The Unification Church: The New Moon Arises


by Rev. Rafael Martinez, Spiritwatch  Ministries

For over fifty years Sun Myung Moon, the leader of the Unification Church movement and a host of organizations dedicated to advancing his Unification philosophy have striven to provide a decisive spiritual influence around the world. This 81-year old Korean man (here pictured with his wife Hak Ja Han) is the head of a multinational conglomerate of various organizations seeking to establish a new global culture based upon his controversial vision of a spiritually restored humanity centered around his controversial and unorthodox re-interpretation of Christianity. And as this article is being written, Moon is currently crossing the United States on what is being billed as his final national speaking circuit , the "We Will Stand Tour". Supposedly aimed at fostering interreligious and ethnic unity as a means of arresting the moral decline of our nation, the tour is actually one of Moon's well-publicized efforts to establish himself as a leading spiritual figure in our day, an attempt that he has been continuously engaged in since his arrival in the United States in 1972. With the resurgence of a conservative political climate in Washington D.C., the waning Unification movement's organizational zeal has, if anything,  redoubled, seeking to once again portray Moon, in the words of Unification leader Chung Hwan Kwak, as "no ordinary man." (1).  The tour provides Moon still another opportunity for him to emerge from the shadows of obscurity draped in the U.S. flag and presenting himself as a pro-democracy humanitarian, a free-enterprise advocate, a generous patron of cultural exchange  and a family-values champion of Judeo-Christian morality.

The work of Moon's global conglomerate has taken many unusual turns for the past quarter century or so. In keeping with his Unification theology, one that centers around bringing all human activity into a harmonious whole "under God", Unificationism has actively been at work in both the secular and the sacred, from financial industrial ventures in China to sex-education classes in Chicago. All manner of academic, ecumenical, entrepreneurial and philosophic venues have been set up by a massive array of Moon-sponsored institutions:

In the last few years, they have orchestrated a remarkably successful campaign to win respectability and wield political influence. .. The Unification Church has launched dozens of civic organizations  around the world dedicated to women's rights, world peace, and family values that have made impressive inroads into mainstream society. None of them advertise their relationship with Sun Myung Moon or the Unification Church. The World's Federation for World Peace, the Family Federation for World Peace, the International  Cultural Foundation,  the Professors World Peace Academy, the Washington Institute for Values in  Public Policy, the Summit Council for World Peace, the American Constitution  Committee, and dozens of other organizations present themselves as nonpartisan, nondenominational groups. All of them are funded by Sun Myung Moon. (1)

Content for the time being to remain in the distance from his creations, Moon's behind-the-scenes presence has been extensive. His religious foundations have sponsored many openly ecumenical interreligious dialogues (such as the Assembly of the World's Religions in 1985), as well as innumerable outreaches to Christian ministers and leaders in outright attempts to recruit new Unification supporters, if not disciples. In that same year, while he was imprisoned for tax-evasion and had to run his organization form behind bars, Moon's Unification Church sent out to 300,000 ministers boxes  of books, videos and pamphlets "explaining" Unification theology. One front group even financed in the early 1980's the creation of the ill-fated Hollywood motion picture  Inchon, commemorating the Korean War amphibious battle (even starring Laurence Olivier and Jacqueline Bisset).

It was a Moon-funded effort that resulted in the 1995 financial bailout of one-time Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Virginia and the 1992  underwriting of the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. Moon's business ventures include fishing fleets in Alaska to software firms in Korea, and he even has a stake in the Smith & Wesson arms manufacturer's business operation. His ownership of the Washington Times and other newspapers has provided for his movement a means of influencing public policy through journalistic means, and this is a fact not lost on the Reagan and Bush administrations in the past twenty years who used them as sounding boards for their own political brinksmanship in Washington and  Latin America. Despite all of this amazing activity, and the fact that Moon's relationship to the Bush family has been a matter of public record, little is said about it in the news media, something even more astonishing in light of the fact that Moon's political fund raising prowess -- and honorarium bestowal -- has always resulted in millions of dollars for former President George Bush's appearances at Unification group functions.  Other respected leading figures have enjoyed Moon's "generosity" such as scholar Huston Smith, comedian Bill Cosby, and civil rights activist Walter Fauntroy.

The Other Side Of The Moon: What The "True Father" Actually Teaches

So as we can see, Sun Myung Moon and his Unification movement haven't been sitting still. Moon's willingness to spend enormous amounts of time, money and material resources to establish and support a public perception of him as a visionary man of God consumed with a zeal to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth has never diminished. Tens of thousands of true believers, mainly in South Korea and Japan, still view him as such such, with a only a "few thousand" still fervently following Moon in the United States itself: in fact, most "Moonies" (a term Moon himself proudly considers an honorific title) in the United States are long time Korean or Japanese disciples. (3)

Over time, Moon's teachings have become circulated among religious and academic circles where his influence has - in essence - bought a hearing. In a collection of articles on Unification thought, Osborne Scott, a New York City College professor, summarized well how Moon's work  is understood by many non-Unificationists who have come to cautiously sympathize with his movement's stated goals:

There are six areas in which Reverend Moon's thinking and the Unification movement have made a distinct impact on our world, our life, and our spiritual development. The first is an emphasis on God  and His place in  our lives; the second is the concept of the Family and the oneness of the world's peoples; the third emphasizes the unity of all religions; the fourth is the belief in absolute values; the fifth  is the worth and dignity of all men as members of the family of man;  and  the last is the role of the prophet in bringing  about change. (3)

In Scott's perspective, Moon's work occupies a healthy and positive role in the world today. An idyllic "peaceable kingdom" where a true unity in diversity of human experience emerges is what he believes Unification sets out to accomplish. Later, Scott defines Moon's work as a literal unification of world religions, "a decisive contribution to humankind's movement from the state of tribalism to universalism" (4).  This universalism has been the long-standing goal of human progress by many religious and philosophical figures and movements throughout history, and in today's postmodern spiritual climate, such an elusive goal sounds quite noble to the ear of the "spiritual."

Yet behind this seemingly benign vision is a far more jarring picture that is in the sharpest contrast to historic, orthodox Christian doctrine and belief, a picture all Christians involved with him overlook by omission - or commission. This is the side of the Moon empire that you aren't supposed to see.  Despite all of his movement's efforts at providing for their "True Father" a serious twenty-first century face lift, Moon himself still remains in heart and soul the same individual he was in the twentieth century, as does the essentially dangerous and cultic nature of the entire movement. Those Christians cooperating with Moon's work either fail to see - or refuse to recognize - that the true nature of Moon's teaching and practice have been largely hidden by a tireless Unification public relations effort, and that behind its' carefully groomed public image, it is actually quite antichristian and blasphemous in many respects.

To establish his own teaching, Moon freely reinterprets and redefines what Christianity is, a deconstruction of established Biblical truth that he has excelled at for over 50 years, all the while declaring his avowed fidelity to the Christian faith. These same Christians don't seem to realize that for all of Moon's avowed passion for "Family values", his own  "True Family" is hardly an ideal model to emulate and - most puzzling  of all -  they seem to overlook the documented evidence of the Unification Church's years of  deceptive recruitment, destructive mind control practices, unethical fundraising practices, and manipulative religious abuse that has disrupted and destroyed many lives around the world.

These issues seem ignored by many who currently work with Moon - whether out of sincere agreement with moral values his organization appears to uphold or out of dependence upon the cash flow of a Unification organization that subsidizes their own career or cause. It is how Moon has been doing this that  we will now more carefully examine in the next three articles.




(1) In The Shadow Of The Moons, p. 226

(2) ibid, p. 231

(3) Unificationism And Modern Society, p. 105

(4) ibid, p. 107


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