The Korean Supreme Court concluded the trial of the Gwacheon-based Shincheonji Church of Jesus with a verdict of “not guilty” in response to allegations of violating the Infectious Disease Prevention Act during a COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020.
DAEGU, KOREA, August 01, 2022 /24-7PressRelease/ — On March 28th, the charges against Shincheonji Church of Jesus for violating the Korean Infectious Disease Prevention Act were dropped as the Supreme Court deemed the church “not guilty”. The church says that the verdict “pays homage to the judiciary’s wise judgment that justice and truth have triumphed.”
Shincheonji Church, based in Gwacheon, South Korea with dozens of branch churches, was accused of directly causing the COVID-19 outbreak amidst Shincheonji members of a certain church location in Daegu. At the time of the outbreak, in early February 2020, there were no guidelines given by the government for social distancing or quarantine practices. A few days prior to the outbreak, the Korean president had even encouraged people to carry on their activities as normal to avoid unnecessary panic.
When the outbreak occurred in one Shincheonji branch church (Daegu location), officials immediately demanded a list of Shinchonji members and their personal information to conduct contact tracing. The demand included the personal information of members of other branch church locations and even members of abroad churches. Although governmental officials claim that Shincheonji Church provided inaccurate or incomplete lists, Shincheonji insists that they have fully complied with epidemic authorities and cooperated with officials to ensure the safety and health of their members.
Parts of the list given to authorities, however, were leaked and distributed, exposing the identities and violating the religious freedom of many Shincheonji members who had been privately practicing their faith in the church. Thousands of instances of human rights violations occurred against Shincheonji people after the list was leaked, including several cases of domestic violence resulting in 2 deaths, forced termination from jobs, discrimination and terroristic acts. Some cases included damage of Shincheonji property and threats of poisoning members and leaders of certain Shincheonji locations.
During the trials over 2 years and 2 months, governmental authorities forced certain Shincheonji Church locations to close their facilities and imprisoned the Chairman of Shincheonji along with many other church leaders. Some church leaders were imprisoned for nearly 6 months while trials were taking place, and the 200,000 members of the churches in Korea suffered extreme stigma amongst their communities.
Since the exoneration of Shincheonji Church and its leaders because of the Supreme Court ruling, Shincheonji has actively worked to overcome the COVID-19 crisis in Korea by hosting large-scale and record-breaking blood donation drives to help heal those who are suffering from the virus despite the suffering of their leaders and members during the COVD-19 trials.
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