THE UNIFICATION CHURCH:
Frequently Asked Questions about the
Prejudice, Myths, Controversies... and the Truth
Prejudice, Myths, Controversies... and the Truth
1. In the past Reverend Moon and his movement were persecuted worldwide. Why?
The activities of the Unification movement have made their impact on almost every area of culture: science, philosophy, religion, media, medicine, social service, etc. As a result of this and of the rapid growth of the movement, it went through a period of persecution worldwide, similar to what other new religious leaders and movements have faced in the past; the new was seen to be strange and threatening.
History shows that persecution is the normal course for new religious leaders. Jesus, for example, was condemned as a “blasphemer” by the religious leaders of his time. The Roman historian Tacitus wrote “There is a group, hated for their abominations, called Christians.”
Reverend Moon does not regard persecution as a negative; true religious movements prosper and flourish under persecution.
2. There is less persecution of Reverend Moon and his movement today. Why?
Yes, today, the persecution is largely ending. The reason is simple. After 60 years, the many works of Reverend Moon and the Unification movement are better known and appreciated by many.
An article in Newsweek magazine, the news magazine in the United States with the largest circulation, confirms this fact (September, 2006). According to the article, “the Unification Church has now largely outgrown its image as a cult.” It also praises those who joined the Reverend Moon’s Unification Church and other new religious movements as “cultural innovators” and ”trendsetters.” It says that they “distinguished themselves as what the sociologist Wade Clark Roof calls, in the title of his 1993 book, 'A Generation of Seekers.'"
The article quotes Dean Hoge, a sociologist at Catholic University of America: “To be sure, followers of the maharishi, or the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, or Hare Krishnas, Scientologists or the people who called themselves Jesus Freaks were a minority among the boomers. But they were the trendsetters. They were the cultural innovators, and they introduced new things to our culture which are still around."
3. What do scholars of religion say about the persecution of Reverend Moon?
Prominent scholars of religion have analyzed the persecution of Reverend Moon. In his article “Myths Sanctioning Religious Persecution," Professor Harvey Cox, a Harvard University religious scholar, shows that the stories in the media about the Unification Church are part of the typical genre of anti-religious literature. Essentially, these false myths purport to describe the religious group in the following manner: The group will deceive you ("heavenly deception"); it is dominated by a foreign influence (the Pope or the KCIA); the leader is a charlatan; and the group uses the technique of "the evil eye" to capture the mind and soul of its converts. The stereotypes continue ad nauseum.
Another scholar of religion, Dr. Herbert Richardson, created the following chart to show the parallels between the persecution of Reverend Moon and the historical persecution of Catholicism and Judaism. (From Herbert Richardson, ed., New Religions and Mental Health. New York and Toronto: the Edwin Mellen Press, 1980)
Persecution Parallels: Anti-Catholicism, Anti-Semitism and Anti-Moonism
They Seek World Power.
The Pope is seeking to take over the world.
The Jews are seeking to take over the world. (The Protocols of the Elders of Zion)
Moon is seeking to take over the world.
They Are Not a Genuine Religion.
Catholicism is not a true religion, but a political system
Judaism is not a religion, but a political system.
The Unification Church is not a church, but a political front group.
They Follow a Foreign Power.
Catholics aren't loyal Americans, but are really loyal to Rome, a foreign power.
Jews aren't loyal Americans, but are really loyal to Israel.
Moon teaches Americans to fight for Korea.
They Only Care About Money.
The Catholic Church exploits the poor in order to build rich churches and buy land.
Jews are really only after money.
Moon claims to be a prophet, but is really only after profit.
They Brainwash Their Members.
The priests enslave the minds of young people, inculcating irrational superstition.
Judaism is a legalistic, tribalistic system, ritualistic and anti-rational.
Moon brainwashes his converts.
They Control the Lives of Young People.
Catholics control their young people's lives by teaching that sex is evil.
Jews control their young people's lives by making them feel guilty about marrying a non-Jew.
Moon controls young people's lives by making them remain chaste and then arranging their marriages.
They Practice "Heavenly Deception."
Catholics justify lying by "mental reservation."
Jews always lie.
Moonies don't tell the truth, but practice "heavenly deception."
They Separate Families.
Catholics entice children, while too young to decide for themselves, to become nuns and priests.
Jews kidnap gentile children for vile purposes.
Moon entices the young to leave their families.
They Look Strange.
Catholics are swarthy (Latin) and have too many children.
Jews have crooked noses and are verminous.
Moonies have glazed eyes and are undernourished.
From these parallels we can see there is nothing new in the kind of persecution and misunderstanding Reverend Moon and the Unification Church received in their beginnings.
4. How can I understand Reverend Moon and his movement?
The only real way is to personally learn about his teachings and his works. This website is a good beginning. In fact, true religious movements prosper and flourish under persecution. To attend a Divine Principle seminar, you may contact the Family Federation for World Peace center closest to you. See our Contact Us page.
5. What position should I take if I am unsure what to think about Reverend Moon and his work?
In wondering about Reverend Moon, some thoughtful persons been guided by the advice to the Sanhedrin by the Jewish leader Gamaliel regarding the new sect of Christianity, as reported in the New Testament in Acts 5:38-39: “Let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to naught. But if it is of God, ye cannot overthrow it: lest ye be found to fight against God.”
6.Was Reverend Moon imprisoned in the United States for tax evasion?
Yes. However, the case was protested as being baseless and the result of religious and racial persecution. In an unprecedented outpouring of support for Reverend Moon, forty leading groups and individuals including mainstream religious organizations and legal scholars signed amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs on behalf of Rev. Moon's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Later, a congressional subcommittee chaired by Senator Orrin Hatch concluded that "injustice, rather than justice, had been served." The outcry in support of Reverend Moon by the religious community and civil liberty organizations has rarely been seen in United States legal history. Read more about this travesty of United States justice here: The Persecution and Prosecution of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon by the United States government.
7. Was this Reverend Moon’s only imprisonment?
No. Reverend Moon has been jailed unjustly six times and endured torture three times. He was imprisoned twice in communist North Korea, twice by the Japanese imperial government that ruled Korea for 40 years and once by the South Korean government in the 1950s. Other religious leaders imprisoned by secular authorities -- to name just a few -- are Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., St. Francis, St. Ignatius of Loyola, George Fox and, of course, Jesus Christ. Those who know Reverend Moon see his ordeals as badges of honor conferred on a man of uncompromising faith.
8. How does the Unification movement fund its activities?
There are two major sources of funds: donations from members just as in any other religious organization and donations from businesses that Reverend Moon has started worldwide including fishing, health foods and ship-building.
9. Many of the businesses founded by Reverend Moon have prospered and many donate to the movement. How are the funds used?
Reverend Moon has a policy that only a fraction of donations go to maintaining the movement. The major use of the funds is to serve the world. As far as riches go, the Unification movement is far less wealthy than other worldwide religions and churches.This is because so much of the church resources are dedicated to non-church activities such as interreligious peace conferences. In the beginning, Reverend Moon and his early followers endured starvation circumstances in an impoverished nation in order to build a foundation that could serve to all mankind in the future.
10. What is the proper name for Reverend Moon's religious movement and his followers?
“Unificationist” is a proper name for a follower of Reverend Moon’s own faith community, now known as the Family Federation for World Peace. An older derogatory term ,“Moonie,” has largely fallen out of use and is regarded by Unificationists as perjorative.
11. What are the teachings of Reverend Moon?
His teachings are called the Divine Principle and can be learned by ordering a the book or attending Divine Principle workshops sponsored by a local Family Federation for World Peace headquarters. See Contact Us.
12. Many of the businesses founded by Reverend Moon have prospered. Has the Unification movement forgotten its humble beginnings?
As far as riches go, the Unification movement is in fact far less wealthy than other worldwide religions and churches. Reverend Moon and his early followers literally endured starvation in an impoverished nation in order to build a Church foundation that could serve to all mankind in the future. Today, the important question is how is the money used? Its purpose is to serve the world.
13. Does the Unification movement practice brainwashing? Are its recruiting methods different from other churches? Do they involve any type of coercion?
No. The Unification Church does not practice any type of brainwashing. This charge has been thoroughly rejected by both the courts and prominent social scientists. For example, the well-known Harvard theologian Harvey Cox summed it up well in this quote about the Unification Church and "brainwashing": "The term 'brainwashing' has no respectable standing in the scientific or psychiatric circles, and is used almost entirely to describe a process by which somebody has arrived at convictions that (another person) disagrees with."
Noted psychiatrist Thomas Szasz of Syracuse University says simply that no one can "wash brains." Instead, "brainwashing," like many dramatic terms, is a "metaphor." He adds: "A person can no more wash another's brain with coercion or conversation than he can make him bleed with a cutting remark. If there is no such thing as brainwashing, what does the metaphor stand for? It stands for one of the most universal human experiences and events, namely, for one person influencing another. However, we do not call all types of personal of psychological influences 'brainwashing.' We reserve this term for influence of which we disapprove."
After several highly-publicized court cases involving the "kidnapping and deprogramming" controversy, courts have ruled and continue to rule against allowing the theories about "brainwashing" to be admitted as evidence. The theories have been dismissed as pseudo-science and no longer have any merit in the academic community. Thus, science has prevailed to bring about justice on this issue.
A definitive study and research about conversion to the Unification Church was done by Dr. Eileen Barker, sociology professor of the London School of Economics, in her book The Making of a Moonie: Choice or Brainwashing? Dr. Barker performed a longitudinal study on the conversion process in the Unification Church. She rejected the "brainwashing" theory as an explanation for conversion to the Unification Church, because she writes that it does not explain the many people who attended a Unification Church (recruitment) meeting and did not become members and the voluntary disaffiliation of members. In addition, she did not observe coercion during the conversion process.
The Myth of Brainwashing and Mind Control
With the growth of new religious movements in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, many parents became alarmed at the sudden lifestyle change exhibited by their adult children after they had converted to a new faith. Many of these young adults left college and dedicated themselves to full-time work in their new faith community, oftentimes changing the manner of their appearance (as in the eastern robes of the Hare Krishna) and donating all of their money to the group. Unable to accept this conversion experience of their children, some parents hired professional faith breakers to illegally kidnap their adult children, confine them and "break them" until they recanted their new faith.
Thus was born in the early 1970s a new cottage industry which came to be called "deprogramming," undoubtedly borrowing a term from the emerging computer industry. More accurately, these "guns for hire" were professional "faith breakers" who assailed their victims with countless hours of imprisonment, restricted bathroom use, theological harangues, social vilification, sleep and food depravation, guilt and physical pain. In essence, the victim was spiritually raped until they "confessed" that they no longer believed in their new faith.
Also, at the same time, courts and law enforcement began to recognize that individuals' rights were being trampled upon and stiff sentences were being handed down on the kidnappers and their associates.
Hundreds of members of new religious movements suffered human rights violations at the hands of these professional faith breakers, and many families were torn apart by them. This social phenomenon of the 1970s and 1980s will be remembered as one of the worst instances of gross human rights violations in United States history.
14. Do Unificationists glorify a human personality, Reverend Moon?
Unificationists love and follow Reverend Moon as their religious leader and spiritual parent. They do not pray to him, worship him or exalt his personality. The majority of our worldwide membership has never even seen Reverend Moon. How God could bless and protect a movement that exalted the personality of a man?
15. What is meant by the Unificationist term “True Parents”?
In Unificationist theology, our original ancestors should have established the Kingdom of God on Earth by creating God-centered families. All of God’s work behind the scenes of providential history has been to create a foothold on earth of a couple and family absolutely united centered on God. Unificationists believe Reverend and Mrs. Moon have succeeded in becoming the first True Parents, having established a God- centered family and lineage. But all people are meant to be True Parents. Reverend and Mrs. Moon have pioneered the way for all mankind to establish these families which will be central institution for the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
IN HIS WORDS: Reverend Moon's Answers to Questions About the Unification Church; from interview with scholar, Dr. Frederick Sontag published in 1977:
Dr. Sontag: "You are often accused of being authoritarian and even dictatorial and militaristic. What would you say about your own sense of authority and how you exercise it? How would you express your own authority in relationship to members?"
Reverend Moon's answer: "Actually, anybody who really knows the Divine Principle would not take it that way. This is only the external appearance. After just one glance someone might say that I am authoritarian." But, he says, if you look deeper he is a loving parent and parents love, not govern.
Dr. Sontag: "You don’t yourself attack, but the interesting thing is that people reverse this. Outside, people are very fearful because they think the movement will resort to a militaristic posture and that you will command your members to go out with guns. What do you say about condoning force or violence to attain your goals?"
Reverend Moon's answer: "It’s been God’s principle never to attack first. God never attacks first. Evil and Satan always take initiative and try to destroy, but the heavenly side has the responsibility to defend itself. I preach our movement as essentially nonviolent and nonmilitaristic. Our movement has the greatest weapon–if you use that word—truth. We also have the greatest target: the human heart." Reverend Moon states: "We are conquerors by love, conquerors by truth, but not by violence, not by weapons."
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