The True Family's Real Values

By Rev, Rafael Martinez, Spiritwatch Ministries

In a series of nationally-televised debates on Unificationism aired back in 1985, Tom McDevitt, who was at that time representing the Unification Church said this about the central role of the family unit in Sun Myung Moon's core teachings on salvation: "The very essence of God's manifestation of life to mankind is His love. The highest level of  that love is in the family where parents create children. The parent and child relationship is where the highest sacramental bond can occur in the human community." (1)

As we have shown,  Moon's teachings place his own paternal role as "True Father" front and center in the scheme of salvation, accompanied by his wife Hak Ja Han who is the "True Mother". Unificationists around the world do not simply view Sun Myung Moon or Hak Ja Han merely as functional heads of their movement, but as literal parental figures whose relationship to them actually determines their eternal salvation! As incredible as that sounds, it is fundamental to Unification theology, as we have seen. Since God has chosen, as it is taught by Moon, to bring restoration into mankind's fallen world through the influence of the "True Family", then the ideal of the perfect family in closest relationship to one another under the headship of a "True Father" logically becomes the all-encompassing social template He will work through to bring humanity back to Himself. The role of the True Parents is not merely a metaphor thrown around in religious discussion groups in Unificationism, but is the heart and soul of the movement and hence, the focus of devotion, even worship for Unificationists, as a former member so passionately wrote:

The Parents (especially Father) had completely replaced Jesus as the sole mediator between God and man. Learning to love Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han would establish an incredibly powerful  relationship with God.  In fact, Father said that we should have many dreams about the  True Parents and experience a deep spiritual life with them. The spirit of the True Parents is everywhere. Therefore, if we love the Parents so much that we miss them and want to be with them, they will come to us in our thoughts, in visions and dreams (2).  

The marriage of Moon and Han in 1960, when he was 40 and she was a young 17, was viewed as a "providential" stroke of world history come to pass, as nothing less than the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb" foretold in  Revelation 19:7. Nansook Hong, a lifelong Unification Church member whose parents were pioneering evangelists for the group in Korea in the 1950's, describes how Unificationism portrays Moon's central role as True Father in relationship to personal salvation:

The Reverend Moon's task was to fulfill the mission of Jesus. He would marry a perfect woman and restore mankind to the state of perfection that existed in the Garden  of Eden. He and his wife would be the world's True Parents. They would be sinless, as would their children. Couples blessed by the Reverend Moon would become part of his pure-blood lineage  and be assured a place in Heaven.  (3)

McDevitt, when directly asked by Christian apologist Jerry Yamamoto if the children of Moon and Han were actually sinless, corroborated Hong's statements by emphatically answering "yes" (4). To the Unificationist, they created the "True Family" whose care and support are of paramount importance, and who have been bestowed with a spiritually exalted status recognized by Unification members worldwide. "Blessed Children" is the term that given to all of Moon's 13 children, and  October 1 is a Unification Church holiday called "Childrens' Day" that reinforces the claim to spiritual parentage that the Moons make upon all Unificationists, with the True Family held up as the divinely bestowed example for all mankind to look up to: again, Hong recalls the culture of idolization in  Unification circles that in one way shape or  form exists in Unificationism itself:

I admired the Moon children. We all did. We coveted  their beautiful mother and powerful father. .. We were taught that (Moon) was a historic figure who carried the burden of fallen man on his strong shoulders. We could not imagine a holier or braver leader than Sun Myung Moon.  We  admired the True Children with a similar reverence. We memorized the names and accomplishments of all the Moon children. We added the respectful term Nim to their first names when we addressed them. Their academic and artistic accomplishments and their higher  level of  being were offered to us as evidence of their superiority. We came as close to worshipping them as imaginable. (5)

The immaculate public image of the Blessed Children of the True Family would appear to suggest that they are in every respect not only true, but therefore, perfect, balanced, close-knit in intimacy and truly centered upon the salvation of mankind. We should expect to see embodied in such a "providential" family clan the perfect example of a Godly family standing forth in holy accord and holy love for the desperate and unblessed families of  man outside of the ark  of the Unification Church.

The Family Business: Life In The Moon Household

As we have said in other articles in this site, there are few more tragic things in life than to behold the slaying of beautiful fantasies by ugly facts. No more appalling fiction than the role Moon casts his family to play has been created in Unificationism, and no more empty a claim does the "Reverend" stake  when  he loudly declares himself a champion of true family values. This is because the truth behind Moon's family relationships is far uglier than the Unification public relations machine would have us believe. In addition to this reality, the abusive and damaging treatment that Unificationism has inflicted upon those "family members" it recruits in the name of the "True Parents" authority also shows the kind of values the Unification Church actually holds.

As detailed in Nansook Hong's painfully honest and personal reflection of her life as a bride to Hyo Jin, Moon's eldest son, entitled In The Shadow Of  The Moons, there are many dark shadows that fall behind the scenes of the True Parents and True Family. Children born to Hak Ja Han were swiftly assigned to "church sisters" who acted as nannies to them and who in effect, actually raised them. A parental divide - set up by the Moons - was established between the "True Parents" and their "blessed children".  Hong recalls Moon's utterly unbelievable explanation for this inexplicable state of affairs among the "True Family":

The Reverend  Moon had a theological explanation for the kind of parental neglect he and Mrs. Moon exercised .. the Messiah came first. He expected believers to dedicate themselves to public proselytizing on his behalf, the pursuit of personal family happiness was a self-indulgence. .. (He) even designated particular couples among his original disciples to assume responsibility for the moral and spiritual development of each one of the Moon children. Assuming those parental duties himself, the Reverend Moon argued,  would distract him from his larger mission: the conversion of the world to Unificationism.

Sun Myung Moon  was not unaware of the bitterness this attitude engendered in his children ..(in a speech he states)  " I eat breakfast with the 36 Couples, even chasing my own sons and daughters away. The children naturally wonder, 'Why do our parents do this? Even when our parents  meet us someplace, they don't really seem to care for us.' It is undeniable that I have loved our church members more than anybody else, neglecting even my wife and children. This is something Heaven knows. If we live this way, following this course in spite of our children's opposition and neglecting our family, eventually the nation and the world will come to understand. Our wives and  children will understand, as well.  This is the kind of path you have to follow" (emphasis mine) (6).

Nansook recounts seeing time after time in the Moon household how this heartless attitude affected Moon's children, whose isolation from parental nurture and discipline and exaltation as faultlessly perfect human beings resulted in the inevitable forms of self-centered carnality: "The True Family treated the staff like indentured servants. .. Sun Myung Moon taught his children that they were little princes and princesses and they acted accordingly. It was embarrassing to watch and amazing to see how accepting the staff were of the verbal abuse meted out by the Moon children. Like me, they believed the True Family were faultless. .. Most took a perverse pleasure in ignoring every tenet of their religion" (7). 

Perhaps none did so more terribly than her husband, Hyo Jin, the heir apparent to Moon's conglomerate, who as so abusive a man that Nansook simply had to flee her abusive marriage to him if not for the sake of herself but for her children. His drug abuse, drunkenness, sexual immorality, self-centered pursuit of worldly pleasure and twisted lifestyle in general were so shocking that at one point, he was forced into an incredible exercise of confession to his carnality in a Unification Church gathering in 1988. When Nansook attempted to protest his destructive behavior, he would turn on her and both verbally and physically abuse her (calling her a "pious scold .. a self-righteous bitch") to the point where her children had to bring icepacks to her to soothe the black and blue bruises he left on her. The Moons, as she recounted, made no attempt to ever intervene or confront him, and instead heaped abuse and blame on her for Hyo Jin's own personal irresponsibility and wickedness.

The branches of any tree bear bad fruit when the roots themselves are diseased, damaged or dying. The pathetic moral state of the Moon children is understandable when realizing  what kind of man and father Moon really is. Moon's own past has been neatly polished by  his  Unification spin-doctors, who neatly gloss over his marital infidelity. The plain facts show that Moon had married in Korea in 1945 at age twenty-five and then, supposedly at the behest of God, left his family to go to northern Korea to  preach. "Sun Myung Moon, who teaches that he is the ideal  Father of all God's children, abandoned his wife and three month old son without explanation" (8). They did not see or hear from him again for six years, after which  the marriage broke up shortly after a perfunctory reunion in 1951. Charges of sexual immorality practiced in some abominable liturgical fashion as taught by Moon surfaced in Korea and were supposedly documented in a book expose one wavering Unificationist wrote in 1993, but retracted later by the Moon disciple, who was persuaded by him to rejoin the church (9). Other instances of Moon's well known involvement with the wives of his closest disciples are a matter of common knowledge and documented in Hong's book.

With this kind of personal life and personal example in the "True Family", it is utterly inconceivable that the Christian Church or any Christian leader can even imagine that anything remotely  resembling healthy family values could be said to be embodied in their sad, yet publicly radiant lives. Yet this is exactly what many undiscerning Christian ministers and leaders assert and promote by their willingness to embrace  Moon as a family values champion traveling across the nation to save America's youth. For all his theological flights of fancy to the contrary, Moon, his  wife and his family are normal, fallen human beings just like anyone else, subject to the same failings and sins we all struggle with. The only significantly distinguishing difference between the "True Family" and most other human families is that they are bestowed with some of the most serious examples of family group megalomania that we've seen in years. Their stunningly crude hypocrisy here speaks for itself and needs no other discussion here, except the verses of Scripture that spell out the responsibility Moon assumes but fails miserably to carry for his own family, let alone  the world's:

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.   Ephesians 6:4

Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.  Colossians 3:21

(A church leader is) one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?   1 Timothy 3:4-5 

Where East Meats West: The Power Of Unification Group Dynamics

One of the most unpleasant of realities concerning  life in the Unification Church is also one of its most overlooked. Since arriving in the United States in the 1970's, Sun Myung Moon's efforts to establish his movement  have always been shadowed by controversies stemming from the recruiting and fund-raising tactics that his organizations have used to attract and retain members. These techniques, where they successfully were applied to prospective recruits across the nation since the 1970's, affected them in the same chilling pattern. Charges of these new recruits' exploitation, slave labor, mind-control and the division of their formerly close families were made again and again innumerable times across the West. And in each case, one of the most distressing of accusations - many of which were substantiated by irrefutable evidence - was that Unification demands for submission by new members to the Moons as their "True Parents" always resulted in the  straining or - more often than not - severance of ties with their natural parents and family. For all of their loudly declared passion to strengthen families in the world today, the Unification Church actually does more to subvert them than few other cultic groups.

The Unification Church, being formed in Korea and imported to the United States, has a dual constituency of lifelong Korean and Japanese members, as well as Western disciples recruited  by Unification evangelists, yet exerts an authoritarian control over these two groups in different ways. In the cases of many lifelong members raised in the Unification movement, as Hong was, the methodology was different, yet the results were same, the complete submission and control of Unification minds:

Much has been written about the coercion and brainwashing that takes place in the Unification Church. What I experienced was conditioning. You are isolated  among like-minded people. You are bombarded with messages elevating obedience above critical thinking. Your belief system is reinforced at every turn. You become invested in those beliefs the longer you are associated with the church. .. We may have been seduced into a cult, but most of us  were not cultists, we were idealists (10).

The fervency and obedience to Moon among his disciples in Korea and Japan in the 1950's and 1960's is largely based upon the especially close-knit group that their Unification communities and social circles have established there. The Eastern mindset that strongly emphasizes the family and clan ties further enhance Unification community cohesion, and hence, the type of conditioning by socialization that Hong refers to. The concept of "True Parents" are a unifying factor that is not easily challenged there.  

Such group dynamics initially would not have an effective impact on Westerners steeped in individualism, so Moon's recruitment focused on the one cultural constant through which he could best relate to potential recruits, that being the family. With the institutional challenges of the 1960's still very much in place in the early 1970's, and driven by his Unification dogma on the "True Family" role in restoring the kingdom of heaven, Moon's recruitment emphasized the necessity of being in a strong family to know God's full plans for mankind.  So Unification recruiters turned their eyes  to the one block of Westerners who would be the most open to Moon's "restoration," and who had demonstrated so powerfully their openness to change and revolutionary ideas, that being college age youth. From then on, disturbing testimonials to deceptive and manipulative ploys made by Unification recruiters began to pile up through the 1970's. 

And perhaps the most insidious of these was the amount of authoritarian control they effectively used by playing upon the deep-seated desire for pleasing one's parental authority figures in their recruits through invoking the role of the "True Father" in their lives. Unificationists were - and are - spurred on constantly to newer and greater efforts for their organization and church so as not to spoil the  all-important goals and desires of Moon, who for his part, shows little to no compunction in expressing his displeasure with those he leads. Here, the group dynamic aimed at pleasing the father-figure leader in Unificationism is most clearly marked. Unless they were diligent in working otherwise, it seemed that even Moon's divine patriarchy and work in setting up the kingdom of heaven could somehow be easily upset by their lack of progress in something as mundane as the selling of tickets to a Unification function:

Once an Oriental man brought what must have been bad news. Immediately, Moon flew into a rage, yelling and shouting at the man .. And then, Moon, turned to us and was suddenly back in a pleasant mood. My first impressions  of Moon were etched in fear. Everyone felt intimidated by him. .. (The next) morning, Moon was upset about the dismal ticket sales. .. For those who had not sold tickets, Moon was merciless. His attacks were scathing. He said that we were lazy and uncaring. He said that we weren't helping to build the kingdom of heaven on earth. There was something here that disturbed  me, although it was something I wasn't conscious of until years later. These, Moon's disciples, had tried to sell tickets - they had just not been successful. I learned how important results were to Moon and to the Unification Church. Here, results took precedence over methods. It didn't matter what each Moonie's attitude had been or what efforts had been expended. It mattered only that there was nothing to show for it. (11)

A Family Affair: Mind Control And Manipulation In Unificationism

Moon's abusive authoritarianism could only have successfully worked upon people who had ceased to think clearly with a free mind, and who also instinctively wish to please parent figures at all costs. Creating such an audience conditioned to accept that abuse requires a process of recruitment that uses a very well-qualified and strategically used set of compulsions that powerfully transform those who fall prey to them. These are actual techniques that are used to unethically and abusively compel Unification recruits to suspend their independent thinking - as far as it concerned the Unification Church - and to follow Moon's dictum of submitting to his way of thinking alone: "I am a thinker. I am your brain." (12).  

Such techniques are more commonly called cultic mind control, and were first described by thought reform researcher and psychiatrist Robert J. Lifton. These techniques are based upon eight specific and well-defined basic components he identified after working in a governmental capacity investigating the tragic "brainwashing" of U.S. soldiers during the Korean War. Lifton's eight criterion that he uses to identify mind controlling dynamics are certainly found in Unification circles, as well documented by one ex-member's study of Unification Church-based mind control. The Unification Church's entire recruitment and retention structure is based upon these powerful means of control of behavior by control of thought. The authoritarian dimensions of the audacious claim by Moon to his disciple's minds underlies the power of local Unification  leaders, as one ex-member recalled, who would demand of new recruits total and unquestioning obedience to Moon: "You have many concepts, many philosophies from your experiences. But we must be children with open hearts and learn again. If you have concepts, put them away!" (13) In other words, diversity of thought and difference of opinion are seen as disruptive, even undesirable qualities in the Unification world.  Indeed, as another makes abundantly clear, a firm hierarchal chain of authority with the "True Father's" dictates as the final word are to be the norm in Unificationism: " 'I get direct instruction from Reverend Moon. This center gets direct instruction from me. The Principle teaches that my authority must be accepted by local members as if I was Master.' (nodding to) the portrait of Moon" (14)

Moon's usage of the concept of the family in his recruiting, stemming from his belief that he actually is the "True Father" over all of  his disciples, is where much of the most damaging influence of Unificationism arises. Prospects then and now were placed by Church recruiters into settings that are aimed at psychologically wearing them down and leading them to suspend critical thinking by playing upon the very idealism and dreams that drew them to an introductory lecture in a hotel ballroom, a student union, or chance meetings on the street. They are persuaded to believe a True  Father is in charge of the spirit and natural worlds, and that one's relationship to him and his "True Family" of sinless children are essential to his ability to know God. New recruits are then spirited away  to a secluded spot or series of encounters with Unificationists bent upon swaying them into joining "the Family." It is the usage of  what is called "love bombing" (the smothering of new recruits with unconditional love and affirmation as "brothers and sisters") that emotionally and intellectually hooks the unwary. Once they make a commitment to staying with the group, further social isolation through Unification indoctrination becomes endlessly reinforced, and the necessity for remaining faithful to the "True Family" at all costs is emphasized. 

Natural parental relationships are muted, and in many instances, discouraged by Unification recruiters who point out quickly something to the effect that "most probably, they will not understand your commitment. .. The devil is sly and often works through those we love the most to try to get us away from the God's work" (15). So even family ties and commitments are distanced from and even ignored by Unificationists no matter what: ex-member Chris Elkins recalls the response of a young woman at a Unification church retreat when informed by police that her mother had died, after consulting with a leader:

I could see that her mind was just beginning to absorb the news. "Mr. Lee," she said to Marc, "I think that you are right. Satan is trying to draw me away from here. He is using my mother's death to try to draw me away." I couldn't believe what I was hearing. This girl's mother had just died, and March had her convinced that Satan was using the death  to draw her away from us. .. "If you can remain faithful through this, God will have great things in store for you. You must not go for any reason now." "Oh, thank you, Mr. Lee," she said. But I could see tears in her eyes. The longer we stood there in silence, the  harder she fought back the sorrow she needed to express. "Be strong," Marc whispered, "we are your family." (16)

The free usage of implanted phobias only reinforce the "True Family" dimensions of Unification socialization: irrational fears are planted in the minds of Unificationists as an unbelievably powerful means of curbing dissent, and encouraging complete obedience to Moon's teachings. And the kinds of fear Unificationists must grapple with is an almost overwhelming experience that many other cultic groups (such as the Jehovah's Witnesses) also deliberately use to control members. Fears of evil spirits, fear of life outside the group, fear of displeasing the "True Father," fears of spiritual death and physical breakdown, even death, constantly plague the mind of many a Unificationist contemplating courses of action or thought contrary to what they've been told to keep in mind!

The Family's Ties That Bind:  Recent Unification Activities

These practices, as best as we can tell, still go on today. The patriarchal "True Father" figure that Moon assumes over his Unification flock only magnifies his power over his disciples, and even today, scattered bands of Unificationists still take to the streets to fundraise. Gone are the days in which passionate "Moonie" lecturers complete with blackboards would preach and teach on American street corners at 3:00 a.m, and one might think that now, in the year 2001, such activity would be a thing of the past, but one could not be more mistaken. New recruits for Moon's organization are still being sought, but now also in Third World and Eastern European settings (as seen here in Lithuania, where a Unificationist passionately witnesses)  where opposition to Moon is still quite nominal, but where the spiritual hunger of the masses spell a golden opportunity for them. And his organization in those far-flung regions still use methods that are clearly patterned after those used back then, and the horror stories of Unification abuse in the name of God and the "True Father" continue.

Parents still watch their children in colleges and universities dropping out of school, withdrawing from their families and friends circles, and becoming detached, yet zealous converts to the Unification cause. In many cases, they gave up careers and marriages and even turned over personal assets totalling untold millions of dollars to a plethora of Unification causes. Their family ties may become torn apart for years. Hundreds of these people, under the direction of Japanese and Korean Unification leaders, will then be deployed across the nation to sell flowers at busy street corners, to hold Divine Principle teaching sessions in dorm rooms, or to infiltrate political and academic circles to further Unification goals. Although we do not condone the practice of forcible deprogramming, the feelings of a father who had his "Moonie" son go through the process are  nevertheless fully understandable when he stated that "the Unification Church had taken away my son's will and ability to think for himself. (He) deserved to have those things returned whatever the cost" (17). 

The ranch shown here in northern California is a typical example of the kinds of remote facilities that the Unification Church uses to isolate and indoctrinate prospects, and it was on this ranch that a delegation of Russian students was flown from their homeland by Moon's recruiters in 1991. Two of them later claimed in a 1993 lawsuit that they had been fraudulently promised advanced education but were instead subjected to manipulative interaction aimed at converting them to Unificationism - the same kind of documented activity that went on in Unification recruitment settings in the 1970's. One well-documented case, followed by millions of viewers of the Today Show on NBC in 1993, showed how one 18 year old girl, Cathryn Mazer, refused to speak  to her family for five months after being recruited by the Unification Church, and how the group kept moving her from location to location to keep her family from finding her. By isolating her from contact with them, they hoped to dissuade her from leaving the group, and forbade any contact with them to guarantee her personal salvation despite the excruciating agony it caused both her and her family. Her mother somehow managed to gain access to her in this townhouse, and she left the group the day this video was shot to never return. But she, too, has discovered the cold truth about the Unification Church's willingness to manipulate and control men and women to its advantage supposedly for their "own good."  

What Unification Church spokesman  Phillip Schanker dismisses as "snapshot experiences" (testimonies that are isolated and so bizarre as to be discredited as the product of angry, bitter  people), far too many people learned all too quickly was a grim and terrifying reality.  The Unification movement dismisses the countless case histories of these individuals as the creation of Moon critics, however; too many testimonies by former members all over the world detail too common a pattern of abusive control of their lives that cannot be denied. Many of them point to instances of emotional manipulation, coercive techniques used  to intimidate members, and intentionally fostered group-dynamic pressures for conformity as exercised by Unification leaders and recruiters over their lives. 

As Nansook Hong put it well, "it isn't as easy as it used to be to find impressionable young people willing to spend eighteen hours a day selling novelty items out of the back of a van to raise money for the Messiah" (18).   However, some "trinities" on their MFT (Mobile Fundraising Team) missions are still around, as businesses and individuals in several communities just off the  East Tennessee Interstate 75 corridor know all too well. This recent picture, of a band of Unificationists plying cutlery, children's videos, and bathrobes from business to business here in Cleveland, Tennessee is ample proof of this. We even met one young Armenian Unificationist who knocked on our door a few months ago offering candy for sale. All wore badges identifying themselves as Unification Church workers, but none offered for a minute any explanation for their purely merchandising approach. No one attempted to give us tracts, invite us to a Divine Principle study or even mention anything religious. But all were ready to sell to me every crumb and every thread of the beat-up material they had been sent to hawk. Indeed, the bottom line for the Family still is - as it always was - the bottom line. Exploiting the bright idealism and genuine desire to serve their fellow man,  these poor Unificationists couldn't have begun to see how much of a mind-controlled group they were.

Clearly, Unificationists still are out earning money for the glory of the True Parents and the True Family, still thinking that their efforts will bring the Kingdom of heaven to earth again. As humble and sincere folk truly trying to merit God's favor, they never suspect how opulently the Moon family lives off of their sacrifice, much less knowing that the "True Family" are as human and sinful as all the rest of mankind, and that they too are saturated with the great need to repent of their presumptuous pride and carnality and turn to the True Lord Jesus Christ in faith for eternal salvation. But when one's father is Sun Myung Moon, who claims to have succeeded where Jesus failed, whose financial empire is largely run on petty cash, and who routinely claims to see the "spirit world" bowing before him (including Jesus himself), what more could you expect?.



(1) Defending The Faith, Volume 2 - 1985, The John Ankerberg Show, p. 377

(2) Lord Of The Second Advent, pp. 117-118

(3)  In The Shadow Of The Moons, p. 22.

(4) Defending The Faith, Volume 2 - 1985, The John Ankerberg Show, p. 378

(5) In The Shadow Of The Moons, pp. 46-47

(6) ibid, p. 113

(7) ibid, p. 100, 114

(8) ibid, p. 24

(9) ibid, p. 26-27

(10) ibid, pp. 149, 100

(11) Heavenly Deception,, p. 87

(12) Master Speaks, May 17, 1973 (as quoted in The Moon Is Not The Son, p. 114)

(13) Lord Of The Second Advent, p. 83

(14) Heavenly Deception, p. 58

(15) ibid, p. 63

(16) ibid, p. 118

(17) "Rescue From A Fanatic Cult", Reader's Digest, April 1977, p. 131

(18) In The Shadow Of The Moons, p. 231

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