Moon sharply criticizes churches that violate quarantine measures

Posted on : 2020-08-28 17:11 KST Modified on : 2020-08-28 17:11 KST
S. Korean president also compares doctors on strike to soldiers deserting battlefield
South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks during a meeting with church leaders at the Blue House on Aug. 27. (Yonhap News)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks during a meeting with church leaders at the Blue House on Aug. 27. (Yonhap News)

On Aug. 27, South Korean President Moon Jae-in once again criticized certain Protestant churches that are embroiled in controversy over obstructing the government’s efforts to combat COVID-19, as well as the Korea Medical Association (KMA), which has organized a collective strike amid a second wave of COVID-19. Moon launched a fusillade at churches that weren’t abiding by disease control guidelines, accusing them of “audacious” and “senseless” behavior. He also threatened stern measures against doctors who had walked off the job, comparing them to “soldiers who deserted the battlefield.”

During a meeting with church leaders on Thursday, Moon expressed strong disapproval of the actions of Sarang Jeil Church, which is pastored by Jeon Kwang-hoon. “They’re ruining Koreans’ lives and making trouble for the whole country. Just when Koreans thought they were getting a breather, their lives are falling apart again,” Moon said.

Moon voiced sharp criticism against the church. “Even if they claim this wasn’t intentional, by this point they ought to at least feel sorry and make an apology to the public. But instead, they’re still audaciously peddling conspiracy theories, stirring things up, and refusing to cooperate with the government’s disease control measures,” he said.

“Actions that would be incomprehensible to any reasonable individual are being perpetrated by some individuals in the name of the church. The senseless behavior of a tiny minority is damaging trust in the Korean church as a whole.”

Christian leader insists churches “shouldn’t be treated like places of business”

Moon held to his position even after Kim Tae-young, head of the United Christian Churches of Korea (UCCK), said that “places of worship such as churches, temples, and cathedrals shouldn’t be treated like places of business.”

“The state needs to protect the expression of faith and acts of worship as much as possible, but the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act allows us to regulate those actions when there’s no alternative. Church leaders must also recognize the objective situation,” Moon said.

Moon also asked the religious community for its cooperation in fighting the disease. “Disease control is not the realm of faith, but of science and medicine. Coming together to contain and defeat this pandemic is the way that we can return to religious services and a life of faith.”

Moon also directly criticized the Korea Medical Association (KMA), which was in the second day of a strike. “For medical workers to walk off the job during the COVID-19 crisis is equivalent to soldiers deserting the battlefield in the middle of a war. To make another analogy, it’s as if firefighters went on strike in front of the worst fire in history.”

By Seong Yeon-cheol, staff reporter

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