News report: How Shincheonji spread in New Zealand and beyond

Last week, Christianity Today (CT) published the following article:

The article details how Shincheonji (New Heaven and Earth) successfully infiltrated traditional churches and campus ministries in New Zealand from 2015 to today, using deceptive practices and heretical beliefs to recruit Kiwis into their high-control cult.

CT tracked Shincheonji’s spread in New Zealand over the past eight years, interviewing former members, pastors, and experts on what churches around the world should look for and how churches can respond to the group. Shincheonji in New Zealand did not respond to CT’s request to comment by publication time.

The article also features some of the stories and articles on our website, including Josh and Jeremy’s story.

When church leaders and a campus staff worker confronted Josh with evidence that he was attending Shincheonji classes, his Shincheonji instructors gave him step-by-step instructions on how to deny his involvement. They even gave Josh pre-written letters expressing “inexplicable hurt and confusion” about his family and friends’ accusations and claiming that he was no longer involved in Shincheonji activities. Josh sent the letter to the church yet continued his classes, and in May 2019 he “passed over” into the group.

“There were a lot of people cheering,” Chong recalled. “We bowed down to a screen of Lee Man-Hee. In my head, I thought: ‘Why am I doing this?’ But it happened. And after this, they then told us, ‘Now you know that we’re part of this group called Shincheonji.’”

Life inside Shincheonji in New Zealand was relentless for the former members who spoke to CT. [Jeremy] Chong said that after “passing over,” Shincheonji became church for him. Lessons were scheduled for every day of the week, and he was scolded for working and urged to abandon his family to “evangelize.”

Christian leaders should also be aware of cultural practices in their own ministries that commit the same sins as Shincheonji. “If cults keep their real agendas from new recruits, then are we fully transparent when we promote or invite people to attend church programs that have evangelistic content?” Worsley observed. “If cult leaders may not be questioned, do we pastors allow our leadership and Bible teaching to be open to question?”

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