Several quasi-religious movements are operating around the world. However, the quasi-Christian doomsday sect Shincheonji has become a global pariah. The Christian new religious movement was initially found on 14 March 1984 but has received much criticism and recognition only today. The religious movement and its association with the COVID-19 outbreak in South Korea have created havoc among its citizens and left a global impact.
Shincheonji is a Korean word “Hanja lit,” which means “New Heaven and New Earth.” The founder Lee Man-hee is recognized as the “promised pastor,” “the one who overcome,” or “the advocate.” He is a self-declared messiah that proclaims that the spirit of the returned Jesus Christ is within him. He also claims that the Book of Revelation in the Bible is written in secret code that only he can interpret. Lee also preaches that salvation is by seeking the Shincheonji Church of Jesus and that everyone outside the group will not be forgiven and destroyed.
Shincheonji, which was once a theological curiosity, has become a global pariah. Several controversies circle the group; however, the main cause of its rising popularity is its association with the COVID-19 outbreak in South Korea. The outbreak of the virus in the country was centered on Daegu, where a 61-year-old person, a member of the Church of Jesus, was infected with the virus and eventually spread to other church members and citizens, creating havoc in the country. It created a national outcry where over 1.3 million South Korean citizens petitioned the Government to disband the existence of Shincheonji.
However, the opposition party and members of the religious group criticize the Government for allowing travelers from China to enter Korea. It declared that it was the biggest failure on the part of the Government. Other controversies include abuse, threat, and discrimination at work against the religious group members. Various NGO’s and human rights activists have come in support of the religious group regarding the unfair blame placed upon the members for the COVID-19 outbreak in South Korea.
His preaching and his principle about him and his religion appear discriminated against Christianity. So, most mainstream Churches in South Korea believe Shincheonji as a cult. Shincheonji has millions of devout disciples from South Korea and other countries like the US, that are considered to be the faithful followers of God. However, this religious group has different beliefs and ideology, then Christianity. Their teaching, thoughts, devotions, practices, and prayer customs are very other than Christianity. These practices and their disobedience, which led to the rise of COVID instances in South Korea, assert Shincheonji as a cult rather than a committed religious group.