SEOUL, Jan. 28 (Korea Bizwire) — South Koreans’ impressions of Protestant churches are growing cold as church institutions are constantly going against efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
A coronavirus cluster originating from a local Christian missionary group called the International Mission (IM) appears to be spreading nationwide.
According to local governments, 41 IM-related educational and research facilities in 13 metropolitan cities and provinces reported 269 COVID-19 cases out of their combined membership of 866 as of Wednesday.
The International English Mission (IEM) School in the central city of Daejeon, an unauthorized school run by IM, accounted for 133 cases of the total, while two IM-affiliated schools in Gwangju — the TCS International School and the TCS Ace International School — have together reported 82 infections.
IM is being subject to wide criticism for impeding efforts to reduce the daily number of infections.
Many people seem to be growing tired of repeated ‘disasters’ perpetrated by churches.
Religious institutions have always been at the center of the pandemic.
The majority of the infections in late August have come from Sarang Jeil Church in northern Seoul, whose pastor Jun Kwang-hoon has led several anti-government rallies in central Seoul.
BTJ Center for All Nations, an evangelical church in Sangju, 270 kilometers southeast of Seoul, and IM have curtailed efforts to contain the third wave of the coronavirus.
All of these institutions are Protestant denominations.
BTJ Center further disappointed the public for refusing to cooperate with authorities, convincing themselves that quarantine efforts are a part of a greater conspiracy that has to do with vaccines.
The public frustration towards churches is at its peak. There were no more surprised faces on online communities, when yet another religious institution was struck by a massive infection.
Some Protestant churches see it as ‘good riddance’.
“The coronavirus is exposing unjust beliefs from beneath the surface, which is somewhat of a relief,” said a reverend from a church in Seoul’s Nowon District.
“There are many churches out there trying to do their best to respect quarantine measures. I just hope that a rotten apple wouldn’t spoil the barrel.”
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)