Plagiarizing has become a contentious issue within the Korean-American Christian community.
Some pastors in the community are taking others’ sermons as if it is theirs as they take the podium at their respective churches across the country.
Paul Kyusub Lee, a pastor at the Korean Church of Queens in New York, has recently resigned from his post after it was discovered that he had plagiarized over 10 sermons. Lee is also a widely known pastor in Southern California as he previously worked at East Gate Korean Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles.
“I’ve accepted that I plagiarized the sermons and have resigned from my position,” said Kim. “I had to prepare for too many sermons recently including morning services, so I made a mistake.”
This is not the first time a Korean-American pastor has plagiarized a sermon. Last year, a pastor in L.A. plagiarized his sermon and had to issue an apology to the members of the church.
“Sometimes I start to realize, ‘I’ve heard this sermon somewhere,’ when listening to some pastors’ sermons,” said Ray Jeon, a churchgoer in Southern California. “I feel betrayed as a Christian when I realize that pastors are plagiarizing sermons.”
In the past, a pastor sparked controversy after he allegedly paid someone off to write his sermon. A pastor at a church with almost 2,000 members was recently accused of instructing his assistants to write his sermons, drawing heavy criticisms.
“There are so many sermons available online now,” said Irvine-based pastor Dave Noh. “There are so many pastors simply copying someone else’s sermon. That’s the reality, even though plagiarizing a sermon is the same thing as lying to God.”
Presbyterian Theological Seminary in America professor Byung-hak Kim said: “Plagiarizing often occurs when pastors are pressured to meet the expectations of the church members. It is important that they choose to share their concerns rather than trying to look perfect.”
By Yeol Jang