Rev. Sun Myung Moon Dies at Age 92
One of the most controversial figures in modern religious movements, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, passed away on Monday morning. It is believed he died of complications due to pneumonia. He was 92.
The Universal Peace Federation stated on its website:
“Our True Father passed into the spiritual world at 1:54 AM Monday, September 3rd, Korea time.”
dating application form funnyAs the founder of the Unification Church, Moon had been amassing the love and money of his followers, as well as ample criticism since the 1950s. Moon claimed that he was visited by Jesus Christ in 1930 and that he was asked to finish Jesus’ work on Earth. Moonies, as the Reverend’s followers are called, believe that Jesus was divine, but that He was not the son of God or God in the flesh. They believe that Rev. Moon was the messiah.
Moonies made their presence known most prominently in the 1970’s. Followers were expected to lead very exclusive lives, leaving any non-Moonie family members behind. Through the diligent work of Korean missionaries who branched out worldwide, the Unification Church reached membership levels in the hundreds of thousands in the 70’s and 80’s. With so many people swearing their allegiance to Rev. Moon, the church quickly drew scrutiny from concerned family members and international media.
While collecting the generous and obligatory tithes from his followers, Rev. Moon became more than a religious cult leader. His wealth allowed him to branch into business ventures, including becoming involved in manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, real estate, and political maneuvering. Among the most prominent holdings in his empire include the title of founder of the Washington Times.
“Words cannot convey my heart at this time,” Thomas P. McDevitt, the Times’ president, said in a story on the newspaper’s website. “Rev. Sun Myung Moon has long loved America, and he believed in the need for a powerful free press to convey accurate information and moral values to people in a free world.”
While the Rev. hobknobbed with Washington and Hollywood elite, some say that his followers suffered in forced seclusion. One such tale was featured in 1993 on the Today Show. It tells the harrowing tale of how a family attempted to make contact with their indoctrinated daughter.
One of the most enduring images that comes to mind with regard to the Unification Church is that of the mass weddings held by Moon and the mostly pre-arranged couplings were a thing of fascination for many years. Moonies believe that by taking part in a Unification Church ceremony, they are removed from the sinful nature of humanity and that they are grafted into Moon’s sinless lineage. Any children born to a couple properly married in a Unification ceremony is said to be born without original sin.
Moon was particularly fond of matching couples from diverse backgrounds, which often resulted in people marrying those with whom they could not communicate. It was and is not uncommon for English speaking Moonies to be paired with Korean speaking Moonies.
“International and intercultural marriages are the quickest way to bring about an ideal world of peace,” Moon said in a 2009 autobiography. “People should marry across national and cultural boundaries with people from countries they consider to be their enemies so that the world of peace can come that much more quickly.”
Unification Church membership dropped dramatically in the United States after the scandalous 70s and 80s, but it has not gone away completely. Official church numbers claim that there are more than 3 million Moonies worldwide, and that 100,000 of them are Americans. Experts say the real numbers are probably no more than 100,000 members worldwide.
With that said, the Unification Church continues to make waves. A recent documentary called Married to the Moonies displayed one of the last mass marriages officiated by Rev. Moon. Watch the full program below. It is truly fascinating to see these seemingly normal modern families engage in such a strange ritual.
“Our role is not inheriting that messianic role,” said Moon’s U.S.-born youngest son, the Rev. Hyung-jin Moon. “Our role is more of the apostles … where we become the bridge between understanding what kind of lives (our) two parents have lived.”
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