Friday, July 9, 2010

The Hankyoreh: "Four Rivers protests become mainstream religious campaign"

"Four Rivers protests become mainstream religious campaign: Observers say that rather than political activists, this movement has been spearheaded by mainstream groups

Campaigns in opposition to the Lee Myung-bak Administration’s Four Major Rivers Restoration Project have been spreading like wildfire throughout the religious sector, including Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists and Won Buddhists. Analysts say that the factors underlying this opposition fervor include the nature of religion, which is about preserving life and transcending material values, and a religious environmental movement that has been growing since the 1990s.

Growing Voices of Opposition

A religious public organization comprising the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK), the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK, formerly the KNCC) along with some one hundred Won Buddhist officials and the Jogye Order environment committee has lit the fuse with publicized opposition to the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project. Since the outset, the religious sector has witnessed an array of events, including large-scale masses, combined worship and purification ceremonies. At a mass held in the main hall of Seoul’s Myeongdong Cathedral on Monday, some 2,000 priests and believers gathered together to unanimously call for an end to the project.

On Tuesday, priests and ministers plan to gather for an all-night prayer vigil at the Dumulmeori Organic Farming Complex in Yangpyeong County, Gyeonggi Province, where the thousands of riot police are expected to be deployed. On May 24, there are plans to hold a joint prayer meeting at Silleuk Temple in Yeoju County, Gyeonggi Province, where members of four major religious groups will urge an end to the project...

Underlying the widespread participation of priests is the increasing establishment of an environmental movement that has grown since the 1990s. Environmental movements such as Christian green living campaigns and Buddhist life-saving campaigns have already become everyday practices at churches and temples. Even at conservative megachurches, it is not difficult to find environmentally friendly campaigns such as used-good markets and encouragement of organic agriculture. Yang Jae-seong said, “The individual green activities of churches are a fundamental aspect of the Four Major Rivers opposition movement.” Yang added, “Believers have a more awakened environmental understanding than the ordinary public."
Read the full article here.

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