The  Unification Church 


By Rev. Rafael Martinez, Spiritwatch Ministries

Sun Myung Moon's life was a campaign against a hostile world of unbelief, secularism, the Red Communist menace and a supposedly apostate Christian church hobbled by its faith in a Jesus the Christ who failed in His mission to save the world. He claimed he was chosen by God to fulfill it. As it usually happens with many cults, their founder beholds a vision from on high, a heavenly revelation, that calls them aside to a special task and Moon was no exception - claiming to have commissioned by Christ in 1935 to this work. With his life work supposedly set before him by Jesus' personal admission of failure and the need to consummate the work of redeeming mankind, Moon founded his Unification of World Christianity in Seoul, South Korea in 1954 while at the same time rising to become an influential industrialist and champion of the free enterprise system. He soon became a wealthy business magnate and a controversial religious leader who sought to cover up and buy off the scrutiny of authorities who found Moon's authoritarianism involving sexual rituals, seductions and connections to the shadowy Korean CIA disturbing but who somehow kept looking the other way.

Moon's eyes soon turned to the West in search of new converts. After an initial exploration of the United States and other world cities for possible sites to establish his new religion, he finally committed fully to making the U.S. his base of operations outside South Korea in the early 1970's and it was then that Western civilization became introduced to his "Divine Principle" teachings - based on Korean folk mysticism, Eastern religion and a smattering of reinterpreted "Christian" truth claims that denied Biblical Christian truth itself. Soon, his front groups spread across the land, targeting college kids, professionals, politicians, economists and presidents for recruitment and indoctrination with his worldview. It was then also when the first dark reports of exploitation, manipulation and deception of Moon's Western disciples began to surface. Throughout the rest of the decade into the 1980's, the Unification movement became recognized as a dangerous cultic church at odds with the rest of the world outside it, seeking to dominate and control not only the hearts and minds of people but communities, economies and governments. Innumerable reports emerged of families seeing loved ones drop out of college, careers and even family connections altogether to live in vans and travel across the nation selling Unification books and candy and rejecting their own parents to embracing the Moons as their "real parents," who advocated such distressing behavior as the highest moral good.

His conviction of tax evasion in 1982 was seen as religious persecution which the Moral Majority head, the Southern Baptist Jerry Falwell would soon arise to condemn. Moon only served 13 months and emerged from the Federal penitentiary in Danbury, Connecticut rejuvenated and ready to soldier on. He continued to speak, write, and actively engage any faith based organization he could gain a hearing of, from Jewish rabbis, Islamic educational figures and minority Christian ministers in an effort to create a coalition of religionists following his Unification vision. Moon's inflated largesse finally led him to firmly declare that he was the Lord of the Second Advent, officially announcing He was the promised Messiah in 1992. With his supremely self-confident belief that He was the "Anointed One" of God, Moon spent time between mass weddings of his followers, community building in Brazil, grappling with his intractable children to submit to his authority and help run his empire, and keep seeking new contacts among all who gave him a hearing no matter their religion.

It is perhaps this last initiative of Moon's influence in recruiting new disciples by networking among minority groups, mostly urban Christian churches, through his innumerable front groups deployed throughout Western civilization that will likely be his lasting legacy. From his earliest days of barnstorming across America during the early 1970's, he always successful in attracting small bands of African, Asian, African-American and Latino adherents. It was during the 1980's, particularly after his stint in prison, that Moon focused exclusively on minorities to gain new sources of income as well as common cause for his moralistic crusades. Because many of them shared his latent cultural conservatism and heard him declare American and the West in need of moral revival, he found fertile ground and to this day, his Unificationism has spread among many of these populaces like a virus. One of the most sobering and well known indicators of Moon's advance among any group of possible disciples is to see how enthusiastically they pull crosses out of their churches to bury or dispose of them as needless reminders of Christ's failure, in keeping with Moon's antichristian teaching. Throughout many an urban community across the U.S., finding a church here and there taking such a stand is not at all uncommon and in the greater Chicago region, it has been occurring.

In 2001, just before the fateful date of September 11, a flurry of articles in many a newspaper across the nation hailed the "comeback" of the controversial "Reverend" Sun Myung Moon as he climbed into the national limelight on a 50 state speaking tour which took him across the nation for rally after rally on his "We Will Stand Tour".  As we have seen, Moon never actually went away. He simply had been reinventing his religious brand, quietly distancing himself from the storms of controversy his political, business, and religious ambitions spawned in the 1970's, when his Unification Church's pro-capitalist and anti-communist restoration vision stormed America and the West from his home base in South Korea and in Tarrytown, New York. The wind under his wings now were not the dollars extorted from white Westerners slaving in his fish factories in Alaska or selling Ginsu knives in Tennessee - they were from the collective zeal and energies of a coalition including such odd bedfellows as President George Bush and Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan. Not since the heady days of another "Reverend", the "Reverend" Jim Jones' interfaith socialism has such ecumenism been seen - with results no less toxic or aberrant. 
Moon craftily recast his public image and his organizational emphases. He became an exotic and embarrassing ally of the conservative right whose warped theology and close proximity were readily mediated by his readiness to make any donation or monetary contribution a flexible tonic to their concerns. His Unification Church entity was anointed with the lofty corporate title, that of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, and reflected Moon's goal of wading into the mainstream of Christian and social life in America with a dazzling array of activism, programs and allegiance building with minority church groups.  Not content with mere social influence, Moon boldly thrust out into the political arena to compel it to renew family and society with his religious zeal and worldview that of course, anointed him as the father figure of the "True Parents" whose global patriarchal influence on humanity would be extended through his "True Family", his fourteen children borne, mostly, by his wife Hak Ja Han. In 2004, Moon's sincere megalomania reached new heights on Capital Hill as political writer John Gorenfeld caustically recalls:

What does it say about American politics when a famous 1970s cult leader publishes a Washington newspaper, dresses up in the U.S. Senate offices like King George III, and no one in D.C. seems to care? One night in 2004, at one of Washington’s most outrageous dinner parties, members of Congress bought a shining crown and robes to a billionaire mystery man who calls himself the True Father: the Reverend Moon, sushi mogul, conservative philanthropist, and publisher of the right-wing Washington Times.

A dizzying array of organizations working under Unification auspices that had actively networked to offer millions of dollars of their money and hundreds  of their personnel to the non-Unification labors of community leaders across the nation engaged in social programming aimed at arresting our culture's slide into immorality and shattered families. To these politicians, organizers and activists weary at their task, this aid was readily accepted and part of this massive engine of enthusiastic politicking helped propel Moon to his Capital Hill grab at monarchy, which perhaps was the height of his visible American influence. We say visible because with the advent of President George W. Bush's emphasis on federal aid to "faith-based" programs that help the needy, the sick and the homeless, Moon's massive organizational presence in the halls of power in Washington - alongside organizations like the Christian Coalition - guaranteed that he had a voice and a stake in the billions of dollars that were involved. He was regularly hailed throughout the 1990's and into the second millenia by Christian leaders, from Jerry Falwell, Billy McCormack, T.L. Barrett,  and Robert Schuller - as a man of great ideals and vision. Indeed, Schuller holds that Moon's presence and sponsorship at a January, 2001 pre-inaugural interfaith prayer luncheon was part of a great spiritual move of God in that despite diversity, "there is an overriding unity. And the only way I can explain it in my theology is the Holy Spirit [and that] Jesus Christ has really diversified His investment portfolio."  (click here to read a collection of articles on this "luncheon").

However, the recent history of the Unification Church has turned into a sticky and raucous soap opera. Despite Moon's best efforts to create a clear path of transitional leadership over his movement during the first decade of the 21st century, his True Family did what lesser family circles do and that was to scheme and struggle and fight over control of the businesses and organizations of the Unification movement in internecine combat as convoluted as any royal palace intrigue among princes and princesses. Even as he avowed that centralized control over the movement, it's finances and disciples was consistent with his Unification view, the tragic moral decay within his own family created tensions and ugly crises he could not control. Soon, his son Heung Jin and his daughter In Jin, both who had been chosen by him to take the reigns of leadership became embroiled in scandal, controversy and outright defiance of the questionable morals of their movement.  The very real accounts of Moon's immorality during the years in South Korea in which he started the movement that brought about jail time, his fathering of an illegitimate son conveniently left unmentioned, and his systematic creation of a harem of women called "the Six Marys" finally began to emerge. Moon's pure mystique fell to pieces as readily as his trousers did in the homes of the women he'd manipulated.  The True Family raged on so publicly about their problems with the very juggernaut that sustained and raised them up that even staunch supporters of Unificationism took to the internet to loudly protest and even demand reform (click here and here to read these extraordinary documents).

When Moon finally died in 2012, Hak Ja Han, who had been promised control over the Unification empire by Moon for over fifty years, finally arose to assert her rights and as a True Parent, leveraged her authority quite cagily over the dissidence that her two children were causing and finally brought a certain organizational equilibrium to the church, even if it is suspected that some other individual or entity within the movement actually controls her as well. The movement continues to prosper as it's slaves joyfully continue to struggle in the yoke of their leadership. You can read the Unification perspective on their history here, but rest assured, it will not be half as enlightening as the links and information included in this summary of Unification progress.

One vital thing to keep in mind - it's easy to overlook that in these acrimonious turf wars by Moon's family over the high stakes of their late father's geopolitical and religious empire that there are real people, families and lives involved, their destinies at stake and under the True Family thrall. We must not forget that Unification followers still are subject to the authoritarian grip of the cult's mind control and indoctrination, and the appalling abuse of power that they have submitted to as the will of God for their lives is an ongoing and

And as always, the mission of Moonism has never changed. His disciples still seek what Moon calls, as many other do, "the restoration" of Christianity into perfect unity with world religions and temporal  government as filtered through their Korean mysticism.  Hak Ja Han still presides over massive "Blessing" ceremonies where dozens couples are paired off and married, she still preaches that his Divine Principle revelation is the light through which all mankind will come to understand God's ways again, and the core theology still asserts the kind of claims that we share below: 

Many people rattle off words about God’s absoluteness, omnipotence and glory. Nonetheless, through my lifelong search for truth, I have found that to be way off the mark. God lost His loving children as a result of the first ancestors’ Fall. If your children are imprisoned, can you live in glory? God’s heart is in the deepest pain. What’s more, God had to give Satan the beautiful creation that He made for His children. From the moment He lost His object partner of love, the God of true love became the God of loneliness.

The Fall of man was a watershed event to Moon's thought on so many fronts, but first and foremost, it established the brokenness of mankind that resulted in a permanent heartache for God, a heartache Moon believes God has called him to bring and end to through his Unification work. As we have said,  Moon's avowed aim is to bring  a "restoration" of the divided worlds of man's religion, politics and science and he has expended untold billions of dollars to that end for the past 50 years or so.

His work was a step towards realizing his ecumenical dream based upon his Unification theory. Han's new leadership increasingly turns toward a more purely geographically Korean locale for Unification as has been well documented and we simply don't have time to analyze this aspect of Unification work, which is vital to understanding them fully. We will confine our remarks on his work to what we feel is a Biblical critique of Moon's basic teachings on spiritual salvation and the nature of God which still proceed from the movement's exaltation of his Divine Principle. Nor will we have time to discuss Moon's Unification political agenda, which aside from a strident anti-communism and a passionate desire to see his "fatherland" Korea reunited since its' division into North and South entities after the Korean War, is quite simple to understand in brief: he quite literally expects the world to some day bow before him and his Unification juggernaut: 

My dream is to organize a Christian political party including the Protestant denominations, Catholics and all the religious sects. Then the communist power will be helpless before ours. We have to purge the corrupted politicians and the sons of God must rule the world. The separation between religion and politics is what Satan likes most. ...Upon my command to the Europeans and others throughout the world to come live in the U.S., wouldn't they obey me? Then what would happen? We can embrace the religious world in one arm and the political world in the other. With this great ideology, if you are not confident to do this, you had better die! 

With this species of naked ambition behind Unificationism's longstanding political influence in Washington since the Nixon administration, it is obvious to anyone with eyes and ears that it is far more than just the harmless moral crusade it makes itself out to be. Moon's ongoing legacy as pushed by Hak Ja Han and the Unification Church is still a powerful and deceptive influence in the religious world, and one that we feel fully justifiable as characterizing as not only cultic but antichristian to the core.   

What are our concerns? How can we justify  such a seemingly intolerant statement? We will demonstrate this as we examine the following issues:

The resurgence of Sun Myung Moon's Unificationism and its many operations -  it's not just for "Moonies" anymore, and how it stands to grow into the 21st century

A brief look at the teachings of Unificationism, what "new expression of truth" Sun Myung Moon really believes, and what message his 50 state tour brings to the Church 

What kind of "family values" the Moon family actually practices, as well as among the extended Unification family under the rule and command of the  "True Parents" 

How the Moon organization is working today, how deeply it still impacts the world, how many Christian leaders deliberately embrace it, and how Christians should be responding

For more information on the Unification Church:

Unification Theology And The Cross of Christ - by Bryce Pettit 

(a 4 part series courtesy of Mr. Pettit & EMNR with a Christian perspective on Unificationism)

 For our perspectives on the resurgence of Sun Myung Moon and Unificationism, click on:

New Moon Arising How The Moon Became The Son
The True Family's Real Values Floating Down The Mainstream

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