Poll Finds Only 20% of Koreans Trust Protestant Church

Article from Yonhap News:

Only 2 out of 10 South Koreans Find Protestantism to be Credible, Poll Shows

The findings reveal that Catholicism is the most credible, followed by Buddhism and then Protestantism. The survey also showed that 74.6 percent are opposed to religious figures entering politics.

A recent poll found that only 20 percent of South Koreans find Protestant churches to be trustworthy, lagging far behind Catholic churches and Buddhists.

Asked about religious institutions or priests taking part in politics, 74.6 percent expressed opposition.

The Christian Ethics Movement(CEM) conducted a survey of 1,000 adults aged 19 or older before releasing its findings on February 4th. The report, entitled “Survey of Social Credibility for South Korean Churches,” found that only 19.4 percent of the respondents say they trust Protestant churches.

44.6 percent said that Protestant churches are not trustworthy, while 36 percent say they were ambivalent.

CEM compared the latest results with historic data from surveys conducted between 2008 and 2010, finding that 18.4%, 19.1% and 17.1% of those polled said that they trusted Protestant churches, showing a rough downward trend.

Catholic churches appear to be the most credible, with 29.2%, followed by Buddhist temples with 28.0%, and Protestant churches with 21.2%. Confucianism and Won Buddhism received 2.5% and 1.3% respectively.

For those respondents with no religious affiliations, credibility for Protestant churches plunged further to 8.6%, on the other hand, these respondents gave 32.7% credibility for Catholic churches and 26.6% for Buddhists.

In its analysis of credibility levels for religious and non-religious organization, CEM found civic organizations are considered the most reliable with 27.8%, followed by the press (10.6%), religious organizations (9.2%), and universities (8.7%). The government has 6.9%; the judiciary, 6.1%; corporations, 4.0%; parliament, 1.5%.

When it came to perceptions of social outreach by religious organizations, 41.3% found Protestant churches to be most active, 32.1% thought Catholic churches were the most active, and 6.8% thought Buddhist temples.

24% of respondents said that Protestant churches could improve credibility through changing their exclusive mindset against other religions (24.0%), 22.8% questioned transparency of church accounting, 21% focused on improving church leader, and 14.5% said they should change the obsession to attract more converts and believers’ behavior.

As for the question about whether religious institutions should be taxed, an overwhelming 85.9% said yes, with only 12.2% opposed.

The latest survey was commissioned to Cho Heung-sik, social wefare professor of the Seoul National University, and was conducted during November 10-11th of 2013. The margin of error was 3.1%p

Comment from Daum:


Protestant churches can’t be called religious, they are no better than companies evading taxes.

peroica: [responding to above]

You try making a religion, why are you throw a stone at a booming business?[sarcasm]

천사회: [responding to 내가사께짬뽕]

I think only two out of 10 church ministers are real, the other eight are hustlers.

무한경쟁: [responding to 내가사께짬뽕]

Protestant churches are just pyramid schemes. Some on the bottom are just sales representatives to sell items and spruce themselves up to make a good impression, while others at the top swallow the money and run away.


I think a credibility level of 20 percent for Protestant churches is too high. Just hearing about Protestants makes me think of fraud, money and adultery!


Korean Protestant churches are called Gaedok. Gaedok is a group of people who sell Jesus for personal gains.


Are there people who still believe in this garbage religion?


Protestant churches aren’t called Gaedok for no reason.

Share This Article
Help us maintain a vibrant and dynamic discussion section that is accessible and enjoyable to the majority of our readers. Please review our Comment Policy »
  • abe

    What’s the diff. Between Catholics and Protestant?

    • chucky3176

      Catholics believe in Virgin Mary as a god, protestants don’t. Catholics believe the Vatican and Pope are appointed by God, to serve as the saintly leadership, continuing from Apostle Peter. Protestants say all that is phooey. Some Protestant sects believe in speaking in tongue and actively crusade and cure diseases. Protestants are way more active in recruiting new Christians saying if you don’t accept Jesus as your saviour, you are condemned to hell. The bible itself is contradictory, divided into Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament speaks of Israeli people invading, killing, and plundering land of Kanan, and stoning to death who are caught cheating on their spouses, with eye for an eye revenge. Then flip to the New Testament and then they completely change tunes. They talk about turning the cheek, forgiving others, and loving brothers and sisters. Ask a Christian why this contradiction. They will answer because Jesus, son of God, part of God in Trinity (God, Jesus, Holy Ghost as all one), was sent to earth to save mankind. In other words God changed his mind, and decided to become a more loving God, rather than a real strict disciplinarian.

      • Guest

        Catholics do not believe the Virgin Mary is God..

    • Zappa Frank

      Protestants are sometimes more like fundamentalist, persecuting the teaching of Darwinism, destroying other’s faiths books, believing in the bible literally and so on… However this usually happen just to Protestant in USA since Protestant in Europe are usually more liberal..
      The difference in doctrine is more or less the one told by chucky, but Protestants are not all the same and they can change something among themselves.

      • firebert5

        Protestants in Korea remind me more of Pentecostals in the U.S. and Mexico.

        • Adam de la Cruz

          Not that shocking since Korean Protestants have their roots in American Missionaries.

    • Tova Rischi

      What other guy said isn’t wholly accurate; the Mary mother of Jesus isn’t worshipped as a god so much as she’s revered like a great saint; potayto-potahto to some but it’s the difference between holding someone up as an example of a great person (for her supposed sacrifice and utter surrender to the will of God) and someone who’s a superlative. Another thing is the doctrine of immaculate conception, which holds that (because of verses in the old testament predicting the messiah) Mary herself was born without sin (the sin of Eve) so that her body was pure for Jesus.

      They also have deuterocanonical texts; a few extra books of the bible with explicitly Roman undertones, most of which Catholics hold to be like parables or fables for Roman christians. For this reason most catholics don’t teach much about it and most protestant groups outright reject the books.

      Another thing of note is that there are many Catholic Churchs; in addition to the church of Rome there’s the Greek church and it’s national spinoffs, the Armenian Church, the Ethiopian Church, the Coptic church, the Syrian church, and many others. Each of these has roots in the very early days of christianity, and each have divergent practices, a few even have extra deuterocanonical texts such as the book of Jubilees telling how Ethiopia was Christianized. Most of the other Catholic churches disagree over either dogma or practice but typically it’s minor; however the disputes between Rome and Byzantium were too great. For this reason eastern christianity has no “pope” but a series of high bishops called patriarchs.

      Another thing to emphasize is that, as offshoots of western catholicism, protestantism has an extremely wide range of variability from the essentially catholic (the anglican or episcipalian church holds many of the same rights and practices, along with the revelation of saints which many protestant groups reject as idolatry, but does not recognized the pope, instead only to the Queen of England) to the wildly divergent (Jehovah’s Witnesses who reject that Jesus was anything but an avatar of God, hold no worship of saints, have their own translation of the bible, etc; baptists who tend to be puritanical, may hold a belief in predestination and reject free will, believe in a particular form of baptism, etc, or even something as out there as the Mormons, who believe an entire third testament where Jesus supposedly appeared to the Indians in America and that Jesus and God are literally distinct separate deities).

      So, to answer your question, it depends on the Catholic and it depends on the Protestant.

      Note: I’m not a Christian myself. Nor do I hold much esteem for any of their churches, or really any church. So if I presented something falsely or with bias, I apologize, I’m not an expert.

      • ElectricTurtle

        The role of Mary as an intercessor is heretical to the teachings of Christ who set himself as the intercessor between men and Yahweh. The role of Mary (and saints, relics, and icons) in Catholicism is almost if not completely baseless with regard to the actual teachings of the New Testament, which is why the church fought tooth and nail for generations against translating the Bible out of Latin and performing services in native languages. The Catholic traditions formed organically as a side effect of the transcultural syncretism during the early spread of Christianity and the need to appeal to cultural norms, with saints filling in as sort of a soft polytheism, even with being ‘patrons’ of certain aspects of life in the same way that polytheistic gods had ‘portfolios’ of purview within each pantheon. Protestantism basically pushed the reset button and purged all the organic cultural baggage out of the religion to focus on what Christ and his apostles are supposed to have said and done.

        Also, you are incorrect to call the other orthodox churches spin-offs. There were established Christian churches in Greece, Egypt, Ethiopia, etc. during the times when the ecumenical councils were being held that decided what orthodoxy was to be. They were all contemporaries, and indeed at one time were more or less one church, until the schisms.

        Christianity like all religions is bullshit, but Catholicism is double bullshit because it actually actively discards the teachings of its supposedly foundational text arbitrarily and even duplicitously as it doesn’t acknowledge that it’s doing it.

        And I will note similarly that I am an apostate anti-theist atheist, but I was raised in a Baptist household and was forced to study the Bible (and commentaries/criticisms thereon) for nine years.

        • Tova Rischi

          Regarding the term spinnoffs – I was referring to the Russian Orthodox Church specifically, founded by Greek missionaries to Bulgaria (which spread to all slavs). To a lesser degree I was also talking about old believers and the ROC abroad (which is functionally autonomous from the Muscovite Patriarchy) – this is the east I’m most familiar with. I was also referring to Georgia, whose church was founded in similar ways from the Armenians. I was also referring to other national Orthodox Churches, including the ones competing against native also-called-orthodox churches. My wording didn’t make this clear; I wasn’t trying to lump the more primate (sense of first, not simian) churches in with the Greek-style prominent among many groups of the eastern Christians. I apologize.

          Not so much at you but generally, catholic and orthodox are fundamentally the same word; they essentially mean “correct, normal practice” every offshot of christianity or religion in general necessarily thinks of itself as such if they don’t use the terminology. This is part of why the labels are bad; and it should be mentioned the protestantism exported to Korea is maybe more accurately described as americanism…

    • David

      Abe, to answer your question. . . While both believe in Jesus as the savior of man, the Protestant religions (there are many different sects under the umbrella of Protestant) broke off from Catholicism 500 years ago because of a difference in doctrine. Some points are major (like the hierarchy of the Church structure and how you get into heaven) while other differences are pretty minor (how we worship or pray). Sort of like the split between the two major branches of Buddhism (Theravada and Mahayana).

  • Thais

    i wish people in Brazil were like this but it doesn’t matter how much scandals the church has. it just keep growing.

    • Zappa Frank

      Even worse in India where is destroying a millenarian faith. Pros elitism should be strictly regulate.

      • ElectricTurtle

        All faiths should be destroyed. Should we have preserved Aztec human sacrifice as a quaint ethnic relic? An extreme example obviously, but how many people around the world waste their lives chasing superstitious bullshit and forcing proscriptions on their neighbors so that nobody can fully live?

  • Emhyr Var Emreis

    S H I N T O

    • bumfromkorea

      Oh come on, people. That was pretty funny.

      • Emhyr Var Emreis

        actually, it should be I M P E R I A L I S M under the almighty Emperor oh wait ww2 is over

  • Ruaraidh

    The question I have is how have the Catholics managed to cling to credibility?

    • Contrary to popular beliefs, the Catholic Church is very adaptive, science is no exception. The current pope actually recognized the importance of evolution. Mendel was a Catholic priest. The Catholic Church used its influence to preserve many works during the dark ages, and the list goes on…

      For something to survive as long as the Catholic Church, there must be something special about it

      • Anon

        The Catholic church has a rather interesting, and noble, recent history in South Korea in particular, having provided protection in times of civil unrest. I’d speculate having nuns visibly walking around in plain robes instead of fancy suits probably helps provide a positive image too.

      • Ruaraidh

        The Catholic fucking Church has recognised the importance of evolution… only 154 years too late, and after trying its level best to sabotage it for that century and a half. The pope should be given a medal, what a hero.

        For every Mendel there are ten Galileos. If the Catholic Church was truly adaptive and not fundamentally self-serving it would put as much effort into rooting out financial corruption and sexual perversion as it currently does trying to cover it all up.

        Gonorrhea’s survived at least as long as Catholicism, but I suppose it’s special in a similar way; one rots the cock and the other rots the soul.

        • ElectricTurtle

          Preach it, brother… :P

        • Zappa Frank

          154 too late is better then never like some Protestant churches. The new pope is opening to gay and apparently fighting against the abuses done, late but better than never.
          As belief and as way of living catholic is a bit less unreasonable than most of Protestants, rites are less kitch. But again, is up to which Protestants we are talking about…anyway, ever seen Protestants priest go to synagogue or mosque to pray?
          Don’t get me wrong, living in Italy I know every shit about Catholic Church, but still in comparison with what I read about what happen in USA seems to me fair.
          However the catholic credibility is 29% not that much either, just a tiny bit better that Protestants

          • Comebackkid13

            What you are doing right now is like looking at two piles of shit on the ground and entering into a debate with your friend on which one is preferable to smear your face in.

            Stop it.

      • cqn0

        Surviving is something that the Catholics are real good at. No matter how many little boys the priests molest, they somehow manage to evade justice.

    • hailexiao

      The Catholic Church can be a corrupt, rigid, bureaucratic mess at the best of times, but it at least weeds the crazies out; if you want to join the Catholic clergy you have to go through seminary and take a lifetime vow, whereas anyone can become a self-proclaimed Protestant pastor and start their own church. Its very slowness makes the batshit insanity you occasionally find in Protestant churches impossible.

  • Juli

    I’m a Catholic, and we don’t worship neither the Virgin Mary nor the saints. Before dying Jesus asked His mother to take care of us, and He gave us Her as an example for every woman. Saints are just the proof that anyone can reach Heaven if they are fully committed to be a good person. They’re our older brothers and sisters in faith. When someone dies it’s usual to have a portrait of them with candles, but that doesn’t mean we are worshipping them. Sorry for the long response, but I just wanted to make some things clear.

    • chucky3176

      “Saints are just the proof that anyone can reach Heaven if they are fully committed to be a good person”

      In Protestant theology that would be considered blasphemy.

      I am no Christian, but being raised as a devout Protestant, I was told,

      you have to believe in Jesus and be saved before you can reach heaven.

      “..no one comes to the Father, but through me” (John 14:6)”

      According to a number of Protestant churches, Roman Catholics got it wrong and they’re going to hell.

      I guess why Protestant churches have such a bad reputation is because of their intolerance of other religions and also they are always in-your-face, in trying to convert other people. The Catholics on the other hand are far less conspicuous. As well as the fact that the Protestants tend to give birth to some weird cults, which gives all Christians a bad reputation.

      • Butsu

        I find this so funny (I can only speak for myself really), but for us in Sweden it’s the opposite. (Maybe for other norhten European cointries as well?) Here it’s catholics carrying the “in-your-face” image to a certain extent. Or mentioned in the article, greedy, being fundamentalists etc. Might have to do with history in Europe as well tho, we did start a 30 year long war on the base of catholicism and protestantism.

    • SSDD

      “Saints are just the proof that anyone can reach Heaven if they are fully committed to be a good person.”- Really? The so called christian Martyrs were killed because they openly insulted local customs. Protestant and Catholicism both are bad, every Korean should go to Skeptics Annotated Bible.com.

      The question is not believing in God concept overall, but why believe a God who killed first born babies, orders to kill apostates etc? Now compared them with Buddhism’s peaceful teachings.

  • Eric0912

    So Koreans trust … no one?

    • d-_-b

      We trust in money.

  • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

    So they are supposed to believe in one man who gave everything so that his select people could live happy lives, and are constantly told that they should be grateful for this man, even if their lives are miserable.

    Sounds an awful lot like the Kim regime. Suddenly I can see why South Koreans are so skeptical.

  • Mighty曹

    The other 8 of 10 only believe in Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church?

  • d-_-b

    South Korean church is the perfect example of how corrupt a region can become. Every month, there is at least one article about Korean minister raping his followers. It’s ridiculous.

  • nqk123

    all religious are made up. that is a fact.

    • Zëçô Al-Shanfari

      Soo is there a god?

      • nqk123

        we human invented god. the easiest way to explain unexplainable thing/event is “god did it.”

  • death_by_ivory

    Somebody give me a quick history lesson please.What happened that the population en masse turned away from Buddhism and became Catholic?

    • chucky3176

      Where do you get he ideal Koreans turn away from Buddhism and became Catholic? South Korea has always been multi-religious and very tolerant to all religion.

      • death_by_ivory

        ” Largely because converts refused to perform ancestor rites, the government prohibited the proselytization of Christianity. Some Catholics were executed during the early nineteenth century, but the anti-Christian law was not strictly enforced. By the 1860s, there were some 17,500 Roman Catholics in the country. There followed a more rigorous persecution, in which thousands of Christians died, that continued until 1884.”-Wikipedia

        So before the 19th century there was basically no Christians.Now almost 30% Protestant or Catholic in SK.I would say that is a very high number,that is why I was asking.

        • Adam de la Cruz

          A misc amount of factors:

          1.) Christian groups were allowed in after one saved the life of the King’s son. This allowed missionaries to come into the country and they brought western education with them. For many Koreans, Christianity became synonymous with modernity and education. It was an attractive route to the pro-Chinese conservatives and the pro-Japanese reformers that dominated up to that time.

          2.) Christian groups were essentially the only type of organizations allowed by the Japanese during imperial rule, making them one of the main “anti-imperialist” groups in Korea along with the Communists.

          3.) Later in the 1970s, Christian groups became the main leaders of the labor and democratization movements. Catholics in particularly grew rapidly during this time coming from essentially an extreme minority to becoming a major rival to Protestant churches. It’s also worth noting that groups that grew from this era tend to be more liberal than the older generations.

          • death_by_ivory

            Thanks.It is more clearer to me now.

    • Adam de la Cruz

      Buddhism was well on the decline before the 19th century. The Confuciust state pretty much pushed Buddhism away.

  • Canadian_Skies

    Trust and Church in the same sentence? LOL

  • bumfromkorea

    As a devout Methodist, I am surprised that even 20% of Koreans trust the protestant church in Korea – they have taken the concept of “megachurch” and “clergy corruption” to a whole new level.

  • commander

    The status of Protestantism in South Korea is a matter of debate.

    Some revile protestant churches as corrupt and rampant with sleek hustlers.

    Others point out that churches are not a place for worship but a business owned by ministers, refering to familial feuds of church ministers over wealth churches have gotten from cajoling believers into making more contributions.

    Some in support of Protestant churches claim that not all protestant churches are “rotten.”

    They say there are many religious believers who have stagrd many charitable activities foe the poor and disadvantaged.

    Supporters are right in saying that not all churches are venal and corrupt.

    But in the eyes of many South Koreans, protestant churches are more associated with missionaries’s unsolicited harassments forcing belief in the Protestantism onto others loudly chanting, “If you not believe in Jesus, you will go to the hell after death.”

    Religious can be an inspiration for a person to lead a good life, but South Korea’s protestant churches are more interested in attracting believers than in sharing values from Protestanism teachings.

    Many South Koreans are disillusioned with protestantism churches simply because they are not what they are supposed to be: Worship and sharing great values among believers and with non-believers that are commonly found in other religions.

  • 천주놈

    As a self-hating Catholic, I find Catholicism being the most credible to be frightening. Maybe “fondling little boys” got lost in translation.

    • What?!!!

      Only if you’re living with the fairies.

  • KCdude

    Thank goodness I’m an Anglican. There’s a reason to hate the biggest Protestant church in Korea. Evangelical Presbyterianism will only harm a decent country. The Korean government should find a way to build a gigantic concentration camp in Seoul to detain all of those pastors.

  • What?!!!

    Growing Christianity in a developed country. Jeez guys, get with the 21st century.

  • Smith_90125

    I’m sure the Sewol disaster isn’t helping.

  • AiAi

    Interesting …. lol

Personals @ chinaSMACK - Meet people, make friends, find lovers? Don't be so serious!»