Unification Church*

Christian or Cult?

The official title of the Unification Church is The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity. It was officially founded in 1954 by Sun Myung Moon (which has led to the referring of his followers as "Moonies") and moved to America in 1959, where he established his international headquarters. Born in Korea in 1920, Moon claims that in 1936, when he was 16, Jesus Christ appeared to him on Easter morning on a mountainside in Northwestern Korea and told him that God had chosen him for the mission of establishing the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, a mission that Christ had only begun. Christ supposedly told Moon that he would be "the completer of man's salvation by being the Second Coming of Christ" (Sun Myung Moon and The Unification Church, James Bjornstad, p. 9). After World War II, Moon returned to Pyongyang, the capital of communist North Korea, where he set up his first church (1945).

There, according to reports, Moon involved his congregation in an unusual ritual known as "blood separation," during which female members of the church were required to have sex with him to cleanse themselves of Satan's influence. In 1948, North Korean authorities arrested and jailed Moon (he spent two years in a labor camp), accusing him of bigotry and adultery. Moon was finally liberated by United Nations' troops during the Korean War (1950). (Still today, Moon's sermons focus on sex and the idea of female submissiveness. In 1995, on "True Parents Day," he observed, "Woman was born to connect in love with man's sexual organ. Man and woman's sexual organs are the place of the true love palace.") After the Korean War, Moon fled to South Korea and established the Unification Church, which now claims three million members in more than 120 countries (about 40-45 thousand U.S.), but both these figures are believed by many to be grossly exaggerated. (The largest concentration of Moonies reside in Korea and Japan.) In 1956, Moon published the English version of the Divine Principle as the authoritative work of the Unification Church. (The Korean Version: "Wolli Haesol" or "Explanation of the Principle" was published on August 15th, 1957.)

This "church" has been the subject of much negative U.S. publicity, primarily due to alleged unethical recruitment and fund-raising tactics and Moon's authoritative leadership style. In 1982, Moon was convicted of federal income tax fraud, for which he served 11 months (of an 18-month sentence) in federal prison (beginning in the summer of 1984). The Unification Church of America was founded in 1972 and is headquartered in New York City. To train those interested in joining the movement, a "seminary" was established in 1975 at Barrytown, New York (the Unification Theological Seminary), with the goal of unifying all theological beliefs. Its faculty is drawn from Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox backgrounds, as well as from the Unification Church. Its mission statement reads, "to inspire Christian denomination and all the world's religions to supersede their separateness and cooperate for the attainment of God's will."

Moon has also launched numerous business ventures, and with the free labor of his followers, has built a multi-million dollar empire that includes pharmaceutical companies, manufacturing, banking, publishing, and other industries. (The Unification News is a monthly newspaper owned by the Church. They also publish a monthly magazine called Insight. While not an official publication of the Unification Church, the Church does own and operate the Washington Times, located in Washington, D.C. Today's World is a monthly magazine.) Moon is a permanent resident of the U.S. (since 1973), and believes that the U.S. will be the future base of operations for the "Lord of the Second Advent" (a title to which Moon himself has laid claim!).

Moon is particularly fond of drawing former U.S. intelligence and military officers into his organizations. Moon has masterfully used his hard line anti-communist campaigns, multi-million dollar business deals, and substantial political donations to blur his ultimate objective of a one-world government originating from a centralized religious power -- ruled by Moon -- under which his followers will purchase goods and services only from church sponsored manufacturers.

The Unification Church has also been linked to a variety of associated organizations. Some of these include The American Freedom Coalition, Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP), CAUSA USA, American Leadership Conferences, American Constitution Committee, National Committee Against Religions Bigotry and Racism, Conservative Action Foundation, National Council for Church and Social Action, The Washington Times Corporation, World Media Association, U.S. Property Development Corporation, Atlanta Video, Happy World Inc., as well as numerous others (Washington Post, 15 October 1989).

In 1976, The New York Times made the following astute observation about Moon and the Unification Church: "While church members accept Moon's theology as revealed truth, non-members generally find it a mind-boggling mixture of Pentecostal Christianity, Eastern mysticism, anti-Communism, pop psychology, and metaphysics." Below are the highlights of what the Moonies believe concerning their source of authority, Biblical interpretation, the fall of man, the occult, sin, Christ, salvation, the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, marriage, eschatology, and heaven and hell:

1. Source of Authority. The Moonies teach that the Bible is "not the truth itself, but a textbook teaching the truth." Moon's 536-page spiritual manifesto, Divine Principle (1957), is considered to be their scriptures (supposedly revealed directly to Moon by Jesus Christ), along with the Bible. (Divine Principle is considered to be the "third testament" of the Bible, and superior to the Bible.) They also believe in continuing revelation. (Moon claims to have received new revelations from God; i.e., "I spoke with Jesus Christ in the spirit world. And I also spoke with John the Baptist. This is my authority.") [HJB] Even Divine Principle is not the complete truth. "The Divine Principle revealed in this book is only part of the new truth. ... as time goes on, deeper parts of the truth will be continually revealed" (Unification Theology, p. 16). 

Ultimately, Moon's interpretations and teachings are considered to be the final and absolute source of authority. Moon's teachings warn church members that life on earth is a continuous battle between good and evil -- where they are the Chosen People -- and everyone outside of the "True Family," including their biological parents, may be agents of Satan. Any person harboring doubts about Moon is deemed to be allowing himself to be part of the work of Satan.

2. Method of Interpretation. The Moonies interpret much of the Bible allegorically; they teach that the thieves on the cross represent democracy (the "right") and Communism (the "left"). They claim that "resurrection" does not refer to raising the dead, but to accepting the "word of God" (cf. 1 Cor. 15:12-20). They say that the expression "end of the world" only means that "evil is going to end." [HJB] Moon also believes the Bible teaches that Christianity is not the one and only divinely revealed and saving faith. He says that "God has established many religions. ... God cannot be found where there is conflict. Catholicism and Protestantism must become one."

3. Dualism and the Fall. Moonies believe that everything in existence has a dual aspect, including God. They claim that God originally intended for Adam and Eve to have a brother/sister relationship until they reached perfection, and that Adam and Eve were supposed to establish God's kingdom on earth through marriage and childbearing. Therefore, the Fall was the result of sexual sin; i.e., that Eve had sexual relations with Satan (the spiritual fall) and then with Adam (the physical fall). [HJB]

4. The Occult. Moon admits communicating with familiar spirits by means of sťances. [It is a well-known fact that Moon has participated in sťances conducted by a spirit transmedium named Arthur Ford (a famous Philadelphian necromancer). Ford's "spirit guide" first spoke of Moon on 11/1/64, again on 3/18/65, and on 4/21/65 (Unknown But Known, p. 121). Moon was present at this last sťance and his comments were tape recorded and later transcribed.] Though the Christian ordinances of baptism and communion are avoided by the Unification Church, it readily accepts clairvoyance, automatic handwriting, and mediumistic trances.

5. Sin. Unification theology teaches that Adam and Eve's fall came not from disobedience in eating fruit from the tree of knowledge, but was sexual in nature. Eve's sin, the church holds, was engaging in an act of sex with Satan, and Adam's was in turn "a premature act of love" with Eve, thus leading to mankind's physical corruption. Adam and Eve thus failed to fulfill God's plan for them to be the "true parents" of mankind. According to Moon, then, sin is a matter of genetics (physical children of Lucifer), not moral choice. Salvation, therefore, requires a physical redemption; i.e. it is a matter of being born of Moon's physical bond or entering a marriage union chosen and blessed by Moon himself. [Originally, "Blood cleansing" as defined by Moon was accomplished for any male by having sexual relations with a woman that had been "cleansed" by Moon (i.e., had sexual relations with Moon). Now, those who totally submit to Moon's authority (e.g., defined as turning over all financial assets to the Unification Church, allowing Moon to choose one's mate, etc.) may consider their devotion to be a spiritual kind of purification not requiring sexual cohabitation.]

6. God the Father. "Unification theology asserts that God has both masculine and feminine qualities based on the universal fact of polarity ..." There are similarities between the Unification Church theology of God the Father and the deity concept of I Ching, Confucianism, Taoism, and even the Hindu worship of a Mother Goddess: "... God must exist in polarity. That is, He must possess within Himself the dual characteristics of masculinity and femininity which are perfectly expressed and fully harmonized in His nature. The doctrine of divine polarity taught by Unification theology should be seen not as an eccentric novelty but rather as a reaffirmation of a valid theological insight" (Unification Theology, p. 56). 

7. Jesus Christ. Moonies deny the deity of Jesus Christ; instead they claim He was just a man, not God. ("God is just like you and me. All human traits originate in God." -- Moon, Christianity in Crisis, p. 4; and "He can by no means be God Himself." -- Divine Principle, pp. 210-211). They teach that Jesus was not virgin born, but was the bastard offspring of Zechariah and Mary! They also claim that Jesus failed in His earthly mission (Divine Principle, pp. 143-145), and that Christ's purpose in coming was to marry and to produce perfect children. However, He was killed before He could fulfill His mission (i.e., "The Cross is the symbol of defeat of Christianity," Moon, 1973). Moonies believe that John the Baptist was responsible for the death of Jesus (by failing to convert his audience into a power bloc for Jesus) (Divine Principle, pp. 156-162), and that Christ's death on the cross was not an original or essential part of God's plan of redemption ("... however devout a man of faith may be, he cannot fulfill physical salvation by redemption through Jesus crucifixion alone." -- Divine Principle, p. 148), but that God merely used it to provide an incomplete, spiritual salvation. They do not believe that Jesus was physically resurrected (cf. 1 Cor. 15:12-20), but that He returned as a spirit, and that a "third Adam" must come to fulfill God's plan for physical salvation by marrying and producing the sinless race. The Unification Church has given titles to Moon that indicate it considers him to be this "third Adam." [HJB]

8. Salvation
. Moonies teach the "Law of Indemnity" -- that God's children must pay for at least a part of their debt of sin before God will forgive them. They believe a person earns his salvation through fasting, fund-raising, recruitment, and other such works. They claim that both a spiritual and a physical salvation are needed -- and that the "third Adam" will provide physical salvation by marrying and producing sinless children (Divine Principle, p. 148). They teach that once the "third Adam" comes, those who have paid indemnity will also be able to marry and bear sinless children. [HJB] Moonies view Moon as that "third Adam" who provides physical salvation through a perfect family (indeed, his twelve children are considered sinless!), and extends this perfection to his followers through their obedience to him.

9. Holy Spirit.
"In Unification theology the main point is that the Holy Spirit is not a separate entity, a being different from God the Father. The Holy Spirit simply refers to God's redemptive activity." Further, the Holy Spirit, "... appears feminine, masculine and impersonal. ... Like God Himself, the Spirit is invisible and incorporeal -- a bright light or a field of magnetic energy" (Unification Theology, pp. 201-202). Moonies also teach that the Holy Spirit is a "female spirit" -- the "True Mother" and spiritual wife of Jesus (Divine Principle, p. 215). "She" also cleanses the sins of the people in order to restore them, thus indemnifying the sin committed by Eve.

10. Trinity . Moonies deny the Biblical concept of the Trinity. They teach that the "third Adam," his bride, and God constituted the first "trinity," and that mankind will be restored by forming trinities with God through marriage. [HJB] Young Oon Kim, professor of systematic theology at the Unification Theological Seminary, stated, "Unification theology starts with the fact of polarity as the main clue for understanding the essential nature of God. Hence it is not primarily interested in defending the Trinitarian doctrine of the fourth century creeds" (Unification Theology, p. 53). 

11. Marriage . Moonies claim that marriage is the most important means of establishing God's kingdom on earth. Moon teaches that "God-centered families are the building blocks of a world of peace, stability, and love," and that only those who are married will be saved, or qualified, for the kingdom. Hence, Moon's fondness for mass marriage ceremonies, wherein 35,000 to 50,000 couples are married at a time, most whom have never met before! [Moon and his wife, Hak-ja Han Moon (wife #4 -- he divorced the first three), charge each couple an arrangement fee for these mass marriages, which has brought the church more than two billion dollars throughout the years.] A ceremony marrying 3.6 million couples (most by satellite) occurred in 1997, and another 120 million couples in 2000. (These numbers are, of course, highly suspect.)

Moonism transcends biology. Church members are considered the "True Family" and Moon and his wife are the world's "True Parents" -- "my wife and I are cleansing everything that was polluted by false love, false life, and false lineage. Our marriage has achieved the True Parents position; the large international marriage ceremonies which we conduct are to sow the seed of true love, true life, and true lineage, which results from the unity of God's love and man's love" (1995). Members celebrate as birthdays the day they joined the Unification Church.

12. Second Coming . Moonies use Biblical terms to refer to the Second Coming, but have changed their meanings. They deny that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, will return, but say that God will send another man as the "third Adam." They deny that the "Christ" will come in the clouds, but instead that he will be born just as Jesus was in the First Advent. They teach that the Kingdom of God on earth and in heaven will be established by the "third Adam" through marriage. The bottom line is that they believe that Moon is this "third Adam" and that he has begun to establish God's kingdom -- "He [God] is living in me. I am the incarnation of Himself." [HJB] [Moon says that Jesus failed at the First Coming, but he (Moon) will not! (speech on 8/24/92).]

13. Heaven and Hell. Moonies teach that heaven is a realm of the spirit world and that hell is inconsequential because it will "pass away as heaven expands," and all mankind is redeemed. Also, one's destination after death depends on his spirit's "quality of life on earth; by the degree of goodness we build into them through actions." Rather than immortal perfection, Moon teaches that in the afterlife his followers will experience the same "desires, dislikes, and aspirations as before death."

Summary: According to Moon, it was God's plan for Jesus to find a perfect mate and produce sinless children, bringing about the world's physical and spiritual salvation. But Jesus failed because He couldn't get the Jews to accept Him as Messiah. The Crucifixion was a "mistake" which thwarted God's plans and made it necessary for a new Messiah to come during this present age. This new "messiah," called the "Lord of the Second Advent" by Moon, was born in Korea in 1920 (which, coincidentally, is the place and time of his own birth).

By the year 2000, Moon claimed, the Messiah would be revealed (cf. Duet. 18:22). Therefore, Moon does not want us to think of the Second Coming in terms of a literal interpretation of Scripture, which states that Jesus will come in the clouds with great glory. Moon insists that the second messiah will be a Korean man born of the flesh -- and those who do not accept him will face God's wrath.

Accordingly, everyone must be born again by new parents in order to fulfill God's original plan of redemption. Translated into Moon's theology, this means: acceptance of Moon and his wife as spiritual parents is necessary for salvation.

Quotes from Moon Illustrating Essential Theological Points


Note on Sťances: In 1965, one of the most interesting events in Moon's life took place. He had a sitting with famed Spirit Medium Arthur Ford. At this sťance, Moon was given information by Fletcher, Ford's spirit guide, concerning his destiny as a spiritual leader. Present at this occultic ceremony were Ford, Moon, Bo Hi Pak (a leader in the Unification Church), as well as Miss Kim, Moon's interpreter. After Ford had gone into a trance, Pak asked, "Could you ask him in connection with the New Age, more specifically, the mission of Our Leader here today?" Fletcher answered, "He is one of those who will be the human instrument through whom the World Teacher will be able to speak. ... The Jesus of Galilee will not return, it is not necessary. The Christ who manifested through him is the Eternal, he will manifest again. ...But the important thing to remember is that when God wants to make a revelation he has to choose a human instrument.... Sun Myung Moon is the one I have been talking about. I have been speaking for a group of people here. This group seems to surround him. And the power that flows through him, the intelligence, is not just one it is a great group of people. And they seem all to draw their inspiration and their knowledge from One Source and then they seem to pour it symbolically into a pool and in some strange symbolical way that pool becomes Sun Myung Moon." Fletcher, having mentioned revelation, was then asked by Pak, "You are speaking of New Revelation; that means you are speaking of  the Divine Principle brought by Sun Myung Moon?" Fletcher answered, "That's part of it, yes, but even Sun Myung Moon has not exhausted the possibilities of the Divine Mind. He is, and as long as he lives will continue to be, a channel for revelation" (Unknown But Known, pp. 131-139).  [Return to Text]

Note on Mass Marriages: The term "Mass Marriage" is actually a misnomer, but that is what they are popularly known as. In reality, no one is being married in these mass wedding spectacles. Instead, the "Blessing," as Moonies refer to this event, is a religious ceremony and not actual weddings. Though they are dressed as brides and grooms and repeat marriage vows at these events, the ones that intend to be husband and wife will have to obtain marriage licenses from whatever jurisdiction they reside in. In former years, only those couples that Sun Myung Moon had matched (Moon chose usually complete strangers who would then become husband and wife based on Moon's selection) or those who had passed very stringent qualifications (including from 3 to 7 years of celibacy before marriage) would be allowed to be 'blessed' by Moon. In recent years, these events are often billed as a 'recommitment of marriage' to unsuspecting participants.  [Return to Text]

*Unless otherwise cited, five primary sources were used for this report: (1) Grolier's 1995 Multimedia Encyclopedia; (2) Funk & Wagnall's Encyclopedia; (3) What They Believe, Harold J. Berry [HJB], BTTB:1990, pp. 243-267; (4) "Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity," Rick Branch (Watchman Fellowship Profile, 1993); and (5) Examining & Exposing Cultic & Occultic Movements, Jack Sin, "Unification Church," April 2000, pp. 32-33.

Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 11/01