Last Articles

The Tai Ji Men Tax Case in Taiwan

Letter of concern

H.E. Dr. Tsai Ing-wen

President of the Republic of China

Office of the President

No. 122 Sec.1. Chongqing S. Rd.

Zhongzheng District, Taipei City

10048 Taiwan, ROC

 

Hon. Premier Su Tseng-chang

Executive Yuan

No. 1, Sec. 1, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Zhongzheng Dist.,

Taipei City 100009, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

 

Honorable Chen Chu

President, Control Yuan

No. 2, Sec. 1, Zhongxiao E. Rd.

Taipei City, 100216, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

 

September 16, 2020

 

Dear President Tsai:

Dear Premier Su:

Dear President Chen:

On July 24, we wrote to President Tsai, expressing our concern for the case of Tai Ji Men. In short, Tai Ji Men is a Taiwan-based spiritual school teaching qigong, with roots in esoteric Taoism, and with a global outreach through its cultural activities. In 1996, Tai Ji Men was among the victims of an ill-fated crackdown on new religious movements, which was started in Taiwan largely for political reasons. The indicted Tai Ji Men leader, Dr. Hong Tao-Tze, the founder and master of the spiritual school, and members were later fully exonerated from all criminal charges.

Read more →

USCIRF Exposes European “Experts” Who Support CCP Campaigns Against “Cults”

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom publishes a document against Russian anti-cultist Alexander Dvorkin and his organization FECRIS, both supporters of religious persecution in China.

by Massimo Introvigne

On July 17, 2020, the USCIRF, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, unveiled a new document, whose title is “The  Anti-cult  Movement  and Religious  Regulation in Russia and the Former Soviet Union.” The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). Its Commissioners are appointed by the President and by Congressional leaders of both political parties. 

The title may indicate that the document does not concern China, and in fact its main focus is Russia. However, there are three important connections between the new USCIRF report and China.

Read more →

A Letter to the Foreign Minister of South Korea on the Situation of Shincheonji

Dear Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha:

We represent NGOs and academic research centers specialized in the defense of freedom of religion and belief. We write to you as we are aware of your distinguished career at the United Nations, and appreciate your attention to human rights.

We have followed with great concern the problems in South Korea of a new religious movement known as Shincheonji. Some of us have studied Shincheonji for years, and some have produced academic studies about it. We are aware that Shincheonji is regarded by conservative Christians as “heretic,” and that they resent its success, which happened mostly at their expenses, and its active proselytization methods.

Read more →

COVID-19 and Religious Freedom: Scapegoating Shincheonji in South Korea

A webinar organized by the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) and Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF)

Date/Time: Monday, July 20, 2020, 17:00 (UTC +2, Brussels time)

The fact that one member of Shincheonji, a Christian new religious movement in South Korea, was not timely diagnosed with COVID-19, attended church services, and set in motion a chain of events where thousands of her church’s members were infected, led to the government’s requests for lists of all members of the group and massive testing.

While it is possible that mistakes were made by Shincheonji, health and police authorities acknowledged that the movement submitted substantially accurate lists of its members, and tried to cooperate as it could. Shincheonji, however, is at the receiving end of an aggressive hostility by conservative Christians, who have tried for decades to have the movement, which has been very successful in converting Protestants, banned in South Korea.

Read more →

Shincheonji, a South Korean New Religious Movement: Expansion, Social Activism, and Coronavirus Controversies

At the 4th Conference of the Baltic Alliance of Asian Studies was devoted a session to Shincheonji.

In view of the interest, you can find the video recording following the link of CESNUR website:

https://www.cesnur.org/2020/shincheonji-baas-conference.htm?fbclid=IwAR3-EKbfUnqfmP6uQIxaBTCGBD7Id_pmjaQEMXmAttp_c6qFlGNyJCoCzlA

Read more →

CESNUR: Coronavirus and Shincheonji: Stopping the Witch Hunt

Coronavirus and Shincheonji: Stopping the Witch Hunt

To:
H.E. Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner of Human Rights
H.E. Ambassador Sam Brownback, US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom

Dear President Bachelet:
Dear Ambassador Brownback:

We represent international NGOs specialized in the defense of religious liberty. We are deeply concerned with a growing number of instances of intolerance and discrimination against Shincheonji, a South Korean new religious movement, after a number of its members were diagnosed with COVID-19.

Shincheonji is a South Korean Christian new religious movement, founded by a Korean preacher called Lee Man Hee. Chairman Lee, as its members call him, is not regarded as God nor as the second coming of Jesus, but as the promised pastor who will lead humanity into the kingdom of peace that many Christians call the Millennium. Shincheonji has experienced a rapid growth in the last decades, and now has more than 200,000 members.

Arch-conservative and fundamentalist Protestantism, marginal in other countries, is the largest segment of Protestant Christianity in South Korea and a powerful voting bloc. It has promoted virulent campaigns against minorities it has labeled as “cults,” as well as against Roman Catholics, homosexuals, and Muslim immigrants and refugees. Shincheonji has been particularly targeted, for the good reason that its growth has largely happened by converting members of conservative and fundamentalist Protestant churches.

Read more →

Synthesis - Spiritual Human Rights Conference - December 2019

Soteria International hosted on 11 December 2019 a new conference on the series “Spiritual Human Rights”, with the topic: “Base and Debasement of Human Rights  - Rights, Obligations and Society”.

The conference brought together important keynote speakers, experts in the human rights field, sociologists and politicians:

  • Prof Massimo Introvigne - Editor-in-Chief - Bitter Winter, Director - CESNUR
  • Jens Peter Bonde, Former Danish MEP
  • Anette Refstrup - Church of Scientology, DENMARK
  • Prof Aaron Rhodes, President FOREF
  • Ivan Arjona - European Office of the Church of Scientology
  • Advaitananda Stoian – ATMAN Federation
  • Konrad Swenninger – Soteria International
  • Bashy Quraishy – ENAR, EMISCO
  • Calistrat Atudorei PHD
  • Prof Alesandro Amicarelli – Director FOB
  • Camelia Marin and Konrad Swenninger from Soteria International.

After important contributions presented by the speakers, the debate went smoothly towards the fundament of human rights and their integration in institutional and social system.

Read more →

Spiritual Human Rights conference 2019 on 11 December 2019

The Base and Debasement of Human Rights - Rights, Obligations and Society

Invitation for scientific researchers, activists and practitioners within the trans-disciplinary field of human rights and spirituality!

11 December 2019, between 10.00 - 13.00 - webinar or our venue in Copenhagen.

For the twelves consecutive year Soteria International welcomes participants to a visionary conference on the emerging field of Spiritual Human Rights.

This year’s event presents key note presentations and Q&A sessions addressing the Base and Debasement of Human Rights  - Rights, Obligations and Society.

The right to a good healthcare or education and freedom of though, conscience and belief are all important rights in our society, but not in the same way. The first should be secured politically, the other fundamentally as unalienable human right.

Are our human rights currently debased by a strong influx of social and economic rights into the discussions on human rights? If health, education and gender issues are to be secured by court and not by politics, do we not risk a more totalitarian perspective on governance and simultaneously a debasement of the fundamental natural rights?

When making social and financial issues human rights, do we risk that the lives of many are disproportionately restricted by the few. We are given universal human rights, but what about universal human obligations?

Read more →

Freedom of Religion or Belief Roundtable Brussels-EU

10 December 2019 - Human Rights Day

Since being established, the 'FoRB Roundtable Brussels-EU' has been known for an unparalleled commitment to advocate for Freedom or Religion or Belief issues, for people and communities of ALL faiths or not.

The FoRB Roundtable Brussels-EU is an informal group of individuals from civil society who gather regularly to discuss FoRB issues on a non-attribution basis. It is simply a safe space where participants gather, speak freely in sharing ideas and information, and propose joint advocacy actions to address specific FoRB issues and problems globally. It's part of an informal international network of such roundtables (see A Model for Sustainable Peace and Prosperity for more info). While being part of this network, the FoRB Roundtable Brussels-EU is completely independent in its governance.

Participants are free to propose initiatives regarding the protection and promotion of freedom of religion, conscience, and belief in Europe and around the world, and other participants have then the possibility to join these initiatives and self-select into coalitions of the willing on such initiatives.

Read more →

Fourth meeting of the Danish Contact Forum for Religious and Religious Freedom on October 8, 2019

Freedom of Befief - Copenhagen

In Copenhagen this autumn, was held The meeting of the Government's Contact Forum for Religious and Religious Freedom on 8 October 2019, in the Common Hall of Parliament.

Soteria International’s representative attended the event and consider the event a step forward in the collaboration between the Human Rights NGOs and officials.

The meeting was held in continuation of a Danish-funded international expert seminar on the identification of positive vision energies between religious and religious freedom and equality through the use of the UN's World Goals.

The fourth meeting of the Contact Forum therefore use the occasion to invite international FoRB experts to a round table with the Danish Contact Forum of particularly interested in the Danish effort for religious and religious freedom.

Read more →