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Christian faith groups

The Unification Church, founded
by Rev. Sun Myung Moon

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History:

The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity was organized in 1954 in Seoul, South Korea by Rev. Sun Myung Moon ["One who has clarified the Truth"]. Some sources say the organization started in Pusan, not Seoul. Its followers are often called Moonies by persons outside of the Association. However, this term is considered derogatory by its members, who refer to themselves as Unificationists.

Rev. Moon was born in what is now North Korea in 1920 and was raised in the Presbyterian Church. He is a Professional Engineer by training. When he was 15 years old, at Easter, he believes that Jesus Christ appeared to him in a vision, charging him with the responsibility of completing the work in the world that Jesus had started. During his adult life he has had trouble with legal authorities, having been arrested for practicing capitalism (a crime in North Korea), charged (but not convicted) in South Korea of other activities, and convicted of tax evasion in the United States. During 1948, the Presbyterian Church of Korea felt that his views were incompatible with traditional Christianity; they excommunicated him.

In 1957, Rev. Moon published Divine Principle which is a collection of his beliefs, as written by a member of the Church. Two years later, Young Oon Kim moved to North America as a Unification missionary to establish a church presence there. Many of the members in the US concluded that some type of apocalyptic event would occurr in 1967. When nothing significant occurred that year, some members became disillusioned and left the organization. In 1972, Rev. Moon moved to the United States and started a major recruitment drive. A decade later, he performed the first of many mass wedding ceremonies in which more than 2,000 couples were married. In 1984, he was convicted of tax evasion in the US and sent to prison for 13 months.

On 1994-MAY, the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity celebrated their 40th anniversary in Seoul, Korea. It was a type of watershed for the movement. Reverend Moon announced the merger of all of his religious, political, cultural and business organizations, -- including the  CAUSA, Free Press International, International Cultural Foundation, International Religious Foundation, Korean Folk Ballet, Washington Times -- into a new group: the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU).

Reverend Moon initiated a National Messiahship program in 1995. This involved the selection of four families to lead the movement in each country. One family was from Korea, one from Japan, one from America, France, or Great Britain, and one from Austria, Germany or Italy.

On 1999-FEB-6, the Inter-religious and International Federation for World Peace was formed. Its mission is "to implement a system through which the highest expressions of religious wisdom are brought to the table at which the world's most serious and urgent problems are being addressed ... by creating a council of religious leaders within the framework of the United Nations."

Since the fall of Communism in Europe and Russia, the Unification Church has been actively proselytizing throughout that region. They now have a presence in over 150 countries, with concentrations in Korea, Japan and the United States. Extensive missionary effort is currently underway in South America.

Reverend Moon proposed the creation of the World University Foundation to include the University of Bridgeport in the U.S. and the Sun Moon University in South Korea. A Unificationist temple was built at Chung Pyung Workshop Centre in South Korea, to hold 10,000 people.

Total membership is difficult to estimate, but is probably many hundreds of thousands world wide. Both the Church and its opponents have issued inflated numbers. It is probable that there are on the order of 5,000 dedicated members in the US, and a much larger number of persons affiliated in some way with the church. The Church appears to be in decline in North America.

Rev. Moon was the ultimate authority within the Church. The administration of the various Unification organizations is handled by a board of elders.

Beliefs:

While many of the beliefs of the Unification Church are identical to those of other conservative Christian groups, there are some major differences:

bulletThey view God as a single being with "perfect intellect, emotion and will". They reject the traditional Christian concept of the Trinity. God contains within himself positive (male) and negative (female) aspects, which are in perfect harmony with each other.

bulletThe Holy Spirit is the feminine counterpart to God. She is not a person, but is a form of energy that is derived from God.

bulletBefore Adam and Eve's were married in Eden, Eve had an affair with the Archangel Lucifer. This caused the spiritual fall of mankind. She later engaged in an pre-marital sexual relationship with Adam. This caused the physical fall of mankind. Together, these illicit sexuality caused them to form an imperfect family. Their sin led to Satan taking control of the world.

bulletThe church links Communism (the expression of Satan) with Cain and Democracy (the expression of God) with Abel.

bulletJesus Christ is viewed as a unique human being who was born without original sin. After his crucifixion, he was spiritually resurrected. His body was taken by angels to an unknown location.

bullet God's original intent was for Jesus Christ to form a perfect marriage in order to redeem humanity, and undo the harm perpetrated by Adam and Eve. Since Jesus was executed before accomplishing his mission, it will be up to a third Adam in the present day to form this perfect marriage and complete Jesus' task.

bulletBy his spiritual resurrection, Jesus has made possible spiritual salvation for persons who accept him as savior and believe in his message. They will, after death, live with Jesus in Paradise. However, because Jesus did not complete his original task, physical salvation is not possible on earth during one's lifetime. Complete salvation (spiritual and physical) awaits the arrival of the third Adam and his subsequent perfect marriage.

bullet St. Paul is viewed as the originator of Christianity. Through his expertise, he is viewed as hav ing converted the teachings of Jesus concerning the kingdom of God into a formal religion about Jesus.

bulletHell exists on earth. Over time, Hell will be transformed into the kingdom of heaven on earth. Hell exists in the spiritual world as well, as an extension of life for those of us who live in hell on earth.

bulletOne of the main purposes of the Unification Church is to unite all of the fragments of Christianity into a single body.

bullet They believe that the third Adam was born in Korea between 1917 and 1930. (The first Adam was the individual described in Genesis; the second Adam is Jesus). The third Adam will be recognized as second coming of Christ, the perfect man. He will marry the perfect woman, and will become the "true spiritual parents of humankind". Many members of the Unification Church regard Rev. Moon and his second (and current) wife Hak Ja Han as these parents.

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Church practices:

bulletThe Unification Church is a profoundly family-centered Church. Members are expected to remain celibate during their youth. They are to subsequently marry, have children, and create an ideal family which contributes to world peace.

bullet The Blessing or mass wedding ceremony is the most important Unification ritual. Rev. Moon matches up each couple a month (or less) in advance, selecting from among the membership. Sometimes, they first meet on the day of their wedding. The bride and groom are expected to marry, but can decide to opt out without disgrace. A Holy Wine Ceremony is conducted before the marriage; this purifies the couple so that they are able to have children free of Fallen Nature (resulting from original sin inherited from Adam and Eve). A special Three Day Ceremony is performed by the married couple some weeks after their wedding, before they engage in sexual activity.

bulletA Pledge Service is celebrated at 5 AM each Sunday, and on the first day of each month and on January 1.

bulletThey celebrate four major seasonal days of celebration: 
bullet True God's Day,
 
bulletTrue Parents' Day,
bulletTrue Day of All Things.

bulletChil II Jeol: Declaration Day of God's Eternal Blessing

bullet True Children's Day

bulletFoundation Day for the nation of the Unified World

Dates are variable, and are set according to a lunar calendar. 7

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. E. Barker, "Free to Choose? Some Thoughts on the Unification Church and other Religious Movements, Part 1", Clergy Review, 1980-OCT, P. 365-368
  2. T. Miller, "America's Alternative Religions", SUNY Press, Albany NY, (1995), P. 223-229
  3. G.A. Mather & L.A. Nichols, "Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religions and the Occult", Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids MI, (1993), P. 281-286
  4. J.G.Melton, Ed., "The Encyclopedia of American Religions, V. II", Triumph Books, Tarrytown NY, (1991), P. 320-322. "Divine Principle", Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, New York NY, (1973)
  5. D.G. Bromley, A.D. Shupe, Jr., & J.C. Ventimiglia, J.C., "Atrocity tales: the Unification Church and the Social Construction of Evil, Journal of Communication, Vol. 29(3) 1979-Summer Pages 42-53.
  6. "The Unification Church," at: http://www.spiritwatch.org/unchurch.htm 
  7. Kathryn Coman, "Unificationist Calendar," at: http://kathryncoman.home.att.net/calendarintro.htm
  8. Heidi Beirich & Mark Potok, "The News That Fits. Long criticized for its brand of journalism, The Washington Times makes a habit of publishing the work of extremists..." Intelligence Report, Southern Poverty Law Center, 2005-FEB-09, at: http://www.splcenter.org/
  9. "Rev. Moon, religious and political figure, dies in South Korea at 92," CNN, 2012-SEP-02, at: http://www.cnn.com/

Copyright © 1996 to 2012, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2012-SEP-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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