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COVID-19 / Fact Checker

Q&A on Shincheonji Church of Jesus 

Regarding the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

Regarding the founding anniversary of Shincheonji Church of Jesus

This year, Shincheonji Church of Jesus will not hold an event for its founding anniversary. In addition, all worship services are being held online, and gatherings and meetings are suspended entirely until the new coronavirus epidemic is over. We also notified our congregation that those who have not been tested for the virus will not be allowed to attend service even after the epidemic subsides. If a church is compared to parents, its congregants would be like children. For the church, nothing is more important than the health and safety of its members. In situations where many congregants are suffering from the virus and feeling anxious, we make it clear that the church has no reason at all to resume services and gatherings. (Since 18 February, when the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the Daegu Church, all services and gatherings have been suspended entirely.)

Before congregants in Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do region were released from self-quarantine on 11 March, the Thaddeus Tribe of Shincheonji announced the following: △all meetings and gatherings are banned even after self-quarantine is lifted, △mass facilities should not be used, and △residents in specially controlled areas should fully cooperate with the Daegu city, Nam-gu Office, and the police.

Also, the announcement stated that personal contact with congregants who are waiting at home for in-patient admission is strictly forbidden, these congregants should isolate themselves completely, and entry to closed-down churches and related facilities is prohibited. The church made clear that it will take disciplinary measures against members acting contrary to the instructions.  

To relieve local residents’ anxiety over those released from self-quarantine, we will not only ban all meetings and but also practice hygiene and social distancing. This is to protect the communities as well as our congregants. We reiterate our intention to cooperate with the public health authorities until the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end.

About the claim that footage of the 31st patient attending service at the Daegu Church has been deleted

On 18 February, the Daegu city took a copy of surveillance footage from inside the Daegu Church of Shincheonji on a USB drive. At the site, officials from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Daegu City, and Nam-gu Public Health Center confirmed the footage of the 31st patient wearing a mask and using hand sanitizer in the lobby on the first floor. The copy includes the footage of two elevators on the first floor, the lobby of an educational hall on the fourth floor, and inside the church building taken from 7 to 10 A.M. on 9 February and from 7 to 10 A.M. on 16 February. Consequently, the allegation that the surveillance footage of the 31st patient was found missing or intentionally deleted during the administrative investigation on 13 March is not true.

About the claim that a Shincheonji member is the cause of the spread of COVID-19 at Kmadi Hospital in Daegu

The Daegu city has announced that an epidemiological investigation conducted on this occasion showed a low correlation between Patient A, the first confirmed case of Kmadi Hospital, and Patient B, a Shincheonji member who was reported to have visited the hospital as an outpatient. According to the Yonhap news agency, Patient A showed suspected symptoms on 14 February and was tested positive on 22 February. The church conducted its own investigation and found that Patient B, a Shincheonji member, visited Kmadi Hospital on 22 February and was tested positive on 24 February. Details will be updated as more information becomes available.

About refusal to be tested

To cooperate with the public health authorities and ensure the health and safety of its congregation, Shincheonji Church of Jesus took measures to ban members who have not been tested for COVID-19 from attending service even when church services are back to normal.

To those whose occupations are in medicine, nursing homes, and public facilities, the church stressed that they must be tested voluntarily even if they have no symptoms. All other congregants were told to be tested as well.

Due to these measures, Shincheonji members are asking to be tested at screening centers, but they are rejected in some cases since those with symptoms should be tested first. This is the same for people employed in medicine and public health.

Please refrain from reporting that congregants working in medicine and nursing facilities are avoiding being tested intentionally.

About congregants who are out of contact

Some local governments have announced that there are Shincheonji members remaining out of contact. We would like to explain some cases in this regard.

Some congregants are classified and reported as “out of contact” for the following reasons: 1) contact information in the church register is not updated (wrong contact information), 2) the line is busy, 3) the person is on an overseas business trip, 4) the health center calls the wrong phone number, 5) in case the address in the church register and the actual place of residence are different, health centers of two or more jurisdictions contact the person, but this information is not shared between the health centers.

Shincheonji Church of Jesus has issued 25 formal notices to urge its congregation members to cooperate with the public health authorities, and the church is checking the condition of the members with a 24-hour emergency system.  

However, there are clearly limits. Shincheonji is a church for faith and worship; it is not an organization for collecting personal information. Upon entering the church, each member’s address and phone number at the time are registered in the church register, and the update frequency is irregular. In case a member moves to a new place or changes his or her phone number, the church cannot know unless it is notified, and such changes are not updated in the church register in real time. This would be the same for any religious group or company.

Also, a church is a gathering of various individuals. Among the congregation, there are members who have not attended service for a long time, who are on overseas or regional business trips, whose phone numbers have changed, and who are not answering calls from the church. 

However, Shincheonji Church of Jesus promises to overcome these limitations and make every possible effort to fight COVID-19 for the health and safety of congregants, communities, and citizens.

Regarding the expression “residential compound of Shincheonji”

Shincheonji Church of Jesus has never encouraged its members to engage in communal living, and the church has no reason to do so. There are some residences provided for instructors and evangelists for their welfare, but it is not true that the church bought certain housing complexes and had congregants live there.

It is possible for congregants of any religion to reside near their church, and they do so out of their free will. The church does not intervene in the personal lives of congregants. Using the expression “a residential compound of Shincheonji” may cause citizens to misunderstand that such a place is run by the church, so please use a more accurate wording.  

About withdrawing permission for the corporation of Shincheonji Church of Jesus and tax investigation on real estate

On 9 March, the Seoul city announced that it would go through a procedure to withdraw its permission for the corporation, Jesus Mission of New Heaven and New Earth the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony. This corporation is a different entity from Shincheonji Church of Jesus, which is an unincorporated, nonprofit organization. Thus, even if the permission for incorporation is withdrawn, Shincheonji Church of Jesus is not dissolved. The Constitution and laws of South Korea guarantee the continued existence of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, and the church will continue to enjoy its rights granted by law.

Jesus Mission of New Heaven and New Earth the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony is only a missionary corporation belonging to Shincheonji Church of Jesus. Most of the churches in South Korea are unincorporated, nonprofit organizations, and depending on their needs, they may have a separate corporation.

Also, on 10 March, the Seoul city notified that it would launch a tax investigation on twenty real estate holdings of Shincheonji Church of Jesus.

At a time when efforts should be focused on quarantine, we cannot but suspect a misuse of the power to investigate against Shincheonji Church of Jesus that they hastily assumed to be an illegal organization.

The Framework Act on Local Taxes stipulates that tax investigations shall be conducted “to the minimum extent necessary to achieve appropriate and fair taxation” and not for any other purposes. Also, it states that the taxpayer to be investigated shall be notified at least 15 days prior to such investigation. Conducting a tax investigation on facilities that have been shut down since 18 February would only interfere with quarantine efforts.

As many confirmed cases of COVID-19 have occurred among Shincheonji members, causing fellow citizens much anxiety, Shincheonji Church of Jesus is making its utmost efforts with a deep sense of responsibility. However, we object to attempts at making a political issue of the COVID-19 outbreak when people’s lives and safety are at stake. We earnestly ask the local governments to focus on quarantine efforts.  

About the claim that Shincheonji attempted to enter a closed-down building (Busan Andrew Training Center) using disinfection as an excuse

Shincheonji Church of Jesus did not attempt to enter a closed-down building for disinfection. The training center of Shincheonji Andrew Tribe in Busan was closed down until 11 March. The Andrew church gave an opinion to the Busan Dong-gu Office that the training center should be disinfected on either 9 or 10 March and got permission. 

The Andrew church contacted a disinfection service company and heard from them that they do not have enough staff and want the church to assist with ten of its members. On 9 March, ten church members wearing protective clothing waited for officials of the health center to arrive. Upon hearing from the officials that Shincheonji congregants cannot enter the building, they left immediately.

The church made such preparation as there was a request from a company specialized in disinfection service. It was not an attempt to enter a closed-down building. 

About claims that Shincheonji Church of Jesus supports a certain candidate or has connections with politicians

Shincheonji Church of Jesus has about 210,000 members in South Korea. The church is a gathering of people of faith. The members are on their own in doing social activities, and their political inclinations are varied. This is no concern of the church, and the church does not interfere. Congregation members can support politicians they wish to support, but the church does not support a certain candidate.

If Shincheonji Church of Jesus had connections with politicians, it would not be oppressed as now. Even constructing one church building is not easy for us. We have been looking continuously for a location that can serve as a treatment center for mild cases of COVID-19 among Shincheonji members in Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do region but could not find one. Since the church has much difficulty in constructing a building, it does not have a facility fit for this purpose. The church’s donation has been rejected as well. These things would not have happened if we had connections with politicians.

Shincheonji Church of Jesus has carried out various activities for social contributions, interfaith harmony, and peace to become the salt and light of the world as taught by Jesus. For such activities, it is necessary to seek solidarity with different sectors of society. This would be the case for any organization. Please do not distort the good intentions to practice peace and love through interaction and solidarity.

Regarding Hanmaeum Apartments in Daegu

According to what Shincheonji has examined, there were a total of 80 congregants of Shincheonji’s Daegu branch dwelling in Hanmaeum Apartments within the Daegu City Community Welfare Center Complex in Seongdang-dong, Dalseo-gu, Daegu. However, Daegu City stated that there were 94. The Daegu branch is looking into the difference of 14 people.

The branch’s internal survey showed that 80 congregation members are residing in the apartments, all of whom underwent the screening for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Out of the 80, 36 tested positive, 41 negative, and three members are waiting for the results to come out (as of 8 March).

The apartments are not accommodation for the congregants of the Daegu branch. Simply because multiple members are living in the apartment near the church doesn’t make the residence something that exists for the members; Hanmaeum is an ordinary rental apartment.

The apartment is affordable and it is close by as it is within a walking distance from the church. The members of Shincheonji chose to live there out of free will.

Daegu branch has never introduced Hanmaeum apartments as a residence prepared for the congregation. The apartments are not accommodation for Shincheonji.

Hence, it is incorrect to dub the buildings as “an accommodation of Shincheonji.” It is simply that members heavily occupy the place.

Concerning confirmed patients from Munsung Hospital in Daegu

One of the confirmed patients from Munsung Hospital, Mr. A, is a member of the Senior Group in Shincheonji’s Daegu branch. He has been working as a parking lot attendant at the Munsung Hospital.

A pastor of the Munsung Church located on the 11th floor of the hospital requested Mr. A to take part in the church’s choir. According to what we have heard, the pastor asked Mr. A to attend his church multiple times, knowing that Mr. A had a talent for vocal music. We have confirmed that he did attend the church of concern that if he rejects too many times, he may not be able to continue the job as a parking lot attendant. Shincheonji found out about the case via news.

Currently, Mr. A is undergoing treatment at a hospital, and his health condition isn’t very good. As soon as he recovers, specifics of what happened will be identified and made known.

Regarding members refusing tests and entering virus treatment centers

Daegu branch’s surveying showed that it is scarce for its members to refuse being admitted to virus treatment centers. The 534 members Daegu City labeled as those refusing to enter the centers were parents who tested positive but had to wait for the screening results of their children. If not, they would be leaving their children all alone at home. Hence, they were merely trying to reschedule the admittance because they had no choice, not that they wanted to refuse being quarantined in the treatment centers. The church has recommended that when children also test positive, they should enter the centers together with the parents, and if the children’s result comes out negative, the church will assist parents in finding a place for the children to be taken care of so that the parents would be able to enter the centers as swiftly as possible. 

The branch also notified the whole congregation of the guidelines that going to treatment centers is not an option, but mandatory. Also, there seems to be no member refusing the COVID-19 test as far as the branch is aware. We ask for your understanding in this matter as it is not that members are being uncooperative with public health authorities, but they are currently making changes to accommodate the request of the public health authorities.

On 7 March, special notice from Chairman was sent to the whole congregation on the followings: those who exhibit symptoms must be screened; people working in the medical field, nursing homes, and other facilities where many people gather should be tested even if they don’t show any symptoms; and even if there is no symptom, all members are recommended to be tested. In particular, the message explicitly mentions that “members who didn’t get screened will not be able to attend church services even after COVID-19 situation stabilizes,” taking the strictest measure a religious body can make for cooperation with measures against the virus.

In the case of the Thaddeus Tribe, announcements were made to the congregation via an official notice on 8 March, which included the followings: those target of self-quarantine must not leave their locations of quarantine; even those who don’t display any symptoms must undergo COVID-19 screening with no exception (when there is no notice, make the call to schedule the testing); those who were recommended to be transferred to virus treatment centers or hospitals must keep the schedule and be admitted in time; and people should limit going outside as much as possible even if quarantine period ends.

The tribe also made known that especially those who go against the instructions of Daegu City, other local governments, and public health authorities, intentionally avoids phone calls, or leaves quarantined locations will be prohibited from attending church services even after the public health crisis stabilizes. It has also told the members that in all cases, cooperating with the public health authorities is the top priority, and if not, there will be stern measures from the church.

Although Shincheonji has been fully cooperating with the requests of the public health authorities, it is indeed difficult to control all aspects of life of the entire congregation exceeding 210,000. Some members cannot be reached since they had stopped attending the church, those overseas, and those who avoid the calls of the church, among others. These have led to misunderstandings, but surely, it is not that Shincheonji is not being cooperative.

As of 8 March, an absolute majority surpassing 90% of the members are faithfully adhering to the instructions of the government. As public health authorities have declared, the church was never intentionally uncooperative. We have already notified all congregants that if they don’t cooperate with the authorities, they will be prohibited from attending church services. As you can see from the tough measure, we will stay committed to pouring in our utmost efforts to curb the virus spreading.

Concerning news on Shincheonji not providing to authorities the churches Chairman directly manages

It was aired on a Christian media outlet that there are 63 churches Mr. Lee, the chairman of Shincheonji, directly manages, and that Shincheonji omitted 25 of them when turning over the list of buildings to the public health authorities.

However, Shincheonji has provided information on all 1,903 real estate properties including churches, mission centers, mission churches, education halls, meeting rooms, homes, dorms, land, storages, and properties owned or leased by individuals (as of the end of January 2020).

The 63 church list an insider is told to have provided is from December 2018, from which 26 locations are not used as they have moved to a new location or closed it down. The rest of the buildings have all been submitted to the public health authorities.

Regarding news that said congregants of Shincheonji are bonding together with the willingness to face death for Chairman

This is a groundless rumor. Currently, members of Shincheonji have stopped all services and meetings to stem the spreading of COVID-19, and are committed to undergo the virus testing, self-quarantine, and managing personal hygiene. We ask people who convey speculative myths that harm and denigrate the members, to stop as the congregation is fully devoted to life, health, and safety, not death

□ On donating 12 billion won

As a church that produced a high count of confirmed cases, the Shincheonji Church of Jesus feels a deep sense of responsibility on the tumultuous developments regarding COVID-19. And to help fight the COVID-19 crisis, the church had donated 12 billion Korean won (10 million US dollars) to Community Chest Korea towards on 5 March.

The funds for donation was not collected by congregation members but came from the church finance. As Chairman Man Hee Lee had stated during the press conference, the church will not spare any efforts in supporting human and capital resources.

However, 6 March, the Community Chest Korea requested to return the donated funds for the negative public sentiment against Shincheonji Church of Jesus put a burden on spending the church's donation.

We convey our sincere regret and apologies to the Korean people. The church will commit to placing the donation so that it reaches where help is needed.

The church has also spent days focusing hard on finding a location appropriately equipped for a treatment center for patients with a mild case of COVID-19 in Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do area. We will make all possible efforts to provide a facility and help relieve the strain on hospitals. We hope these efforts will allow hospitals to reopen more room for, and give patients in critical conditions and patients waiting for admitted treatment the much-needed care.

□ About claims that the chairman named the Saenuri Party

The Chairman did not create the name Saenuri Party, nor did he make such a statement.

□ About submitting the list

Officials from the KCDC (Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and Gyeonggi-do government visited the headquarters office of Shincheonji Church on 25 February, and IT experts themselves retrieved data directly from the server. They also checked the search queries. The KCDC downloaded the data of 212,324 congregation members in Korea into two files, one file for students and children (16,680) and one file for the rest (195,644), which they stored on a USB thumb drive. On 26 February, the list of the congregation overseas was provided in the same method.

The Gyeonggi-do government acquired this information: 
1) a list of the church members who have their address in Gyeonggi-do, 
2) church members who were at Daegu Church either on the 9th or 16th of February,
3) church members who were at Gwacheon Church on 16 February. 
And on 27 February, Gyeonggi-do obtained additional data on 1,074 people with missing contact information from the initial list of 33,582. Most of those 1,074 were students and children, and the church provided the contact information of their parents and family members. Gyeonggi-do government officials also brought IT personnel to extracted data from the church server and checked search queries.

When the KCDC sends the list to respective local governments, they sort the list by address. However, Shincheonji Church of Jesus categorizes congregation member data by church and tribe rather than the place of residence. Inevitably, when a local government requests a roster of the congregation to a Shincheonji Church in their area, it would not perfectly match the list sent from the KCDC. Also, there are cases where a person's address information in the church records would be different from the current address. Later, to resolve complications, the headquarters resubmitted a full list with additional details, including attending church, tribe, and member group.
Per the request of the KCDC, the headquarters provided a list of students on 27 February. For students without contact number and address, the name and contact information of the evangelists assigned to those students were attached to the student information. Meanwhile, congregation member data from Gwangju Church and the Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do region was provided in realtime upon request of respective local governments. 

On 5 March, after allegations that the data previously provided by the church had omissions and discrepancies, officials from the center in charge of infectious disease response at the KCDC joined by forensic analysis experts from the Supreme Prosecutor's Office visited the church headquarters office for an administrative investigation. The administrative investigation was to verify data and whether it matched the submitted lists, and the officials acquired the full list of congregation members of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, all students, church properties including church buildings and annexes, the list of all people who have attended service during January and February, and student attendance records of mission centers.

Controlling and preventing infectious diseases is a serious matter which is directly related to the health of people and may cause social anxiety from concerns of infection. The church is assisting in thorough investigation and diagnosis following the instructions of the health department. Also, church members are vigilantly following the process of admission, treatment, or self-quarantine, depending on the results of testing and epidemiological investigations, in hopes of minimizing the possibility of community-acquired infection.

□ On church buildings, annexes, and other facilities

The 1,100 churches and annex facilities that Shincheonji Church of Jesus disclosed to the public is the sum of all churches, offices, education halls, gathering spaces, mission centers, mission churches, cultural spaces, seminar rooms, and student halls in Korea. The properties reported to the General Assembly included land unsuitable for public gatherings, plots reserved for parking space, storages, and buildings owned or leased by individuals. And the total number 1,529 reported indicates the number of organs holding property, not the number of estates. When it comes to real estate properties, the church does not control property information from a single administrative system, but rather, respective branch churches would send files separately when reporting their properties. To follow up on the claims that some addresses were incorrect, omitted, or outdated and already closed, the church staff doublechecked the address information. As a result, the church provided a list of all church properties including vacant land, storages, homes, dorms, and properties owned or leased by individuals totaling 1,903. (As of the end of January 2020)

1) Shincheonji Church of Jesus had said the total number of their congregation is approximately 240,000. The KCDC says they received a list of 212,000 people. Why is there a difference?

The 240,000 is a number counting in the congregation members of churches abroad. Shincehonji Church of Jesus had provided a list of the entire domestic congregation counting 212,324 and followed up on the evening of 26 February by submitting an additional list of 33,281 members overseas.

2) Shincheonji Church of Jesus deliberately excluded their student information from the list sent to the KCDC?

The KCDC requested the list of students on 27 February, and the church immediately provided the list the same day. Provided that students are not officially recognized church members, Shincheonji Church of Jesus cannot provide personal information on its terms. Therefore, the list was provided on the condition that the public health authority would take full legal responsibility in case of any breach.

3) A group, titled the National Association of Victims of Shincheonji Church, filed a suit against the leader of Shincheonji Church charging violation of the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act by refusing to submit material, submitting false information or concealing it. Didn't the church hide its records?

Shincheonji Church of Jesus has certainly provided all materials to the KCDC. Regarding the charges brought against Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a member of a group that has been slandering the church brought charges for violating the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act by either refusing to submit information, or submitting wrong information, or concealing them. The allegations are groundless since Shincheonji Church of Jesus is actively cooperating with the public health authorities by providing information. In addition to that, there were charges on embezzlement and misappropriation of funds. Earlier, in 2019, an organization and its members, who have falsely accused Shincheonji Church of Jesus, filed charges with the same accusations. After investigation, Gwacheon Police Station concluded the accusation was not grounded, and the case is currently pending at the Anyang City Prosecutor's Office. Those charges are redundant.

□ On Cheongdo Daenam Hospital

Among visitors at the funeral held at Cheongdo Daenam Hospital, no church members were visiting from China, and a survey on the entire congregation showed that no church member works at Cheongdo Daenam Hospital. Also, the patient referred to as confirmed case no. 31, or the Shincheonji Volunteer Group has never visited Cheongdo Daenam Hospital.

□ On Wuhan Church in China

It was 2010 when a member of the church, a Chinese national who had studied the Bible in Germany, started the work of mission in Wuhan, China.

In China, the new Religious Affairs Regulations went into effect in early 2018, applying stringent rules to regulate religious practices. As a result of such regulations, all Shincheonji churches in China were closed in 2018. Equally, Wuhan Church closed down all church spaces on 15 June 2018 and has since taken all meetings and services online and operates them autonomously.

Shincheonji Church of Jesus acknowledges a group as a 'church' when the number congregation exceeds 120. Church members in Wuhan reached 120 in 2018, and the church recognized the area as Wuhan Church on 1 January 2019, however, without any physical church building. Church records show that there are 357 members in Wuhan. Wuhan Church is a branch of the Tribe of James in Busan and is not related to Daegu Church, which is under the Tribe of Thaddaeus, and according to records, none have been to service there during January and February.

□ On False Notices

Notices coming from the headquarters office of Shincheonji Church of Jesus are drafted and published in the form of a formal letter. The church clearly states that any other format of notification is not an official notice coming from Shincheonji Church of Jesus. Any circulation or syndicating of falsified messages posing as a formal note from the church in chatrooms or on social media will lead to legal charges.

1) Shincheonji Church of Jesus encourages its members to hide that they attended service at a Shincheonji church and to continue activities for evangelism?   

Not true. On the morning of 18 February, the church was made aware of the 31st confirmed case of COVID-19, which was found to be a member of a Shincheonji church in Daegu. The Headquarters of Shincheonji Church of Jesus immediately sent an announcement to all branch churches in Korea prohibiting any gathering, service, and ordered to close church spaces and all services to be made online.

As soon as the church was made aware of the confirmed case at 9 a.m. the same day, the Shincheonji Church in Daegu also closed the church and mission centers and forbade any meetings, activities for evangelism, or any personal contact among church members. Immediately after that, the church started an epidemiological survey with the guidance of the KCDC and Daegu city government. Meanwhile, all members of Daegu Shincheonji Church went in self-quarantine, and those who presented symptoms tested for infection.

The church headquarters office sent text messages to all members of Shincheonji Church to notify them of the situation. It provided strict guidelines to self-quarantine for those who have visited Daegu church, also guiding the entire congregation of all Shincheonji churches to try to remain at home and contact local public health offices in case of fever.

The so-called “Deceptive Response Manual,” rumored to be a part of a “Notice from the Ministry of Liaison of Daegu Church,” is nothing like the actual guidelines provided by either Daegu Church or the headquarters of Shincheonji Church of Jesus. Shincheonji Daegu Church shared the instruction messages with the KCDC when the officials arrived at the church at 9 am, and the church is in close cooperation with the KCDC.

The message in question was a text composed by an individual member of the Daegu Church and sent to fellow members. The church looked into the matter, immediately made corrections to the texted contents, and brought disciplinary measures to the person responsible.

Additionally, on 19 February, the headquarters sent a formal notice to all Shincheonji churches in Korea to prevent similar events from happening. The notice instructs all members to follow the headquarters' guidelines, not to take actions arbitrarily, and to cooperate with and accommodate the requests of the public health department.

Shincheonji Church of Jesus has publicly announced multiple times that it will actively follow government policies on this matter, and it is currently bringing its full capacity to work closely with public health officials. We pray for the swift recovery of church members and all patients struck by COVID-19. Shincheonji Church of Jesus will put forth its utmost efforts to help resolve the current national health threat.

2) Shincheonji church gave out secret orders to its members not to come to service but, instead, go to other churches so they could spread the virus and make the epidemic everybody's problem?

It is entirely false. The headquarters office has closed down all Shincheonji churches from 18 February and guided members to have service online from home. The church also currently prohibits all types of meetings, activities, and encounters among or within the congregation. All members of the church conform to instructions from health officials. In response to such fake news spreading on social media, Shincheonji Church of Jesus will seek strict legal measures on the grounds of publicly alleging false facts.

□ Regarding confirmed case patient no. 31

1) The 31st confirmed patient refused to test for COVID-19 twice when suggested at the hospital admitted after a traffic accident?

That is not correct. According to the recounts of the patient, the patient was admitted to Saeronan Korean Medicine Hospital on 7 February, and developed symptoms of a cold after receiving I.V. fluid with the window open. Fever started around the 9th, and the patient was diagnosed with pneumonia on the 14th. However, the medical staff at the hospital never mentioned COVID-19. On the 17th, blood test results indicated a worsened case of pneumonia. Then, the healthcare workers suggested the patient transfer to a bigger hospital and test for COVID-19 as well. The patient called the local public health office in Suseong-gu, where she was tested and confirmed positive.

2) A patient in quarantine (confirmed case 31) at a Daegu Hospital assaulted a nurse, made a scene, and people from Shincheonji caused a nuisance at the hospital?

This news, which started circulating in online communities and messengers from the morning of 19 February, is entirely false. The Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act allows health workers to quarantine confirmed cases and contacts, and not following quarantine orders may result in a penalty of three million Korean won. A nurse at the said hospital confirmed that such allegations were fake news. Also, since the Daegu hospital is currently closed down, it would be impossible for a group of people to barge in and cause a disturbance.

□ Other Fake News

1) People from Shincheonji Church of Jesus visit door to door posing to give out face masks to spread the virus?

That is not true at all. There are photos on the internet of a person visiting houses to give out masks. As clarified in prior publications, the people in the images are local community leaders of towns and villages (representatives of li, eup, myeon, and dong) and public workers of Daegu City. Currently, Shincheonji Church of Jesus has suspended all activities for evangelism, services, or gatherings.

2) The Tribe of James in Busan of Shincheonji Church is hosting an open house event on 29 February and inviting citizens?

All information and materials on events hosted by Shincheonji Church of Jesus were produced and distributed before the spread of COVID-19. To avoid any confusion, please note that Shincheonji Church of Jesus has prohibited all services, meetings, and functions starting from 18 February.

3) Shincheonji Church requires people to complete a certain course at a training camp before they can sign up as a member? Those trainees are what they call students?

Joining Shincheonji Church of Jesus requires a six-month course of studying the Bible (at Zion Christian Mission Center) that ends with a final examination. Once you complete the course and pass the final exam, you are eligible to join the church, which is a decision by choice. There are no camps required for joining Shincheonji Church, and the church does not recommend it. That assertion is entirely false.

4) There is a video on social media of a person confirmed as infected and a member of Shincheonji Church on the run from a hospital quarantine ward and wandering the streets. Is that real?

No, it is not.  

5) The distinct style of services at Shincheonji Church worsened the spread of COVID-19?

Since it is not an expert group on health and medicine, Shincheonji Church of Jesus cannot determine why the church has had a high count of infection.

Some media reports claim the spread of COVID-19 was exacerbated because of the way of service at a Shincheonji church. Shincheonji Church of Jesus does have a large congregation. A Shincheonji church arranges seats so that the congregation members would sit on the floor with a distance between one another. This seat arrangement allows church members more personal space and room to move about compared to conventional church row chairs. On days with an unusually big crowd, space in between people may get smaller than usual to accommodate more people in the given space. When space allows, people sit wider apart.

Moreover, church notices from January state that anyone who shows any symptoms of a cold, including coughing and fever, was not allowed to come to service. Others were encouraged to wear protective face masks. Assertions that the style of worship at Shincheonji Church of Jesus is the cause of a mass spread of the virus are unfounded.

6) Shincheonji Church of Jesus does not tolerate personal health issues, so churchgoers must hide their ailments and attend service?

That is entirely false. Shincheonji Church of Jesus does not demonize illnesses or ailments. When sick, we take rest and seek medical help. Members sometimes do have personal reasons for not joining service from health, business trips, or family matters, and none of those reasons can cause disadvantages. Service and worship is a personal matter in faith.


  1. I hope this situation will be settled soon.

  2. Media outlets including the Korea Herald, EDaily, Newsis News Agency & Muslim Community Report are now beginning to expose the numerous false allegations made against Shincheonji Church by media outlets throughout South Korea. The truth will prevail♥️

  3. It is imperative to stop this type of yellow journalism and false allegations. We are living in the 21st century, we should know better to fact-check every source. Thank you for shedding light on this issue.

  4. Yes! This is great new that the other media outlets are exposing the false allegations made against Shincheonji Church. The truth will prevail.

  5. The press should be fair. The wrong news is corrected immediately.

  6. Everyone has the right to be respected, and prejudices or misunderstandings will also have to be abandoned.


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