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Press release content from PR Newswire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.

Shincheonji Church of Jesus in S. Korea Responds To What It Believes Are Erroneous Media Reports

March 1, 2020 GMT

DAEGU, South Korea, March 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ --

The following is from the US headquarters of Shincheonji:

News regarding Patient 31, an attendee of Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu have caused public backlash rooted in lies spread by media outlets.

As of Feb. 29, there are over 86,500 cases of the coronavirus resulting in 2,979 deaths. Most of the cases are still in China, but this week has seen an increase in cases outside of China including in Iran, Italy and South Korea.

A large percentage of cases in South Korea’s Daegu region, are within one religious community. Patient 31 attended service at a branch in Daegu while suffering mild symptoms of the coronavirus, assuming it was the common cold—unknowingly and unintentionally spreading the coronavirus. Hundreds of members later tested positive and thousands were at risk of contracting the virus. Shincheonji representatives report that they are fully cooperating with health authorities and have submitted names of all individuals who attended the same services as Patient 31. Many of the group’s critics are relishing in the negative attention leaving church leaders to refute baseless rumors spread by reputable media outlets both local and overseas.

Shincheonji leaders have contested assertions from popular Christian groups that they are a fringe Messianic ‘apocalyptic’ sect shrouded in secrecy, force their attendees to give up their jobs and relationships with family, and somehow evangelize people under deception—all proven false. At a time when members should be regarded as victims and administered aid, the Church as a whole is experiencing local and national discrimination, unable to gain building licensing and facing scrutiny for practicing their Christian faith.

“Shincheonji members generally do not recognize themselves in reports they read in the media. For instance, they do not regard their founder, Chairman Lee Man Hee, as the second coming of Jesus or as God. Publishing these claims without fact-checking show that some media did not do their homework and only relied on hostile sources,” said Mr. Kim Shin Chang, General Director of Department of International Relations of Shincheonji Headquarters.

Some Koreans accused members of being super-spreaders refusing medical testing and hiding their identity. This is also not true. All members are instructed to self-quarantine and commit to testing. It is also not true that members are not allowed to wear masks or glasses, or that they see being sick as a sin.

At a time when facts and accurate statistics matter, many news outlets are relying on rumors and not fact-checking their information before publishing. Shincheonji is aware of the present health crisis and, with consideration to the health and safety of citizens and congregants as the highest priority, has submitted all requested information and continues to cooperate fully with the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

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SOURCE Shincheonji USA