21 Members of Unregistered Local Chapter of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony Arrested Under the Societies Act
Published: 11 November 2020
Nine men, aged between 22 and 31, and 12 women, aged between 21 and 49, were arrested by Police officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on 9 November 2020, for allegedly being members of an unlawful society under Section 14(3) of the Societies Act, Chapter 311.
Preliminary investigations revealed that they had allegedly re-engaged in activities connected to the unregistered local chapter of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (SCJ), which is based in South Korea.
Another group of nine women, aged between 22 and 52, and two men, aged 23 and 36, are assisting the Police with the ongoing investigations.
Founded by South Korean national Lee Man-Hee (Lee) in 1984, SCJ has attracted accusations of being a cult in several countries due to its unorthodox teachings. Based on testimonies of former members, Lee has claimed to be the second coming of Christ, who would bring 144,000 people to Heaven with him on the Day of Judgement. He has also claimed to be the only person who can interpret the Bible, and SCJ allegedly regards all other churches and pastors as belonging to Satan. SCJ teaches that it is acceptable to use deceit and lies if it serves God’s purposes. It has been accused of infiltrating and disrupting established Korean churches by using deception and secrecy to trick people into becoming involved with them.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had earlier investigated the local SCJ chapter’s activities in February 2020, for using deceptive recruitment methods, similar to the SCJ in South Korea, to exert a controlling influence over Christian youths and young adults in Singapore, and to conceal its existence from family members and non-SCJ contacts.
Arising from these investigations, five South Korean nationals who were identified to have held key positions in the local chapter were repatriated in February 2020 and the group’s front entities were dissolved. Members of the local chapter were issued warnings to cease further involvement in SCJ activities, or face further action from the authorities. In spite of the actions taken, the local SCJ chapter has resumed its activities covertly, under the direction of its South Korean parent chapter. As such, CID is investigating members of the local SCJ chapter for potential offences under the Societies Act.
Anyone convicted of being a member of an unlawful society under Section 14(3) of the Societies Act, Chapter 311, is liable to be sentenced to imprisonment for up to 3 years or a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
MHA will not allow members of unlawful societies or persons associated with them to threaten Singapore’s public safety, peace and good order.