10 Mistakes The World Mission Society Church of God Likely Wishes They Never Made
One of the many characteristics of a cult is the incessant use of deception. Deception is initially used to recruit members and is required to retain and control them. One of the ways that cults accomplish this is by discouraging questions about the group’s foundation or the leader’s personal life, beyond what is established to be the approved narrative. But what happens when details about the group or its leader(s) that do not fit this narrative begin to surface? In order to keep the deception going, cults must adapt by changing the narrative or simply lying.
The World Mission Society Church of God has had to change their narrative numerous times over recent years in an attempt to maintain blind obedience from their members. This is largely due to the diligent efforts of former members and other concerned members of the public, to uncover information that the WMSCOG did not want their members to ever become aware of. The information was then made available to the public on websites such as this one, and on other platforms including YouTube, Instagram and Podcasts. In this article we will discuss how the WMSCOG’s attempts to do damage control have backfired, causing members to leave this cult speak publicly out about their negative experiences.
1. The Application For Tax Exempt Status Filed In California
In January 1999, the World Mission Society Church of God submitted their application for tax exemption to the IRS for their Los Angeles, California location. The application that the WMSCOG filed is riddled with information that is not only inconsistent with what members of the group have been taught, but also with what the group claims on its own website. The most glaring example is the WMSCOG’s description of how the organization was formed. The application which can be accessed here, reads as follows:
The World Mission Society Church of God, was founded by the founding father, Pastor Joo Cheol Kim in or about 1998 as a result of divine revelation from God. Pastor Kim had a message from God commanding him to preach the word of the living God to ‘all the world’. In the vision he was told to keep the faith of the holy apostles of Jesus Christ and to bring the message of God to all mankind.
Firstly, it appears that the WMSCOG was not certain of the date that Joo Cheol Kim (WMSCOG general pastor) allegedly received this “divine revelation from God.” Nevertheless, the World Mission Society Church of God teaches that the church was established in 1964 by Ahn Sahng Hong, who they believe was the Second Coming of Jesus. Also noteworthy is the WMSCOG’s omission of Zhang Gil Jah, who they claim is “God the Mother.”
Secondly, included in their application submitted to the IRS was a budget for the pastor’s payroll. Members and former members who have read the application are particularly disturbed by this because the church teaches that no one in the WMSCOG leadership is paid. It is important to note that it is not being suggested here that church leadership should not be paid. In fact it is very common for pastors of Christian churches to receive a modest salary and in some instances even free housing. The issue here is that the World Mission Society Church of God chose to lie to their congregation about it.
2. Use Of The Courts To Intimidate Former Members & Other Critics
In attempts to silence former members and other critics, the World Mission Society Church of God has, quite unsuccessfully, pursued legal action in various States and in South Korea. The World Mission Society Church of God in New Jersey attempted to silence the creators of this website not once, but twice. The WMSCOG voluntarily dropped their own case in Virginia after receiving an unfavorable ruling from the Court, and the case that the WMSCOG subsequently filed in New Jersey was dismissed on summary judgement. The World Mission Society Church of God in California also voluntarily dismissed their own case against protestors after receiving an unfavorable ruling from the Court denying two of their motions. The World Mission Society Church of God in South Korea also unsuccessfully sued critics. More information and the rulings in those cases are available here.
Following the two failed attempts to silence the creators of this website, legal action was filed against the World Mission Society Church of God in New Jersey and is currently scheduled for trial in September of 2022. In 2014, a second former member filed a lawsuit against the Ridgewood, NJ location in Federal Court. The case is still pending.
3. Use Of Non-Disclosure Agreements To Silence Members
In 2018, yet another lawsuit was filed against the World Mission Society Church of God in Ridgewood, NJ by a third former member. As this written opinion issued by the Appellate Court of New Jersey outlines, various members of the World Mission Society Church of God’s Ridgewood, NJ location were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) under the threat of expulsion from the group (page 5). These NDAs, if enforceable, would prohibit members who signed it from ever discussing anything related to the WMSCOG or their experience with the group. In a lawsuit brought by a former member, a trial court in Bergen County, New Jersey declared the non-disclosure agreement unenforceable. In May of 2019, the trial court issued a comprehensive 52 page opinion in that case which is well worth the read and can be accessed here. The World Mission Society Church of God filed an appeal of the decision in that case which was denied and reads in relevant part:
Finally, we note that World Mission made numerous contentious arguments on this appeal. Many of those arguments contained mischaracterizations of the record, hyperbole, or exaggerations. To the extent that we have not addressed specific arguments raised by World Mission, it is because we deem them insufficient to merit discussion in a written opinion. See R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). We note, in that regard, that World Mission focused its arguments on appeal on three orders (the orders entered on February 5, 2019, May 13, 2019, and February 20, 2020) but also argued that “practically every single determination” made by the trial court was an error. Having reviewed World Mission’s arguments, we discern no basis for reversing any order entered by the trial court.
Even the Court realized that the World Mission Society Church of God in NJ is, quite frankly, full of it. The Court’s ruling and written opinion are available here.
4. Attempt To Silence Critics On YouTube
In 2020, the World Mission Society Church of God in Ridgewood, NJ served subpoenas on YouTube and Zoom after critics used the platforms to publish a livestream video. The subpoenas sought to obtain communications and private information of nine WMSCOG critics, most of whom are former members (page 8 of the subpoena). A response to the subpoena from Google reads in relevant part:
Google objects to the Subpoena to the extent that the Subpoena asks for Google to disclose the identity of Google users who posted certain reviews or certain content, which implicates the First Amendment rights of Google users to engage in anonymous speech…Google objects on the grounds that Section 2702(a) of the federal Stored Communications Act
(“SCA”) prohibits Google from disclosing the content of electronic communications or content stored on behalf of the user pursuant to a subpoena.
In response, some of the former members and critics posted another livestream video. The video and more information on this epic failure by the World Mission Society Church of God in NJ to intimidate those who chose to speak out, is available here.
5. False End Of The World Predictions
Ahn Sahng Hong and the World Mission Society Church of God have erroneously predicted that the world would end numerous times. There is a Korean news broadcast about the WMSCOG’s false prediction in 1999 available here and you can read about Ahn Sahng Hong’s 1988 false prediction here. Of course the World Mission Society Church of God denies these claims. Yet, there is evidence that references to when the world would end have been removed from Ahn Sahng Hong’s writings. Many former members have come forward and admitted that the WMSCOG did in fact teach that the world would end in 2012. In the comments section of a recent YouTube community post on the Great Light Studios channel, a presumed current WMSCOG member named Melodie Martinez had this to say:
Well sorry yall won’t be saved. Surely by bashing the church of god. We had the ceremony and trust this will be the last passover on [earth emoji]
Setting aside the presumptuous nature of this comment, Melodie clearly implies that she believes that the world will end in less than one year (before the next Passover observance in 2023). Will the World Mission Society Church of God claim that Melodie is not a member, or that Melodie misunderstood the teachings of the group? Perhaps. What can be said with a high degree of certainty is that fear mongering and doomsday references have been a long standing part of this group’s modus operandi. Evidence of this can be seen in these World Mission Society Church of God recruitment brochures, and in this video of Joo Cheol Kim discussing disasters and supposed prophecies about the world being destroyed by fire. Instilling a sense of fear and dread in members is a common cult tactic. But the effectiveness of this tactic is often waning. When a group predicts that the world will end on a certain date or within a particular year, and it does not come to pass, at least some members will leave. Unfortunately, by this time members have lost years of their lives, donated their life savings, sold their property and belongings, lost contact with family and friends, dropped out of school, given up on goals for the future…the list goes on.
6. Lies About Ahn Sahng Hong’s Life
Prior to the surfacing of evidence to the contrary, members of the World Mission Society Church of God were taught that Ahn Sahng Hong preached his version of the gospel alone and while suffering in abject poverty. Members would later discover that Ahn Sahng Hong was married, had four children, would go swimming, enjoyed a 3-tier birthday cake and was buried in a shared grave next to his late wife, whom he never divorced.
The World Mission Society Church of God claims that Ahn Sahng Hong was baptized in 1948. That was proven to be false when Ahn Sahng Hong’s baptism record was published online along with a series of photos of the Seventh Day Adventist church where his baptism took place. Recently, former members have come forward and said that when they asked for proof of Ahn Sahng Hong’s baptism date, they were told by the leadership that the baptism records were destroyed in a fire. Despite the lack of evidence of a fire, if there had been a fire in the church where Ahn Sahng Hong was baptized, clearly the baptism book survived. Here, you can see photographs of the church and Ahn Sahng Hong’s baptism records which prove that he was baptized in 1954, not 1948. If you believe in the WMSCOG’s manufactured prophecies of King David and of the fig tree, Ahn Sahng Hong did not fulfill them simply because the math, which relies on his alleged baptism date, does not add up. Therefore, according to the WMSCOG’s own doctrine, Ahn Sahng Hong could not have been the Second Coming of Jesus.
7. Claim That Ahn Sahng Hong Believed In A “God The Mother”
If you insist on believing that Ahn Sahng Hong was the Second Coming of Jesus despite all of the evidence to the contrary, a plethora of evidence exists that proves that Ahn Sahng Hong never believed in a “god the mother.” In the Preface of his book titled “Problems With New Jerusalem, The Bride and Women’s Veils,” Ahn Sahng Hong writes:
This booklet was published to prevent troublemakers who misinterpret and behave fanatically, explain the errors in the books that Um Soo In published and testify of the unchanging truth of the Church of our God.
Members claim that the book was written about Um Soon In and does not apply to Zahng Gil Jah. In addition to Ahn Sahng Hong clearly stating that what he wrote was “the unchanging truth,” his misogynistic views about women in general contradict the idea of a female deity and are made abundantly clear in Chapter 19 of his book.
There is never a time when the activity of Satan is cut off in the true Church. The Apostle Paul has written as follows that the Devil will utilize women to cause confusion inside the Church…In other words, whenever a woman makes assertions in the Church, the Church will fall under the deception of the Devil.
Note that Ahn Sahng Hong said “the Devil will utilize women” not one woman, namely Um Soon In, as the WMSCOG would have their members believe. Not only has the WMSCOG claimed that Ahn Sahng Hong wrote this book about Um Soon In specifically, but also that the book only applied to the church at that time, and that the books were later destroyed. The World Mission Society Church of God calls this a special measures law, which basically means that they have the ability to make any of Ahn Sahng Hong’s teachings obsolete whenever they please. Ahn Sahng Hong also said “whenever a woman…” which proves that he did not intend for this teaching to be temporary. Add this to the long list of failures by the man that WMSCOG believes was “god” because we know that at least one copy of the book survived the alleged destruction. For further proof and more contradictions between Ahn Sahng Hong’s teachings and those of the World Mission Society Church of God, click here.
8. Deleted Chapters & Revisions To Ahn Sahng Hong’s Books
The World Mission Society Church of God frequently references verse Revelation 22:18-19, yet numerous revisions and deletions were made to Ahn Sahng Hongs books. In the “Mystery of God and the Spring of the Water of Life,” commonly known as “The Green Book”, references to Ahn Sahng Hong speaking about the Second Coming of Jesus in the “future,” were omitted. Therefore, Ahn Sahng Hong did not believe, and certainly did not intend for others reading his books to believe, that he was the Second Coming of Jesus. Ahn Sahng Hong’s book was so contradictory to the World Mission Society Church of God’s doctrine, that the WMSCOG would eventually remove three entire chapters from the original text. Chapter 1: Restoration of Jerusalem and the Prophecy of 40 Years, was removed because it revealed Ahn Sahng Hong’s prediction that the world would end in 1988 (pages 3-4). Chapter 36: Elijah Will Be Sent, was removed because it provided evidence that Ahn Sahng Hong believed that he was Elijah preparing the way for the Second Coming of Jesus and that Elijah would ascend alive into heaven with the 144,000 chosen ones. It is 2022 at the time of this writing and none of those things have happened.
9. Claim That The Passover Protects Members From Disasters
Potential recruits of the World Mission Society Church of God are pressured to be baptized shortly after the first bible study. Former members have reported that the church would teach recruits that they had to “be baptized immediately” in order to celebrate the Passover and be protected from disasters such as illness or death due to an accident, if they left the church without the participating in the ceremony. This belief was amplified during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. Members of the World Mission Society Church of God took to social media to boast about their belief that Passover observance in the WMSCOG somehow protected them from the virus, and to mock the Catholic Church after news reports that members of the Vatican had become infected were released. These posts were taken down shortly after they were published, presumably because the members were rebuked for making such claims on public forums, but screenshots of the posts can be viewed here. Perhaps the World Mission Society Church of God leadership did not share the same conviction in their own doctrine.
10. Claim That Zhang Gil Jah Will Not Die
In 2013, a major news network reported that the World Mission Society Church of God claimed that Zahng Gil Jah would not die, and instead would ascend to heaven with her faithful followers. Former members have confirmed that the WMSCOG leadership taught that “mother would not die,” and that the 144,000 chosen ones that would not experience death would ascend along with her. The rest of her followers who do not make the cut, the great multitude, will experience death and ascend sometime after.
Evidence of this teaching can be found in older versions of the WMSCOG hymnal, the New Song book. The 2001 release of the hymnal included the words “only for the 144,000” on the cover. In the 2010 version, New Song 184 “My Home Is Heaven” has two lines that state, “Holding hands of one hundred and forty four thousand…” In the 2020 version, the same New Song, this time number 188, the aforementioned lines were changed to “Holding hands of my loving brothers and sisters…” See images below.
New Song 208, “O My Dear Heavenly Home!” says that Zhang Gil Jah “cannot go home before [s]he finds all [h]er loving children, the one hundred forty four thousand.”In the 2020 version, the same New Song, this time number 213, the aforementioned line was changed to “[s]he cannot go home until [s]he finds all [h]er loving children.”
New Song 205, “We Are Going to Heaven” was completely removed from the hymnal. The lyrics of this song say that “One hundred and forty four thousand will gather and go to heaven with our Mother.” The 2020 version’s table of contents is shown below and does not include a song called “We Are Going to Heaven.”
These changes and omissions provide evidence that the World Mission Society Church of God was aware of the problems that the teachings documented in these songs would cause when Zhang Gil Jah inevitably dies. The removal of the problematic songs and revisions of the related lyrics, allows the WMSCOG to deny that they ever taught that Zhang Gil Jah will not die. Gaslight much?
Here you can see that members in at least one location were instructed to destroy the old New Song books, though we suspect that in the spirit of effectiveness, this type of damage control was done in other locations as well.
They are sole interpreters of doctrine and policy — which may change frequently and whimsically.
As evidenced throughout this article, the World Mission Society Church of God has changed their doctrine and policy numerous times over the years and undoubtedly will continue to do so. If you are a member reading this article, how much more of your time, energy and resources will you continue to give to the World Mission Society Church of God before you realize that this cult has everything to gain and you have everything to lose?