The lecture discussed propagation methods of heresies and pseudoreligions and ways to escape from them under the theme of “Beware of Heresies, Pseudoreligions and Shincheonji.”
The lecture was given by Baek Sang-hyun, a reporter in the department of religion in the Kukmin Daily who has done extensive research on shincheonji, a cult in Korea.
The adverse effects of heresies and pseudoreligions on university students had prompted the Office of the Chaplain to host the lecture.
“The number of shincheonji and other pseudoreligion victims is currently increasing with estimated 8000 shincheonji members in Shinchon,” said professor Chang Yoon-jae (Christian Studies), a chaplain at Ewha. “The lecture was organized to raise awareness about these religions and protect students from its dangers.”
The lecture explained how shincheonji members persuade university students to join the religion. Recruitment of students through surveys, mentoring programs or psychological tests were given as examples.
Based on the accounts of the victims of shincheonji, the lecture explained the social problems that it has caused.
Baek remarked that its structured and personalized education curriculum makes it difficult for victims to leave it. In fact, students have been even encouraged to donate large sums of money, drop out of school or leave their homes to support their movement.
Methods to exit Shincheonji were also discussed.
“Family members should support the victims and take them to heresy counseling centers,” Baek said. “Reproaching the victims will make them more eager to practice their beliefs and could lead to extreme consequences such as leaving their homes.”
The Office of Chaplain acknowledged the difficulty of exiting heresies and stated that students should be protected from them in the first place.
“We hope that the lecture would help students distinguish sincheonji from Christianity and avoid joining it by mistake,” Chang said.
Currently, Ewha is one of the first universities to hold a counter-heresy and pseudoreligion lecture. Ewha also plans to hold similar lectures each semester.
Lessons on heresies and pseudoreligions are also taught in its Christianity and the World course as well.
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