Most of the above links no longer work, but most are archived on Rick Ross's Cult Education website.
I'll update the links later. For now, I noticed that the last one isn't on Rick's site. I just checked the archive of my old site and found it. I have also been updating and expanding the timeline here
.August 18: Another Problem Cult
(The Asahi Shimbun)
A religious sect known as Setsuri (providence), which originated in South Korea, is causing serious social problems in Japan. The 61-year-old founder of the cult, Jung Myung Seok, is named in an Interpol rape warrant for his alleged sexual assaults on female followers in South Korea. Even before he was put on the wanted list, Jung visited Japan frequently and was suspected of sexual violence against many Japanese female students, according to former followers who have fled the group.
Freedom of religion should, of course, be respected. And it should be recognized that religions often have views and values that are different from secular ones.
But religious organizations should not be allowed to operate outside the boundary of law. The cult founder is a brutish criminal if he has repeatedly committed sexual assaults against his female followers.
A group of lawyers trying to help Japanese members leave the sect has filed a criminal complaint with police against three people in Japan, including a South Korean woman who is a close aide of the founder, on suspicion of visa offenses and other crimes related to the sect's activities. The lawyers say they will also seek to hold the founder criminally liable for his alleged rapes.
Police need to launch an exhaustive investigation into all these allegations against the cult and its founder. A strict crackdown on illegal practices is essential for preventing further victimization of cult followers.
Preaching a doctrine based on unorthodox interpretations of the Bible, Setsuri has gained a sizable following in many countries, including some 2,000 members in Japan. The followers are required to pledge absolute submission to the founder and are forced to live communally and take part in mass weddings among members.
Followers are evaluated according to the amount of money they donate to the sect. Many young members fall into financial trouble because of their large contributions to the group. The number of parents seeking advice on how to extract their children from the cult is growing rapidly.
The sect would say collective marriages and donations are designed for the salvation of the followers. But a close look at the sect's activities would show it is nothing but an antisocial group that tries to manipulate the followers' mind and bamboozle them out of their money.
Why have so many young people been lured into such a group?
The gimmicks the sect uses to increase its membership are nothing new. At university campuses, the sect's recruiters first approach students under the guise of a sports or cultural circle. After building close personal relationships with these students, the members reveal the religious nature of their group and start indoctrinating them. The favorite targets are serious-minded young people who feel alienated from their families and schools and wish to change their lives.
The tales of the sect chillingly evoke memories of Aum Shinrikyo, which perpetrated a series of loathsome crimes. The grim saga of the doomsday cult showed how so many students and young people were ensnared by that deeply antisocial group. It also showed how difficult it is to pull young people out of such a group once they become cult members.
Universities should warn their students about the operations of such dubious religious groups and fake circles. It is especially important to pay close attention to freshmen who are not well informed about the seamy side of society.
But the responsibility for dealing with the social problem of pernicious cults should not be placed entirely on universities. It is crucial for various organizations to work together in tackling this threat to society.
They should cooperate in efforts to gather and swiftly disseminate information about dangerous groups, provide counseling to the families of the victims and help members withdraw from the cult.
In particular, existing religious organizations should take the problem very seriously. They should join the efforts to protect innocent young people from such antisocial groups.
Last but not least by any means, a collection of Japanese news clips.