Sun Myung Moon is the founder and head of the Unification Church. He was born on February 25, 1920, as the second son in a family of 13 children to Kyung –yoo Moon and Kyung-Hye Kim. Sun Myung undertook the Confucian-style education but later converted to Christianity as a Presbyterian and received western-style education by studying electrical engineering (Barker 365).
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The Unification Church was started in Seoul in 1954 by an organization known as ‘The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity’. In his study years, Sun Myung studied the bible and felt that traditional Christianity beliefs were incompatible with the beliefs he had come upholding. He was able to develop what he called ‘Divine Principle’, a collection of his beliefs that was later published in 1957 as the foundation of the Unification Church.
The Church spread to other parts of the continent including the US and the leader moved to the US to establish a church. Reverend Moon served a 13-months jail term due to tax evasion. He merged all his investments during the 40th anniversary in Seoul, Korea in 1994 into the AA group company. The group was referred to by the name ‘Family Federation for World Peace and Unification [FFWPU]. Robinson notes that “a National Messiahship program was established by Reverend Moon in1995 by selecting four families to lead the movement in different countries viz. Korea, Japan, America, and Germany” (14). The church has following in around 150 countries with its headquarters in Korea today.
The Unification Church found its following and popularity mainly because of conducting blessing ceremonies popularly known as mass weddings. The first such ceremony was conducted in 1983 where more than 2000 couples were married. These mass weddings have been repeated since then which has earned the church a large following.
Mostly, conservative Christians have criticized the church for what is termed as ‘brainwashing members with their beliefs’, thus taking away the power of choice. Their recruitment methods have been manipulative. Reverend Moon is the ultimate authority, which presents a system of dictatorship. Articles in the 1970s that contained testimonies of former members about the atrocities in the church forced people to kidnap members in the name of rescuing them. Free exhibitions were viewed as avenues to trap unsuspecting visitors. However, the Unification Church does not indicate being a destructive cult that can result in murders.
Barker, Eileen. “Free to Choose? Some Thoughts on the Unification Church and other Religious Movements, Part 1.” Clergy Review, 68.4 (1980): 365-368.
Robinson, Antony. “The Unification Church founded by Rev. Sun Myung Moon.” Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, 2005.
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