Let us spray: this is the ‘cult-like’ church where the ...

World

Let us spray: this is the ‘cult-like’ church where the coronavirus spiked

The spotlight is on South Korea's shadowy end-times Shincheonji Church, whose leader thinks he’s Jesus

Nicola Smith and Seung Won Choi

It was a phone call out of the blue that alerted the White* family to the truth that their son was not the model student they believed he was.

Johnny’s parents thought he was still studying for his master’s degree and applying to work for the British intelligence services. Then Andy White, his father, was informed by a concerned member of a London church that he had instead joined Shincheonji, an ultrareligious group (http://en.shincheonji.kr/?ch=about01_03) so secretive that its members are allegedly told not to tell anyone they belong to it.

Four years later, Johnny’s parents are mourning his absence from their close-knit family. The story of their loss is not unique. It is one that has been repeated numerous times around the world, as Shincheonji continues its rapid spread from its roots in South Korea, to the UK, US, New Zealand, Australia and across Europe, Africa, India and China...

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