Testimony from J.
Weeks leading up to the day I left Shincheonji, I kept contemplating to myself, weighing the pros and cons of leaving. The pros kept eating at me. I found myself having to juggle many things that were very stressful at the time. I decided it would be just easier to leave altogether so that maybe I would be able to focus on other areas of my life and give in more time to self care.
First, I wanted to accelerate in my career. Just fresh out of undergraduate school, I had no direction with what I wanted to do or pursue with my degree. The church had a heavy focus on the teachings of an afterlife, or the concept of heaven. Naturally, that came with a lot of investment on a mission to spread the gospel to many others. I was conflicted when I wanted to advance in my professional life, and felt guilty about having a desire to give my full attention into advancing myself in the professional world. I wanted to be able to get a high paying full-time job in my future so I could support my parents and siblings.
Secondly, I’d often think about how a huge weight would be finally lifted off my shoulders if I just cut contact with the church members, move back home to my family after graduating from college, and no longer have to worry about everyone judging me for spending “too much time studying the bible.” When I joined, I saw the studies as a supplement to my church. However, the more I looked into the bible, I learned that my prior church before New Heaven New Earth was filled with man-made teachings, so I cut off ties with them. When I left that home church, my parents were very disappointed and started questioning my religious involvement in my new bible study. My friends would talk about me behind my back and judge me for not spending time with them as much as I used to.
My boyfriend at the time also said he wanted to have a future with me, but I had to choose between him or the church. He grew up agnostic so I had a plan to eventually guide him to also learn, but it never really worked out. He joined a few sessions but I think he just did it for me. After a while he thought it was “too weird” and questioned if I was mentally stable. That part hurt a lot. When we broke up, I thought that he might reconsider our relationship once I left. He ended up blocking me and telling my family that I had completely gone crazy and that I was in a cult, which only made matters worse.