In late October, Boya Reading Club published a briefing about a research on Christian heresies and cults from Korea on the website of Nanjing's Union Theological Seminary (NUTS).
According to NUTS, Luo Zheng, the guest speaker, who is the Director of Religious History Research office of the Institute of Religion of the Shanghai Academy of Social Science with a doctorate in literature from Fudan University, and is a post doctoral fellow of religion at Nanjing University, gave a lecture about the research on Christian heresies and cults from Korea. She gave an example of the cult known as "Shincheonji or New Heaven and New Earth" that operated around Shanghai from 2002-2018.
In recent years, this heretical cult which originated in South Korea, has been developing rapidly across the world and has also been rampant in China, disrupting the normal social order, especially in Shanghai. Dr. Luo made an in-depth analysis of the organization based on the cases from relevant departments, information from domestic and overseas websites, and interviews with victims of this group.
"Shincheonji or New Heaven and New Earth" is a cult that emerged in Korea in March 1984. Its full name is "Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony", whose teachings are derived from another Korean heretical organization, the Tabernacle Temple. The cult came to China in 2002 and to Shanghai that same year. It has 12 pastoral areas, known as the twelve tribes, established its first theological seminary in Seoul in June 1990, and by 2012 there were more than 300 in South Korea. As of 2018, its Zion Christian Mission Center has 266 offices in South Korea and 167 overseas.The organization controls its followers in Korea by collecting money, using torture to extract confessions, duping individuals, and endangering the normal social order.
In its early days, the heretical organization developed two major tribes in China: the tribe of Jacob, which mainly developed in Heilongjiang and Jilin, and the tribe of Andre, which developed in other areas. Before July 2017, the tribe of Andre had established six dioceses on the mainland: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Qingdao, Dalian and Shenyang. In 2014, there were 1,171 members of this organization in the six locations in China. By July 2018, there were three tribes in China: Jacob, Andre and John.
In August 2017, the headquarters of South Korea's cult conducted a re-examination of the its branches and regional churches in China, and found that the sect's management system in Shanghai was the best, and its mission performance and belief management were the most outstanding among the 18 branch churches in China.
"Shincheonji" develops its believers in Shanghai through public lectures, community activities, training abroad, business missions, NGOs, cultural exchanges and so on, and also tries to get more people to join their churches through the "celebrity effect".
The heretical organization controls recruits by initially brainwashing them through the "preschool course", and then moves them on through the "elementary course", the "intermediate course" and finally the "advanced course".
At present, John's church in Shanghai has become its headquarters in China, which is not only limited to China where it has the right to operate as a foreign mission, but also operates internationally.
- Translated by Sophia Chen