This is a religious group that came from South Korea, now reaching out to the world including the States especially in the areas such as Orange County, CA including Buena Park, Tustin, Anaheim, Fullerton, Artesia and Los Angeles. It is also active in other countries like India, Australia, Philippines, Germany, China, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and so on.
Shincheonji can be destructive to the lives of individuals, because many of them lose their previous interest, passion, or goal for life, having to pour a lot of their energy and time for this group. A lot of them have broken relationships with their families as well as having physical, emotional, or mental problems because of the demands and expectations from the group.
Why is this group called Shincheonji problematic?
1) Those who are involved with this group are required a high demand of work--a lot of hours to study their teachings and recruit others as well as attend many meetings which run late into the night. Those individuals cannot help spending less time on their studying or work, and many of them eventually lose their previous passion and vision for life because of their new meaning and purpose of life in this group. In addition, it is those who are diligent and intelligent that Shincheonji tends to target. Many young people have therefore lost their good grades and delayed their education.
2) Shincheonji members lie. Lying is a very normal thing for this group, so that they can help others gain salvation. They do so mainly to hide their identities and also to recruit more people. They create new identities that would appeal to their targeted individuals and make strategic plans with endless meetings to assure the leading of those individuals to their group. They may also lie to their friends, families, and professors for the same purpose, as well as to cover up their activity with the group.
3) They claim that the way the world presents them as a cult is false. Their reasoning is that Satan is trying to disrupt the truth and that the path to the truth is narrow. Students who are involved with Shincheonji will therefore not believe what others tell them about this group, and will rather strengthen their conviction that they are going in the right direction. Information from Shincheonji becomes their only source of information, which makes it very difficult for its members see this group as problematic and leave. Information control is one of the tactics Shincheonji uses to retain members.
4) There are several mentors for each Shincheonji member. They will discuss almost every activity altogether, and each member is expected to report what he or she does without doing things on their own. Schincheonji members watch out for one another, making sure each member is doing well. Although they think that they are seeking for wisdom and guidance from those around them, the members have actually lost their control over their lives in a sense. They are also told to go without sleeping or eating in order to do work for the group which can put students in physical danger and reduces their ability to make good judgements. This is part of the practice of behavior control within Shincheonji.
5) Individuals are told not to refer to other resources nor to tell others about their meetings/ Bible Studies. They become secretive and would not share things even to their families and friends. This causes problems within the families especially because Shincheonji believes that Satan can use those loved ones around us to stop us from going to heaven. Many young students stop contacting their parents or try to be wary around their families.
Much workload and stress from this group leave many with anxiety, depression, and other mental issues. Although they try their best to keep up with the expectations, their body is limited. Those who leave this group also suffer tremendously, feeling lonely, hopeless, and lost, not knowing what to do with their lives anymore. They need a period of time to recover and adjust to reality away from Shincheonji.
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