Sunday, 17 June 2012
The Unification Church
This weeks wacky religion is the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity - better known as the Moonies after its founder Sun Myung Moon, pictured above with his wife.
Unification Church members believe that Jesus appeared to Mun Yong-myong (his birth name) when Moon was 15 on April 17, 1935 and asked him to accomplish the work left unfinished after his crucifixion. After a period of prayer and consideration, Moon accepted the mission, later changing his name to Mun Son-myong (Sun Myung Moon).
Moon's stated intention for his organization to be a unifying force for all Christian denominations. The phrase "Holy Spirit Association" has the sense in the original Korean of "Heavenly Spirits" and not the "Holy Spirit" of Christianity. "Unification" has political as well as religious connotations, in keeping with the church's teaching that restoration must be complete, both spiritual and physical. The church expanded rapidly in South Korea and by the end of 1955 had 30 church centers throughout the nation.
In 1958 Moon sent missionaries to Japan, and in 1959, to America. Moon himself moved to the United States in 1971. Since then, he has sent missionaries all over the world.
The Church - i.e. Moon - has extensive business interests, the extent of which he keeps close to his chest. There is no doubt that he is extremely wealthy. As a highly principalled and moral man of the cloth, many may be surprised that he was convicted in the United States in 1982 of wilfully filing false tax returns and conspiracy.
1984 and 1985, while he was serving his sentence in Federal Correctional Institution, Danbury, Connecticut, American UC members launched a public-relations campaign claiming that the charges against him were unjust and politically motivated. Booklets, letters and videotapes were mailed to approximately 300,000 Christian leaders. Many signed petitions protesting the government's case.
The Church is best known for it's mass weddings - some of which have been very massive indeed! The participants believe that they are being blessed by the living messiah. Many who take part are meeting their intended spouse for the first time and believe that being matched by their leader is to be chosed by none less than God They pay £2,000 a couple for the priviledge and pledge 10% of their income to the church.
Amongst their investments, the Moonies own the largest Spanish language newspaper in South America, their own car manufacturer Pyeonghwa Motors (which has invested $300 million dollars in the North Korean car industry), and has recently completed a $130 million stadium in Korea for holding mass weddings and conferences. They are apparently North America's major supplier to the sushi restaurant trade.
To quote Marc Perkel from his 2008 work on the church : "The Moonies are a dangerous mind control cult with millions of followers and billions of dollars. Reverend Moon is a religious nut who is trying to take over the world. Moon openly admits that he thinks he is God and he expects to be worshipped! [They are] deeply rooted in the press, the Christian evangelical movement, and the Republican Party. If you're a member of the Press, a Christian, or a Republican, this should scare the Hell out of you."
In the interests of fairness, you can read more about them on Wikipedia by clicking here...