04-03-2011 16:51
Religious Reformation

Protestant churches should repent and be reborn

If God could forgive comparing religion to business, no industries even in this land of economic miracle can beat Christianity. As Korea suffers from various adverse effects of breakneck economic growth, so too do the nation¡¯s churches, especially the Protestants, who have diverse problems.

Like Korea¡¯s economy, the churches have sought only endless expansion, resulting in the ill effects of excessive materialism and pursuit of power.

Nothing showed this better than a Seoul court¡¯s recent ruling, which ordered the suspension of Rev. Kiel Ja-yeon, chairman of the Christian Council of Korea, from his duties for procedural irregularities in electing the head of the umbrella body of Korean Protestant churches.

Even more surprising than the ``money politics¡± in religious circles was the response from Kiel¡¯s camp, which asks why the authorities took issue with it this time (after condoning this open secret for so long).

True, the churches¡¯ corruption is not exactly news, but it seems be no coincidence that they have become more arrogant and brazen-faced in both committing irregularities and domineering over other religions since a Presbyterian elder became the nation¡¯s President, who has made no secrets of his religious preference. So some Protestant leaders tried to proselytize within the nation¡¯s largest Buddhist temple and unwarrantedly blocked the introduction of Islam bonds under the false pretext of religious favoritism.

After the churches made apparent abuses of authority, Rev. Kiel, the Protestant leader, went as far as to order the nation¡¯s top secular leader, President Lee Myung-bak, to kneel down at a prayer session in what appeared to be a highly symbolic gesture for many people, some of whom even sneered it as a modern day ``Humiliation of Canossa.¡±

When it comes to outrageous misuse of religious power, there is no difference among rivaling orders of churches. Rev. Cho Yong-gi, leader of more liberal National Council of Churches in Korea, recently threatened to make President Lee step down if he keeps pushing for the legislation of the Islam bonds. What Cho insinuated was as the Protestant churches made Lee what he is now, they can also drive him out.

When church leaders became so secularized, it is no wonder they are judged at a secular court. If they don¡¯t change, the days will be numbered when they will be judged by lay believers.
The Protestant moves started when they protested against Catholics. There should be protesters within Protestant churches in Korea for a modern day Reformation.