When it comes to information control and spying, Shincheonji has the art of spying and reporting down as an art.
Shincheonji constantly spies and reports on potential recruits and current members in order to control and manipulate the Bible study environment. This falls under the “I” in the BITE model for information control: “Encourage spying on other members”.
When a new recruit joins a Shincheonji bible study, they are often paired with a “leaf”, or a current Shincheonji member pretending to be a first time student to spy and report on the “fruit”, which is the potential recruit.
The purpose of the leaf is to:
- Befriend the fruit and earn their trust
- Pretend to be a first time student and match the student’s level of understanding, even if the leaf needs to lie about their affiliation with Shincheonji.
- The maintainer should report to the center team accurately, consistently, frequently and urgently (after every class and interaction with the student).
- Report any potential “pitfalls” that the student may face that may prevent them from continuing the Bible Study
- Report any spiritual struggles that a fruit may be having, so that the teacher can address them and give the student the impression that the “Holy Spirits” are working through the teacher.
- The maintainer should also readily accept the teachings of Shincheonji while also matching the student’s set of concerns.
The fruit and leaf paring is also a perfect example of the manipulative tactic demonstrated in the Asch Conformity Experiment. The leaves eventually manipulate and coerce the fruit into believing Shincheonji’s doctrine. Pair this with the fact that Shincheonji claims that any teaching outside of Lee Man Hee’s teaching is poison and maddening wine, and and an echo chamber is created which further fulfills the criteria for “Information Control” in the BITE model.
Attached is an example report from a former Shincheonji leader, that demonstrates how a maintainer stalked a fruit and prevented them from dropping out of the Shincheonji Bible study.