Shincheonji A Growing Offshoot New Christian Religious Sect
Shincheonji is an offshoot Christian new spiritual movement. It is considered to be the fastest-growing spiritual sect in South Korea. The word”Shincheonji” is a Korean word that means”New Heaven and Earth.” It’s is officially Called the Shincheonji Church of Jesus. It is also known by different names, such as the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony. Lee Man-hee discovered the new religious movement in March 1984.
The spiritual movement became the center of intense scrutiny throughout the COVID-19 outbreak in South Korea. It was noted that a 61-year-old Shincheonji member who was infected propagate the virus among the church members and slowly resulted in an outbreak. Thousands of negative press articles were published throughout the world. There were even controversies where the South Korean people signed petitions to the Blue House asking for the church’s disband. It became the centre of controversies and is often known as a doomsday cult.
The church started its journey with Lee Man-hee, who found Shincheonji and recognized its first temple in Anyang, Gyeonggi Province, in March 1984. It is presently headquartered in Gwacheon, believed to have a prophetic meaning within the church theology. The church has also established the Zion Christian Mission Center in Seoul. In 2014, the membership of the church has been projected to 120,000 members. Its large membership was further divided into twelve tribes according to the geographic lands within South Korea.
The philosophy of the church state which Lee Man-hee is the promised pastor mentioned in the New Testament. It further claims that the Bible is written in metaphors that only the promised pastor can decipher and interpret. Further, it proceeds that the salvation or eternal life is located in true religion inside the members and that everyone who is not a part of this church will be denied forgiveness. Despite being known as a cult group, Shincheonji members actively participate in different cultural and volunteer functions.
Whenever it comes to the mainstream of South Korean culture, Shincheonji has a bad reputation. The negative reputation is mostly due to interviews with vocal ex-members from the newspapers. Ex-members have clarified the organization as a reckless and clandestine cult. Because of this, particular participants of those organizations disguise their membership in order to prevent public humiliation and bigotry. Shincheonji is considered heretical by traditional Christian religions, despite the group’s claims it is not a covert and malicious cult. The party was one of South Korea’s quickest faith bands.