SHINCHEONJI B.I.T.E ANALYSIS FROM EX MEMBER 'J'
***Based on my personal experience in Shincheonji (SCJ)***
1.Leader promotes dependence and obedience
- I didn't really depend on Man Hee Lee (leader of Shincheonji), but I did depend on superiors such as team leader or cell leader. When my own plans or thoughts clashed with what SCJ wanted, I sometimes asked them and got help. Sometimes my decisions were based on their advice or opinion, even though I myself was quite an independent person. The reason was because I didn't want to disappoint God. That's why I asked for advice.
About the obedience, I obeyed well to the commandments or announcements of SCJ. When superior asked me to do something, I did it with obedience.
2.Modify behaviour with rewards and punishment
-Of course they do. Because of this, I had a wrong image about God. I had question inside me that God only cares about the result, not the process. I thought God doesn't care how hard I tried nor how I endured a lot. After I left SCJ, I realized it was a wrong image of God. He is not like that.
In SCJ, they do modify behaviour with rewards and punishment. For example, at the graduation ceremony, they give rewards to those who evangelized a lot.
In 2018 and 2019, there was a commandment from MHL that those who didn't evangelize should pay money(fine). It was 1,100,000 KRW. And actually, I paid since my fruit fell on Dec right after the centre entrance interview...
3.Dictate where and with whom you live Restrict or control sexuality
-I didn't experience this kind of thing inside SCJ. However, after I left SCJ, I've heard so many cases of sexual things in SCJ such as centre JDSN having sexual relations with the student, or someone having sex inside the church building at night, etc.
I never saw those kind of things but I just heard these kind of things from other ExSCJ members.
4.Control clothing and hairstyle Regulate what you eat and drink and how much
-SCJ do control clothing and hairstyle. Not in strict way, though, sometimes it depends on the church atmosphere or the people there. They don't control eating, drinking.
About the clothing, they do not let people wear short pants or skirts inside the church when you go to the service. And they tell members that since the promised pastor(leader of SCJ) is watching the recorded video of how the members are doing during the service, your hair should not be bright. They recommend black hair or brown. They don't really control foreigners hair colour, as far as I know. This only applies to Koreans.
One more thing. They do not let people wear earrings. If you want, only when you meet worldly people. They tell members that wear earrings are only for slaves, saying that in the Bible it said so. Since SCJ members are no longer under Satan which means they are not slaves anymore, now that they became children of God, they control wearing earrings. I have this experience. When I did piercing and went to the office, my TJN said you should take off your piercing.
5.Deprive you of 7-9 hours sleep
-Definitely. This was my big problem while I was in SCJ. I used to do the work which is related with abroad. So I had to be in touch with foreigners abroad, communicated with them, did the emailing, also did the online meetings. There's time difference between overseas and Korea. I had to adjust to them. So I slept very late at night, sometimes stayed up all night. I had to get up early in the morning but I couldn't wake up well. I was very very tired. I had to do SCJ works, HWPL works, and since I was a student at that time, I had to study, do the assignments, etc. My parents really were worried about my health.
6.Exploit you financially Restrict leisure time and activity
-Not in a notable way, but of course yes. I had to pay tithe, weekly offerings, I also bought their books, DVDs, etc. Lots of things. And when I woke up late in the morning and I had to be there, I took a taxi. When I were to evangelize one person, I should meet them, have meal together, hang out, so I had to spend lots of money. When they were to enter the SCJ centre, I sometimes bought them the Bible. These are just a tip of an iceberg. I did spend lots of money. Ah! I also paid 1,100,000 KRW for having no fruit(person to evangelize).
Since SCJ make people busy with recruiting people, studying the Bible, lots of meetings and gatherings. Etc, people normally do not have time to enjoy their personal time nor leisure activities. For me, I couldn't continue working if I don't have my personal time. So I tried to break my schedule into pieces and enjoyed my time by myself, for example I went traveling alone, or meet worldly friends, had time with my family, etc. If I didn't have such time, I couldn't bear my life in SCJ since it is really harsh.
7.Require you to seek permissions for decisions
-Yes. If I decide by myself and then just report them, they feel bad about it. They will say like "Why didn't you share this to me before you make your decision? This is not polite. What can I do if you already decide and just share me the result?"
8.Deliberately withhold or distort information
-When I was in SCJ, it was like staining through a sieve. The upper you go, the more information you get. I got lots of info when I was a team leader. When I became team member, there are less information I can get. Not much distortion was there, as far as I experienced. I was really really sensitive to words and information. I checked where those announcements or words were from. Like; was it from department leader? or was it from tribe leader? something like this.
I worked at a special department, so I got info which just normal members cannot get. Similarly, there will be information I did not get compared to other members who were doing other duties.
9.Forbid you from speaking with co members or critics Discourage access to
-SCJ educate members not to search things about SCJ on Internet. The reason they say is; there are so much false information and fake news.
SCJ control members meeting in person outside, especially man and woman just two of them. If it is inside their church building, that's fine.
They do care when members with weak faith meet each other, since they might spread bad things about SCJ or complaints. If there is a member who seems like spreading things to other members, they do control that person not to meet with other members or tell others not to meet him/her.
10.Non cult sources of info Divide information into insider vs outsider ideals
-I shared and was also shared some worldly news among my team. Depends on the interest, for example I and some were interested in wars, conflict issues, gender, human rights issue so we just shared those kind of info.
SCJ do have plots for inside members and outside people. They have inner goals and outer goals. Also, they have two versions of explanation, their members and outside people.
11.Generate and use propaganda extensively
-Yes, SCJ generate and use propaganda extensively. They even their own broadcast station and newspaper. Famous one is 'Cheon-ji Il-bo(name of the newspaper)', although they deny their relationship between SCJ and Cheon-ji Il-bo. MHL mentioned that name during the service, so there's a proof for that, definitely.
One example of how they use it for propaganda was, about the plasma donation. When COVID-19 broke in Shincheonji Daegu church, there were more than 4,000 people who were infected. SCJ thought this would make their image bad among the citizens, so they did the plasma donation. Actually, the leadership of SCJ commanded members to do so. After the donation, they did extensive broadcasts about 'SCJ Daegu members donated their plasma'. They do care about public opinion and even manipulate it.
Also, HWPL. SCJ use HWPL as a front organization. Same, they deny the relationship between SCJ and HWPL. However, it's really amazing how SCJ use HWPL as a propaganda.
12.Use information gained in confession sessions
-Yes, but depends on characteristic of people. Some openly reveal those information which they gained in confession sessions with each member, some don't, or do it as a maneuver. It depends.. but one sure thing is, if the meeting was on purpose, like pastoral invitation, they mostly report what they heard during the meeting with the member so that others can know, refer to that while communicating with that member. They are sharing the condition/situation/status of a member.
13.Gaslight to make you doubt your own memory
-They do gaslight people, but I didn’t notice this when I was inside SCJ. The most frequent way is, they make their members doubt their identity, thoughts, and feelings. They use Bible verse and say; since you once belonged to Satan, was under Satan, was Satan’s children, you need time and effort to become God’s children. They educate members that people have two types of components. God and Satan. So they say everyone should train themselves.
If their members are against what the leadership commands or have different opinions, they make their members reflect themselves whether they now have Satan’s component inside them or not. So they find problems within themselves, not from outside. In my opinion, this causes big psychological problems.
14.Require you to report thoughts, feelings, activities
-When the service is over, they gather and share what they felt. If they should go home right away, then the cell leader ask them to report what they felt. They really care about this much because by receiving report, they know how that member is doing nowadays; that member’s feeling, situation, status of faith, etc.
This applies not only to services but gatherings, educations as well.
They do weekly reports about what they did. For example, how many people they met for recruitment, how much work they did.
15.Encourage you to spy and report on others misconduct
-When I was inside SCJ, I didn’t really saw this kind of thing. But I know they do spying, reporting on others misconduct or thoughts. They do feedbacks about their members. When I was a team leader, I did this, too.
For example, one of the meeting’s agenda is doing feedback about each member. What is their problem nowadays, how much work they are doing. If they lack some parts, I did feedback about how to make them do the work. How to stimulate or motivate them.
16.Instill black VS white, us VS them or good VS evil thinking
-SCJ’s doctrine is dichotomy. They divide this world into two parts. Good or evil, God or Satan. For me, it was simple. Not complicated. So I really liked it. When we look at this world, it is so much complicated.. I had so many thoughts, I wanted to find simple and definite answer. But since I left SCJ, I trashed those kind of thoughts. Still, this world is complicated but now I know that it is still fine if I don’t have the definite answer. I just look at issue or situation as it is. Now, I don’t divide this world or people into black or white, or good or evil.
17.Change your identity, possibly your name
-They do educate members to change their image and identity into God’s form. They claim those education or teachings are based on the Bible, but they are not.
Distorted information are much included.
They don’t change names. I only saw one case, since his name meant dragon’s root, which is evil according to their doctine, he changed his name afterwards. But no any force was there, it was just his personal choice.
18.Use loaded language and clichés to stop complex thought
-I searched on the dictionary and it says;
Loaded words are a persuasive technique that has also been called emotive language, high-inference language, or loaded terms. It is often used in order to:
Degrade others (such as in a political campaign)
Gain a political foothold
Push an agenda
Based on these, SCJ do use loaded language. During service, education. All cults are same, they should have at least one group or organization to degrade them, to blame them, so that their members gather more, become one in order to fight with that group.
19.Induce hypnotic or trance states
-This not really happens in SCJ
20.Teach thought stopping techniques to prevent critical thoughts
-Actually I was involved in and doing work which required me to think a lot. But the flow and purpose of those thoughts were; how to make other people understand SCJ doctrine/how to persuade or make them do the work with us, etc.
21.Allow only positive thoughts
-They have their famous slogans. One of them is “We can do it!“
22.Use excessive medication, singing, prayer and chanting to block thoughts
-Not that excessive. No much medication. They just gather every Friday and do the singing, chanting, prayer. As far as I know, it is similar with normal churches. Purpose wasn’t to block thoughts, they just did it for real. Begging and praying for God, feel blessed through singing and chanting.
23.Reject rationalising analysis and critical thinking
-They don’t reject this, but if it is impure, they do care about it. For example, if the member has a pure heart to know the teachings of SCJ doctrine and wants to ask question to seek for an answer, they welcome this. However, if it is to attack SCJ doctrine, they don’t welcome this. If that rationalising analysis and critical thinking leads to strengthening faith in SCJ, they don’t reject this. They rather encourage members to do so.
24.Instill irrational fears of leaving the group
- Yes they do. They educate believers if they leave this group, their situation will become worse and they will belong to evil again, become more evil than before. So the members inside that group have a fear of leaving the group. Also, when they see people leaving the group, they think those people are now evil, belong to Satan, pity them or hate them.
25.Label some emotions as evil or sinful
-Yes. Since they clearly divide good and evil, God and Satan, they do label emotions as evil or sinful. If that emotion is not appropriate in SCJ’s point of view, or if that emotion interrupts that member from living the life of faith in SCJ, they label that emotion as evil or sinful. The standard is whether it is good for SCJ or not.
26.Teach emotion stopping techniques to prevent homesickness
-They just sometimes counsel members to help them with emotional issues or problems. So I do agree they are doing that with sincere heart, really to help members in need.
About preventing homesickness, I didn’t experience this since I'm living with my family. Maybe this might apply to foreign members who are in SCJ Korea branch.
27.Promote feelings of guilt and shame
-Naturally if one commits bad deeds, he/she feels guilty. But if that guiltiness blocks one from doing "God's work" which they claim, then they advise that person not to feel guilty.
28.Shower you with praise
-I received many praise and compliments. Back then, those praises and compliments were sincere. I do not think those were fake, because one complimenting others is quite difficult. For me, it is difficult unless sincere.
Sometimes they over compliment others when they have to buy that person's heart. In this case, some lies are included.
29.Threaten your friends and family
-Not really. They sometimes threat their members when leaving their group. But I didn't receive any threats after I left SCJ.
30.Shun you if you disobey orders
-I met quite good people inside SCJ, even though I sometimes did wrong things from their perspective or did not obey the orders, they tried to kindly explain to me so that I won't make mistakes in the future. I somehow felt their sincere heart, as if parents are talking to their children.
31.Teach that there is no happiness without the group
-I haven't heard like this directly, but they do educate members to feel happy inside SCJ, that God chose them and brought, called them into SCJ. Instilling thoughts that being in SCJ will make you happy in the end. They instil the hope that there will be no more sorrow, sadness, pain, death in SCJ if the kingdom is completed.
I also thought even though I am so tired or emotionally drained, or stressful, at least I met God and now I am in SCJ so I must be happy. As I think of it now, I was sometimes sad, felt overwhelmed, sometimes felt blessed, happy, confident,.. so many diverse feelings.
But these feelings are what I feel nowadays as well, even I left SCJ.
If SCJ person says I am happy, that's kind of a spell. Definitely they are sometimes sad, angry, in despair as well! They are human with emotions!
The reason why SCJ educate members to feel happy and blessed is because once they leave that group, they will fear if their life will become unhappy and misfortune.