Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) sends you greetings. The following letter pertains to the news of HWPL and the Chairman, Mr. Man Hee Lee.
In February 2020, at Daegu Church of Shincheonji, where Mr. Lee also serves as the Chairman, one of the church members tested positive for COVID-19. After this news was made public, HWPL and Shincheonji have been under the threat of dissolution on the grounds that they have spread the epidemic and obstructed the efforts to contain the virus. As a result, HWPL is on the verge of having its legal entity revoked for allegedly being a missionary organization in disguise, and on 1 August, an arrest warrant for Chairman Lee was issued. The warrant from the court is not a guilty verdict, and efforts will be made to reveal the truth in the upcoming trials.
The conservative fundamentalist brands of the Protestant Church in Korea, which have been wielding both political and social influence as the mainstream churches, classified Shincheonji as a cult to keep in check the rapid growth of Shincheonji. While hiding behind the parents and siblings of Shincheonji believers, the fundamentalists masterminded the kidnapping and assaulting Shincheonji members for coercive conversion. They even accumulated wealth from carrying out such illegal acts. Furthermore, they persistently opposed peace work by hampering HWPL whenever the NGO tried to book venues to hold peace events and shouting into megaphones to cause commotions on site. Rather than restoring and practicing love for humanity as they preach, they have no qualms about solidifying their power by colluding with certain political forces to their benefits.
The fundamentalists shift the blame for the outbreak and the spread of COVID-19 to Shincheonji, but their claims are false. Shincheonji has actively cooperated with the South Korean government and the authorities’ measures to combat COVID-19. Also, Shincheonji is a victim of the epidemic and had no intention to abet the virus spreading. When the government requested personal information (names, addresses, contact numbers, and resident registration numbers) of all members home and abroad, totaling over 200,000, Chairman Lee simply expressed his concern as the leader of the church for submitting sensitive personal information without the individual’s consent. Mr. Lee did not order omitting names from the list. (Ultimately, the list was leaked to the public, causing members of Shincheonji residing in Korea to become an easy target of hate and discrimination in all aspects of life. Consequently, there are over 5,510 cases of human rights infringement as of August 2020. Among the victims were two members, who lost their lives due to persecution at home. Refer to www.scj-covid19.com.)
Respected messengers of peace across the globe,
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressed its concern for the breach of religious liberty in South Korea and recommended the government to condemn scapegoating and to respect religious freedom in responding to the outbreak. Furthermore, religious and human rights NGOs have officially submitted to the UN Human Rights Council a statement calling to stop scapegoating Shincheonji for the COVID-19 crisis. Scholars in the field of religious studies and heads of human rights organizations have published research and white papers based on findings of objective studies to make known what is true. Despite the oppression and the discrimination, Chairman Lee and over 4,000 members of Shincheonji have decided to donate blood plasma to aid the development of a COVID-19 treatment that will benefit all, and the work is in progress.
Family of peace, who are well-aware of the value of peace, liberty, and human rights,
For the sake of promoting religious freedom and protection of human rights, please support HWPL’s Chairman Lee and Shincheonji. Your expressed endorsement will give protection to the members of Shincheonji exposed to persecution and discrimination. Also, please raise your voice to the government of South Korea so that Chairman Lee can be fully devoted to the peace movement once again. We look forward to your response with a hopeful message.
HWPL wishes you good health and peace.
We are one!
Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL)