Sect Petitions White House Over Link to Ferry Disaster

A bizarre petition to the White House disclaims responsibility for the ferry disaster off Korea's southwest coast by a religious sect led by the ferry operator's owner and demands an end to "attacks" against the church.

The petition was posted on the "We the People" section of the White House website on April 25 by a person identifying themselves as E.C. of Bedford Hills, New York.

It apparently objects to the focus of the ongoing investigation on the Salvationist sect known as Guwonpa and the owner of the ferry company, who set it up.

"While the direct responsibility goes to the crew and the operating company, the media is abnormally focusing on the associated church organization who has no direct involvement in the day-to-day operations, while distorting it as a cult," E.C. writes.

"Government authorities launched an unprecedented investigation, including a complete church raid, directing the public anger away from the naval police, the national disaster control and government authorities."

The petition has garnered some 2,400 signatures. Their full names were not disclosed, but most appear to be members of the sect from outside the U.S.

The White House is obliged to respond if a petition gets 100,000 signatures.

A significant portion of the staff of ferry operator Chongjaehin Marine are members of the born-again sect.

englishnews@chosun.com / May 07, 2014 10:29 KST