South Korea's Shincheonji Church Labeled A Cult and Blamed For COVID-19 Outbreak: One Member Speaks Out
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Michelle Kim appears to be a normal, twenty-something year old, first generation American, living the American dream in California. But over the last few months the dream is starting to become a nightmare because of her membership in the Shincheonji Church of Jesus. The church has been labeled a cult, accused of brainwashing its members into submission, and claim its founder called himself Jesus. The church, with its 300,000 members, is based in South Korea but has branches in 20 countries including the United States. Kim attends the church in California where she was born. The South Korean church became the focus of the government's blame for the Coronavirus spreading in the country. "Patient number 31," as the 61-year-old woman is called, was a member in the Daegu branch. In mid-February she was diagnosed with COVID-19, a diagnosis made after she attended services. She thought she had a cold, but it turned out to be the deadly virus. It spread to 4,000 members. The government demanded the church hand over its list of members, including those outside of South Korea. According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, "The government of Seoul locked down Shincheonji churches in the capital, and some mainline Protestant groups have accused the church of deliberately spreading the disease." On this episode of Lighthouse Faith podcast, Michelle Kim tells her side of the Shincheonji controversy, and how being a member has made her fear that once people know her church association, she could be ostracized, lose friends, or worse yet, her job.
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