The Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a South Korean doomsday cult with hundreds of thousands of followers, has been all over the news at the center of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in that country.

What do we know about this cult? The Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony was founded in 1984 in South Korea by its leader, Lee Man-hee. Citing former members, the Wall Street Journal reported that the cult communicates to its members that they will live forever, and Shincheonji followers are said to believe that Man-hee Lee is the second coming of Jesus Christ and the sole interpreter for secret codes they claim are contained in the Book of Revelation. While conservative Christians refer to the group as a cult because of its heretical teachings, as readers of my work, know, it is the authoritarian mind control factors explained in the BITE model that characterize a destructive cult. A short Whiteboard video explains Behavior control, Information control, Thought control and Emotional control. For a detailed pdf of the entire list, see this.

This group thrives on secrecy and is actively recruiting members here in America, especially in Southern California. For example, The Word And Life Theology School in California has a web site that is incredibly deceptive. The indoctrination is so subtle at first, that many attend Bible study classes and associate with members before being told their real identity. This mirrors how my former cult used to recruit when I was a leader back in the 1970s. Of course, cult members justify that the ends justify the means and feel justified to deceive and indoctrinate people into breaking up their families if others refuse to conform. Since nonbelievers, critics (especially Christians who actually know the Bible) and former members are viewed with fear and disdain. Like all cults, phobia programming is a powerful tool of mind control to make believers dependent and obedient.

Shincheonji is being blamed by South Korean officials for the worst outbreak of this virus outside of China.  It was recently announced that the sect’s leaders might be charged with homicide. They took no active measures to prevent this outbreak from spreading which caused the death of many. In fact, members are required to always attend services, even if they are sick. I suspect with the legal pressure, this rule has been altered. There are calls to dissolve Shincheonji as an organization in South Korea. When Russia banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientology, I wrote this blog explaining my rationale for being opposed to banning cults.

As reported by the New York Times:

South Korea has more 4,800 cases of the coronavirus, with at least 60 percent connected to Shincheonji’s branch in Daegu, a city in the southeast. As the government scrambles to contain the epidemic, Mr. Lee and the church have been blamed for contributing to the spread, by failing to provide a full list of its members to the government.

In the past week, hundreds of church members have remained incommunicado, baffling health officials trying to track them down for testing. Major cities, including the capital city of Seoul, have asked national prosecutors to investigate Mr. Lee for potential criminal charges, including “murder through willful negligence.”

[…] he blamed the epidemic on “the evil who got jealous of Shincheonji’s rapid growth.”

I, too, was recruited into a Korean cult, the Unification Church (also known as the Moonies). I was deceptively recruited by the Moonies while attending Queens College in 1974. They persuaded me to drop out and then sent me back to be the founder at Queens College for The Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (C.A.R.P.). In other words, I was a college dropout who set up a student club that pressured people to quit college and join the cult. To my knowledge, CARP still actively recruits college students. Many people think the Moon cult is no more, but in fact, they continue to exist, recruit and are involved with politics worldwide.

Moon is now deceased but his son, Hyung Jin Moon, has started an offshoot, the Sanctuary Church in Pennsylvania. They still believe their mission is to take over the world. Having and using guns figures is part of their plan. They own Kahr arms and have an actual gun factory. Moon’s new www.rodofironministry.org  hosted a “thank you” dinner in 2018 for Donald Trump, who they claim they helped to elect a U.S. President. And they continue to actively support Trump. (Learn more about the Moonies by reading the additional links listed at the end.)

With all of the exposure in the news about the Korean group, Shincheonji, I wanted to share my story of being recruited into, indoctrinated by and deprogrammed out of the Moonies. Many may not be aware of how I became so passionate about exposing authoritarian cults and helping their victims. I truly understand because I have been there. If you are curious to learn more about my cult story, I have decided to put it online. So, here it is: Chapter 2: My Life in the Unification Church PDF republished from Combating Cult Mind Control,

Since being rescued by my family in 1976, I have dedicated my life, personally and professionally, to helping others leave and recover from all types of destructive cults and influences. (Learn more about the services I offer.)

Additional Reading

The Truth About Sun Myung Moon  by Steven Hassan with actual quotes from “Master Speaks”, transcripts of Moon’s speeches to members.

Moon Organization

The Moonies and TM Attempt to Reinvent Themselves

Mooniverse (My Former Cult) is Attempting a Reboot

Why the Reported Sale of the Moonies Washington Times for $1 Requires Greater Scrutiny!

Exclusive 71 Page List of Entities Closely Associated with Sun Myung Moon

Video About the Moon Organization

Steven Hassan

About the Author: 

Steven Hassan M.Ed. LMHC, NCC has helped thousands of individuals and families recover from undue influence (mind control). With over 40 years of experience, he is sought after as one of the foremost authorities on undue influence and controlling groups and individuals. Steve understands the subject from a unique perspective as both a former cult member and as a clinical professional. Steven Hassan has published 4 books about cults. His first book, which came out in 1988 under the title Combatting Cult Mind Control, was updated and rereleased in 2015 as Combating Cult Mind Control. Chapter 2, My life in the Unification Church has been placed for free on this web site. This book is available as an audiobook as well as on kindle.

Steven is the Founding Director of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center, a coaching, consulting, and training organization dedicated to supporting individuals to have the freedom to think clearly and to freely consider how they want to live their lives.  Steven pioneered a breakthrough method called the Strategic Interactive Approach (SIA), an effective and legal alternative for families to help cult members.  The SIA teaches family and friends how to strategically influence the individual involved in the cult.

Contact Freedom of Mind to schedule a consultation or to learn about offered services.

Learn about how the Strategic Interactive Approach can help rescue your friend or loved one out from under predatory influence.

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