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Group Information
Title Shinchonji (Shincheonji) Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (SCJ)
Affiliated
Organizations

Man Hee Lee is chairman of the Mannam Volunteer Association

 
Nam Hee Kim is the founder of Mannam
 
[Mannam is supposedly a non religious organization, promoting world peace, but actually is part of Shinchonji. They use this as a front group to get people to come to the Shinchonji events.]
 
Zion (Christian) Mission Center;  a Bible school established by Shinchonji
 
 
 
Founder Man Hee Lee (Lee Man-Hee)
Leader Man Hee Lee (and Nam Hee Kim)
Description

Shinchonji, alternately called "Serving Christ Jesus", was founded in 1984 in South Korea and now exporting itself worldwide. Most significant impact in USA is currently in Orange County, California, one of many Korean groups focusing on the apocalyptic portions of Scripture. Man Hee Lee claims to be the only person who can explain the Revelation in the New Testament. He teaches that the world has already ended and that we are now all in the afterlife.  

 
 
Man Hee Lee is the "Promised Pastor" who supersedes Jesus. According to them Jesus isn't God. The Holy Spirit is just a bunch of angels. Man Hee Lee is this "pastor" that they claim the Bible points to. He is "the one who overcomes" from the Book of Revelation. His followers simply call him "The Chairman" and believe he will never die. (He is now 82 years old.) When 144,000 followers are gained, they will be inhabited by the spirits of the dead martyrs and rule the world. They have perhaps 50,000-100,000 members at present, mostly in South Korea.
 
 
Man Hee Lee has been accused of tax evasion and of sexually harassing teenage girls. He vigorously fights these charges, and his lawyers routinely threaten those who criticize him. Followers are recruited into "Bible Studies" and are allowed to join a secret church after 6 months of indoctrination.
 
 
 
The church in Orange County is located in Bellflower and now has several hundred members. Man Hee Lee visits and preaches in the USA periodically, most recently in the summer of 2011. Though Man Hee Lee claims he will never die, and this is an item of fervent belief among his followers, high-level defectors report that the leadership is arranging for a transition of power to Nam Hee Kim, the woman who heads up Mannam, a front organization. The word Mannam is a combination of their first names.
 
 
Shinchonji people have a practice they call "duty" which is when everyone gets together during the middle of the night to do military training and bootcamps. They do this because they are the one true church for the one true kingdom and it is their duty to remain sharp. The leaders crawl along the ground, run long laps, etc. When they are worked to the bone, they are told that they must work harder for THIS kingdom in the Word than they are working right at that moment physically.
 
 
Man Hee Lee's most recent book is an almost 600-pp. tome called The Creation of Heaven and Earth. 
 
 
Man Hee Lee is reported to have been involved with several other Korean apocalyptic groups before beginning his own organization.
 
Man Hee Lee had originally belonged to a faith-healing group begun by Tae Sun Park.  This group was known as the Olive Tree Movement, because Mr. Park linked himself to the return of Christ as one (or both) of the two witnesses or olive trees in Revelation 11. His followers called him the Righteous Man of the East, and they (or he) claimed he would never die or, at least, that the last day of the world would come within his lifetime.
 
The worship services that evolved in the Olive Tree movement were somewhat Presbyterian in form but came to involve hours of frenzied hymn-chanting, hand-clapping, and drum-beating.  Many followers, both women and men, deserted their families to donate all their worldly possessions in order to gain eternal life on Mr. Park s terms.
 
 
The next group that Man Hee Lee entered was  The Tent Temple or the Temple of the Tabernacle founded by Jae Yul Yoo (b. 1949), also known as the Young Servant.  
 
Behavior
Control
1. Regulation of individual's physical reality
  a. Where, how and with whom the member lives and associates with
  b. What clothes, colors, hairstyles the person wears
  c. What food the person eats, drinks, adopts, and rejects
  d. How much sleep the person is able to have
  e. Financial dependence
  f. Little or no time spent on leisure, entertainment, vacations

2. Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals

3. Need to ask permission for major decisions

4. Need to report thoughts, feelings and activities to superiors

5. Rewards and punishments (behavior modification techniques- positive and negative).

6. Individualism discouraged; group think prevails

7. Rigid rules and regulations

8. Need for obedience and dependency.

-Members meet almost daily for recruiting and indoctrination sessions.

-There are many late-night meetings, and members are chronically sleep-deprived.
-Members practiced flag-waving maneuvers for months on end for a special Shinchonji "Olympiad" at the Seoul Olympic Stadium in September.
-South Korean observers characterize these rallies as eerily "North Korean" in their spirit of conformity and adulation.
-Educational and career goals are discouraged or abandoned.
Information
Control
1. Use of deception
  a. Deliberately holding back information
  b. Distorting information to make it acceptable
  c. Outright lying

2. Access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged
  a. Books, articles, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio
  b. Critical information
  c. Former members
  d. Keep members so busy they don’t have time to think

3. Compartmentalization of information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
  a. Information is not freely accessible
  b. Information varies at different levels and missions within pyramid
  c. Leadership decides who “needs to know” what

4. Spying on other members is encouraged
  a. Pairing up with “buddy” system to monitor and control
  b. Reporting deviant thoughts, feelings, and actions to leadership

5. Extensive use of cult generated information and propaganda
  a. Newsletters, magazines, journals, audio tapes, videotapes, etc.
  b. Misquotations, statements taken out of context from non-cult sources

6. Unethical use of confession
  a. Information about “sins” used to abolish identity boundaries
  b. Past “sins” used to manipulate and control; no forgiveness or absolution

-Man Hee Lee is supposedly the only one who has ever understood the Bible.

-Everyone else has been wrong, and all other churches and pastors are of the devil.
-Use deception and secrecy; they trick people into becoming involved, the name of the group is never mentioned
-Followers are not allowed to read Bible commentaries, and are not allowed to research information about the group.
-Verses are taken out of context in dizzying ways.
-Various front organizations, e.g. Mannam, supposedly a community volunteer group, deny their connection with Shinchonji (SCJ).
-Members are encouraged to lie to their families in various ways, e.g. claim they are backing off from the group when they are actually becoming more involved.
-More experienced members practice infiltration and disruption of established Korean churches.
-Korean Presbyterian churches are especially wary of SCJ.
Thought
Control
1. Need to internalize the group's doctrine as "Truth"
  a. Map = Reality
  b. Black and White thinking
  c. Good vs. evil
  d. Us vs. them (inside vs. outside)

2. Adopt "loaded" language (characterized by "thought-terminating clichés"). Words are the tools we use to think with. These "special" words constrict rather than expand understanding. They function to reduce complexities of experience into trite, platitudinous "buzz words".

3. Only "good" and "proper" thoughts are encouraged.

4. Thought-stopping techniques (to shut down "reality testing" by stopping "negative" thoughts and allowing only "good" thoughts); rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism.
  a. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking
  b. Chanting
  c. Meditating
  d. Praying
  e. Speaking in "tongues"
  f. Singing or humming

5. No critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate

6. No alternative belief systems viewed as legitimate, good, or useful

-A black-and-white universe.

-Response to questions or challenges posed by friends or family is visceral and explosive.
-Leaders tell followers to abandon their own thinking.
-Use of loaded language!
  • Heaven = Church leaders
  • Earth = Congregations
  • Sea = the World
  • SSN = Seongseng Nim, the Korean word for teacher; used to refer to their messiah
Emotional
Control
1. Manipulate and narrow the range of a person's feelings.

2. Make the person feel like if there are ever any problems it is always their fault, never the leader's or the group's.

3. Feeling-stopping. Like thought-stopping, this is the automatic suppression or blocking of feelings that are not acceptable by the cult identity- such as feeling "homesick" or feeling "depressed" or feeling "resentful".

4. Excessive use of guilt
  a. Identity guilt
    1. Who you are (not living up to your potential)
    2. Your family
    3. Your past
    4. Your affiliations
    5. Your thoughts, feelings, actions
    6. Social guilt
    7. Historical guilt

5. Excessive use of fear
  a. Fear of thinking independently
  b. Fear of the "outside" world
  c. Fear of enemies
  d. Fear of losing one's "salvation"
  e. Fear of leaving the group or being shunned by group
  f. Fear of disapproval

6. Extremes of emotional highs and lows.

7. Ritual and often public confession of "sins".

8. Phobia indoctrination: programming of irrational fears of ever leaving the group or even questioning the leader's authority. The person under mind control cannot visualize a positive, fulfilled future without being in the group.
  a. No happiness or fulfillment "outside"of the group
  b. Terrible consequences will take place if you leave: "hell"; "demon possession"; "incurable diseases"; "accidents"; "suicide"; "insanity"; "10,000 reincarnations"; etc.
  c. Shunning of leave takers. Fear of being rejected by friends, peers, and family.
  d. Never a legitimate reason to leave. From the group's perspective, people who leave are: "weak"; "undisciplined"; "unspiritual"; "worldly"; "brainwashed by family, counselors"; seduced by money, sex, rock and roll.

-Fear of "interventions" is instilled in group members.

-Great reverence and respect is inculcated for Man Hee Lee.
Group
Websites
 
 
 
 
 
 
SCJ News on Zion Mission Center
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Critical
Websites
The Revealed Word: A New Teaching: Shinchonji
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Warning About Cult from Korea (The Storehouse Blog)
 
 
 
 

Scroozle's Sanctuary (contains an expose by a Canadian in South Korea who became suspicious) Shinchonji and the Bible (an Evangelical response to the group, which also contains information about the group's history and an interview with ex-member)

Other
Resources
(articles, videos, information)
Ji-il Tark, a professor of church history at Busan Presbyterian Seminary, has published many articles in Korean on SCJ in his journal/newsletter Modern Religion. When Mr. Moon died last fall, Dr. Tark was often quoted in the American media. He is something of a cult expert.