Many testimonies on Shinchonji’s website explain why people join Shinchonji (see SCJ’s website for testimonies). However, it is also important to consider why some leave Shinchonji.
After talking to a former member of the Shinchonji Church, who was involved in SCJ for almost a decade, this person sent a written response to different themes related to Shinchonji’s movement. The response is published here below.
What are some important things about Manhee Lee (MHL) and being a member of SCJ?
Members are told on an almost daily basis that their SSN (Man Hee Lee) loves them and works very hard for them and sacrificed his life to give them the precious words of truth but there are some puzzling contradictions.
1. He is unwilling to prove to anyone for any reason miracles of any kind that he has Jesus’ spirit on him and is the only voice of biblical truth left on the planet, which is unprecedented. If you look in Scripture, even Christ himself started his ministry with the miracle of the water and the wine.
2. During all major events the members are required to come and be there early with smiling faces and welcoming clapping. When he is at a temple, ¨amens¨ ring so loud it’s hard to hear any English translations.
3. During my own graduation, it took well over two hours of moving people mere centimeters to get the picture perfect. MHL was called in for the last 5 minutes and left 2 minutes after the picture was taken.
4. I also learned of another graduation held during a colder season where the lovely young ladies in the hambok’s were made to wait outside in the cold and the wind to get the graduation picture perfect, which they were glad to do because one must be willing to sacrifice for A PICTURE??
5. MHL is 82 years old now and has had some health issues. I was told that he had actually been physically declared dead but was brought back to life. This was never spoken of from the pulpit, so a rumour it remains, but the only miracle heard of and conveniently unsubstantiated.
What is the church structure like and how are members supervised?
1. There is no Trinity. The Father and the Son are one but the holy spirit is under the condition of holy spirits as in angels not “The Holy Spirit” as understood most. Jesus is the Holy Spirit that is on MHL after his revelation on the hill top.
2. A percentage of all tithes are sent to the headquarters as part of their contribution to the church body as a whole. Members are told the books are open and anyone can see at anytime where their money is going.
3. To keep people going and working hard, members are told the 144,000 is getting so close and if they work “just a little harder” then the fulfillment will happen and the spirit of the martyrs will come on them and they will live forever. The rest of the world is covered under the great white multitude, as spoken of in Revelations 7. The thing is the number is now over 100,000 and there are quiet rumours being spoken of that it has to be “the SEALED” not just 144,000 members of SCJ and NO ONE knows if they are part of the sealed. So, in effect, this could go forever…there could be a billion members. But, if there aren’t 144,000 sealed, well, it’s not going to happen. Each member is part of a tribe and many of the tribes are close to completing the 12,000 they need to complete their tribe. Whether or not those members are truly sealed or not is another matter.
4. Along with the 144,000 catch is the idea that if you just work a little harder you will be one of the sealed. So people sacrifice ALL their time, energy, money, family and health to do the work. And at the end of the day there is no guarantee of any kind that the sacrifice means you will get to be part of the 144,000. Paranoia and anxiety are some of the feelings people have inside but hidden under the smile of being in the right place for the right reasons.
I felt miserable all the time about not doing enough. Sleep deprived and poor mental health. No member would EVER admit to this as that would mean they were less than God wants them to be. Be glad you are part of the truth and NEVER NEVER complain about ANYTHING or you will be considered a betrayer of the truth. MHL tells wives to take care of their husbands and children to obey their parents but…at the level of their cell leaders are told that they need to work harder and in order to follow the COMMANDS of MHL which are considered the words of Jesus from GOD then something has to give and mostly it is family and school that are sacrificed. I wanted to protect individuals but have seen many heart breaking examples of people doing things to work for the church that are clearly unwise and in some cases not scriptural.
5. I was always frustrated the lack of written material. People were expected to take notes and listen to sermons online at the members’ only website. The COMMAND was 3 times for each sermons along with the mandatory Sunday and Wednesday meetings, which are monitored with a fingerprint scanner at every temple, cell group meetings, studying with potential new people and Mannam events. The schedule was packed and members are asked to hand in their personal schedules so that the leaders know what the people under them are doing most of the time.
6. Members are told what materials they cannot look at. There are websites, and books, actually all books about the Bible are regarded as lies and theology books are banned because they are not the correct interpretation of the Bible and will corrupt the member and the pure Word as received from MHL.
7. Saying anything to a leader in a meeting about ideas that may be better or asking why members are, in effect, expected to dig a ditch in the morning and fill it in in the afternoon are seen as going against MHL and, therefore, makes your thought something from the evil one and you have betrayers thoughts which must be repented of.
8. There are also conflicts about Mannam. I was told another member that many people are unhappy about Kim Nam Lee’s role in the church at the moment. It has always been strictly observed that if someone is in Mannam that an SCJ member may not recruit them into SCJ.