Hong Kong Bus Crash

“In a May 1 story about a bus crash in Hong Kong, The Associated Press, relying on information from local police, erroneously reported that the accident victims belonged to a Christian group. The victims were members of the Shinji Shumeikai, a non-Christian Japanese spiritual group.”

This is an interesting thing to read. I guess I find it funny that the mistaken religion was Christianity. I know that China is a country where Christians receive persecution. What kind of impression did the police get that would allow them to believe it was Christians? Am I reading too much into this?

I guess I would further read about this group, which appears to be a small cult. Why do I say cult? It seems they even identify themselves this way, or at least Japan File does. This is arbitrary information, but it appears that a Geocities site archived the info. This is kind of scary: “In the past or even now, the cult members stop a passer-by on the street, and ask him/her if they can pray for their happiness and welfare before stretching their hand toward the unsuspecting person in the name of “Jyorei (purifying the soul)”. That is how they have practiced recruitment of new members.”

NOTE: Someone please tell me how to change fonts back to normal in WordPress…

Oh, there we go with the font…

Ok, so they appear to trick people into thinking this “jyorei” has purified their soul? I guess that explains this: “In order to become a new member, one has to participate in a three-day “teaching instruction” and pay 30,000 yen to obtain an OHIKARI.” Right, so pay money…haven’t seen that before…money solves everything, doesn’t it?

“The cult forces its members to donate money or recruit new members. When they cannot meet the target for money donation, they are forced to go to loan shark to lend money, go out on the street or visit homes to recruit new members. The upper hierarchy members verbally abuse those who still cannot meet the money target in front of many members and make them promise to meet the donation target next time.”

Perhaps it’s a good thing the AP got this cleared up-this group is so far from Jesus and his teachings. It was certainly not a Christian bus. The end of the articles mentions the French congress calling this group a cult, along with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Soka Gakkai (Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism). That’s a fair designation, I think.

4 comments

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    • George Bedell on Thursday, May 8, 2008 at 1:43 PM

    Dear Josh Morgan,

    Although I am a member of Shinji Shumeikai, I am writing this as an individual and not as a representative of the organization. I have been a member for about 12 years now. Although I know little of the activities of my fellow members in Hong Honk, the organization you describe is very far from the one that I belong to. If you would like more information concerning Shinji Shumeikai, I suggest that you check out the organization’s website http://www.shumei.org. In the west, we are generally known by the less complex and bulky name of ‘Shumei.’

    Just a few points to clear up:

    * Anyone can present a petition saying anything about anyone to the French Congress. The paper in which Shumei was named was not an official article but one presented to the Congress by a non-governmental party. It means little if anything. The French Congress did not call us a cult.

    * The donation you mention, which comes to about $300 in America, covers the costs of materials, instruction, a members’ kit, and a small donation toward our international Center in Japan. No one is forced to become a member. All organizations need money. Ours exists because of the kind donations of its members. Donations are certainly encouraged but are not mandatory. After a dozen years of active membership, I can say that I have never been overly pressured for money.
    Have you checked out recently how much money is entailed in having a wedding performed in a mainstream Christian Church? For that matter, I have never seen a collection basket handed around in public at a Shumei gathering—let’s talk about peer pressure and manipulation. We donate more sedately that that.

    * Shumei is not a religion or cult. It is a spiritual fellowship. Our membership is comprised of people of many backgrounds and traditions. For example: I am a Roman Catholic.

    * Why would you also consider the Jehovah’s Witnesses a cult? Those I have met seem like perfectly respectable and sincere people. Although I wish they would stop knocking at my door, especially on weekends when I am trying to get some rest.

    While it is good to leak around the Internet to get as much information concerning an organization as you can, it might be wise at some point to go to the organization itself to see what they have to say about themselves for the sake of a balanced view before labeling them a ‘cult.’ http://www.shumei.org

    Best,

    George Bedell
    Pasadena, California

  1. I appreciate you commenting respectfully to my post. I hope I have not misrepresented your belief, even though I don’t agree with it. Please also note that my comments about it were based off of that website, and what I said was quoting the website. If you want to comment about that, you’ll have to take that up with Japan File, who wrote the stuff about it.

    That point especially holds true when you say, “The French Congress did not call us a cult.” I’m just quoting what I read in a magazine. Since you say that, if I am to say that myself, I should certainly find the source, so I personally won’t go and say that the French Congress called you a cult.

    Mainly, I apologize for not going to their website. I thought I typed it into Google, so I was unaware they had any establishment in the US, anyway. Am I a rash blogger based on the misconceptions I posted? Perhaps. That doesn’t mean I agree with the impositions I’ve read about. And that wouldn’t change my belief that Jesus is the only way to heaven.

    To answer your question, Jehovah’s Witnesses are a cult mainly because they claim to be Christian, yet deny the divinity of Christ. I think more fundamentally, it would be their form of ‘mind control’, meaning they have members believe that they are the only organization on Earth that has authority on the Bible’s interpretation, and on truth in general. That’s pretty dangerous. They keep members under the control of this thought by having them believe that salvation is only through them. Sincerity has nothing to do with the organization which they put their faith in, unfortunately.

  2. So, now I’ll comment on what I’m reading about Shumei based on what the website, and also what you’ve mentioned. The issue that I’ve already found is that Shumei is not dealing with our sin problem as humans. Sin is a separation of man and God. Humans are so utterly depraved that we can’t connect with God, and that includes our afterlife. Jyorei, as I am reading from the website, is focused on healing people physically on Earth, but it’s not going to solve the problem of sin.

    Do you notice how, “Jyorei…can be practiced by all who are affiliated with Shinji Shumeikai and have an Ohikari.” The Okihari costs $300. Do you see what’s going on? You have to pay in order to be healed. That’s the kind of activity that seems a little suspicious, doesn’t it? There are plenty of people out there who promise big services for some money. Psychics do it all the time. I would question why one needs such an item and needs to be affiliated with Shinji Shumeikai in order to receive such healing. Why can’t anyone get it? Jesus offers his free gift of salvation to anyone who asks. He doesn’t work exclusively through an organization like the Jehovah’s Witnesses (Watchtower), or otherwise. Since He is God, something nearly all other religions deny, He himself delivers eternal salvation to all who believe in Him.
    (By the way, I don’t see how passing a basket around is a form of ‘peer pressure and manipulation’. My church doesn’t do that, anyway, so…)

    Shumei’s Principles suggest that we, as depraved and evil humans, can somehow do something to overcome the evil inside of us to obtain happiness. This cannot be so-only God can change the wicked hearts of man. The problem in trying to obtain happiness is that we’d all have to follow these principles and see if they work. There’s no way to test it, as every human being is certainly not following the “Inner Qualities and Approaches to Life” as Shumei suggests we all can. That also brings beliefs like Scientology into question-who’s to say their 21 precepts to happiness are better or worse than those taught in Shumei?

    And after we gain happiness by following these ways, then what are left with? We still have not dealt with the inner human nature of sin which wants to perform the evil in the world. We still have not worked out our spiritual salvation. So the only thing that Shumei can offer me is something earthly, and not something that will save me spiritually. In reading the story about Chan Lai Fong, I am happy to hear of her recovery, but saddened to know that she is drawn farther away from Jesus because of it. She needs to deal with her sin problem, because even temporary healing on Earth will not save her soul in the afterlife.

    I think I’ve said my piece based on what I’ve read. I hope this shows that I am interested in what the organization has to say about themselves, but Jesus has something much more profound to say. I encourage you to consider your religion of Catholicism, and read the Bible-see if you’re in the faith. Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Shumei is unfortunately taking people farther away from Jesus, and I implore you to consider your involvement with an earthly organization like this one. Thanks for reading.

    • Misawa in Japan on Sunday, June 15, 2008 at 10:23 AM

    Nice to meet you.
    I am Japanese.
    I live in the country in Japan.
    I am not well versed in English.
    I do not know manners of the net so much.
    Therefore, my contribution might be improper in this column.
    However, I have information that reports for the operator of this blog.
    Please read this comment.

    You wrote the article on the bus accident of Shinji Shumeikai by this blog on May 8 this year.
    You wrote the proper criticism the Shumei doctrine.
    I think that your observation eyes are praiseworthy.
    Actually, shinji Shumeikai is assumed to be the most dangerous cult in Japan.
    Shumei is using the cover of museum and concert of drum in order to conceal the true colors.
    Especially, because the Shumei center of USA also has the meaning of its poster column, Shinji Shumeikai is carefully concealing the true colors in the United States.
    Moreover, the self-judgment of Shumei members in the United States is excellent.
    And, the Internet is widespread to the United States from Japan.
    Therefore, so as not to spread inconvenient information for it to the United States, Shinji Shumeikai is paying close attention.
    shumei members in the United States are convinced that Shinji Shumeikai is a pure mental group by this camouflage.
    This is a kind of mind control.

    However, Shinji Shumeikai is reported about a tax evasion, embezzlement, an illegal solicitation, and stolen goods, etc, in Japan.
    The frequency of the press report of the malfeasance about Shumei is most, in the newly-formed religious group in Japan.
    I introduce the site where this fact is reported in English.
    If you are interested in this fact, I want you to write the article by this blog.
    And, I want you to introduce this site , when there is an article on Shumei, in the United States blog.
    Please forgive my sudden comment.
    I pray for good health. Regards,

    http://www.geocities.jp/reportshumei/bus.html
    http://www.geocities.jp/reportshumei/

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