Sun Myung Moon (Korean 문선명 Mun Seon-myeong; born Mun Yong-myeong; 25 February 1920 – 3 September 2012) was a Korean religious leader, also known for his business ventures and support of social and political causes.[1][2] A messiah claimant, he was the founder of the Unification Church (members of which considered him and his wife Hak Ja Han to be their "True Parents"),[3] and of its widely noted "Blessing" or mass wedding ceremony, and the author of its unique theology the Divine Principle.[4][5][6] He was an opponent of communism and an advocate for Korean reunification, for which he was recognized by the governments of both North and South Korea.[7] Businesses he promoted included News World Communications, an international news media corporation known for its American subsidiary The Washington Times,[8][9][10] and Tongil Group, a South Korean business group (chaebol),[11][12][13] as well as various related organizations.[1][14]

Moon was born in what is now North Korea. When he was a child, his family converted to Christianity.[15] In 1947 he was convicted by the North Korean government of spying for South Korea and given a five-year sentence to the Hŭngnam labor camp.[16] In 1954, he founded the Unification Church in Seoul, South Korea based on conservative, family-oriented teachings from new interpretations of the Bible.[15][16] In 1971, he moved to the United States[17] and became well-known after giving a series of public speeches on his beliefs.[18][19] In the 1982 case United States v. Sun Myung Moon he was found guilty of willfully filing false federal income tax returns and sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. His case generated protests from clergy and civil libertarians, who said that the trial was biased against him.[20]

Moon was criticized for making high demands on his followers.[21][22][23] His wedding ceremonies also drew criticism, especially after they involved members of other churches, including Roman Catholic archbishop Emmanuel Milingo.[24][25] He was also criticized for his relationships with political and religious figures, including Presidents of the United States Richard Nixon,[26] George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev,[27] North Korean President Kim Il Sung,[28] and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.[29]

Early life

Sun Myung Moon was born Moon Yong Myeong on 25 February 1920, in modern-day North P'yŏng'an Province, North Korea, at a time when Korea was under Japanese rule. He was the younger of two sons in a farming family of eight children.[16] Moon's family followed Confucianist beliefs until he was around 10 years old, when they converted to Christianity and joined the Presbyterian Church.[30]

In 1941, Moon began studying electrical engineering at Waseda University in Japan.[21] During this time he cooperated with Communist Party members in the Korean independence movement against Imperial Japan.[31] In 1943, he returned to Seoul and married Sun Kil Choi on 28 April 1945. On 2 April 1946 their son, Sung Jin Moon was born.[1] In the 1940s, Moon attended a church in Sangdo dong that was led by the messianic minister Baek Moon Kim, who claimed that he had been given by Jesus the mission to spread the message of a "new Israel" throughout the world.[32] Around this time Moon changed his given name to Sun Myung.[33]

Following World War II, Korea was divided along the 38th parallel into two trusteeships: the United States and the Soviet Union.[23][34] Pyongyang was the center of Christian activity in Korea until 1945. From the late forties 166 priests and other religious figures were killed or disappeared in concentration camps, including Francis Hong Yong-ho, bishop of Pyongyang[35] and all monks of Tokwon abbey.[36][37] In 1947 Moon was convicted by the North Korean government of spying for South Korea and given a five-year sentence to the Hŭngnam labor camp.[16] In 1950, during the Korean War United Nations troops had raided Hŭngnam and the guards fled. Moon escaped and traveled to Busan, South Korea.[38][39][40]

Founding the Unification Church

Moon emerged from his years in the labor camp as a staunch anti-communist.[16] His teachings viewed the Cold War between democracy and communism as the final conflict between God and Satan, with divided Korea as its primary front line.[41] In 1954, Moon formally founded the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity in Seoul. He quickly drew young acolytes who helped to build the foundations of church affiliated business and cultural organizations.[16][42] At his new church, he preached a conservative, family-oriented value system and his interpretation of the Bible.[6][43] On 8 January 1957, Moon and Choi divorced.[1]


Moon has said that when he was fifteen years old Jesus anointed him to carry out his unfinished work by becoming parent to all of humanity.[5][23][44] The Divine Principle or Exposition of the Divine Principle (Korean 원리강론/原理講論, translit. wonli ganglon) is the main theological textbook of the Unification Church. It was co-written by Moon and early disciple Hyo Won Eu and first published in 1966. A translation entitled Divine Principle was published in English in 1973. The book lays out the core of Unification theology, and is held to have the status of scripture by believers. 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.[45]

God is viewed as the creator, whose nature combines both masculinity and femininity, and is the source of all truth, beauty, and goodness. Human beings and the universe reflect God's personality, nature, and purpose.[46] "Give-and-take action" (reciprocal interaction) and "subject and object position" (initiator and responder) are "key interpretive concepts",[47] and the self is designed to be God's object.[47] The purpose of human existence is to return joy to God. The "four-position foundation" is "another important and interpretive concept", and explains in part the emphasis on the family.[48]

Second marriage and blessing ceremonies

Moon and Hak Ja Han

Marriage to Hak Ja Han

Moon married his second wife, Hak Ja Han, on 11 April 1960, soon after she turned 40 years old, in a ceremony called the Holy Marriage. Han is called "Mother" or "True Mother". She and Moon together are referred to as the "True Parents" by members of the Unification Church and their family as the "True Family".[3][49][50][51] Jesus was divine but not God; he was supposed to be the second Adam who would create a perfect family by joining with the ideal wife and creating a pure family that would have begun humanity's liberation from its sinful condition.[21] When Jesus was crucified before marrying, he redeemed mankind spiritually but not physically. That task was left to the "True Parents" – Moon and Han – who would link married couples and their families to God.[14][21][44]

Blessing ceremonies

Moon presides over a mass blessing ceremony in 2010

Blessing ceremonies have attracted a lot of attention in the press and in the public imagination, often being labeled "mass weddings".[52] Some couples are already married and those that are engaged are later legally married according to the laws of their own countries.[53][54] Meant to highlight the church's emphasis on traditional morality, they brought Moon both fame and notoriety.[55][56]

36 couples participated in the first ceremony in 1961 for members of the early church in Seoul, South Korea. The ceremonies continued to grow in scale; over 2,000 couples participated in the 1982 one at New York's Madison Square Garden, the first outside South Korea.[15][21] In 1997, about 30,000 couples took part in a ceremony in Washington, DC.[57]

Moon said that he matched couples from differing races and nationalities because of his belief that all of humanity should be united: "International and intercultural marriages are the quickest way to bring about an ideal world of peace. People should marry across national and cultural boundaries with people from countries they consider to be their enemies so that the world of peace can come that much more quickly."[6][15][44]

Move to United States

In 1971, Moon moved to the United States, which he had first visited in 1965. He remained a citizen of the Republic of Korea and maintained a residence in South Korea.[58] In 1972, Moon founded the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences, a series of scientific conferences.[17][59] The first conference had 20 participants, while the largest conference in Seoul in 1982, had 808 participants from over 100 countries.[60][61] Participants included Nobel laureates John Eccles (Physiology or Medicine 1963, who chaired the 1976 conference),[62] Eugene Wigner (Physics 1963).[63]

In 1974, Moon asked church members in the United States to support President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal when Nixon was being pressured to resign his office. Church members 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 1 February 1974 Nixon publicly thanked them for their support and officially received Moon. This brought the church into widespread public and media attention.[26]

In the 1970s, Moon, who had seldom before spoken to the general public, gave a series of public speeches to audiences in the United States, Japan, and South Korea. The largest were a rally in 1975 against North Korean aggression in Seoul and a speech at an event organized by the Unification Church in Washington D.C.[18][19]

United States v. Sun Myung Moon

In 1982, Moon was convicted in the United States of filing false federal income tax returns and conspiracy. His conviction was upheld on appeal in a split decision. Moon was given an 18-month sentence and a $15,000 fine. He served 13 months of the sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution, Danbury before being released on good behavior to a halfway house.[64]

The case was the center of national freedom of religion and free speech debates.[65] Prof. Laurence H. Tribe of the Harvard University Law School argued that the trial by jury had "doomed (Moon) to conviction based on religious prejudice."[66] 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.[67] Many notable clergy, including Jerry Falwell and Joseph Lowery, signed petitions protesting the government's case and spoke out in defense of Moon.[68][69]

Washington Times

In 1982 The Washington Times was founded by News World Communications, an international media conglomerate associated with Moon which also owned newspapers in South Korea, Japan, and South America, as well as the news agency United Press International.[70] The political views of The Washington Times have often been described as conservative.[71][72][73] The Times was read by many Washington DC insiders, including Ronald Reagan.[74][75] By 2002 Moon had invested roughly $1.7 billion to support the Times,[76] which he called "the instrument in spreading the truth about God to the world".[77]

Twenty-first century events

In 2000, Moon sponsored a United Nations conference which proposed the formation of "a religious assembly, or council of religious representatives, within the structure of the United Nations."[78]

In 2003, Moon sponsored the first Peace Cup international club football tournament.[79][80][81] The Los Angeles Galaxy, which competes in Major League Soccer, played in South Korea in the Peace Cup.[82] During the event Pelé, widely regarded as the best soccer player of all time and former Brazilian Sports Minister, met with Moon.[83]

In 2009, Moon's autobiography, As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen (Korean: 평화를 사랑하는 세계인으로),[84] was published by Gimm-Young Publishers in South Korea. The book became a best-seller in Korea and Japan.[85][86][87][88] Said to be the inspiration of Gimm-Young CEO Eun Ju Park, a devout Buddhist, the book focused more on Moon's role as a Korean patriot and an international peace advocate than as a religious figure.[89]

By 2010, Moon had given much of the responsibility for the Unification Church's religious and business activities to his children, who were then in their 30s and 40s.[90] In 2012, the South Korean press reported that Moon traveled worldwide in his private jet which cost $50 million.[91][92]

Illness and death

On 14 August 2012, after suffering from pneumonia earlier in the month, Moon was admitted to Saint Mary's Hospital at The Catholic University of Korea in Seoul.[93] On 15 August 2012, he was reported to be gravely ill and was put on a respirator at the intensive care unit of St. Mary’s Hospital.[94] On 31 August 2012, Moon was transferred to a church-owned hospital near his home in Gapyeong, northeast of Seoul,[95] after suffering multiple organ failure.[96] Moon died on the morning of 3 September 2012 (1:54 am KST) at the age of 92.[97]

Activities and interests


In 1964 Moon founded the Korean Culture and Freedom Foundation, which promoted the interests of South Korea and sponsored Radio Free Asia. Former U.S. Presidents Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon were honorary presidents or directors at various times.[98]

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."[99]

In 1980, Moon asked church members to found CAUSA International as an anti-communist educational organization, based in New York.[100] In the 1980s, it was active in 21 countries. In the United States it sponsored educational conferences for Christian leaders[101] as well as seminars and conferences for Senate staffers and other activists.[102] In 1986, it produced the anti-communist documentary film Nicaragua Was Our Home.[103] CAUSA supported the Nicaraguan Contras and also reportedly helped finance a Bolivian military coup with connections to cocaine cartels which successfully overthrew a democratically elected government.[104][105]

In August 1985, seven years before the fall of Soviet Union, 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."[106] In April 1990, Moon visited the Soviet Union and met with President Mikhail Gorbachev. Moon expressed support for the political and economic transformations under way in the Soviet Union. At the same time the Unification Church was expanding into formerly communist nations.[27] After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, some American conservatives criticized Moon for his softening of his previous anti-communist stance.[107][108]

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, etc.[28] In 1994, Moon was officially invited to the funeral of Kim Il Sung, in spite of the absence of diplomatic relations between North Korea and South Korea.[109] Moon and his church are known for their efforts to promote Korean unification.[7]

In 2003, Korean Unification Church 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.[110] Moon was a member of the Honorary Committee of the Unification Ministry of the Republic of Korea.[111] In 2012 Moon was posthumously awarded North Korea's National Reunification Prize.[112]

In 2005, Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, founded the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). "We support and promote the work of the United Nations and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals." [113]

Moon's projects have been lobbied in the National Congress of Brazil by Brazilian MPs.[114][115][116] Moon has held dialogues between members of the Israeli Knesset and the Palestinian Parliament as part of his Middle East Peace Initiatives.[117]


Tongil Group is a South Korean business group (chaebol "Tongil" is Korean for "unification," the name of the Unification Church in Korean is "Tongilgyo."), founded in 1963 by Moon as a nonprofit organization to provide revenue for the church. Its core focus was manufacturing but in the 1970s and 1980s it expanded by founding or acquiring businesses in pharmaceuticals, tourism, and publishing.[11] 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.[13]

News World Communications, is an international news media corporation[8] founded by Moon in 1976. It 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).[9] Until 2008 it published the Washington D.C.-based newsmagazine Insight on the News.[8] Until 2010, it owned the Washington Times. On 2 November 2010, Sun Myung Moon and a group of former Times editors purchased the Times from News World.[10]

In 1982, Moon sponsored the film Inchon, an historical drama about the Battle of Inchon during the Korean War. It was not successful critically or financially, and was criticized for its unfair treatment of the North Korean government.[118]

In 1989, Moon founded Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma,[119] the most successful soccer club in Korean football, having won a record 7 league titles, 2 FA Cups, 3 League Cups, and 2 AFC Champions League titles.

The church is the largest owner of U.S. sushi restaurants and in the Kodiak region of Alaska, is the area's largest employer.[120][121] The church owns the only automobile manufacturing plant in North Korea, Pyeonghwa Motors, and is the second largest exporter of Korean goods.[122][123][124][125]

In 2011, construction of $18 million Yeosu Expo Hotel was completed; the hotel located at Moon-owned The Ocean Resort in Yeosu, the venue of the Expo 2012.[126] The opening ceremony was attended by the governor of the province.[126][127] Another one, The Ocean Hotel, was completed in February 2012.[128] Moon-owned Yeongpyeong Resort, The Ocean Resort and Pineridge Resort are scheduled to host the Expo 2012,[129][130] 2018 Winter Olympics[131][132] and Formula 1.[133] Moon also managed the FIFA-accredited Peace Cup.[134] The FIFA itself has funded more than $2m for the Peace Cup since 2003.[135]

Race relations

Moon took a strong stance against racism and racial discrimination. In 1974 he urged Unification Church members to support an African American president of the United States: "We have had enough of white presidents. So, let's this time elect a president from the Negro race. What will you do if I say so? There's no question there. We must never forget that we are brothers and sisters in a huge human family. In any level of community, we must become like a family."[136]

In 1981 he said that he himself was a victim of racial prejudice in the United States (concerning his prosecution on tax charges in United States v. Sun Myung Moon), saying: "I would not be standing here today if my skin were white or my religion were Presbyterian. I am here today only because my skin is yellow and my religion is Unification Church. The ugliest things in this beautiful country of America are religious bigotry and racism."[137]

Several African American organizations and individuals spoke out in defense of Moon at this time including the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Conference of Black Mayors,[138] and Joseph Lowery who was then the head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.[20]

In a later controversy over the use of the word "Moonie" by the American news media, which was said to be offensive, Moon's position was supported by civil rights activists Ralph Abernathy[139][140][141] and James Bevel.[142]

In 2000 Moon and The Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan got together to sponsor the Million Family March,[143] a rally in Washington D.C to celebrate family unity and racial and religious harmony; as well as to address other issues, including abortion, capital punishment, health care, education, welfare and Social Security reform, substance abuse prevention, and overhaul of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.[144] In his keynote speech Farrakhan called for racial harmony.[145]


In 1962, Moon and other church members founded the Little Angels Children’s Folk Ballet of Korea, a children's dance troop which presents traditional Korean folk dances. He said that this was to project a positive image of South Korea to the world.[146] In 1984, Moon founded the $8-million Universal Ballet project, with Soviet-born Oleg Vinogradov as its art director and Moon's daughter-in-law Julia as its prima ballerina. It was described by The New York Times as the top ballet company in Asia.[147] In 1989, Moon founded Universal Ballet Academy which changed its name later to Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C.[148]

Honorary degrees and other recognition

Moon held honorary degrees from more than ten universities and colleges worldwide;[149][150][151] at least one of which, the University of Bridgeport, received significant funding from his organizations.[152] He was a member of the Honorary Committee of the Unification Ministry of the Republic of Korea.[153] In 1985, he and his wife received Doctor of Divinity degrees from Shaw University.[154]

In 2004, at event in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, in Washington, D.C., Moon was honored as the Messiah. This attracted much public attention and was criticized by The New York Times and The Washington Post as a possible violation of the principle of separation of church and state in the United States. Some of the political figures who had attended the event later told reporters that they had been misled as to its nature.[155][156]

Several months after his death, an award named after him and his wife (Sunhak Peace Prize) was proposed, inheriting his will to "recognize and empower innovations in human development, conflict resolution and ecological conservation." Its laureates receive a certificate, a medal, and US $1 million.[157]

Moon was posthumously awarded North Korea's National Reunification Prize in 2012[112] and a meritorious award by K-League.[158][159] On the first anniversary of Moon's death, North Korean leader 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."[160]

In 2013, Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai stated: "I remain greatly inspired by people like Reverend Dr. Sun Myung Moon, whose work and life across continents continue to impact positively on the lives of millions of others in the world."[161]


Moon's claim to be the Messiah and the Second Coming of Christ has been disputed by both Christian and Jewish scholars.[162][163] 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.[3] Protestant commentators have also criticized Unification Church teachings as being contrary to the Protestant doctrine of salvation by faith alone.[164][165] 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, the necessity of the crucifixion of Jesus, a literal resurrection of Jesus, as well as a literal second coming of Jesus.[166] 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.[167] 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 Church (originally named the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity).[3] In his 2009 autobiography Moon himself wrote that he did not originally intend on founding a separate denomination at all.[168]

Moon has been criticized for basing some of his theology on that of his former pastor Baek Moon Kim.[169] Kim wrote down his theology in a book titled, The Fundamental Christian Principles. It was around this same time that Moon began to claim that Jesus had appeared to him years earlier and had given him a similar mission. Moon eventually helped to develop his own book titled, The Original Text of the Divine Principle (later changed to the Exposition of the Divine Principle, and later changed again to the Divine Principle). There are similarities in both men's work related to the Principles of Creation, the Fall, and Restoration.[170] Moon himself stated that Kim was a "John the Baptist figure".[171]

During the Cold War Moon was criticized by both the mainstream media and the alternative press for his anti-communist activism, which many said could lead to World War Three and a nuclear holocaust.[172] Moon’s anti-communist activities received financial support from controversial Japanese millionaire and activist Ryōichi Sasakawa.[173][174] In 1977 the Subcommittee on International Organizations of the Committee on International Relations, of the United States House of Representatives, while investigating the Koreagate scandal found that the South Korean National Intelligence Service (KCIA) had worked with the Unification Church to gain political influence within the United States, with some members working as volunteers in Congressional offices. Together they founded the Korean Cultural Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit organization which undertook public diplomacy for the Republic of Korea.[175] The committee also investigated possible KCIA influence on the Moon's campaign in support of Richard Nixon.[176] In 1980, Moon founded the international anti-communist organization CAUSA International which supported the Nicaraguan Contras and also reportedly helped finance a Bolivian military coup which successfully overthrew a democratically elected government. Moon's newspaper, The Washington Times is said to have played a major role in introducing right wing propaganda into the United States news media, with links to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.[177][178] After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, some American conservatives criticized Moon for his softening of his previous anti-communist stance.[107][108]

The Washington Times has been criticized for its coverage of Middle East events.[179] In 1998 the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram criticized Moon's possible relationship with Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu and wrote that the Times editorial policy was "rabidly anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and pro-Israel."[180]

In the 1990s when Moon began to offer the Unification Church marriage blessing ceremony to members of other churches and religions he was criticized for creating possible confusion.[181] In 1998, journalist Peter Maass reported that some Unification Church members were dismayed and grumbled when Moon extended the Blessing to non-members because they had not gone through the same course that members had.[182] In 2001, the Unification Church 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 Unification Church Blessing ceremony, presided over by Rev. 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.[24] Sung went on a hunger strike to protest their separation. This attracted much media attention.[25] 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!.[183]

The Unification Church has made millions of dollars through the selling of objects which were said to cause the liberation of their buyers' ancestors from Hell.[177] These controversial and profitable ancestor liberation ceremonies continue to take place at a church compound in Cheong Pyoung Korea.[184] Moon spoke vehemently against homosexuals and compared them to "dirty dung-eating dogs".[185] He prophesied that "gays will be eliminated" in a "purge on God's orders".[186]

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 project.[29] Moon was also criticized for his relationship with controversial Jewish scholar Richard L. Rubenstein, an advocate of the "God is dead" movement of the 1960s.[187] Rubenstein was a defender of the Unification Church and served on its advisory council,[188] as well as on the board of directors of the church-owned Washington Times newspaper.[189] In the 1990s, he served as president of the University of Bridgeport which was then affiliated with the church.[190]

In 2007 Moon's American news magazine Insight on the News reported that someone on the campaign staff of American presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton had leaked a report to one of Insight's reporters which said, according to The Washington Post, that Senator Barack Obama had "spent at least four years in a so-called madrassa, or Muslim seminary, in Indonesia".[191] According to the International Herald Tribune, the report said that the Clinton campaign was "preparing an accusation that her rival Senator Barack Obama had covered up a brief period he had spent in an Islamic religious school in Indonesia when he was 6." Senator Clinton denied the allegations. When interviewed by The New York Times, Insight's editor did not name the person said to be the reporter's source.[192][193] Soon after Insight's story, CNN reporter John Vause visited State Elementary School Menteng 01, a secular public school which Obama had attended for one year after attending a Roman Catholic school for three, and found that each student received two hours of religious instruction per week in his or her own faith. He was told by Hardi Priyono, deputy headmaster of the school, "This is a public school. We don't focus on religion. In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don't give preferential treatment."[194] Students at Besuki wore Western clothing, and the Chicago Tribune described the school as "so progressive that teachers wore miniskirts and all students were encouraged to celebrate Christmas".[195][196][197] Interviews by Nedra Pickler of the Associated Press found that students of all faiths have been welcome there since before Obama's attendance. Akmad Solichin, the vice principal of the school, told Pickler: "The allegations are completely baseless. Yes, most of our students are Muslim, but there are Christians as well. Everyone's welcome here ... it's a public school."[198]

In 2009 Moon's support for the Japan–Korea Undersea Tunnel was criticized in Japan and South Korea as a possible threat to both nations' interests and national identities.[199] In 2012 The New Republic criticized Moon on a number of points: His harsh treatment of his wife, Hak Ja Han, and his lavish indulgence of his children. Appointing his children and in-laws to leadership positions in the church and related businesses, including his daughter In Jin Moon to the presidency of the Unification Church of the United States against the wishes of many church members. Misusing the church for personal gain at the expense of its members. His support of right-wing elements within the government of South Korea. Using American church members for political activism. And opposing communism through The Washington Times and other projects. The New Republic also criticized the relationship between the Unification Church and Islam, especially following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City; as well as the relationship between Moon and his family and the family of then United States Vice President Joe Biden.[177]

Views on the role of Moon to church members

The Divine Principle itself says about Moon: "With the fullness of time, God has sent one person to this earth to resolve the fundamental problems of human life and the universe. His name is Sun Myung Moon. For several decades he wandered through the spirit world so vast as to be beyond imagining. He trod a bloody path of suffering in search of the truth, passing through tribulations that God alone remembers. Since he understood that no one can find the ultimate truth to save humanity without first passing through the bitterest of trials, he fought alone against millions of devils, both in the spiritual and physical worlds, and triumphed over them all. Through intimate spiritual communion with God and by meeting with Jesus and many saints in Paradise, he brought to light all the secrets of Heaven."[200]

In 1978 Rodney Sawatsky wrote in an article in Theology Today: "Why trust Rev. Moon's dreams and visions of the new age and his role in it, we ask? Most converts actually have had minimal contact with him. Frederick Sontag (Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church, Abingdon, 1977) in his interviews with Moon appears to have found a pleasant but not an overwhelming personality. Charisma, as traditionally understood, seems hardly applicable here. Rather, Moon provides a model. He suffered valiantly, he knows confidently, he prays assuredly, he lives lovingly, say his followers. The Divine Principle is not an unrealizable ideal; it is incarnate in a man, it lives, it is imitable. His truth is experienced to be their truth. His explanation of the universe becomes their understanding of themselves and the world in which they live."[162]

In 1980 Sociologist Irving Louis Horowitz commented: "The Reverend Moon is a fundamentalist with a vengeance. He has a belief system that admits of no boundaries or limits, an all-embracing truth. His writings exhibit a holistic concern for the person, society, nature, and all things embraced by the human vision. In this sense the concept underwriting the Unification church is apt, for its primary drive and appeal is unity, urging a paradigm of essence in an overly complicated world of existence. It is a ready-made doctrine for impatient young people and all those for whom the pursuit of the complex has become a tiresome and fruitless venture."[201]

In 1998 investigative journalist Peter Maass wrote in an article in The New Yorker: "There are, certainly, differing degrees of devotion among Moon's followers; the fact that they bow at the right moment or shout Mansei! in unison doesn't mean they believe everything Moon says, or do precisely what he commands. Even on important issues, like Moon's claiming to be the messiah, there are church members whom I met, including a close aide to Moon, who demur. A religious leader whom they respect and whose theology they believe, yes; the messiah, perhaps not."[202]

In his 2004 book The New Religious Movement Experience in America Eugene V. Gallagher wrote: "The Divine Principle's analysis of the Fall sets the stage for the mission of Rev. Moon, who in the last days brings a revelation that offers humankind the chance to return to an Edenic state. The account in the Divine Principle offers Unificationists a comprehensive context for understanding human suffering."[203]


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  3. ^ a b c d Unifying or Dividing? Sun Myung Moon and the Origins of the Unification Church George D. Chryssides, University of Wolverhampton, U.K. 2003, Since doctrine looms large in Christian thought, it is understandable that its objections to Unificationism are principally on doctrinal grounds. Although the Christian counter-cult literature does not always expound Unification teachings fairly, it is almost unanimous in identifying the respects in which Unificationism diverges from mainstream Christianity: it is unbiblical; teaches erroneous doctrines of God, Christ and salvation; Divine Principle usurps the status of the Judaeo-Christian Bible; it teaches that Jesus did not fully accomplish his mission and that a new messiah is needed to complete it; it introduces new rituals and forms of worship; and it is spiritist. As new religions progress, they occasionally gain acceptance into the mainstream fold, as happened with Seventh-day Adventism, and, even more strikingly, with the Worldwide Church of God. At the turn of the 21st century, however, Unificationism seems no more likely to gain recognition by mainstream Christians.
  4. ^ Moon’s death marks end of an era, Eileen Barker, CNN, 2012-9-3, Although Moon is likely to be remembered for all these things – mass weddings, accusations of brainwashing, political intrigue and enormous wealth – he should also be remembered as creating what was arguably one of the most comprehensive and innovative theologies embraced by a new religion of the period.
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  7. ^ a b Sun Myung Moon's Groundbreaking Campaign to Open North Korea, The Atlantic, Armin Rosen, 6 September 2012, But for all the focus on the eccentric mogul's quirks and U.S. investments, his role in North Korea may turn out to be his most enduring legacy, a fascinating story of how one man opened one of the very few cracks in this modern hermit kingdom.
  8. ^ a b c "Who Owns What: News World Communications". The Columbia Journalism Review. 2003-11-24. Retrieved 2008-02-02. News World Communications is the media arm of Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. Holdings Newspapers and Magazines GolfStyles Magazine Middle Eastern Times The Segye Ilbo (South Korea) The Sekai Nippo (Tokyo) Tiempos del Mundo (Online Only) The World and I Wire Service United Press International (UPI)
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  12. ^ Kirk, Don (2 May 1998). "Reverend Moon's Group Wants to Talk Investment : Seoul Nods At Church's Foray North". New York Times. The Unification Church, whose Tongil Group ranks about 35th in size among South Korean conglomerates, appears to have Seoul's permission to discuss possible investments with North Korea. Tongil, which means "unification" in Korean, owns factories and a chain of small stores in the South. 
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Further reading

External links