South Korea’s COVID-19 Church Scapegoat Is Fighting Again

South Korea’s COVID-19 Church Scapegoat Is Fighting Again

South Korea confronted a crisis early in the pandemic, when a sixty one-12 months-aged girl with a fever attended numerous Shincheonji Church of Jesus events in the city of Daegu. The space subsequently became the largest epicenter of the coronavirus exterior China. South Korea productively flattened the curve and turned a entire world chief for its pandemic response. Shincheonji, in the meantime, turned infamous as the Christian cult supposedly dependable for the country’s outbreak. But the way the team has been taken care of delivers up difficult questions of religious freedom, pandemic accountability, and media scapegoating.

A single of the reasons Shincheonji has been blamed for the unfold of the virus is the testimony of former customers who say that even when they ended up unwell, they ended up envisioned to show up at expert services the place they ended up “packed alongside one another like sardines.” There have also been reports that say church users consider their faith guards them from ailment, or that sickness is a sin. https://www.cesnur.org/2020/shincheonji-second-white-paper.htm This, South Koreans will explain to you, is why Shincheonji users collected in teams of extra than one,000 even as a pandemic was underway. This is why South Korea only recorded about one new case per working day in its to start with month—then jumped from 31 cases to six,767 above the upcoming two and a fifty percent months, with 63.5 % of those people instances tied to the church.

Shincheonji has also been blamed for the issue authorities faced in getting the secretive church’s membership information, which designed it difficult for wellness officials to track the distribute of the virus in the vital early times of the outbreak. In the beginning, Shincheonji explained it was difficult to offer a comprehensive record since some men and women were not nevertheless total members. Busan’s then mayor, Oh Keo-don, threatened to sue if Shincheonji was uncovered to have provided a bogus checklist, even though Daegu’s mayor, Kwon Young-jin, explained he prepared to push felony fees for the church’s recurring refusal to hand in a checklist of trainees residing in the metropolis. The church’s founder, Lee Man-hee, was questioned by prosecutors on expenses that he intentionally misled authorities about the range of worshippers and sites of worship. On Aug. 1, he was arrested for allegedly offering health and fitness officers wrong facts and embezzling about $4.7 million.

But when the late mayor of Seoul, Park Gained-quickly, who not too long ago committed suicide subsequent accusations of sexual abuse, requested the a raid of Shincheonji headquarters in the nearby metropolis of Gwacheon to attain a total listing of members, forensic evaluation ultimately located that the church experienced not lied. Additionally, in the times major up to the Daegu outbreak, the Korean authorities had encouraged against canceling substantial-scale gatherings since of the coronavirus, declaring it was time to return to daily daily life, albeit with protection protocols.