The Unification Church is a new religious movement based on the importance of the family in creating a world of peace, started by Sun Myung Moon in Korea in the 1940s. It officially began as a church in 1954 in Seoul, South Korea. On October 12, 2009, it was announced that Sun Myung Moon was given the church to his sons, Moon Hyung-jin, Moon Kook-jin, and Moon Hyun-jin.
The Unification Church is a controversial organisation. Some people say it is a cult with bizarre features. For example, Sun Myung Moon's says he is the "Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord" and using a Senate office building for a coronation ceremony. He also said that his teachings have helped Hitler and Stalin be "reborn as new persons". Many countries have recognized the organisation as a religion for legal purposes. This means the Unification Church has to pay less taxes, or no taxes at all.
Some doubt the organization's religious origins. Frederick Sontag, a professor of philosophy whose view of the church is no longer favorable has studied the Unification Church for 11 months. He concluded that "one thing is sure: the church has a genuine spiritual basis." A German court made a similar finding.
Some detractors have said that the church's main purpose is to advance Moon's political aspirations, such as the formation of a one world government.
B. A. Robinson wrote:
- However, there is a potential negative side to membership in the Unification Church. Their core, dedicated members accept strong discipline and can develop a deep commitment to the church. They must remain celibate before marriage, abstain from tobacco and alcohol and work long hours. The group can become their whole life, the source of their religious, cultural, social, and other support systems. If they become disillusioned by some aspect of the church, this minority of unusually dedicated members can find it very difficult to leave the organization and abandon these support networks. When they do leave, they are often angry with themselves and the church, believing that they have wasted perhaps years of their life within the group. This problem is common to all high intensity denominations which require major commitment to the group. e.g. Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and (for priests and nuns) the Roman Catholic Church.
Abuse of money [change]
Critics point to irregularities in the use of money. They highlight the church's role in enriching Moon personally. The Moon family situation is described as one of "luxury and privilege" and as "lavish".
Nansook Hong lived with the Moon family for 14 years. She describes the Unification Church as "a cash operation". She also pointed out there have been questionable movements of money, for example: "The Japanese had no trouble bringing the cash into the United States; they would tell customs agents that they were in America to gamble at Atlantic City. In addition, many businesses run by the church were cash operations, including several Japanese restaurants in New York City. I saw deliveries of cash from church headquarters that went directly into the wall safe in Mrs. Moon's closet." In the 1990s, thousands of Japanese elderly people claimed to have been defrauded of their life savings by Moon followers' spiritual sales. Moon's church was the subject of the largest consumer fraud investigation in Japan's history in 1997 and number of subsequent court decisions awarded hundreds of millions of yen in judgments, including 37.6 million yen ($300,000) to pay two women coerced into donating their assets to the Unification Church.
Recruitment and allegations of brainwashing [change]
In the United States in the 1970s, the media reported on the high-pressure recruitment methods of Unificationists and said that the church separated vulnerable college students from their families through the use of brainwashing or mind control.
Moon dismissed these criticisms, stating in 1976 that he had received many thank-you letters from parents whose children became closer to them after joining the movement. (In 1977, Moon had a notice posted in all Unification Churches in America, mandating that all members write to their families no less than once every 10 days.)
Moon and his wife were banned from entry into Germany and the other 14 Schengen treaty countries, on the grounds that they are leaders of a sect that endangered the personal and social development of young people. The Netherlands and a few other Schengen states let Moon and his wife enter their countries in 2005. In 2006 the German Supreme Court overturned the ban.
Political activities [change]
Critics of the Unification Church have accused the organization of being closely involved with covert CIA-authored operations against communism in Korea during the 1960s. The Church is known to have been involved with weapon and munitions manufacturing in Korea since the 1960s, as documented in a 1978 United States Congressional Report on the Unification Church. The explanation given by Korean Unification Church members is that all manufacturers seeking to do business in South Korea were required to supply the military.
Sun Myung Moon's controversial religious and political Unification Movement, which includes not only the Unification Church but an enormous constellation of civic organizations, including the Washington Times Foundation, is allied politically with evangelical Christians such as Jerry Falwell and Tim LaHaye. Advocates adhering to this point of view have challenged the church's tax-exempt status in the US, arguing that the political activities of church-related groups comprise an impermissible intrusion of the church into political areas.
Rev. Moon's infidelity [change]
In her 1998 book In the Shadow of the Moons: My Life in the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Family, Nansook Hong, ex-wife of Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han's eldest son Hyo Jin Moon said that both Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han told her about Sun Myung Moon's extramarital affairs (which she said he called "providential affairs"), including one which resulted in the birth of a boy raised by a church leader, named by Sun Myung Moon's daughter Un Jin Moon on the news show 60 Minutes.
In 1993, Chung Hwa Pak released the book Roku Maria no Higeki (Tragedy of the Six Marys) through the Koyu Publishing Co. of Japan. The book contained allegations that Moon conducted sex rituals amongst six married female disciples ("The Six Marys") who were to have prepared the way for the virgin who would marry Moon and become the True Mother. Chung Hwa Pak had left the movement when the book was published and later withdrew the book from print when he rejoined the Unification Church. Before his death Chung Hwa Pak published a second book, The Apostate, and recanted all allegations made in Roku Maria no Higeki.
South America [change]
In May 2002, federal police in Brazil conducted a number of raids on organizations linked to Sun Myung Moon. In a statement, the police stated that the raids were part of a broad investigation into allegations of tax evasion and immigration violations by Moon's organization. The Association of Families for Unification and World Peace was the target of the raids, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and the personal residence of Moon's primary representative in Brazil, Reverend Kim Yoon-sang. As of 2008 no legal action has been taken by the Brazilian government resulting from their investigations.
Anti-gay teachings [change]
Moon has spoken vehemently against homosexual activity. In talks to church members he compared homosexuals to "dirty dung-eating dogs" and prophesied that "gays will be eliminated" in a "purge on God's orders". These statements were criticized by gay rights groups.
B. A. Robinson of the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance wrote:
- With this emphasis on male-female sex as the only valid model, and on heterosexual marriage as the only ideal, it is reasonable to expect that the Unification Church has very negative views on homosexual behavior:
- Actively homosexual persons are not admitted into membership.
- Actively homosexual persons would be prohibited from the clergy.
- Most church leaders are married and have stable families.
- Since they consider a gay or lesbian committed relationship to be outside God's ideal, commitment services for homosexuals are not held.
- Their practice is to hate the sin but love the sinner.
- They view homosexual behavior as a deviation from the God-centered family.'
- "Rev. Moon turning over Unification Church to sons". http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091012/ap_on_re_as/as_skorea_unification_church;_ylt=AtG8Q2vqyk0nno8BJESCZZIEtbAF. Retrieved 2009-10-12.
- "God's heart and love for humanity has been the heart of a parent who loves a child. God could not ignore the immorality and wickedness of this world, so He finally sent me to correct these things and to tear down the barriers of war and conflict for all eternity. (..) He gave me the qualification to be the Savior, Messiah, returning Lord, and True Parent who appears in the world as the substantial body of God Himself." "Let Us Perfect the Peace Kingdom Through the Peace United Nations". http://www.unification.org/ucbooks/Mspks/2003/20031015_1.html., speech given by Rev. Moon at the Inaugural Assembly of the Headquarters of the Interreligious and International Peace Council (IIPC) - October 15, 2003 - Seoul, Korea
- Warner Helped the Rev. Moon
- "Theological Uproar in Unification Church; Rev. Moon Recognizes Zimbabwean as His Reincarnated Son", Washington Post March 30, 1988 article by Michael Isikoff. Sontag is quoted as saying: "The church began as a spiritual movement, but in recent years, it's become sort of humdrum and dissolved into more of a business"
- Frederick Sontag. (1977). Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church. Abingdon Press. ISBN 0-687-40622-6
- Fefferman, Dan (December 31, 2001). "ICRF White Paper: The Schengen Treaty and the Case of Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon". http://www.religiousfreedom.com/Whatsnew/whitepaper.htm. Retrieved 2006-04-29. Moon was born and grew up in a Japan-occupied Korea. He started to preach his religious teachings back in 1945 or 1946 before he personally encountered difficulties with communism. After Moon's torture and imprisonment by the North Korean communists from 1947 to 1950 he was not reported to have engaged primarily in political agitation, but rather in daily worship. Furthermore, he was barred from the Presbyterian Church as early as 1948. This ban was because of his different religious teachings.
- The Unification Church founded by Rev. Sun Myung Moon
- These criticisms have been repeated hundreds of times in media reports. One such example is "Cults, Deprogrammers, and the Necessity Defense", Michigan Law Review, Vol. 80, No. 2 (Dec., 1981), pp. 271-311
- ""Money, Guns, and God" by Christopher S. Stewart, Conde Nast Portfolio, October 2007". http://www.portfolio.com/careers/features/2007/09/17/Unification-Church.
- Hong, Nansook. (1998). In the Shadow of the Moons: My Life in the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Family. Little, Brown. (ISBN 0-316-34816-3).
- See Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature, 1900- . New York: Wilson, 1905- . v.1- .
- Report released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. State Dept.
- A speech made by Pak titled "Retraction of The Tragedy of the Six Marys" can be found at www.tparents.org.
- The Family Federation for Cosmic Peace and Unification and the Cosmic Era of Blessed Family. Retrieved on 04-11-2007.
- "The Unification Church and Homosexuality". http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_uni.htm., B.A. Robinson, Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, 2005