The existence of several quasi-religious groups is evident, but the Shincheonji has grasped global attention. The Christian new religious movement was established in 1984 but has become the limelight with its gaining popularity in the present time. Several controversies circle the religious group, particularly the outbreak of COVID-19 in South Korea, which the citizens blame upon the members of Shincheonji.
Lee Man-hee found the religious group. He is recognized by its followers as the “promised pastor,” “the one who overcome,” or “the advocate.” Shincheonji in Korean means “Hanja lit,” which is translated in English as “New Heaven and New Earth.” The preaching of Lee declares himself as a messiah. He claims to contain the spirit of the returned Jesus Christ. The group’s religious teachings declare that the way to salvation is through him and his religious group. Everyone outside the group will be destroyed during the Day of Judgment.
The outbreak of the Coronavirus in South Korea centered on the city of Daegu. It began with the first encounter of the virus that infected a 61-year person who was a member of the Shincheonji. The patient, particularly known as Patient 31, led to the spread of the virus among its church members and other citizens around. The news of the virus outbreak by a quasi-Christian doomsday sect member led national havoc. It led to several controversies, such as discrimination, abuse, and threats against the members of Shincheonji.
The founder of the group Lee Man-hee publicly apologized for the virus’s unintentional spread through its church members. He also spoke about the unfair blame or falsely accused of its church members and the religious group. The negative media attention pointed at the religious group became a global talk and declared the group a cult that has been misleading the people. There was also a national outcry where over 1.3 million South Korean citizens petitioned the Government to disband the religious group’s existence. Recognizing the growing discrimination against the members of the religious group, several NGO’s and human activists have come together in support of the group.
They usually practice their work and support through operating and running social-action organizations. Though this cult is objected and criticized yet, they’re extremely successful and influential. The founder and creator of this cult claim that he has the special and exceptional capacity of interpreting the bible. He considers himself as immortal and says that salvation requires faith in under him. However, when research and study carefully, Shincheonji is entirely a substantial diversion from the gospel’s real teaching.