By Nick Webster (THE NATIONAL, May 29, 2015 - UAE)
DUBAI // Just what the leader of an alleged South Korean cult was doing in the UAE this week remains a mystery, after self-proclaimed peace activist Lee Man-hee made a brief appearance as part of a Middle East tour. Mr Lee is the leader of Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (SCJ), which is part of the Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light, known as HPWL. It has been reported the church’s followers believe he is immortal. A delegation from the group, which bills itself as an international peace organisation, also toured Ethiopia, Egypt, Qatar, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Bahrain.
Dr Pamela Chrabieh, assistant professor of Middle Eastern studies at American University Dubai, has a doctorate in theology-sciences of religions. She said the SCJ should be carefully studied. “For its members, the leader Lee Man-hee is believed to be the returned Jesus.
“For its sympathisers, Man-hee is seen as a renowned Korean peace activist. For the anti-Shincheonji individuals and groups, he is a mad, self-proclaimed immortal.
“For some scholars, SCJ is a Christian denomination that offers free Bible courses and is just like any other denomination.
“In recent years, the South Korean press, families of Shincheonji members and confused expatriates have been trying to piece together what SCJ is, but the controversy appears to be far from resolved.”
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