Religious Circle Divided on Security Law

With the nation’s political circles in a head-to-head showdown over the anti-communist National Security Law, the religious community is also getting embroiled in the dispute over the issue.

A split within the religious community has begun as both ruling and main opposition parties are making efforts to win the support of the country’s religious leaders on the issue.

Roman Catholic Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan expressed his first and official opposition to the repeal of the National Security Law during the meeting with the Grand National Party Chairwoman Park Geun-hye on Monday, saying that ``we cannot trust North Korea yet.’’ Cardinal Kim advised that a partial revision of the law would be required.

Subsequently, about 33 catholic organizations in support of scrapping the anti-communist law, including the Catholic Human Rights Committee, denounced Cardinal Kim’s remark and vowed to continue the drive to abolish the security law.

``As a cardinal who has the responsibility for protecting democracy and human rights, it’s not appropriate to make an official remark in favor of retaining the decades-old law that abuses human rights,’’ a spokesman from the Catholic Human Rights Committee said.

The Buddhist denomination has also been divided over the issue. While meeting with Uri Party leader Lee Bu-young on Monday, Ven. Bubjang of the Jogye Order, the nation’s largest Buddhist sect, advised that the abolition should be dealt with carefully based on the national consensus, hinting a slight opposition to the repeal of the law.

But the Buddhist Human Rights Committee in support of scrapping the law, is wary of misinterpreting Bubjang’s comment. ``What he said was to discard the half-century-old communist law, but that it should be on the national consensus,’’ a spokesman from the committee said.

As for Christianity, the liberal National Council of Churches in Korea delivered its message on Tuesday in favor of discarding the law to the Uri Party, while the conservative Christian Council of Korea is against it, considering the existing threat of North Korea.

The anti-communist security law has been a bone of contention between the nation’s liberal and conservative sides over whether to scrap it or not. President Roh Moo-hyun’s remarks two weeks ago to support the abolishment of the law added fuel to the controversial debate over the issue.

The two rival parties are planning to hold a televised debate on the issue to end the dispute.