Chapter OnePart I:
I. Historical Background
A. Sun Myung Moon: Youth Through Early Adulthood
1. Sun Myung Moon was born on January 6, 1920, in the village of
Kwangju Sangsa Ri in northwestern Korea.
2. According to Moon, as a young "Christian" he had a dramatic spiritual
experience while he was deep in prayer on a Korean mountainside.
a. This vision occurred on Easter morning in 1936 when he was sixteen.
b. He says that Jesus appeared to him and asked him to complete the
mission he had begun 2000 years ago.
c. When he realized that he was the only one who could save the
world, he accepted the call to deliver all humanity from
3. Moon claims that he spent the following nine years in spiritual warfare
with Satan, in which Satan tried to get Moon to either sin (and
thus be unworthy to be the Messiah) or be convinced that he could not
accomplish all that the Messiah must do to redeem humanity.
Finally, he defeated Satan, thus fulfilling the initial demands of being
4. In 1946, Moon studied under Paik Moon Kim. Much of what he
learned in Kim's pseudo-Christian monastery became the framework
for his own theological teachings.
5. In that same year, the North Korean police arrested Moon.
a. Moon insists that they tortured him because of his faith.
b. He likened his suffering at the hands of the communists to the sufferings
6. In 1948, Moon was arrested a second time and sentenced to five years
of hard labor at Hung Nam, North Korea.
a. The Korean War interrupted his prison term.
b. During the fighting between the communists and the United
Nations' forces, Moon escaped and fled to South Korea.
B. Moon's Activities as Church Founder
1. Moon settled in Pusan, South Korea.
a. There he formed a small following during the early 1950s.
b. These people were devoted both to Moon and to his religious ideas.
c. They called him "Reverend" because they viewed him as their pastor
and because of his religious training at Kim's monastery.
2. In 1954, he officially established his new church.
a. It is called Tong-il-Kyo in Korean.
b. Its English name is the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification
of World Christianity.
c. It is better known in the West as the Unification Church (it is also
known as the Unified Family).
3. In that same year, Moon's first wife left him.
a. According to leaders in the Unification Church, she later realized
that she was wrong to have divorced him.
b. She has since become a devoted member of his church.
4. In 1957, he published the first edition of the Divine Principle, which
details the basic theology of his teachings and of the Unification
Church (see III.B.3. below).
5. In 1960, he married Hak Ja Han.
a. In the Unification Church their wedding is known as "the Marriage
of the Lamb," taken from Revelation 21:9.
b. She has since bore him thirteen children.
C. Moon's Activities as Church Leader
1. During the late fifties, membership in the Unification Church grew at
a steady rate while spreading throughout South Korea.
2. His movement soon extended to Japan, where Moon has enjoyed his
second largest following.
3. In 1959, Moon sent his first missionary, Young Oon Kim, to the
United States to establish churches in North America.
4. Moon visited the United States in the sixties.
5. However, it was not until his seven-city "Day of Hope" tour, from late
1971 to early 1972, that his movement began to attract large numbers
6. The U.S. news media became fascinated with Moon for two reasons:
a. Moon was one of the few people to publicly support Richard Nixon
during the winter of 1973-74, when the Nixon Administration was
entering its stormiest period of the Watergate scandal.
(1) On November 30, 1973, Moon took time from his second "Day
of Hope" tour to issue a statement, which was printed in
twenty-one major newspapers across the United States.
(2) Essentially, Moon said that only God should remove Nixon
from the presidency since God had chosen Nixon to be president.
(3) When Nixon invited Moon to the White House, the press
quickly became fascinated with this Korean religious leader.
b. As an integral element in the life of his church, Moon had been
conducting mass marriages, in which he usually selected who
should marry whom. (Unificationists view marriage as a holy
sacrament like communion and baptism.)
(1) In February 1975, Moon married eighteen hundred couples in
Seoul, Korea, from twenty-five countries, including seventy
couples from the United States.
(2) It was the largest single ceremony thus far in the Unification
Church, and it further drew him into the spotlight of the
D. Moon as a Controversial Figure
1. Controversy over Recruiting
a. Moon became a much more controversial figure when the recruiting
practices of the Unification Church became publicly
b. Critics of Moon claimed that leaders of his church had brainwashed
many of his followers.
2. Controversy over Finances
a. The rapid growth of his financial empire in North America became
a public issue.
b. Moon's church purchased property and his followers established
industries in the United States at an alarming rate.
c. Moon and his family took up permanent residence in New York
City, where they live in affluence.
3. Controversy over Messianic Claims
a. What alarmed Jews and Christians the most was, and still is,
Moon's implication, and some of his followers' proclamation, that
he is the Messiah.
b. Especially disturbing to Christians in particular is his teaching
that Jesus did not fulfill his mission, and therefore another messiah
must complete Christ's earthly ministry.
E. Moon's Legal Entanglements-Major Cases Involving the Unification Church
1. Katz v. Superior Court (1977)
a. In San Francisco parents filed and won conservatorship of their
adult children, who were members of the Unification Church.
b. The California Court of Appeals reversed Judge Vavuris's judgment,
ruling that they were mentally competent.
2. Molko and Leal v. Holy Spirit Association (1986)
a. David Molko and Tracy Leal brought a suit against the Unification
(1) Molko and Leal were former members of the Unification
(2) They charged that the Unification Church had brainwashed
b. The lower courts dismissed the case.
c. However, the California Supreme Court reversed the lower courts.
(1) In October 1988, the court ruled that this suit could be
brought to trial.
(2) In fact, the justices said that the Unification Church could be
liable for fraud, infliction of emotional distress, and restitution.
d. This ruling has been appealed to the Supreme Court, which still
has not acted on it.
F. Moon's Legal Entanglements-A Major Case Involving Himself
1. The Charges
a. On October 22, 1981, Moon pleaded not guilty to a set of indictments
ranging from fraud to tax evasion.
b. Most of these charges centered on the interest that had accumulated
in Moon's account in a Chase Manhattan Bank but had not
been reported to the Internal Revenue Service during the early seventies.
(1) The Justice Department claimed that $1.5 million had been deposited
into Moon's account, which he used for himself.
Therefore, he should have reported the interest earned on
those funds and paid the proper taxes.
(2) Moon's attorney contended that the funds belonged to the
Unification Church and were used for church-related purposes.
Since Moon was trustee of church funds, it was not uncommon
to have church funds in a bank account in his name.
2. The Verdict
a. On May 18, 1982, a New York jury found Moon guilty of evading
several thousand dollars in income taxes.
b. Moon was sentenced to eighteen months in jail and fined $25,000,
plus the costs of prosecution.
c. He served thirteen months, receiving five months off for good behavior.
On August 20, 1985, he was released from the federal
prison in Danbury, Connecticut.
d. Friends of Moon note that Moon "stood trial, [was] convicted, sentenced,
and then jailed on a voluntary basis . Moon . could
have simply boarded a plane and left the U.S. at anytime."
3. Moon as "Martyr"
a. The stigma of being a convicted felon did not tarnish Moon's
image in the eyes of his followers and sympathizers.
b. In fact, they regard him as a martyr, who has suffered unjustly, just
as he had at the hands of the communists, who had imprisoned
c. Moon's followers compare the persecution of their "Master" with
the persecution of Christ.
d. In addition, some say that "Because of his willingness to go this
course voluntarily, without complaint, he is now seen as a leading
champion and spokesman for religious freedom."
II. The Unification Church
1. Sun Myung Moon officially started the Unification Church in Korea in
2. Since then his church has been established in countries throughout
3. Unification missionaries currently have entered formerly communist
nations in Europe.
4. The number of members in the Unification Church is far greater in
Korea and Japan than anywhere else.
5. Nevertheless, Moon's church in the United States still plays a significant
role in Moon's plans to expand his church and spread his teachings.
Moon believes it is through the United States that he can best
exert his influence globally, since the United States is the world's
leading economic, political, and military nation.
6. The Eastern and Western branches have at times clashed over bureaucratic
issues, particularly the Unification leaders in Korea and the
United States, with the Korean church usually winning out.
7. The Unification Church is divided into nations, regions (districts), and
individual churches, and governed accordingly.
1. During the seventies, the Unification Church was widely condemned
for its recruiting practices.
a. Stories of "brainwashed Moonies" headlined newspapers and periodicals
in the West during this time.
b. There were also a number of articles on "kidnapping" and "deprogramming."
2. Unification officials admit that in some cases, overzealous district
leaders applied too much pressure on people to join and remain
within the group. They disagree, however, with the accusation that
they brainwash their followers.
a. Unification officials further state that they have since corrected
these practices in which people both inside and outside the
Unification Church were not given truthful information about
Moon and his movement.
b. Some critics of the Unification Church, however, claim that these
abuses were systematically directed from the top, faithfully carried
out among all branches of the church, and are still applied
today-though much more subtly.
(1) Historian Ruth Tucker notes that "The recruitment strategy of
the Unification Church was widely criticized for utilizing tactics
that were sometimes compared to brainwashing techniques."
(2) Walter Martin said that the Unification Church is "characterized
by what appears to be obvious, widespread, and forceful
psychological pressure on members to conform and remain
loyal to the group at all costs."
c. Other authorities on the Unification Church argue that these
abuses were not widespread.
(1) Sociologists David Bromley and Anson Shupe claim that these
psychological abuses occurred mainly in the Oakland,
California branch, which was led by Mose Durst.
(2) Professor Eileen Barker at the London School of Economics
and Political Science affirms Bromley and Shupe's view: "A
third [of the Unification Church members surveyed] did not
realize that they were in Moon's Unification Church until they
had heard several lectures or, in some (mainly California)
cases, until they had actually joined the movement."
d. It seems reasonable to conclude that in the seventies and eighties
systematic and more serious abuses took place in the Unification
Church, especially at the Oakland branch. Since that time, at least
the major abuses do not appear to be an issue.
3. The following are the major complaints that have emerged against the
recruiting practices of the Unification Church.
a. "Heavenly Deception"
(1) The term "heavenly deception" emerged from the teaching
that lying is good if it is for the purpose of saving that person,
or if it advances "the kingdom of God" (that is, Moon's
church). In other words, Unificationists lied about their group
and Moon's teachings to potential converts.
(2) Chris Elkins, from his experiences in the Unification Church,
defines heavenly deception as "the policy of using falsehood to
achieve, supposedly, goodness Heavenly deception is a
thread that extends far into the fabric of the Unification
(3) I personally have observed Unificationists practice heavenly
deception on numerous occasions. For example, I have encountered
Unificationists in wheelchairs soliciting funds for
social programs that did not exist, and when I asked them why
they pretended to be disabled as they walked to their van, they
used their concept of heavenly deception to defend their
b. Limiting Outside Contact
(1) The Unification Church secluded its members from anyone
outside the movement.
(2) Unification leaders taught members that anyone outside their
church is an instrument of Satan.
(3) These outsiders included family and friends.
(4) For example, in Christopher Edwards' account, he said prior to
his leaving the Unification Church, "It was just as the Family
said. Satan lurked in my parents, tempting me with their
(5) I have found this belief to be true with some Unificationists but
c. Slave Labor Conditions
(1) Members were forced to work long hours studying the teachings
of the church, raising money for the church, or enlisting
new members into the church.
(2) Little sleep and poor diet may have contributed to their loyalty
to Moon. Journalists Carroll Stoner and Jo Anne Parke note
that Moon's "young followers live severe lives of self-denial."
(3) It would be an overstatement, however, to characterize members'
austere lifestyle as slave labor conditions, particularly
when some legitimate Christian communities also lead austere
lives as a reflection of their devotion to Christ. (Continues.)