Group Snapshot: Unification Church (Moonies)

Anyone who was alive in the 1970’s knows at least something about the “Moonies.” Go to any decent sized city and it was common to see the followers of Rev. Sun Myung Moon standing on street corners, selling flowers and raising millions of dollars for their “True Father.” The Moonies were virtually the standard stereotype for what a brainwashing, life-dominating cult was supposed to be.

While the followers of Rev. Moon were popularly known as Moonies, the actual religious organization was the Holy Spirit Association for World Christianity. This was founded by Moon in Korea in 1954.

Moon himself was an extraordinary figure. He was born in a small village in what is now North Korea in 1920. He was raised a Presbyterian by a his family. However, in 1935 he reportedly received a visitation from Jesus Christ himself. Jesus revealed to Moon that God had chosen him to complete the work of salvation and usher in the Kingdom of God on earth. Moon spent the next few years studying and preparing for his mission. Along the way, he developed a unique version of Christianity, which we will examine in just a moment. He also incurred the scrutiny and anger of Korean officials. He was imprisoned and tortured by the authorities.

He was freed from prison by the arrival of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. He then traveled to Pusan, at the far southern tip of the Korean peninsula. Here he established a small, poor church. But he would live in poverty for only a short time. His church grew rapidly and expanded through Korea and Japan. Part of the appeal of the Unification Church was Moon’s strong and very vocal stand against communism. Moon came to the U.S. in the early 1970’s, seeing America as the political savior of the world. He lived here for many years, and ran his vast religious and commercial empire. He became a very influential figure in both conservative political circles and in efforts aimed at world peace.

Moon establish a business empire that is currently worth many billions of dollars. It is estimated that his varied holdings garners over $400 million in revenue annually. Moon’s business enterprises include the award-winning Washington Times newspaper, the United Press International news agency, the New Yorker Hotel, the New York Tribune newspaper, University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, and True World Foods, one of the nation’s largest seafood distributors. This is in addition to numerous businesses in Korea, Japan and elsewhere.

Moon’s Theology

Unification doctrine is a mixture of Christianity, Confucianism, eastern mysticism, and Moon’s own unique revelations. His most basic teaching concerns the nature of salvation and the role of the Messiah. Moon taught that God designed the family to be the vehicle for God’s kingdom to be established on the earth. Adam and Eve were supposed to marry and enter into a “trinity” relationship with God. This triangular relationship would bring about a perfect world with Adam and Eve as the True Parents in God’s kingdom. However, before this could happen, Eve engaged in sex with the Devil, and established a false, evil trinity relationship. This resulted in the Fall. Ever since then, God has mourned the loss of his true family. He sent Jesus to correct the situation. Jesus was the Second Adam, destined to marry, have children, and established God’s true family on the earth. However, before this could happen, he was crucified. His death did bring about the spiritual salvation of mankind. But the physical and complete salvation, which required his marriage and Jesus becoming the True Father of God’s family, was prevented from happening. (Basically, Jesus failed in his true mission.) Now, God has sent another Messiah, the Lord of the Second Advent, who will complete Christ’s mission. This Messiah will marry, enter into the proper trinity relationship with his wife and God, establish the true family of God, and bring the Kingdom of God to earth. Can you guess who this second Messiah, this Lord of the Second Advent, really is? Of course, it is none other than Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

Along with this wacky doctrine of Christ and salvation, Moon has thrown in a lot of other equally weird teachings. Here is a sampling: 1) There is a good dose of spiritualism involved here, as Moon supposedly regularly entertained visits with dead people, including Moses and Buddha. 2) Supposedly he entered the spirit world and converted both Hitler and Stalin to the Unification Church. 3) Moon believed in reincarnation. He taught that one of his dead sons was reincarnated in the body of believer in Zimbabwe. This reincarnated son was allow to beat and punish followers who stepped out of line. 4) He organized mass wedding ceremonies in which thousands of people were married en masse. 5) He taught that dumping even a small amount of Korean earth on any ground would make that sacred ground. 6) In the early days of the cult, Moon taught that people’s blood was tainted because of Eve’s seduction by Satan. This stain could be removed by women having sexual intercourse with Moon himself. Then any man who had intercourse with one of these women would have his blood cleansed.

Moon died at the age of 92 on September 2, 2012. It is said by church leaders that he will continue to lead the Unification Church from the spirit world, with his wife and son acting as visible members of the triune True Family.

Summary of Beliefs

God: God is presented as being a dualistic being, similar to Taoism. There are a
positive/negative, light/dark, masculine/feminine aspects to God’s nature.
Jesus: The Messiah, adopted as God’s son, but not God himself. He failed to fully complete
the mission God gave him.
Salvation: Comes from being part of God’s true family, following the True Parents. Salvation is
both physical and spiritual. Jesus accomplished partial salvation (spiritual), but Moon
finishes and completes salvation by being the physical True Father of the faithful.
Human nature: Man is essentially divine.
Sin: Spiritually sin was dealt with in the cross. But this was ultimately a mistake. God’s plan
was for a physical restoration through True Parents. Moon takes care of this lack. Also,
some sins can be atone for by doing works for Moon, and in his name.
Afterlife: Strong belief in reincarnation. Spiritualism is also a strong element in this church.
There is a heaven, and a hell. Eventually, though, all the spirits in the afterlife will accept
Moon and become part of the True Family.
Scripture: Moon’s doctrine is contained the book Divine Principle. The Bible is “outdated.”
Truth: Has been revealed through Moon, Divine Principle, and his teachings.

Sources:

The Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin
The Mind Benders by Jack Sparks
Larson’s New Book of Cults by Bob Larson
The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects and New Religions by James R. Lewis
“Sun Myung Moon Dies at 92” by Emma Brown. Washington Post. Web. September 2, 2012
“Rev. Moon, Times Founder, dies at 92” by Cheryl Wetzstein. Washington Times.   Web. Sept. 2, 2012.
“Rev. Sun Myung Moon, Self-Proclaimed Messiah Who Built Religious Movement, Dies at 92”
by Daniel J. Wakin. The New York Times. Web. September 2, 2012.

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