Amid the corona crisis, which causes about 500,000 confirmed cases and 8,000 deaths a day worldwide, a Korean-based religious organization called Shincheonji Church of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (hereinafter referred to as Shincheonji Church) hosted an online prayer meeting, “3rd Global Prayer Service of Religious People” on November 15th.
Broadcast live on the official YouTube channel of Shincheonji Church, the prayer meeting was organized to pray for not only the patients and their families in sufferings but also the government, medical staff, and volunteers fighting to overcome COVID-19. Along with 200,000 domestic and foreign members of Shincheonji Church, about 56,000 people around the world wishing to defeat this pandemic joined the prayer meeting at the same time.
Religious leaders from all over the world added their aspirations for the end of COVID-19 in the online prayer meeting. Their words carried the weight and sincerity as they have continued to work with Chairman Man Hee Lee, a representative of an international peace NGO called HWPL
Chairman Lee, as a war veteran, has practiced peace activities based on the love for humanity toward many victims of war and the words of Jesus, “glory in heaven and peace on earth,” as a believer. He suggested an online prayer meeting because “as the world is suffering from COVID-19, religious people around the world need to pray together to end this disaster."
“Too many people are suffering from COVID-19. In particular, many were infected within our church last February. Both the church members and citizens suffered a lot. We must actively step forward and pray to God for the extinction of COVID-19 in the globe and for the nation and the people,” he said.
352 religious leaders from Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam, and Hinduism, representing 73 countries participated in the prayer meeting with one heart transcending religions and denominations. They shared the need of overcoming the crisis by taking the lead in resolving a disaster as religious leaders.
Dr. Anak Agung Diatmika, Secretary for International Relationship of PHDI Jakarta, said, “Genuinely from the inner of our heart consider as WE ARE ONE. We should continue our prayer till the end of the COVID-19 pandemic from the earth and continue our synergy among world religious leaders to keep the world peace, harmony, justice, and prosperity. I am so happy I can join this that truly brings world peace and harmony.”
Following this prayer meeting, about 4,000 recovered patients from COVID-19 who are also Shincheonji Church members will donate blood plasma to develop convalescent plasma treatments. Shincheonji Church has already conducted two large-scale plasma donation of 1,700 church members last July and September, and among them, 312 recovered patients donated twice.
Regarding the large-scale blood plasma donation, Rt. Hon. Hrant Bagratyan, Former Prime Minister of Armenia, sent his congratulatory message, “the action of those who decided to donate plasma at the request of the government deserves praise. If a vaccine is developed through plasma donation, it would be helpful worldwide."
A Shincheonji Church official said, “We have been conducting online service since February 18th, and praying at each worship service for the end of COVID-19, the safety of the quarantine authorities and medical staff, and the recovery of the patients. We will do everything we can with a responsible attitude until the end of the COVID-19 crisis.”
Press-release of HWPL
South Korea: Plasma Donation by Shincheonji Church Facilitates Development of the Vaccine for COVID-19Friday, 28 August 2020 10:02
On August 27th, over 1,000 members of religious organization called Shincheonji Church of Jesus participated in donating plasma for the cure of COVID-19.
This is carried out under the invitation of the health authorities in South Korea back on 24th, asking Shincheonji Church to cooperate for donating additional plasma for the development of the vaccine.
Early this year, around 5,000 confirmed cases were found in Shincheonji Church members with most infections from the city of Daegu, while most of them recovered from the virus with 11 deaths.
According to the report from the Korea Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (KCDC), 562 recovered members from the church registered to donate plasma and 409 completed donation in July through the cooperation between KCDC and Shincheonji Church. Facing the need for “facilitation of developing a cure through plasma donation and clinical trial”, the KCDC asked another round of a large-scale donation by members of Shincheonji Church in August.
The KCDC in its official document expressed appreciation to Shincheonji Church (Chairman Lee, Man Hee) for “active participation in the collection of plasma as a group for the development of corona(virus) cure for the purpose of national health safety under the global crisis caused by the COVID-19.”
“With the cooperation of Daegu city, Daegu Athletics Center plans to provide GC Pharma equipment and personnel (for the donation) from 27th August to 4th September. We express our gratitude to the city for providing a location for the group donations. We also express our gratitude to the congregation members of the religious organization, Shincheonji to be specific,” said Mr. Kwon Jun-wook, Deputy Director of the KCDC.
Research and development of the convalescent plasma treatment is underway by National Institute of Health under the Ministry of Health and Welfare in cooperation with Green Cross (GC) Pharma, a biotechnology company in South Korea.
On the same day, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized an emergency use of convalescent plasma for the treatment of COVID-19. Experts say that more data need to be collected to see the benefit of such treatment.
Major challenges of researching the effectiveness and the development of convalescent plasma treatment come from limited supply from donors who must be recovered from the virus.
As a religious leader, Chairman Lee, Man Hee of Shincheonji in July said, “This (plasma donation) is the work that needs to be done as citizens of this country and as true believers. It is keeping the command of Jesus of loving your neighbor as yourself (Mt 22:39 of the Bible).”
Source: The South Korea Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.
Global Leaders Urge South Korean Government and the UN to Correct Religious Oppression in the Name of Covid-19 QuarantineThursday, 20 August 2020 14:18
As the spread of coronavirus continues to increase around the world, voices from the international community are rising to stop religious oppression occurring in South Korea, known as an exemplary case for Covid-19 quarantine.
On August 17th, the Coalition of Caribbean Leaders for Peace (CCLP) consisting of the former and current leaders in the Caribbean including the former president of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sent a joint letter to South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.
In the letter, they said the governments, even in response to the urgency of the pandemic, must take responsibility for the protection of human rights regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status and expressed concern about ongoing oppression against Shincheonji Church, a South Korea-based Christian denomination that suffered from the unexpected mass infection at the beginning of this year.
Ahead of this joint letter, 11 NGOs including the European Coordination of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience (CAP-LC) submitted the “annual report for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights” regarding the inappropriately targeted discrimination against Shincheonji Church to the UN Secretary-General.
The annual report was titled “Scapegoating Members of Shincheonji for COVID-19 in the Republic of Korea”.
The letter briefly pointed out the facts surrounding Shincheonji and Covid-19 as follows;
〮 Covid-19 was introduced to South Korea from China.
〮 According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus was already prevalent in the city of Daegu before the confirmation of (Shincheonji) the Patient 31 (in Daegu).
〮 The government’s refusal to close the border to China contributed heavily to the outbreak.
〮 In the face of growing public discontent that the government did not impose a travel restriction on China, Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae ordered the prosecution to investigate Shincheonji.
〮 Vice Minister of Health confirmed that the list of private identification information gathered was not much different than that collected and checked by the government.
〮 Prosecutors have arrested the officials of Shincheonji on the grounds that the list of congregation members submitted by Shincheonji was not complete.
By referring to the report “Factsheet on the global response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the impact on religious practice and religious freedom” by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the joint letter reiterated that South Korea provides a vivid example of how public health emergencies can increase the risk to marginalized religious groups.
They pointed out that the South Korean government's silence about the current situation would set a dangerous global precedent for allowing similar persecution, violence, and harassment against other religious minorities, and strongly urged the Korean government to “step forward to an end to this discrimination.”
Source: the Coalition of Caribbean Leaders for Peace (CCLP)