[文摘] Ministers at mega-churches may soon have to render unto Caesar

A recent article by the economist addresses the problem of Christianity in South Korea’s [charismatic] megachurches, specifically, « prosperity gospel » and « tax-evasion » (the law in South Korea that exempts religious clerics from paying income tax is undergoing revision, which is welcomed by the general public but opposed by these ‘successful’ church leaders).

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A few crucial facts that are also mentioned in this article include that

  • South Korea is the only advanced country that exempts its clergy from all taxation. Still, many Buddhist monks and Protestant pastors pay dues voluntarily on their personal incomes; all Catholic priests have done so since 1994.
  • In a recent poll of 1,000 South Koreans by the Christian Ethics Movement, a local reformist body, only two in ten thought Protestantism was trustworthy.
  • The capital, Seoul, is home to 17 [charismatic] mega-churches with over 2,000 members each. Ministers manage them like businesses.
  • But Pentecostalism is losing some of its appeal. Koreans are increasingly drawn to Catholicism, which they regard as more humble and serious. According to the latest census, the number of Catholics grew by three-quarters in the decade to 2005, to make up 11% of the population. Protestants were 18%.

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