeration to say that 20-30% of the 300,000 Shincheonji believers were Catholics. In particular, Shincheonji has been exponentially increasing its numbers with the study of the Bible and with the use of hundreds of different methods of evangelism since 2000. They are taking away the youth and energy of many middle-aged women.

The sitting arrangement for the members is close together on the floor. Their praying and singing make it easy to infect others when you are so close to others for many hours. Brainwashing programs and deceptive methods of recruiting are all used. The use of deception is not seen as something wrong for the end justifies the means. One of the methods used in which both the traditional Protestant Churches and Catholics find evil is remaining in the church as leaders and using their position to indoctrinate those they deal with in the teachings of Shincheonji.

In conclusion to one of the articles, the priest wants the pastors and families to learn more about the Shincheonji movement. They have the same Bible and believe in the same Jesus but brainwashed to do great harm to themselves and family. We must never forget the great spiritual pain of the individual. We are not aware that many of those who have left Catholicism for a variety of reasons do enter this strange world of Shincheonji.

The victims of this pseudo-religion have experienced hellish moments and he hopes that Christians will be warm in relating with them for they have been cruelly deceived. It's important for Catholics to enjoy their life of faith for we are all heirs of salvation here and now. This message is not experienced by many Catholics and consequently lack the 'joy of life'.

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