Senior pastor Cho Yong-gi of Yoido Full Gospel Church, the largest Christian church in the world, has faced vicious public condemnation as he called the catastrophic Japanese quakes and tsunamis "God’s warnings."
"I fear that this disaster may be warnings from God against the Japanese people’s atheism and materialism," an online Christian press quoted the elderly religious leader as saying Saturday.
"I hope that these series of events will drive the Japanese to turn their eyes towards God."
The interview triggered public rage, though the controversial comments were soon removed from the article.
Netizens rushed to accuse the pastor of being blindly self-righteous and lacking the basic charitable virtues required of a religious leader.
Jin Joong-gwon, a leading social critic widely known for his pointed remarks, lashed back at Cho via his Twitter, calling the pastor a "lunatic."
"While pastors speak nonsense, true Christian virtues are taking place outside of the church," Jin said, referring to the relief aid dispatched to Japan from all over the world.
The church, however, issued an official statement claiming that Cho’s words and intentions were distorted and exaggerated by the media.
Meanwhile, Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo also came close to facing similar public blame with his Twitter remarks.
"I thank God and my ancestors for keeping the Korean peninsula safe," the Catholic governor wrote on his Twitter on Sunday. "The disaster left more than 2,500 dead or injured and 10,000 missing."
Kim explained that he was only expressing his condolences to the devasted neighboring country and demanded that the media stop misleading the public over the tragedy.
By Bae Hyun-jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)