Members of South Korean church tied to coronavirus outbreak being persecuted, leaders say

The leaders of a shadowy South Korean church linked to the country’s coronavirus outbreak say their members are now being persecuted.

The controversial Shincheonji Church of Jesus, which many mainstream churches consider a cult, has hundreds of members who have tested positive for the coronavirus after congregants traveled to the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus broke out in December.

Now, as more than 6,000 people have become infected with COVID-19 in the country and over 40 have died, church leaders said in a Wednesday statement that their members have been ruthlessly targeted.

“The witch hunt against Shincheonji Church of Jesus is carried to an extreme, and now that this has incited domestic violence and persecution, leading to the death of one of our congregants, we cannot but express our position,” they wrote.

“This is our earnest request. Please stop the curse and hatred towards Shincheonji. And we ask some media outlets that are slandering and suppressing Shincheonji using unconfirmed information and fake news to stop immediately.”

One congregant in the city of Ulsan “faced violence and persecution by her husband” — and she took her own life on Feb. 26, according to the leaders.

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