Shincheonji is an offshoot Christian new religious movement. Lee Man-hee founded the movement on March 14, 1984. He established its first temple in Anyang, Gyeonggi Province in South Korea. Shincheonji in Korean means”Hanja lit,” which is translated as”New Heaven and New Earth.” It is also known as the Church of Jesus or the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (SCJ). The spiritual movement was initially established in South Korea, but it has spread in different areas of the world, eventually gaining more members or followers.
Lee Man-hee, the founder of the religious movement, is considered the”promised pastor,””the advocate,” or”the person who overcomes.” He’s a self-proclaimed messiah that’s believed to contain the spirit of the returned Jesus Christ. The spiritual movement also preaches that the Bible, particularly the Book of Revelation, is written in secret metaphors that only Lee can decipher. The religious teachings further assert that only its members will get salvation which everyone who’s not part of Shincheonji will be refused forgiveness and ruined during the Judgment Day.
Although there are lots of similar working religious groups or movements, Shincheonji has particularly gained limelight because of the amount of controversies and its link with the latest COVID-19 outbreak. The quasi-Christian doomsday sect was founded in 1984 but gained fame and recognition only in the present moment. In Korea, the virus outbreak was based in Daegu, where a 61-year-old, especially known as Patient 31, was infected with the virus.
He was later discovered to be part of Church of Jesus and had spread the virus to other members resulting in a massive rise in the number of COVID-19 infected people. In 2014, 120,000 members were estimated to be part of the Church of Jesus. However, the Government of South Korea in March 2020 announced that there were exactly 317,320 registered members. Besides the enormous pandemic controversies such as threats, discrimination, and abuse were targeted at Shincheonji members.
All 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, who are considered to be the loyal followers of God. However, this religious group has different beliefs and ideology, then Christianity. Their teaching, ideas, devotions, practices, and prayer habits are very other than Christianity. These practices and their disobedience, which resulted in the growth of COVID cases in South Korea, claim Shincheonji as a cult and not a dedicated religious group.