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Some Liberal Religious Groups Participated in Protests

Posted July. 02, 2008 08:19,   


The government is concerned about the recent involvement of some progressive religious groups in protests opposing the resumption of U.S. beef imports.

The concern is that candlelight protest leaders may worsen the situation by aligning with progressive religious groups at a time when violent candlelight protests have been losing their momentum due to public criticism and governmental crackdown.

“Religious groups that took to the streets do not represent their religion and holding a non-violent peace protest like the one held by the Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice is a guaranteed freedom of association,” said a high-ranking official Tuesday. “The government can no longer stand those who want to take advantage of those religious groups to prolong the protests.”

Presidential Chief of Staff Chung Chung-kil and Chief Senior Secretary for Political Affairs Maeng Hyung-gyu have already visited seven religious leaders starting from the Jogye Order on June 25, and will ask for cooperation to bring stability to the country by expanding contacts with the religious circle.

A high-ranking official said, “The government will fulfill its obligation to restore the nation’s rule of law but we believe that religious leaders, as they are concerned about this country as well, will persuade (protestors) to not use violence.”

Prime Minister Han Seung-soo will meet religious leaders in person to ask for cooperation to bring stability to the country.

The prime minister’s planned meeting with the Venerable Jigwan, head of the Buddhist Jogye order, Tuesday was postponed due to the opposition of 100 Buddhist group members, who claimed that the government excluded temples from the public transportation system.

The prime minister will visit the Christian Council of Korea on Thursday and meet with the archbishop instead of Cardinal Chung Jin-seok who is on an overseas business trip until Friday.

In the Cabinet meeting on Monday, first Vice Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism Kim Jang-sil said, “Buddhists criticize the government for being biased for a certain religion regardless of its intention,” referring to the omission of temples in the public transportation information system, the creation of posters with pictures of the police chief and a pastor, and the destruction of Buddhist remains in the process of creating a park on the site of Gyeonggi Girls’ High School.

Kim added, “Government officials should not cause any misunderstanding that they lean toward certain religions in their official and non-official duties. Fairness should be considered in religiously sensitive issues.”

In response, the prime minister said, “Under the Kim Young-sam administration, incorrect rumors that the presidential office eliminated Buddhist statues caused unnecessary work. Public officials need to pay extra attention.”

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