The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, widely known as the Unification Church, is a new religious movement whose members are called Unificationists, more widely known as “Moonies“. It was officially founded on 1 May 1954 under the name Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (HSA-UWC) in Seoul, South Korea, by Sun Myung Moon (1920–2012).
The beliefs of the Unification Church are based on Moon’s book Divine Principle, which differs from the teachings of any Christian denomination in its view of Jesus. The movement is well known for its “Blessing” or mass wedding ceremonies. The Unification Church has been controversial, with some critics calling it a dangerous cult. It also has been controversial for its involvement in politics, which include anti-communism and support for Korean reunification. Its members have founded, owned, and supported other related organizations, including business, educational, political, and other types of organizations.
Main article: Moonie (nickname)
Sun Myung Moon did not originally intend to form a separate or distinct denomination or organization and until 1954 did not give his group of followers an official name, Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (세계 기독교 통일 성령 협회 Segye Gidoggyo Tong-il Seonglyeong Hyeobhoe). The informal name “Unification Church” (Korean: 통일교; RR: Tong-il-gyo) was commonly used by members, the public, and the news media.
Moonie is a colloquial term first used in 1974 by some American media outlets. Unification Movement members have used the word, including Moon himself, the president of the Unification Theological Seminary David Kim, and Bo Hi Pak, Moon’s aide and president of Little Angels Children’s Folk Ballet of Korea. In the 1980s and 1990s the Unification Church of the United States undertook an extensive public relations campaign against the use of the word by the news media. In other contexts it is still sometimes used and not always considered pejorative. By 2018, the term “Unification Movement” was widely used.
Moon and his wife, Hak Ja Han, are regarded by the Unificationists as “True Father” and “True Mother”, respectively, and as “True Parents” collectively.
The term “HonDokHae” is used by Unification Church Members to refer to the ritual reading of the Divine Principle.
Background and origins
On 25 February 1920, Moon was born Mun Yong-myeong in modern-day Sangsa-ri (Korean: 상사리; Hanja: 上思里), Deogun-myon, Jeongju-gun, North P’yŏng’an Province, at a time when Korea was under Japanese rule. Moon’s birthday was recorded as January 6 by the traditional lunar calendar (25 February 1920, according to the Gregorian Calendar). Around 1930, Moon’s family, who followed traditional Confucianist beliefs, converted to Christianity and joined a Presbyterian Church, where he later taught Sunday school.
In 1945, Sun-Myung Moon attended the Israeli monastery with his wife, Sun-Kil Choi, to learn the teachings of Ben-mun Kim (金百文), including his book The Fundamental Principles of Christianity (基督教根本原理 drafted March 2, 1946, published March 2, 1958). After World War II and the Japanese rule ended in 1945, Moon began preaching. In 1946, Moon traveled alone to Pyongyang in Communist-ruled North Korea. Moon was arrested on allegations of spying for South Korea and given a five-year sentence to the Hŭngnam labor camp.
In 1950, after serving 34 months of his sentence, Moon was released from North Korea during the Korean War when United Nations troops advanced on the camp and the guards fled. In 1953, Moon and Choi divorced. It is also reported that Moon and another woman had a child in 1954. Moon built his first church as in Pusan when he was a refugee from the war.
Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (1954–1994)
Moon founded the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (HSA-UWC) in Seoul on 1 May 1954. It expanded rapidly in South Korea and by the end of 1955, had 30 centers throughout the nation. The HSA-UWC expanded throughout the world with most members living in South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and other nations in East Asia.
In 1958, Moon sent missionaries to Japan, and in 1959, to America. Missionary work took place in Washington, DC, New York, and California. It found success in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the HSA-UWC expanded in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco. By 1971, the HSA-UWC in the US had about 500 members. By 1973, it had some presence in all 50 states and a few thousand members. In the 1970s, American HSA-UWC members were noted for their enthusiasm and dedication, which often included raising money for UC projects on so-called “mobile fundraising teams”.
The HSA-UWC also sent missionaries to Europe. They entered Czechoslovakia in 1968 and remained underground until the 1990s. Unification movement activity in South America began in the 1970s with missionary work. Later, the HSA-UWC made large investments in civic organizations and business projects, including an international newspaper. Starting in the 1990s, the HSA-UWC expanded in Russia and other former communist nations. Hak Ja Han, Moon’s wife, made a radio broadcast to the nation from the State Kremlin Palace. As of 1994, the HSA-UWC had about 5,000 members in Russia. About 500 Russian students had been sent to US to participate in 40-day workshops.
Moon moved to the United States in 1971, although he remained a citizen of the Republic of Korea. In the 1970s, he gave a series of public speeches in the United States, including one in Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1974; two in 1976 in Yankee Stadium in New York City; and one on the grounds of the Washington Monument in Washington, DC, where he spoke on “God’s Hope for America” to 300,000 people. In 1975, the HSA-UWC held one of the largest peaceful gatherings in history, with 1.2 million people in Yeouido, South Korea.
In the 1970s, the Unification Church, along with some other new religious movements, became a target of the anti-cult movement. Activists have accused the movement of having “brainwashed” its members.
In 1982, Moon was convicted in the United States of filing false federal income tax returns and conspiracy: see United States v. Sun Myung Moon. He served 13 months of the sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution, Danbury in Danbury, Connecticut. The case was protested as a case of selective prosecution and a threat to religious freedom by, among others, Jerry Falwell, head of Moral Majority, Joseph Lowery, head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Harvey Cox a Professor of Divinity at Harvard, and Eugene McCarthy, United States Senator and former Democratic Party presidential candidate.
Starting in the 1980s, Moon instructed HSA-UWC members to take part in a program called “Home Church” in which they reached out to neighbors and community members through public service. In 1991, Moon announced that Unification members should return to their hometowns and undertake apostolic work there. Massimo Introvigne, a scholar of new religious movements, said that this confirmed that full-time membership is no longer considered crucial to movement members.
Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (1994–)
On 1 May 1994 (the 40th anniversary of the founding of the HSA-UWC), Moon declared that the era of the HSA-UWC had ended and inaugurated a new organization: the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) would include HSA-UWC members and members of other religious organizations working toward common goals, especially on issues of sexual morality and reconciliation between people of different religions, nations, and races. The FFWPU co-sponsored Blessing ceremonies in which thousands of couples from other churches and religions were given the marriage blessing previously given only to HSA-UWC members.
In 2000, the FFWPU co-sponsored the Million Family March, a rally in Washington, D.C., to celebrate family unity and racial and religious harmony, along with the Nation of Islam. Louis Farrakhan was the main speaker at the event which was held on 16 October 2000; the fifth anniversary of the Million Man March, which was also organized by Farrakhan. FFWPU leader Dan Fefferman wrote to his colleagues acknowledging that Farrakhan’s and Moon’s views differed on multiple issues but shared a view of a “God-centered family”.
In 2003, Korean FFWPU members started a political party in South Korea, “The Party for God, Peace, Unification, and Home”. An inauguration declaration stated the new party would focus on preparing for Korean reunification by educating the public about God and peace. A FFWPU official said that similar political parties would be started in Japan and the United States. Since 2003, the FFWPU-related Universal Peace Federation’s Middle East Peace Initiative has been organizing group tours of Israel and Palestine to promote understanding, respect, and reconciliation among Jews, Muslims, and Christians.
In 2004, at a ceremony on March 23 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, in Washington, D.C., Moon crowned himself with what was called the “Crown of Peace”. Lawmakers who attended included Senator Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), Representatives Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), as well as former Representative Walter Fauntroy (D-D.C.). Key organizers of the event included George Augustus Stallings Jr., a former Roman Catholic priest who had been married by Moon, and Michael Jenkins, the president of the Unification Church of the United States at that time. Rep. Danny K. Davis played an active role in the ceremony.
In 2009 Moon’s son Hyun Jin Moon and former UC leader Chung Hwan Kwak founded the Global Peace Foundation as an alternative organization to the UC.
On 15 August 2012, Moon was reported to be gravely ill and was put on a respirator at the intensive care unit of St. Mary’s Hospital at The Catholic University of Korea in Seoul. He was admitted on 14 August 2012, after suffering from pneumonia earlier in the month. He died there on September 2.
Moon was a member of the Honorary Committee of the Unification Ministry of the Republic of Korea. The church member Jae-jung Lee had been once a unification minister of the Republic of Korea. Another, Ek Nath Dhakal, is a member of the Nepalese Constituent Assembly, and a first Minister for Co-operatives and Poverty Alleviation Ministry of the Government of Nepal. In 2016, a study sponsored by the Unification Theological Seminary found that American members were divided in their choices in the 2016 United States presidential election, with the largest bloc supporting Senator Bernie Sanders.
In 2020 former Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon received the Sunhak Peace Prize, which is sponsored by the Unification Church, and an award of US$1,000,000.
In 2021, Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe gave speeches at the Rally of Hope event hosted by an affiliate of the Unification Church. The Unification Church has ties with Kishi Nobusuke, Abe’s grandfather and former prime minister, and Abe Shintaro, Abe’s father and former foreign minister. The Unification Church has been influencial in Japanese politics. Five ministers of the Cabinet of Japan are linked to the Unification Church, including the Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare and the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
The future of the Unification Movement and its theological and institutional legacy is uncertain Hak Ja Han has been acting as a leader and public spokesperson for the movement. In 2019, she spoke at a rally in Japan and called for greater understanding and cooperation between the Pacific Rim nations. In 2020, she spoke at a UPF sponsored in-person and virtual rally for Korean unification, which drew about one million attendees.
Unification Church members believe that Jesus appeared to Moon on Easter Sunday, 1936, and asked him to accomplish the work he left unfinished after his crucifixion. After a period of prayer and consideration, Moon accepted the mission, later changing his name from Mun Yong-myeong to Mun Son-myong (Moon Sun-myung or Sun Myung Moon).
Moon’s teachings, called the Divine Principle, were first published as Wonli Wonbon (원리 원본, “Original Text of the Divine Principle”) in 1945. The earliest manuscript was lost in North Korea during the Korean War. A second, expanded version, Wonli Hesol (원리 해설), or Explanation of the Divine Principle, was published in 1957. The Divine Principle or Exposition of the Divine Principle (Korean: 원리강론; RR: Wolli Gangnon) is the main theological textbook of the movement. It was co-written by Sun Myung Moon and early disciple Hyo Won’eu and first published in 1966. A translation entitled Divine Principle was published in English in 1973.
Followers take as a starting point the truth of the Christian Old and New Testaments, with the Divine Principle an additional text that intends to interpret and “fulfil” the purpose of those older texts. Moon was intent on replacing worldwide forms of Christianity with his new unified vision of it, Moon being a self-declared messiah. Moon’s followers regard him as a separate person from Jesus but with a mission to basically continue and complete Jesus’s work in a new way, according to the Principle.
The Divine Principle lays out the core of UC theology, and is held by its believers to have the status of holy scripture. Following the format of systematic theology, it includes (1) God’s purpose in creating human beings, (2) the fall of man, and (3) restoration – the process through history by which God is working to remove the ill effects of the fall and restore humanity back to the relationship and position that God originally intended.
Main article: Blessing ceremony of the Unification Church
The Unification Church is well known for its mass wedding or wedding vow renewal ceremony. It is given to engaged or married couples. Through it, members believe, the couple is removed from the lineage of sinful humanity and grafted into God’s sinless lineage, according to their belief in a serpent seed interpretation of original sin and the Fall of Man: that Eve was sexually seduced by Satan, which has since contaminated the human bloodline. The first Blessing ceremony was held in 1961 for 36 couples in Seoul, South Korea by the Moons shortly after their own marriage in 1960. All the couples were members of the church. Moon matched all of the couples except 12 who were already married to each other before joining the church.
Later Blessing ceremonies were larger in scale but followed the same pattern. All participants were HSA-UWC members and Moon matched most of the couples. In 1982 the first large scale Blessing (of 2,000 couples) outside of Korea took place in Madison Square Garden, New York City. In 1988, Moon matched 2,500 Korean members with Japanese members for a Blessing ceremony held in Korea, partly in order to promote unity between the two nations.
In the 1990s Moon allowed the Blessing to be given to other people besides Unification Church members. This liberalization led to a great increase in the number of Blessed couples, with most of them having been already married and not Unification Church members. It is possible for any Blessed couple to give the Blessing to other couples and this is being done in many cases by ministers of other churches who have received the Blessing though their association with the Unification Church. Ministers of other faiths, including Judaism and Islam have served as “co-officiators” at Blessing ceremonies presided over by Moon and his wife. Since 2001 couples Blessed by Moon have been able to arrange marriages for their own children, without his direct guidance.
Moon’s practice of matching couples was very unusual in both Christian tradition and in modern Western culture and attracted much attention and controversy. The Blessing ceremonies have attracted a lot of attention in the press and in the public imagination, often being labeled “mass weddings”. However, in most cases the Blessing ceremony is not a legal wedding ceremony. Some couples are already married and those that are engaged are later legally married according to the laws of their own countries. The New York Times referred to a 1997 ceremony for 28,000 couples as a “marriage affirmation ceremony”, adding: “The real weddings were held later in separate legal ceremonies.”
Mary Farrell Bednarowski says that marriage is “really the only sacrament” in the Unification movement. Unificationists therefore view singleness as “not a state to be sought or cultivated” but as preparation for marriage. Pre-marital celibacy and marital faithfulness are emphasized. Adherents may be taught to “abstain from intimate relations for a specified time after marriage”. The church does not give its marriage blessing to same-sex couples. Moon has emphasized the similarity between Unification views of sexuality and evangelical Christianity, “reaching out to conservative Christians in this country in the last few years by emphasizing shared goals like support for sexual abstinence outside of marriage, and opposition to homosexuality.”
In the early 1960s John Lofland lived with HSA-UWC missionary Young Oon Kim and a small group of American members and studied their activities in trying to promote their beliefs and win new members. Lofland noted that most of their efforts were ineffective and that most of the people who joined did so because of personal relationships with other members, often family relationships. Lofland published his findings in 1964 as a doctoral thesis entitled “The World Savers: A Field Study of Cult Processes”, and in 1966 in book form by Prentice-Hall as Doomsday Cult: A Study of Conversion, Proselytization, and Maintenance of Faith.
In 1977 Frederick Sontag, a professor of philosophy at Pomona College and a minister in the United Church of Christ., spent 10 months visiting HSA-UWC members in North America, Europe, and Asia as well as interviewing Moon at his home in New York State. He reported his findings and observations in Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church, published by Abingdon Press. The book also provides an overview of the Divine Principle. In an interview with UPI Sontag compared the HSA-UWC with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and said that he expected its practices to conform more to mainstream American society as its members become more mature. He added that he did not want to be considered an apologist but a close look at HSA-UWC’s theology is important: “They raise some incredibly interesting issues.”
In 1984 Eileen Barker published The Making of a Moonie based on her seven-year study of HSA-UWC members in the United Kingdom and the United States. In 2006 Laurence Iannaccone of George Mason University, a specialist in the economics of religion, wrote that The Making of a Moonie was “one of the most comprehensive and influential studies” of the process of conversion to new religious movements. Australian psychologist Len Oakes and British psychiatry professor Anthony Storr, who have written rather critically about cults, gurus, new religious movements, and their leaders have praised The Making of a Moonie. It was given the Distinguished Book Award for 1985 by the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.
In 1998 Irving Louis Horowitz, sociologist, questioned the relationship between the HSA-UWC and scholars whom it paid to conduct research on its behalf.
Relations and differences with other religions
In 1976, the American Jewish Committee released a report by Rabbi A. James Rudin which stated that the Divine Principle contained “pejorative language, stereotyped imagery, and accusations of collective sin and guilt.” In a news conference which was presented by the AJC and representatives of Catholic and Protestant churches, panelists stated that the text “contained over 125 anti-Jewish references.” They also cited Moon’s recent and public condemnation of “antisemitic and anti-Christian attitudes”, and called upon him to make a “comprehensive and systematic removal” of antisemitic and anti-Christian references in the Divine Principle as a demonstration of good faith.
In 1977, the HSA-UWC issued a rebuttal to the report, stating that it was neither comprehensive nor reconciliatory, instead, it had a “hateful tone” and it was filled with “sweeping denunciations”. It denied that the Divine Principle teaches antisemitism and gave detailed responses to 17 specific allegations which were contained in the AJC’s report, stating that the allegations were distortions of teachings and obscurations of the real content of passages or the passages were accurate summaries of Jewish scriptures or New Testament passages.
In 1984, Mose Durst, then the president of the Unification Church of the United States as well as a convert from Judaism, said that the Jewish community had been “hateful” in its response to the growth of the Unification movement, and he also placed blame on the community’s “insecurity” and Unification Church members’ “youthful zeal and ignorance”. Rudin, then the national interreligious affairs director of the American Jewish Committee, said that Durst’s remarks were inaccurate and unfair and he also said that “hateful is a harsh word to use”. In the same year Durst wrote in his autobiography: “Our relations with the Jewish community have been the most painful to me personally. I say this with a heavy heart, since I was raised in the Jewish faith and am proud of my heritage.”
In 1989, Movement leaders Peter Ross and Andrew Wilson issued “Guidelines for Members of The Unification Church in Relations with the Jewish People” which stated: “In the past there have been serious misunderstandings between Judaism and the Unification Church. In order to clarify these difficulties and guide Unification Church members in their relations with Jews, the Unification Church suggests the following guidelines.”
The Unification Church in South Korea was labeled as heretical by Protestant churches in South Korea, including Moon’s own Presbyterian Church. In the United States the church was rejected by ecumenical organizations as being non-Christian. The main objections against it were theological, especially because of the Unification Church’s addition of material to the Bible and for its rejection of a literal Second Coming of Jesus. Protestant commentators have also criticized Unification Church teachings as being contrary to the Protestant doctrine of salvation by faith alone. In their influential book The Kingdom of the Cults (first published in 1965), Walter Ralston Martin and Ravi K. Zacharias disagreed with the Divine Principle on the issues of Christology, the virgin birth of Jesus, the movement’s belief that Jesus should have married, the necessity of the crucifixion of Jesus, and a literal resurrection of Jesus as well as a literal Second Coming.
In 1974 Moon founded the Unification Theological Seminary, in Barrytown, New York, partly in order to improve relations of the movement with other churches. Professors from other denominations, including a Methodist minister, a Presbyterian, and a Roman Catholic priest, as well as a rabbi, were hired to teach religious studies to the students, who were being trained as leaders in the movement.
In 1977, Unification member Jonathan Wells, who later became well known as the author of the popular Intelligent Design book Icons of Evolution, defended Unification theology against what he said were unfair criticisms by the National Council of Churches. That same year Frederick Sontag, a professor of philosophy at Pomona College and a minister in the United Church of Christ, published Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church which gave an overview of the movement and urged Christians to take it more seriously.
In 1982, Moon was imprisoned in the United States after being found guilty by a jury of willfully filing false Federal income tax returns and conspiracy. (See: United States v. Sun Myung Moon) HSA-UWC members launched a public-relations campaign. Booklets, letters and videotapes were mailed to approximately 300,000 Christian leaders in the United States. Many of them signed petitions protesting the government’s case. Among the American Christian leaders who spoke out in defense of Moon were conservative Jerry Falwell, head of Moral Majority, and liberal Joseph Lowery, head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A, the National Council of Churches, the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference filed briefs in support of Moon.
In the 1980s the Unification Church sent thousands of American ministers from other churches on trips to Japan and South Korea to inform them about Unification teachings. At least one minister was dismissed by his congregation for taking part. In 1994 the church had about 5,000 members in Russia and came under criticism from the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1997, the Russian government passed a law requiring the movement and other non-Russian religions to register their congregations and submit to tight controls.
In 1995 the Unification Movement related organization the Women’s Federation for World Peace indirectly contributed $3.5 million to help Baptist Liberty University which at that time was in financial difficulty. This was reported in the United States news media as an example of closer relationships between the movement and conservative Christian congregations.
In 2001, the Unification Movement came into conflict with the Roman Catholic Church when Catholic archbishop Emmanuel Milingo and Maria Sung, a 43-year-old Korean acupuncturist, married in a Blessing ceremony, presided over by Moon and Mrs. Moon. Following his marriage the Archbishop was called to the Vatican by Pope John Paul II, where he was asked not to see his wife anymore, and to move to a Capuchin monastery. Sung went on a hunger strike to protest their separation. This attracted much media attention. Milingo is now an advocate of the removal of the requirement for celibacy by priests in the Catholic Church. He is the founder of Married Priests Now!. Archbishop George Augustus Stallings, Jr., also a former Catholic priest, who had founded his own Imani Temple African-American Catholic Congregation, is also a supporter of the organization.
In 2003 Moon began his “tear down”, or “take down the cross” campaign. The campaign was begun in the belief that the cross is a reminder of Jesus’ pain and has been a source of division between people of different faiths. The campaign included a burial ceremony for the cross and a crown to be put in its place. The American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC), an interfaith group founded by Moon, spearheaded the effort, calling the cross a symbol of oppression and superiority.
The Divine Principle lists the Muslim world as one of the world’s four major divisions (the others being East Asia, Hindu, and Christendom). Unification movement support for Islamist anti-communists came to public attention in 1987 when church member Lee Shapiro was killed in Afghanistan during the Soviet–Afghan War while filming a documentary. The resistance group they were traveling with reported that they had been ambushed by military forces of the Soviet Union or the Afghan government. However, the details have been questioned, partly because of the poor reputation of the group’s leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
In 1997, the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (which is critical of United States and Israeli policies), praised the Unification Movement owned newspaper, The Washington Times and the Times‘ sister publication The Middle East Times (along with The Christian Science Monitor owned by the Church of Christ, Scientist) for their objective and informative coverage of Islam and the Middle East, while criticizing the Times generally pro-Israel editorial policy. The Report suggested that these newspapers, being owned by religious organizations, were less influenced by pro-Israel pressure groups in the United States.
In 1997, Louis Farrakhan, the leader of The Nation of Islam, served as a “co-officiator” at a blessing ceremony presided over by Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han. In 2000 the FFWPU co-sponsored the Million Family March, a rally in Washington D.C. to celebrate family unity and racial and religious harmony, along with the Nation of Islam. Farrakhan was the main speaker at the event which was held on 16 October 2000; the fifth anniversary of the Million Man March, which was also organized by Farrakhan. Unification Church leader Dan Fefferman wrote to his colleagues acknowledging that Farrakhan’s and Moon’s views differed on multiple issues but shared a view of a “God-centered family”. In 2007 Rev and Mrs Moon sent greetings to Farrakhan while he was recovering from cancer, saying: “We send love and greetings to Minister Farrakhan and Mother Khadijah.”
In the 1990s and 2000s the Unification Movement made public statements claiming communications with the spirits of religious leaders including Muhammad and also Confucius, the Buddha, Jesus, and Augustine, as well as political leaders such as Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Leon Trotsky, Mao Zedong and many more. This was reported to have distanced the movement from Islam as well as from mainstream Christianity. From 2001 to 2009 the Unification movement owned the American Life TV Network (now known as Youtoo TV), which in 2007 broadcast George Clooney’s documentary, A Journey to Darfur, which was harshly critical of Islamists in Darfur, the Republic of Sudan. It released the film on DVD in 2008 and announced that proceeds from its sale would be donated to the International Rescue Committee. In his 2009 autobiography Moon praised Islam and expressed the hope that there would be more understanding between different religious communities. In 2011, representatives of the Unification Church took part in an international seminar which was held in Taiwan by the Muslim World League. The said purpose of the seminar was to encourage inter-faith dialogue and discourage people from resorting to terrorism.
In 2009 the FFWPU held an interfaith event in the Congress of the Republic of Peru. Former President of the Congress Marcial Ayaipoma and other notable politicians were called “Ambassadors for Peace” of the Unification Church. In 2010, the church built a large interfaith temple in Seoul. Author Deepak Chopra was the keynote at an interfaith event of the Unification Church cohosted with the United Nations at the Headquarters of the United Nations. In 2011, an interfaith event was held in the National Assembly of Thailand, the President of the National Assembly of Thailand attended the event. In 2012, the Unification Church-affiliated Universal Peace Federation held an interfaith dialogue in Italy that was cosponsored by United Nations. That year, Unification movement affiliated Universal Peace Federation held an interfaith program for representatives of 12 various religions and confessions in the hall of the United Nations General Assembly. The President of the United Nations General Assembly, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and other UN officials spoke.
The Divine Principle calls for the unification of science and religion: “Religion and science, each in their own spheres, have been the methods of searching for truth in order to conquer ignorance and attain knowledge. Eventually, the way of religion and the way of science should be integrated and their problems resolved in one united undertaking; the two aspects of truth, internal and external, should develop in full consonance.”
In the 1970s and 1980s the Unification Movement sponsored the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS), in order to promote the concept of the unity of science and religion. American news media have suggested that the conferences were also an attempt to improve the often controversial public image of the church. The first conference, held in 1972, had 20 participants; while the largest conference, in Seoul, South Korea in 1982, had 808 participants from over 100 countries. Participants in one or more of the conferences included Nobel laureates John Eccles (Physiology or Medicine 1963, who chaired the 1976 conference) and Eugene Wigner (Physics 1963).
The relationship of the Unification Movement and science again came to public attention in 2002 with the publication of Icons of Evolution, a popular book critical of the teaching of evolution written by member Jonathan Wells. Wells is a graduate of the Unification Theological Seminary and has been active with the Discovery Institute as an advocate for intelligent design.
In the 1940s, Moon cooperated with Communist Party members in support of the Korean independence movement against Imperial Japan. After the Korean War (1950–1953), he became an outspoken anti-communist. During the Cold War, the Unification movement was criticized for its anti-communist activism by the mainstream media and the alternative press, and many members of them said that it could lead to World War Three and a nuclear holocaust. The movement’s anti-communist activities received financial support from controversial Japanese millionaire and activist Ryōichi Sasakawa.
In 1972, Moon predicted the decline of communism, based on the teachings of the Divine Principle: “After 7,000 biblical years—6,000 years of restoration history plus the millennium, the time of completion—communism will fall in its 70th year. Here is the meaning of the year 1978. Communism, begun in 1917, could maintain itself approximately 60 years and reach its peak. So 1978 is the border line and afterward communism will decline; in the 70th year it will be altogether ruined. This is true. Therefore, now is the time for people who are studying communism to abandon it.” In 1973, he called for an “automatic theocracy” to replace communism and solve “every political and economic situation in every field”.
In 1974, Moon asked members who lived in the United States to support President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal when Nixon was being pressured to resign from his office. They prayed and fasted in support of Nixon for three days in front of the United States Capitol, under the motto “Forgive, Love and Unite”. On February 1, 1974, Nixon publicly thanked them for their support and officially received Moon. This brought the movement into widespread public and media attention. In 1976, church president Neil Albert Salonen met with Senator Bob Dole to defend the HSA–UWC against charges which were made by its critics, including the parents of some members.
In 1976, Moon established News World Communications, an international news media conglomerate which publishes The Washington Times newspaper in Washington, D.C., and newspapers in South Korea, Japan, and South America, partly in order to promote political conservatism. According to The Washington Post, “the Times was established by Moon to combat communism and be a conservative alternative to what he perceived as the liberal bias of The Washington Post.” Bo Hi Pak, called Moon’s “right-hand man”, was the founding president and the founding chairman of the board. Moon asked Richard L. Rubenstein, a controversial rabbi and college professor, to join its board of directors. The Washington Times has often been noted for its generally pro-Israel editorial policies. In 2002, during the 20th anniversary party for the Times, Moon said: “The Washington Times will become the instrument in spreading the truth about God to the world.”
In 1977, the Subcommittee on International Organizations of the Committee on International Relations, of the United States House of Representatives, reported that the Unification Church was established by the director of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA), Kim Chong Pil. The committee also reported that the KCIA had used the movement to gain political influence with the United States and some of its members had worked as volunteers in Congressional offices. Together they founded the Korean Cultural Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit organization which acted as a public diplomacy campaign for the Republic of Korea. The committee also investigated possible KCIA influence on the Unification Church’s campaign in support of Nixon.
In 1980, members founded CAUSA International, an anti-communist educational organization based in New York City. In the 1980s, it was active in 21 countries. In the United States, it sponsored educational conferences for evangelical and fundamentalist Christian leaders as well as seminars and conferences for Senate staffers, Hispanic Americans and conservative activists. In 1986, CAUSA International sponsored the documentary film Nicaragua Was Our Home, about the Miskito Indians of Nicaragua and their persecution at the hands of the Nicaraguan government. It was filmed and produced by USA-UWC member Lee Shapiro, who later died while filming with anti-Soviet forces during the Soviet–Afghan War.
In 1980, members in Washington, D.C., disrupted a protest rally against the United States military draft. In 1981, the Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court ruled that the HSA–UWC was not entitled to property tax exemptions on its New York City properties since its primary purpose was political, not religious. In 1982, this ruling was overturned by the New York State Supreme Court itself, which ruled that it should be considered a religious organization for tax purposes.
In 1983, some American members joined a public protest against the Soviet Union in response to its shooting down of Korean Airlines Flight 007. In 1984, the HSA–UWC founded the Washington Institute for Values in Public Policy, a Washington, D.C. think tank that underwrites conservative-oriented research and seminars at Stanford University, the University of Chicago, and other institutions. In the same year, member Dan Fefferman founded the International Coalition for Religious Freedom in Virginia, which is active in protesting what it considers to be threats to religious freedom by governmental agencies. In August 1985, the Professors World Peace Academy, an organization founded by Moon, sponsored a conference in Geneva to debate the theme “The situation in the world after the fall of the communist empire.”
In April 1990, Moon visited the Soviet Union and met with President Mikhail Gorbachev. Moon expressed support for the political and economic transformations underway in the Soviet Union. At the same time, the movement was expanding into formerly communist nations.
In 1994, The New York Times recognized the movement’s political influence, saying it was “a theocratic powerhouse that is pouring foreign fortunes into conservative causes in the United States.” In 1998, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram criticized Moon’s “ultra-right leanings” and suggested a personal relationship with conservative Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In 1995, the former U.S. President George H. W. Bush and his wife, Barbara Bush, spoke at a FFWPU event in the Tokyo Dome. Bush told the gathering: “If as president I could have done one thing to have helped the country more, it would have been to do a better job in finding a way, either through speaking out or through raising a moral standard, to strengthen the American family.” Hak Ja Han, the main speaker, credited her husband with bringing about the Fall of Communism and declared that he must save America from “the destruction of the family and moral decay”.
In 2000, Moon founded the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO), which describes itself as “a global organization whose mission is to serve its member organizations, strengthen and encourage the non-governmental sector as a whole, increase public understanding of the non-governmental community, and provide the mechanism and support needed for NGOs to connect, partner, and multiply their contributions to solve humanity’s basic problems.” It has been criticized for promoting conservatism in contrast to some of the ideals of the United Nations.
In 2003, Korean FFWPU members started a political party in South Korea. It was named The Party for God, Peace, Unification, and Home. In an inauguration declaration, the new party said it would focus on preparing for the reunification of South and North Korea by educating the public about God and peace. A church official said that similar political parties would be started in Japan and the United States.
Moon viewed the Cold War between liberal democracy and communism as the final conflict between God and Satan, with divided Korea as its primary front line. Soon after its founding, the Unification movement began supporting anti-communist organizations, including the World League for Freedom and Democracy founded in 1966 in Taipei, Republic of China (Taiwan), by Chiang Kai-shek, and the Korean Culture and Freedom Foundation, an international public diplomacy organization which also sponsored Radio Free Asia. In 1975, Moon spoke at a government sponsored rally against potential North Korean military aggression on Yeouido Island in Seoul to an audience of around 1 million.
In 1991, Moon met with Kim Il-sung, the North Korean President, to discuss ways to achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula, as well as on international relations, tourism, and other topics. In 1992, Kim gave his first and only interview with the Western news media to Washington Times reporter Josette Sheeran, who later became executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme. In 1994, Moon was officially invited to Kim’s funeral, in spite of the absence of diplomatic relations between North Korea and South Korea.
In 1998, Unification movement-related businesses launched operations in North Korea with the approval of the government of South Korea, which had prohibited business relationships between North and South before. In 2000, the church-associated business group Tongil Group founded Pyeonghwa Motors in the North Korean port of Nampo, in cooperation with the North Korean government. It was the first automobile factory in North Korea.
During the presidency of George W. Bush, Dong Moon Joo, a Unification movement member and then president of The Washington Times, undertook unofficial diplomatic missions to North Korea in an effort to improve its relationship with the United States. Joo was born in North Korea and is a citizen of the United States.
In 2003, Korean Unification Movement members started a political party in South Korea. It was named The Party for God, Peace, Unification and Home. In its inauguration declaration, the new party said it would focus on preparing for Korean reunification by educating the public about God and peace. Moon was a member of the Honorary Committee of the Unification Ministry of the Republic of Korea. Church member Jae-jung Lee was a Unification Minister of the Republic of Korea.
In 2010, in Pyongyang, to mark the 20th anniversary of Moon’s visit to Kim Il-sung, de facto head of state Kim Yong-nam hosted Moon’s son Hyung Jin Moon, then the president of the Unification Church, in his official residence. At that time, Hyung Jin Moon donated 600 tons of flour to the children of Jeongju, the birthplace of Sun Myung Moon.
In 2012, Moon was posthumously awarded North Korea’s National Reunification Prize. On the first anniversary of Moon’s death, North Korean chairman Kim Jong-un expressed condolences to Han and the family, saying: “Kim Jong-un prayed for the repose of Moon, who worked hard for national concord, prosperity and reunification and world peace.” In 2017, the Unification Church sponsored the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP)—headed by former Prime Minister of Nepal Madhav Kumar Nepal and former Minister of Peace and Reconstruction Ek Nath Dhakal—visited Pyongyang and had constructive talks with the Korean Workers’ Party. In 2020 the movement held an in-person and virtual rally for Korean unification which drew about one million attendees.
View of Jesus
Central to Unification teachings is the concept that fallen humanity can be restored to God only through a messiah, who comes as a new Adam to become the new head of the human race, replacing the sinful parents, through whom mankind can be reborn into God’s family. According to the religion, Jesus is this messiah.
In 1980, Unification theologian Young Oon Kim wrote:
Unification theology teaches that Jesus came to establish the kingdom of Heaven on Earth. As St. Paul wrote, Jesus was to be the new Adam restoring the lost garden of Eden. For this purpose he chose twelve apostles, symbolizing the original twelve tribes of Israel, and sent out seventy disciples, symbolizing all the nations of the world. Like John the Baptist, Jesus proclaimed that the long-awaited kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matt. 4:17). Jesus was appointed God’s earthly representative in order to subjugate Satan, cleanse men of original sin and free them from the power of evil. Christ’s mission involved liberation from sin and raising mankind to the perfection stage. His purpose was to bring about the kingdom of heaven in our world with the help of men filled with divine truth and love. Jesus’ goal was to restore the garden of Eden, a place of joy and beauty in which true families of perfected parents would dwell with God in a full relationship of reciprocal love.
The Unification view of Jesus has been criticized by mainstream Christian authors and theologians. In their influential book The Kingdom of the Cults (first published in 1965), Walter Ralston Martin and Ravi K. Zacharias disagreed with the Divine Principle on the issues of the divinity of Christ, the virgin birth of Jesus, the Unification Church’s belief that Jesus should have married and a literal resurrection of Jesus as well as a literal Second Coming. They add: “Moon makes all men equal in “divinity” to Jesus, thereby striking a blow at the uniqueness of Christ.”
The Divine Principle states on this point:
There is no greater value than that of a person who has realized the ideal of creation. This is the value of Jesus, who surely attained the highest imaginable value. The conventional Christian belief in Jesus’ divinity is well founded because, as a perfect human being, Jesus is totally one with God. To assert that Jesus is none other than a man who has completed the purpose of creation does not degrade the value of Jesus in the least.
Unificationist theologian Young Oon Kim wrote, and some members of the Unification movement believe, that Zechariah was the father of Jesus, based on the work of Leslie Weatherhead, an English Christian theologian in the liberal Protestant tradition.
See also: Justification (theology)
Indemnity, in the context of Unification theology, is a part of the process by which human beings and the world are restored to God’s ideal. The concept of indemnity is explained at the start of the second half of the Divine Principle, “Introduction to Restoration”:
What, then, is the meaning of restoration through indemnity? When someone has lost his original position or state, he must make some condition to be restored to it. The making of such conditions of restitution is called indemnity. …. God’s work to restore people to their true, unfallen state by having them fulfill indemnity conditions is called the providence of restoration through indemnity.
- Korean original
그 러면 ‘탕감복귀’란 무엇을 말하는 것인가? 무엇이든지 그 본연의 위치와 상태 등을 잃어버리게 되었을 때, 그것들을 본래의 위치와 상태에로 복귀하려면 반드시 거기에 필요한 어떠한 조건을 세워야 한다. 이러한 조건을 세우는 것을 ‘탕감(tang-gam)’이라고 하는 것이다….그리고 이처럼 탕감조건을 세워서 창조본연의 인간으로 복귀해 나아가는 섭리를 탕감복귀섭리라고 말한다
- ※Deliberately mistranslated as ‘indemnity’, which is the opposite of ‘tang-gam(탕감)’s original meaning.
The Divine Principle goes on to explain three types of indemnity conditions. Equal conditions of indemnity pay back the full value of what was lost. The biblical verse “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth” (Exod.21:23-24) is quoted as an example of an equal indemnity condition. Lesser conditions of indemnity provide a benefit greater than the price that is paid. Faith, baptism, and the eucharist are mentioned as examples of lesser indemnity conditions. Greater conditions of indemnity come about when a person fails in a lesser condition. In that case a greater price must be paid to make up for the earlier failure. Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of his son Isaac (Gen. 22:1-18) and the Israelites’ 40 years of wandering in the wilderness under Moses (Num.14:34) are mentioned as examples of greater indemnity conditions. The Divine Principle then explains that an indemnity condition must reverse the course by which the mistake or loss came about. Indemnity, at its core, is required of humans because God is pure, and purity cannot relate directly with impurity. Indemnification is the vehicle that allows a “just and righteous” God to work through mankind. Jesus’ statement that God had forsaken him (Matt.27:46) and Christianity’s history of martyrdom are mentioned as examples of this. The Divine Principle then states that human beings, not God or the angels, are the ones responsible for making indemnity conditions.
In 2005 scholars Daske and Ashcraft explained the concept of indemnity:
To restart the process toward perfection, God has sent messiahs to Earth who could restore the true state of humanity’s relationship with God. Before that can happen, however, humans must perform good deeds that cancel the bad effects of sin. Unificationists call this ‘indemnity’. Showing love and devotion to one’s fellow humans, especially within families, helps pay this indemnity.
Other Protestant Christian commentators have criticized the concept of indemnity as being contrary to the doctrine of sola fide. Christian historian Ruth Tucker said: “In simple language indemnity is salvation by works.” Donald Tingle and Richard Fordyce, ministers with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) who debated two Unification Church theologians in 1977, wrote: “In short, indemnity is anything you want to make it, since you establish the conditions. The zeal and enthusiasm of the Unification Church members is not so much based on love for God as it is compulsion to indemnify one’s own sins.”
Criticisms of Moon
Moon’s claim to be the Messiah and the Second Coming of Christ has been rejected by both Jewish and Christian scholars. The Divine Principle was labeled as heretical by Protestant churches in South Korea, including Moon’s own Presbyterian Church. In the United States it was rejected by ecumenical organizations as being non-Christian. Protestant commentators have also criticized Moon’s teachings as being contrary to the Protestant doctrine of salvation by faith alone. In their influential book The Kingdom of the Cults (first published in 1965), Walter Ralston Martin and Ravi K. Zacharias disagreed with the Divine Principle on the issues of the divinity of Christ, the virgin birth of Jesus, Moon’s belief that Jesus should have married, the necessity of the crucifixion of Jesus, a literal resurrection of Jesus, as well as a literal second coming of Jesus. Commentators have criticized the Divine Principle for saying that the First World War, the Second World War, the Holocaust, and the Cold War served as indemnity conditions to prepare the world for the establishment of the Kingdom of God. In 2003, George D. Chryssides of the University of Wolverhampton criticized Moon for introducing doctrines which tended to divide the Christian church rather than uniting it, which was his stated purpose in founding the Unification movement (originally named the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity).
In the 1990s, when Moon began to offer the Unification marriage blessing ceremony to members of other churches and religions, he was criticized for creating possible confusion. In 1998, journalist Peter Maass, writing for The New Yorker, reported that some Unification members were dismayed and also grumbled when Moon extended the Blessing to non-members, who had not gone through the same course that members had.
In 2000, Moon was criticized, including by some members of his church, for his support of controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s Million Family March. Moon was also criticized for his relationship with controversial Jewish scholar Richard L. Rubenstein, an advocate of the “death of God theology” of the 1960s. Rubenstein was a defender of the Unification Church and served on its advisory council, as well as on the board of directors of the church-owned Washington Times newspaper. In the 1990s, he served as president of the University of Bridgeport, which was then affiliated with the church. In 1998, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram criticized Moon’s possible relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and wrote that the Washington Times editorial policy was “rabidly anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and pro-Israel.” Moon has also been criticized for his advocacy of a world-wide “automatic theocracy”, as well as for advising his followers that they should become “crazy for God”.
Defamation lawsuit against the Daily Mail
In 1978, the Daily Mail, a British tabloid newspaper, published an article with the headline: “The Church That Breaks Up Families”. The article accused the Unification Church of brainwashing and separating families. The British Unification Church’s director Dennis Orme filed a libel suit against the Daily Mail and Associated Newspapers, its parent company, resulting in one of the longest civil actions in British legal history – lasting six months. Orme and the Unification Church lost the libel case, the appeal case, and were refused permission to take their case to the House of Lords. The original case heard 117 witnesses, including American anti-cult psychiatrist Margaret Thaler Singer. In the original case, the Unification Church was ordered to pay Associated Newspapers GB£750,000 in costs which was maintained after appeal. The jury of the original case not only awarded Associated Newspapers costs, but it and the judge requested that the Attorney General re-examine the Unification Church’s charitable status, which after a lengthy investigation from 1986 to 1988 was not removed. According to George Chryssides, about half of the Unification Church’s 500 full-time membership in Britain moved to the United States. The Unification Church sold seven of its twelve principal church centers after the ruling. Other anti-cultists in countries like Germany sought to incorporate the London High Court’s decision into law. The Unification Church has won other libel and defamation cases in the United Kingdom, including a similar case against The Daily Telegraph.
Activities in Japan
According to historians, Japan has provided 70% of the Unification Church’s wealth. The Unification Church gets funding based on what is called “spiritual sales” in Japan. Steven Hassan, an exit counselor and former Unification Church member, describes spiritual sales as parishioners scanning obituaries, knocking on people’s doors, and saying, “Your dead loved one is communicating with us, so please go to the bank and send money to the Unification Church so your loved one can ascend to heaven in the spirit world.” According to Shoichi Fujitaof the Religious Information Research Center and the Zenkoku genriundo higaisha fubo no kai (literally, National Association of Parents of Victims of the Moonism, 全国原理運動被害者父母の会) – an organization formed by the parents of Unification Church members – the Unification Church’s doctrines make Japanese people the target of the Unification Church’s fundraising efforts by disseminating a doctrine which depicts Korea as “the Adam nation” and Japan as “the Eve nation” that committed sins, and therefore obliged to pay money and people to Korea.
In Japan, the activities of the Unification Church have been recognized as a serious social problem since the 1980s. Some of the issues are that the Unification Church uses people’s personal worries and anxieties to force them to buy unreasonably expensive items such as pots and seals, conceals its name to entice people to become followers, and forces followers to marry someone it has chosen.
The Unification Church has been accused by critics of “Church leaders are exploiting the labor and capital of their followers, including billions of dollars transferred from Japan to the United States, to build a business empire”. Tak Ji-il, a professor at Busan Presbyterian University, said the Unification Church is fighting over religious principles on the surface but money in reality. Yoshikazu Soejima, a senior official of the Unification Church, revealed the inside story of the Unification Church in the monthly magazine Bungei Shunjū released on June 10, 1984. According to Soejima, over 10 years in the 1970s, about 200 billion yen in donations from Japanese believers were sent to South Korea. In addition, about 800 million dollars were transferred from Japan to the United States in the nine years up to 1984. Soejima was stabbed several times in front of his house on June 2, just before the magazine was released, and he almost died, but the police could not identify the criminal.
In 1987, about 300 lawyers in Japan set up an association called the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales to help people who were forced to make expensive donations or forced to buy expensive things like pots and seals. According to statistics compiled by the association’s lawyers between 1987 and 2021, the association and local government consumer centers received 34,537 complaints alleging that the Unification Church had forced them to make unreasonably large donations or to spend large amounts of money, amounting to about 123.7 billion yen.
According to Hassan, Moon’s theology is that Korea is the Adam country, the home of the ruling race destined to rule the world, and Japan is the Eve country, subordinate to Korea. According to him, the church preached that Moon was appointed to save humanity after Eve fell from grace by having sexual relations with Satan. According to Yoshifu Arita, a former journalist and member of the House of Councilors who is investigating the Unification Church, the Unification Church is taking advantage of Japanese youth’s sense of redemption for Japan’s colonial rule of Korea and defrauding them of money.
In civil cases, Japanese courts have issued a number of rulings ordering the Unification Church to pay compensation to the plaintiffs, saying its missionary work is illegal. Criminal cases related to the Unification Church have also occurred. In 2009, the Tokyo District Court sentenced Unification Church members to prison for forcing victims to buy expensive seals. The court ruled that the missionary work was a pernicious act of forcing the victim to buy a seal immediately after instigating the victim’s anxiety by linking the victim’s worries with the victim’s ancestral past for a long time.
Since 1997, the Japanese Unification Church had repeatedly applied to the Agency for Cultural Affairs (ACA), a department directly under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, for to change its name from “The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity” (世界基督教統一神霊協会) to “Heavenly Parent’s Holy Community Family Federation for World Peace and Unification” (天の父母様聖会世界平和統一家庭連合). According to the then chief of the Religious Affairs Division, Kihei Maekawa, the application was rejected by the ACA. When in 2015, Hakubun Shimomura was appointed as the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology under the Third Abe Cabinet, the Unification Church applied for rename again and it was finally approved. Shimomura denied any involvement in the approval process, excusing the final decision was made by the head of the ACA, but Shimomura admitted that he received report about the application of rename, the 2015 head of the ACA also echoed Shimomura’s explanation. Maekawa said that for an organization being repeatedly rejected for rename in preview applications, an approval without direct instruction by the parent minister would be unthinkable. Just after the approval, Toru Miyamoto of the Japanese Communist Party requested to see the documents of the approval from the ACA, the documents he received were heavily sanitized. In particular the reason for approval from the department and the argument for rename by the Unification Church were completely redacted.
Assassination of Shinzo Abe
In 2022, Shinzo Abe, the former Prime Minister of Japan was assassinated. The person accused of this crime, Tetsuya Yamagami, stated that his motives were not political in nature and that the Unification Church “ruined his life”. It was later revealed that the shooter’s mother had donated 100 million Yen ($720,000) to the church, leading to her family’s bankruptcy in 2002. Financially troubled, the shooter was unable to enter university despite graduating from a prestigious high school and his brother and father would later commit suicide. The UC has historically had close ties to the right-wing Liberal Democratic Party, which Abe’s grandfather Nobusuke Kishi formed.
In 2019, National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales released a document protesting Abe sending congratulatory messages to events organized by the Unification Church and its affiliated organizations. The association feared that Abe’s message would give authority to the Unification Church and encourage its “anti-social activities”. In 2022, Abe was assassinated by Tetsuya Yamagami. Yamagami said that he resented the Unification Church because his mother was forced to make a large donation to the church and went bankrupt. She joined the Unification Church in 1998, and sold the land she inherited from her father along with the house where she lived with her 3 children. In June 1999, she donated about 100 million yen to the Unification Church, and went bankrupt in 2002, significantly affecting their family, according to Yamagami. Yamagami stated that his original plan was to assassinate Hak Ja Han, the widow of Sun Myung Moon and the current leader of the Unification Church. However, he gave up killing her because he could not get close to her. He believes Abe and his grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, spread the Unification Church in Japan and decided to kill Abe after discovering online that Abe had sent video messages to Unification Church-related organizations.
The National Public Safety Commission chair Satoshi Ninoyu instructed police authorities to set up a panel to investigate the security lapses which may have been involved in the incident. The Commission chair is among several elected officials who promoted a Unification Church event in 2021. Tomihiro Tanaka. a spokesperson for the Unification Church, admitted in a press conference that in the past the Unification Church had problems with its followers due to illegal solicitations and large donations. He claimed that there has been no trouble between the Unification Church and its followers since 2009, when the church began to emphasize legal compliance. On 11 July 2022 the Unification Church issued a press release stating donation amounts are determined by individual members.
Chung Hwan Kwak, the Honorary President of the Global Peace Foundation, who had long held a position second to Sun Myung Moon in the UC and left the Unification Church in 2009 after internal strife, apologized on behalf of the Unification Church. He said that the church was responsible for the assassination of Abe. According to Kwak, a wave of bankruptcies, divorces and suicides among Japanese believers had prompted him to attempt to normalize Japan’s status as an “economic force” in 2001, but his attempt was thwarted by strong opposition from other church leaders. The Unification Church later denied Kwak’s claim, saying that it was Kwak who called for the transfer of Japanese money to the church headquarters.
The National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales reported that victims were cheated out of about 300 million yen in 2021. Hiroshi Yamaguchi, a lawyer for the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales, refuted the claim made by the Unification Church at the press conference, saying, “The Unification Church should consider the pain and tragedy of the families of its followers. The Unification Church has bankrupted many of its followers”. Another lawyer, Yasuo Kawai, accused Japanese politicians and administrators of taking no action against the Unification Church, which disintegrates families, for more than 30 years.Masaki Kito, a lawyer who is familiar with the actual damage caused by the UC in Japan, said donations amount to 55-60 billion yen and the worst case was to have believers prostituting themselves to raise money. Kito called for Japan’s National Diet (parliament) to conduct an investigation of the case bipartisanly.
Japan’s main opposition party, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, and two other opposition parties, the Democratic Party for the People and the Japanese Communist Party, have said that they plan to launch their own investigations into the UC’s political influence and connections in Japanese politics. On August 31, 2022, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), of which Shinzo Abe was a member, announced that it would no longer have any ties with the Unification Church and related organizations. The Liberal Democratic Party has announced that it will expel its members if they do not break ties with the Unification Church.
The Unification Church is sometimes said to be esoteric in that it keeps some of its doctrines secret from nonmembers, a practice that is sometimes called “heavenly deception”. In 1979, critics Tingle and Fordyce commented: “How different the openness of Christianity is to the attitude of Reverend Moon and his followers who are often reluctant to reveal to the public many of their basic doctrines.” Since the 1990s, many Unification texts that were formerly regarded as esoteric have been posted on the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification’s official websites.
Although Moon was commonly known as a religious figure, commentators have mentioned his belief in a literal Kingdom of God on earth to be brought about by human effort as a motivation for his establishment of multitudinous groups that are not strictly religious in their purposes. Moon was not directly involved with managing the day-to-day activities of the numerous organizations that he indirectly oversaw, yet all of them attribute the inspiration behind their work to his leadership and teachings. Others have said that one purpose of these non-sectarian organizations is to pursue social respectability. These organizations have sometimes been labeled “front groups”, an expression which originally referred to Soviet supported organizations during the Cold War.
Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP)
The Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP) is a collegiate organization founded by Moon and his followers in 1955, which promotes intercultural, interracial, and international cooperation through the Unification world view. J. Isamu Yamamoto states in Unification Church: “At times CARP has been very subtle about its association with the Unification Church, however, the link between the two has always been strong, since the purpose of both is to spread Moon’s teachings.”
Family Peace Association (FPA)
The Family Peace Association was founded by Sun Myung Moon’s eldest living son, Hyun Jin Preston Moon together with his wife, Junsook Moon. It has the mission: “To enlighten humanity by uplifting their spiritual consciousness through universal principles and values rooted in God-centered families.”
Universal Peace Federation (UPF)
Universal Peace Federation (UPF) is an international and interreligious civil society organization that was founded in 2005 which promotes religious freedom. UPF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit NGO in general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Dialogue and Alliance is its journal published from Tarrytown, New York.
Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP)
The Women’s Federation for World Peace was founded in 1992 by Hak Ja Han. Its stated purpose is to encourage women to work more actively in promoting peace in their communities and greater society. It has members in 143 countries.
Han has traveled the world speaking at conventions on the WFWP’s behalf. In 1993 the WFWP held a conference in Tokyo, Japan, at which the keynote speaker was former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle’s wife Marilyn Tucker Quayle, and in a speech at the event Han spoke positively of Mrs. Quayle’s humanitarian work.
In 1993 Han traveled to 20 cities in the United States promoting the WFWP, as well as to 12 countries. At an event in Salt Lake City, Utah, she told attendants: “If a family is not centered on God’s ideal of love, there will be conflict among the members of that family. Without God’s love as an absolute center, such a family will ultimately break down. A nation of such families will also decline.” Her 1993 speeches in the United States focused on increasing violence in the U.S., and the degradation of the family unit.
In 1995 the WFWP generated controversy when it indirectly contributed $3.5 million to help Liberty University, which at that time was in financial difficulty. This was reported in the United States news media as an example of closer relationships between the Unification movement and conservative Christian congregations. That same year former United States president George H. W. Bush spoke at several WFWP meetings in Japan, and at a related conference in Washington, D.C. There he was quoted by The New York Times as saying: “If as president I could have done one thing to have helped the country more it would have been to do a better job in finding a way, either through speaking out or through raising a moral standard, to strengthen the American family.”
The events in Japan drew protests from Japanese people who were wary of unorthodox religious groups. Bush’s spokesperson Jane Becker stated “We were satisfied that there was not a connection with the Unification Church, and based on the information we were given we felt comfortable speaking to this group.” 50,000 people attended Bush’s speech in Tokyo. The theme of the talks was “family values”. In the half-hour speech, Bush said “what really counts is faith, family and friends”. Bush also spoke on the importance of the relationship between Japan and the United States and its importance for world peace. Han spoke after Bush’s speech and praised Moon, crediting him for the decline of communism and saying that he must save America from “the destruction of the family and moral decay”.
In 1999 the WFWP sponsored a conference in Malaysia in which religious and government leaders spoke on the need to strengthen education and support families, as well as the need for peace and understanding between ethnic and racial groups in the nations. In 2009 it co-sponsored, along with the Unification movement affiliated organization the Universal Peace Federation and the government of Taiwan, a conference in Taipei calling for Taiwan’s greater participation in world affairs independent of the People’s Republic of China. Taiwan’s president, Ma Ying-jeou, spoke at the event. The WFWP has also been active in sponsoring various local charity and community events.
Service For Peace (SFP)
Service For Peace (SFP) is a non-profit organization, founded in 2001 by the Sun Myung Moon’s third son, Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon, to give opportunities to young people who wish to better themselves and their communities. As of April 2007, the organization had established chapters in North America, Central America, Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania. SFP is active in communities and statewide. Colleges have recruited Service for Peace Campus Corps to benefit their fellow peers as well as the communities around them. Some SFP chapters have smaller initiatives designed to meet local needs. In the US, Service For Peace’s Backpack Angel program supports students throughout Kentucky by providing backpacks and school supplies for children in need.
International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS)
International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS) is a series of conferences formerly sponsored by the International Cultural Foundation and since 2017 by the Hyo Jeong International Foundation on the Unity of the Sciences (HJIFUS). The first conference, held in 1972, had 20 participants; while the largest conference, in Seoul, South Korea in 1982, had 808 participants from over 100 countries.
Participants in one or more of the conferences included Nobel laureates John Eccles (Physiology or Medicine 1963, who chaired the 1976 conference), Eugene Wigner (Physics 1963), economist and political philosopher Friedrich Hayek, ecologist Kenneth Mellanby, Frederick Seitz, pioneer of solid state physics, Ninian Smart, President of the American Academy of Religion, and Holocaust theologian Richard Rubenstein,
Moon believed that religion alone can not save the world, and his particular belief in the importance of the unity of science and religion was reportedly a motivation for the founding of the ICUS. American news media have suggested that the conferences were also an attempt to improve the often controversial Unification movement’s public image.
The last two editions of the conference have focused on environmental issues, such as rising sea levels and water temperatures, food scarcity, renewable energy, and waste management. The theme in 2017, at ICUS XXIII, was “Earth’s Environmental Crisis and the Role of Science”, with a similar theme following at ICUS XXIV, in 2018: “Scientific Solutions to the Earth’s Environmental Challenges”.
- The Assembly of the World’s Religions was founded by Sun Myung Moon. The first assembly was held from November 15 to 21, 1985, in MacAfee, New Jersey. The second was from August 15 to 21, 1990 in San Francisco.
- Interreligious Federation for World Peace
- American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC)
- The Middle East Peace Initiative sponsors projects to promote peace and understanding including visits by international Christians to Israel and Palestine and dialogues between members of the Israeli Knesset and the Palestinian Legislative Council.
- Cheongshim Graduate School of Theology
- CheongShim International Academy
- International Educational Foundation.
- New World Encyclopedia – an Internet encyclopedia that, in part, selects and claims to rewrite certain Wikipedia articles through a focus on Unification values. It “aims to organize and present human knowledge in ways consistent with our natural purposes” and “to promote knowledge that leads to happiness, well-being, and world peace”.
- Paragon House, book publishing.
- The Professors World Peace Academy was founded in 1973 by Sun Myung Moon, who declared the group’s intent to “contribute to the solutions of urgent problems facing our modern civilization and to help resolve the cultural divide between East and West”. PWPA now has chapters in over one hundred countries.
- Sun Hwa Arts School
- Sun Moon University
- Sun Myung Moon Institute
- The Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) is the main seminary of the international Unification movement. It is located in Barrytown, New York, and has an Extension Center in midtown Manhattan. Its purpose has been described as training leaders and theologians within the movement. The seminary’s first classes were offered in September 1975. The institution’s regional accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education first granted in 1996 was reaffirmed in 2016. While most of the UTS’s students have been Unification Church members, a growing number come from diverse churches and faiths. The seminary’s professors come from a wide range of faiths, including a Rabbi, a Sheikh, a Methodist minister, a Presbyterian, and a Roman Catholic priest. In 2003, the seminary had about 120 students from around the world, with most coming from South Korea and Japan, which have large numbers of Unification Church members.
- New Hope Academy – Landover Hills, Maryland, US. “Although New Hope Academy was founded in 1990 by members of the Unification movement, it is not a sectarian school. No doctrines are taught; in fact, no classes in religion are offered.However morning services are mandatory, during services discussions about religious doctrines, hymns, and group prayers all take place. We believe it is the job of parents – with the support of their church, temple, or mosque – to impart their personal faith to their child.”
- WUF – World University Federation
- Several UC-related groups are working to promote sexual abstinence until marriage and fidelity in marriage and to prevent child exploitation; they care for victims of Thailand’s sex trade as well. In 1996, members of the Unification Church gathered 3,500 signatures in an anti-pornography campaign.
- Kirov Academy of Ballet, dance school in Washington, D.C.
- Little Angels Children’s Folk Ballet of Korea, a dance troupe founded in 1962 by Moon and other UC members to project a positive image of South Korea to the world. In 1973 they performed at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York City. The group’s dances are based on Korean legends and regional dances, and its costumes on traditional Korean styles.
- Manhattan Center, Theater and recording studio in New York City.
- New York City Symphony
- The Universal Ballet, founded South Korea in 1984, is one of only four professional ballet companies in South Korea. The company performs a repertory that includes many full length classical story ballets, together with shorter contemporary works and original full-length Korean ballets created especially for the company. It is supported by UC members with Moon’s daughter-in-law Julia Moon, who was the company’s prima ballerina until 2001, now serving as General Director.
- Centro Esportivo Nova Esperança, Clube Atlético Sorocaba, Brazilian football teams.
- Peace Cup International football (soccer) tournament.
- Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, South Korean football team.
- The Sunmoon Peace Football Foundation founded by the UC in 2003 sponsors the Peace Cup, an invitational preseason friendly association football tournament for club teams, currently held every two years. It is contested by the eight clubs from several continents, though 12 teams participated in 2009. The first three competitions were held in South Korea, and the 2009 Peace Cup Andalucia was held in Madrid and Andalusia, Spain. In 1989, Moon founded Seongnam FC, a South Korean football team.
- Freedom Leadership Foundation, an anti-communist organization in the United States active in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
- Peace United Family Party, a South Korean political party founded by the Sun Myung Moon, one of whose main goals is the reunification of Korea.
- The International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) works to promote peace and understanding between potentially hostile nations.
- TheConservatives.com, a former political website in partnership with the Heritage Foundation.
- The Summit Council for World Peace is an international group active in Moon’s effort to unite North and South Korea.
- Coalition for a Free World, anti-Soviet group active in the 1980s.
- Washington Institute for Values in Public Policy
- CAUSA International is an anti-communist educational organization created in New York City in 1980 by members of the Unification movement. In the 1980s it was active in 21 countries. In the United States it sponsored educational conferences for evangelical and fundamentalist Christian leaders as well as seminars and conferences for Senate staffers, Hispanic Americans and conservative activists. In 1986 it produced the anti-Communist documentary film Nicaragua Was Our Home.
- The International Coalition for Religious Freedom is an activist organization based in Virginia, the United States. Its president is Dan Fefferman, who has held several leadership positions within the Unification Church of the United States. Founded in the 1980s, it has been active in protesting what it considers to be threats to religious freedom by governmental agencies.
- International Federation for Victory over Communism (IFVOC)
- Korean Culture and Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit organization which in the 1970s staged a public diplomacy campaign in the United States for South Korea When it was founded in 1964, former U.S. Presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower were named as honorary presidents and former Vice President Richard Nixon (then practicing corporate law) was named as a director.
- National Committee Against Religious Bigotry and Racism
- National Prayer and Fast Committee, which supported President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal.
- Radio Free Asia.
Members of the Unification Movement own a number of businesses in various countries. In Eastern Europe Unification movement missionaries are using the church’s business ties to win new converts. David Bromley, a sociologist at Virginia Commonwealth University, said: “The corporate section is understood to be the engine that funds the mission of the church. The wealth base is fairly substantial. But if you were to compare it to the LDS Church or the Catholic Church or other churches that have massive landholdings, this doesn’t look on a global scale like a massive operation.”
Pyeonghwa Motors is an automobile manufacturer based in Seoul, South Korea, and owned by the movement. It is involved in a joint-venture with the North Korean Ryonbong General Corp. The joint venture produces two small cars under license from Fiat, and a pick-up truck and an SUV using complete knock down kits from Chinese manufacturer Dandong Shuguang. Pyeonghwa has the exclusive rights to car production, purchase, and sale of used cars in North Korea. However, most North Koreans are unable to afford a car. Because of the very small market for cars in the country, Pyeonghwa’s output is reportedly very low. In 2003, only 314 cars were produced even though the factory had the facilities to produce up to 10,000 cars a year. Erik van Ingen Schenau, author of the book Automobiles Made in North Korea, has estimated the company’s total production in 2005 at not more than around 400 units.
- Cheongshim Hospital, Korean hospital.
- Ilhwa Company, South Korean based producer of ginseng and related products.
- Isshin Hospital, Church sponsored hospital in Japan which practices both modern and traditional Asian medicine.
In South Korea the Tongil Group was founded in 1963 by Sun Myung Moon as a nonprofit organization which would provide revenue for the movement. Its core focus was manufacturing but in the 1970s and 1980s it expanded by founding or acquiring businesses in pharmaceuticals, tourism, and publishing. In the 1990s Tongil Group suffered as a result of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. By 2004 it was losing money and was $3.6 billion in debt. In 2005 Sun Myung Moon’s son, Kook-jin Moon was appointed chairman of Tongil Group. Among Tongil Group’s chief holdings are: The Ilwha Company, which produces ginseng and related products; Ilshin Stone, building materials; and Tongil Heavy Industries, machine parts including hardware for the South Korean military. The Tongil Group funds the Tongil Foundation which supports Unification movement projects including schools and the Little Angels Children’s Folk Ballet of Korea.
Master Marine, a shipbuilding and fishing company in Alabama; International Seafood of Kodiak, Alaska; and True World Foods, which runs a major portion of the sushi trade in the US. In 2011 Master Marine opened a factory in Las Vegas, Nevada, to manufacture a 27-foot pleasure boat designed by Moon.
News World Communications is an international news media corporation. It was founded in New York City, in 1976, by Sun Myung Moon. Its first two newspapers, The News World (later renamed the New York City Tribune) and the Spanish-language Noticias del Mundo, were published in New York from 1976 until the early 1990s. In 1982 The New York Times described News World as “the newspaper unit of the Unification Church.” Moon’s son Hyun Jin Moon is its chairman of the board. News World Communications owns United Press International, The World and I, Tiempos del Mundo (Latin America), The Segye Ilbo (South Korea), The Sekai Nippo (Japan), the Zambezi Times (South Africa), The Middle East Times (Egypt). Until 2008 it published the Washington, D.C.-based newsmagazine Insight on the News. Until 2010, it owned The Washington Times. On November 2, 2010, Sun Myung Moon and a group of former Times editors purchased the paper from News World.
- AmericanLife TV cable television network formerly owned by the Unification movement.
In the 1970s the Unification Church of the United States began making major real estate investments. Church buildings were purchased around the nation. In New York State the Belvedere Estate, the Unification Theological Seminary, and the New Yorker Hotel were purchased. The international headquarters of the church was established in New York City. In Washington, D.C., the church purchased a church building from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and in Seattle the historic Rolland Denny mansion for $175,000 in 1977. In 1991 Donald Trump criticized Unification Church real estate investments as possibly disruptive to communities. As of December 1994, Unification Church had invested $150 million in Uruguay. Members own the country’s largest hotel, one of its leading banks, the second-largest newspaper and two of the largest printing plants. In 2008 church related real estate investment partnership USP Rockets LLC was active in Richmond, Virginia. In 2011 the church related National Hospitality Corporation sold the Sheraton National Hotel. U.S. Property Development Corporation, real estate investment Yongpyong Resort, which hosted the alpine skiing events for the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
From 2000 until his death in 2012, Moon promoted the creation of an interreligious council at the United Nations as a check and balance to its political-only structure. Since then King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and King Juan Carlos I of Spain hosted officially a program to promote the proposal. Moon’s Universal Peace Federation is in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and a member of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, a member of the United Nations Division for Palestinian Rights, a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, a member of the UNHRC, a member of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Three of Moon’s non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – Universal Peace Federation, Women’s Federation for World Peace and Service for Peace – are in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
- International Relief Friendship Foundation (IRFF)
- Joshua House Children’s Centre in Georgetown, Guyana helps homeless and victimized children.
- Korean War 60th Anniversary Memorial Committee
- National Committee Against Religious Bigotry and Racism
- The New Hope East Garden Project, agricultural project in Brazil.
- Ocean Church
- Summit Council for World Peace
- Tongil Foundation
- World Media Association, sponsors trips for American journalists to Asian countries.
Organizations which are supported by the members of the Unification Movement
- American Conference on Religious Movements, a Rockville, Maryland-based group that fights discrimination against new religions. The group is funded by the Church of Scientology, the Hare Krishna organization, as well as by Unificationists, who give it $3,000 a month.
- American Freedom Coalition (AFC), a group which seeks to unite American conservatives on the state level to work toward common goals. The coalition, while independent, receives support from the Unification movement. American Freedom Journal was a publication of the AFC published by Robert Grant. The journal was started in 1988 and suspended publication sometime before 1994. Contributors included Pat Buchanan, Ed Meese, Ben Wattenberg and Jeane Kirkpatrick.
- Christian Heritage Foundation, a private, independent charitable foundation based in Virginia that distributes Bibles and Christian literature to Communist and Third World nations. In 1995 it was given $3.5 million by the Women’s Federation for World Peace.
- Empowerment Network, a pro-faith political action group supported by United States Senator Joe Lieberman.
- Foundation for Religious Freedom (Also known as the New Cult Awareness Network), an organization affiliated with the Church of Scientology which states its purpose as “Educating the public as to religious rights, freedoms and responsibilities.”
- George Bush Presidential Library. In June 2006 the Houston Chronicle reported that in 2004 Moon’s Washington Times Foundation gave a $1 million donation to the George Bush Presidential Library.
- Liberty University. Sun Myung Moon and his wife Hak Ja Han helped to financially stabilize the University through two organizations: News World Communications, which provided a $400,000 loan to the University at 6% interest; and the Women’s Federation for World Peace, which indirectly contributed $3.5 million toward the school’s debt.
- Married Priests Now!, is an advocacy group headed by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, who was himself married by Moon. MPN is a liberal Catholic organization calling for relaxing the rules concerning marriage in the Latin Rite Catholic priesthood.
- Million Family March, 2000 rally in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the FFWPU and The Nation of Islam.
- National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC), was given $500,000 by CAUSA International to finance an anticommunist lobbying campaign.
- University of Bridgeport of Bridgeport, Connecticut. In 1992, following the longest faculty strike in United States academic history, the University of Bridgeport agreed to an arrangement with the Professors World Peace Academy whereby the university would be subsidized by PWPA in exchange for control of the university. The initial agreement was for $50 million, and a majority of board members were to be PWPA members. The next University of Bridgeport president was PWPA president and Holocaust theologian Richard L. Rubenstein (from 1995 to 1999), and subsequently former U.S. HSA-UWC president Neil Albert Salonen (2000–2018).
- World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO)
Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia