The Moonies were - and remain - intent on halting communism. Moon founded the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity in Korea in 1954. The first missionaries were sent out in the Fifties, but only after Moon moved to the US in the Seventies did the movement start to become visible in the West. Moon's followers believe he is the Messiah who can lead the way to establishing the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Their beliefs are set out in the Divine Principle, which contains interpretations of the Old and New Testaments with further revelations from Moon himself. Devotees believe God's victory over Satan requires the defeat of atheistic communism. To this end they have sponsored large numbers of conferences for journalists, theologians, academics, politicians and anyone else they think might contribute to establishing a God-centred world.
It’s frightening what these Moonies can do to the family unit..I get letters from parents all over the country telling me the same story..The kids are swept along by his outfit and then taken away for a few days to a ‘workshop.’ By the time the parents see their kids again – if they can manage to see them – the kids are starry-eyed and ready to take on anyone who disagrees with them. It’s a form of hypnotism. There is something very unhealthy going on.
Rabbi Maurice Davis, United States Congressional Record, 94th Congress, United States House of Representatives, 2nd session, (1976-01-28), Congressional Record, Volume 122, Part 2.
Indeed, many of the Unification Church’s characteristics and techniques faithfully correspond to those traditional in fringe groups of Christianity -- from the buttonholing solicitors with their repertoire of causes to the authoritarian structure, from the dedicated young people to the financial solvency. Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses and many before them have walked this path. There does not seem yet any reason to regard these features as especially sinister in the Unification Church. In fact Moon’s adherents differ from previous fringe groups in their quite early and expensive pursuit of respectability, as evidenced by the scientific conventions they have sponsored in England and the U.S. and the seminary they have established in Barrytown, New York, whose faculty is composed not of their own group members but rather of respected Christian scholars.
Reverend Moon and his church are a long, low cry from the past: a demand for a return to a simplified, unified world over and against what must appear to many to be a complicated and fragmented present-day world, growing more so daily. It is also a cry of the heart for a Western civilization that has no menaces and no communists: the last crusade, the final roundup, the assertion of antihistory, a demand that compromises yield to principle and that religion replace realpolitik.
I have studied major world religions and what I have noticed is that in the age of the founder, the founder is always, somehow, not accepted into the mainstream of religiosity. I believe that pattern also exists in the development of Unificationism.
We did not join the Church in order to enjoy ease. As God's representatives we will be whipped, go through hell and pain, and become victorious in spite of these circumstances. In other words, we are a group of people who were gathered in order to inherit God's cross. What is important is not the fact that the Unification Church is the encyclopedia of ideas but the fact that it is the encyclopedia of suffering.
In particular, unification represents my purpose to bring about God’s ideal world. Unification is not union. Union is when two things come together. Unification is when two become one. “Unification Church” became our commonly known name later, but it was given to us by others. In the beginning, university students referred to us as “the Seoul Church.” I do not like using the word kyo-hoi in its common usage to mean church. But I like its meaning from the original Chinese characters. Kyo means “to teach,” and Hoi means “gathering.” The Korean word means, literally, “gathering for teaching.” The word for religion, jong-kyo, is composed of two Chinese characters meaning “central” and “teaching,” respectively. When the word church means a gathering where spiritual fundamentals are taught, it has a good meaning. But the meaning of the word kyo-hoi does not provide any reason for people to share with each other. People in general do not use the word kyo-hoi with that meaning. I did not want to place ourselves in this separatist type of category. My hope was for the rise of a church without a denomination. True religion tries to save the nation, even if it must sacrifice its own religious body to do so; it tries to save the world, even at the cost of sacrificing its nation; and it tries to save humanity, even if this means sacrificing the world. By this understanding, there can never be a time when the denomination takes precedence. It was necessary to hang out a church sign, but in my heart I was ready to take it down at any time. As soon as a person hangs a sign that says “church,” he is making a distinction between church and not church. Taking something that is one and dividing itinto two is not right. This was not my dream. It is not the path I chose to travel. If I need to take down that sign to save the nation or the world, I am ready to do so at any time.
Mr. Speaker, the activities of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church continue to cause distress for many of us. As you know, the House Subcommittee on International Organizations, chaired by my distinguished colleague, Donald Fraser, is investigating allegations of close ties between the Reverend Moon and some of his organizations and the South Korean government, including the KCIA. As a member of the subcommittee, I am, of course, disturbed over such allegations. My greatest concern, however, is for those young people who have been converted by these religious cults and for their parents, who have suffered the loss of their children. One of these parents, Mrs. Ida Watson Camburn of Sunnyvale, Calif., brought to my attention the testimony of John G. Clark, Jr., M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School, before a Vermont Senate committee, which was investigating religious cults. Dr. Clark's remarks, based on 2 ½ years of research, deal with the effects of some religious cults on the mental and physical health and welfare of their converts. I highly recommend his conclusions to my colleagues.
I would argue that the essential power of the movement's cohesiveness is not to be found in the logic of Divine Principle, but rather in the experience of warm, chaste, unselfish, morally principled, and ordered fraternity. In a day when both church and secular society are questioning the viability of the traditional family structure and have almost given up on the possibility of community, the Moonies have "met the family" and are willing to substitute for the pursuit of individual material achievement roles which are communally designated. These emphases are neither heretical nor esoteric; nor are they incompatible with the inherited Christian theological framework. Indeed, to the extent these emphases are missing in our own witness, we in the mainline churches are judged by the Unification heresy, and the Moonies just might be harbingers of a new age in which the unification of physical and spiritual reality in a lifestyle of principled love is the only alternative to an increasingly fragmented culture and to broken communities. The notion of the final restoration of all things in God, as it was articulated by Gregory of Nyssa, needs no revision by a Korean shaman, but perhaps Sun Myung Moon has served to remind us that we need to affirm it as the ethical corollary to any doctrine of divine sovereignty.
The full name of this movement, the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, captures the contours of the restored order. The spiritual and material, the physical and supernatural, the sciences and humanities, the subject and object, male and female, all religions and all denominations, all the dualities of the created universe must be restored to their essential unity under God. To achieve these ends Unification seeks to be a catalyst. It is not interested in becoming another sect but acts as a movement which can disappear organizationally as its goals are attained. It is a success oriented movement, not given to idealizing suffering or deaths on crosses, rather, it seeks a hearing through economic and political power. While the Vatican and national councils of churches may use their powers in quiet diplomacy, Moon frankly admits that only those with this world's power are heard by the worldly powerful. And the powerful must hear, for the sacred/secular dichotomy is false; all must be restored.
The Unification Church, its leaders and followers were and continue to be the victims of the worst kind of religious prejudice and racial bigotry this country has witnessed in over a century. Moreover, virtually every institution we as Americans hold sacred the Congress, the courts, law enforcement agencies, the press, even the U.S. Constitution itself was prostituted in a malicious, oftentimes brutal manner, as part of a determined effort to wipe out this small but expanding religious movement.
Becoming a Moonie today is an act of deviance, as was becoming a Christian in the first century. Such conversions violate norms defining legitimate religious affiliations and identities. Conversion to new, deviant religious groups occur when, other things being equal, people have or develop stronger attachments to members of the group than they have to nonmembers.