Church of God Wins Partial Victory in Lawsuit against Kukmin Ilbo and...

Church of God Wins Partial Victory in Lawsuit against Kukmin Ilbo and CBS, Demanding a Correction and Retraction of Their Earlier Reports

Seoul High Court Rules Church of God’s Eschatology Is No Different Than Other Forms of Christian Eschatology “Church of God has never tried to expand their congregation or accumulate property by creating a sense of insecurity” “There have been no cases of divorce, abscondence from home, property donation, family breakup, child custody abandonment and child abuse due to the Church.”

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Front view of the Seoul High Court building

The Seoul High Court’s 13th Civil Settlement Division (Presiding Judge Ko Eui-yeong) ruled in partial favor of the Church of God on January 29 in the four lawsuits that the Church had filed against the Kukmin Ilbo (Daily News), Cookie Media, CBS (Christian Broadcasting System) and CBSi (Rainbow TV, No-Cut News), demanding a correction and retraction of errors in their earlier reports. If the ruling is upheld, Christian media outlets including the Kukmin Ilbo and CBS must publish a correction or retraction in the news section of their periodicals and the Internet or broadcast it within seven days. Unless they comply with this mandatory injunction, they must pay to the Church of God a penalty of 1,000,000 won (about 1,000 US dollars) per day for indirect enforcement until the ruling is carried out.
The Kukmin Ilbo published articles about the Church of God in their paper and website five times in April and May, 2014. The articles are mainly based on information sourced from Mr. Kang and other members of the Hapimo which is an anti-Church of God gathering. Mr. Kang stirred up trouble by claiming himself to be the “Second Coming Jesus” in Harbin, China, around 2007, and he was arrested by the Chinese police. Since he was deported from China back to South Korea, he has been propagating his own doctrine about the Second Coming Jesus mainly through the Internet for over seven years. It is known that he has been taking the lead in slanderous activities and demonstrations against the Church of God since he joined the Hapimo at around the end of November, 2013.
The Kukmin Ilbo neglected the duty to ascertain material facts and stirred up trouble by publishing articles based only on the claims of Mr. Kang and his followers, which contain false and defamatory statements as follows: “The Church of God insists on a time-limited eschatology, and it is frequently observed that the married women who are caught up in the time-limited eschatology run away from home, divorce their husbands, abuse their children and give up on raising them,” “The Church of God has been expanding their congregation by insisting on a time-limited eschatology,” and muh more.
However, the Justice Department denied any causal relationship between the Church of God’s eschatology and the following things—dedication of personal property, accumulation of church property, divorce, abscondence from home, family breakup, child abuse, child custody abandonment, etc.
In its ruling, the Justice Department cited the rebuttal statements requested by the Church: ①Most of the Church of God members live a normal family life and do not experience family discord due to religion. ②There is no evidence that the married female members of the Church of God show significantly higher rates of abscondence from home, divorce, child abuse, child custody abandonment than other churches’ women. ③Other church leaders (Pastor Cho Yong-gi, Pastor Kim Hong-do, etc.) have also preached a sermon on time-limited eschatology (specifying a year when the end of the world is expected to come or setting a specific time limit on a yearly basis).
CBS was also ordered to broadcast a correction or retraction of their previous report with a banner in the background—the banner with the same statement that was reported by the Kukmin Ilbo. CBSi and Rainbow TV that broadcasted or posted the scene which caused the problem must publish or air the same correction report as well. If they fail to carry out their duty to correct or retract their earlier reports within seven days from the day when the ruling is put into effect, they must also pay a penalty of 1,000,000 won (about 1,000 US dollars) per day for indirect enforcement.
The following is a brief summary of the key points from the corrected statement that the Kukmin Ilbo and CBS must release according to the ruling: ▶It is not a frequently observed phenomenon that the married women in the Church of God run away from home, divorce their husbands, abuse their children and give up on raising them, and it is not true that there have been many cases of divorce, abscondence from home, property donation, family breakup and child abuse due to the Church of God. ▶The Church of God has not asked its members to donate their property or expanded their congregation or accumulated property by creating a sense of insecurity.
On the other hand, the Justice Department rejected the Church of God’s request to retract or correct the other statements, saying that they are exaggerated and speculative and are based on opinions or estimates.
The Church of God pointed out, “This ruling explicitly reveals that some Christian media outlets do not follow the basic rule of journalism which is to report only the facts, by continuously releasing exaggerated and speculative reports about denominations they regard as heretical, based on some slanders’ speculation and their personal opinions rather than confirmed facts or objective information.”

Media Outlet Title Rebuttal Statement
Kukmin Ilbo

Cookie Media

Rebuttal to the Article Dated on April 11, 2014

 

▶It is not a frequently observed phenomenon that the married women in the Church of God run away from home, divorce their husbands, abuse their children and give up on raising them.

▶The Church of God has not expanded their congregation and accumulated property by creating a sense of insecurity.

Rebuttal to the Article Dated on April 10, 2014 ▶It has not been frequently observed that the married women in the Church of God run away from home, divorce their husbands, abuse their children and give up on raising them.

▶The Church of God has not expanded their congregation and accumulated property by creating a sense of insecurity.

Rebuttal to the Article Dated on April 18, 2014 ▶The Church of God has not asked its members to donate their property by creating a sense of insecurity.
Rebuttal to the Article Dated on May 2, 2014 ▶It is not true that there have been many cases of divorce, abscondence from home, property donation, family breakup and child abuse due to the Church of God.
CBS

CBSi (Rainbow TV, No-Cut News)

Rebuttal to the Article Dated on April 28, 2014 ▶It is not true that there have been many cases of divorce, abscondence from home, property donation, family breakup and child abuse due to the Church of God.

 

dew@newshankuk.com