Sun Myung Moon
From Academic Kids
The Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon (born January 6, 1920) is the founder of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification - first established as the Unification Church on May 1, 1954, in Seoul, South Korea. With his wife Hak Ja Han, he is co-leader of the Unification Movement. Rev. Moon's followers regard him and his wife "the True Parents of humankind" and hail him as the Messiah long awaited by Jews and Christians alike. However, this view is largely ignored or rejected outright by most of the world.
Sun Myung Moon was born Moon Yong-myung (文龍明) in Sangsa-ri (上思里), Deogun-myun (__), Jeongju-gun (定州郡), North P'yŏng'an Province, Korea (now in North Korea) to Moon Kyung-yoo (文慶裕) and Kim Kyung-gye (金__). The Moon family held traditional Confucianist beliefs, but converted to Christianity when he was about 10 years old. On Easter morning in 1935, when he was 16 (in Korean age reckoning), Moon says he had a vision or revelation of Jesus while praying atop a small mountain. According to Moon, Jesus implored him to complete Jesus's mission of saving all of humankind. Moon's high school years were spent at a boys' boarding school in Seoul, and later in Japan, where he studied electrical engineering.
Moon has a son, Moon Sung-jin (文聖進) from his marriage in 1944 to Bak Choi Sun-kil (崔先吉); she divorced him in 1957. The couple had two children, the younger of whom was killed in a train accident in 1970.  (http://www.tparents.org/Moon-Talks/sunmyungmoon84/840115.htm)
Moon married the teenage daughter of Mrs. Soon-ae Hong, a humble lady who did the cooking for the church. Many members were surprised and dismayed, as some had received revelations that they would be the "bride of the Messiah". Hak Ja Han Moon (韓鶴子) was 17 years old in 1960 at the "Holy Marriage". ("Mother Moon") Hak Ja Han and Rev. Moon together became the True Parents to UC members.
Hak Ja Han gave birth to 14 children, although only 13 are usually mentioned by church members; her second daughter died in infancy. Her second son, Heung-Jin Moon, died in 1984 from injuries sustained in a December 1983 car crash; a truck jacknifed into his lane while he was driving two friends. According to two other people in the car, Heung-Jin swerved to take the brunt of the impact on himself and saved the others.
In February 2003, Moon and Han re-affirmed their wedding vows after 43 years of marriage in a ceremony named the Holy Marriage Blessing Ceremony of the Parents of Heaven and Earth.
Sun Myung Moon has been imprisoned six times: twice in North Korea, three times in South Korea, and once in the United States. Members of the Unification Church and many non-members consider these examples of religious persecution.
The first time, he was jailed by North Korea for preaching Christianity, forbidden by the communist government. The church claims that the charges stemmed from the jealousy and resentment of other church pastors after parishioners stopped tithing to their old churches upon joining Sun Myung Moon's congregation. Police beat him and left him for dead, but teenaged disciple Won Pil Kim nursed him back to health.
The second time, Sun Myung Moon got a five-year sentence in Heung-Nam labor camp, where prisoners were routinely worked to death on short rations. Moon credits his own survival to God's protection over his life, and his habit of saving half his meagre water ration for washing the toxic chemicals off his skin after long days work bagging and loading chemical fertilizer with his bare hands. After serving 34 months of his sentence, he was liberated when UN troops advanced on the camp and the guards fled.
The third time, he was jailed briefly on counterfeiting charges during the Korean War when shortly after escaping from North Korea he tried to spend some North Korean currency in South Korea. He was released after his former kindergarten teacher vouched for him. He was also charged with draft evasion; these charges were eventually dropped, after it was determined that Moon himself had not signed the papers allowing him to avoid serving in the South Korean military. Later he would explain to his followers that as a man of God, he never wanted to be in a position where he would be required to kill his fellowman.
The sixth time Rev. Moon was imprisoned was in the United States on charges of tax evasion and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Congressional investigators such as Robert Boettcher discovered what they described as breathtaking financial misdoing, including a scheme to raise money for a church PR fund that disguised itself as a fundraiser for sick children. Congressman Donald Fraser also investigated the church's aggressive recruitment practices. No criminal allegations came out of these congressional investigations.
U.S. Tax case
Upon arriving in the United States in the early 1970s, Rev. Moon had established an account at Chase Manhattan Bank with approximately one million dollars in funds. Some of this money went to support his family, and was recorded as salary on his personal income tax returns. The funds were transferred to the Unification Church upon its incorporation.
Rev. Moon did not take a deduction for donating the hundreds of thousands of dollars remaining in the Chase account. Justice Department investigators considered this a sign that Moon and his church both clearly considered the money to have been church property all the time. They note that he would have saved considerable money if he had taken a deduction.
After an IRS team spent two years poring over all the church's financial records (they were provided an office in the church's New York headquarters), three Justice Department officials independently concluded that there was no wrongdoing. Moreover, they emphasized that the amount of possible tax liability was too small (less than $7,500 per year over a 3-year period) to merit prosecution.
Nonetheless, in 1982 U.S. federal prosecutors charged Rev. Sun Myung Moon with criminal tax fraud, and a federal Grand Jury brought forward an indictment. The charges stated that Moon failed to declare as income (and pay taxes on) $112,000 in earned interest on a Chase Manhattan bank account, $50,000 of corporate stock.
The judge forbade any mention of religion at the trial and denied Moon's request to have a bench trial.
The prosecution maintained that both the money and stock were his personal property, and that his non-payment of approximately $22,000 in taxes was deliberate and thus criminal.
Rev. Moon's defense was that as a minister he was holding the money and stock on behalf of his church — and, therefore, that neither the funds in question nor the income it generated was actually his.
One of the defenses used at trial was that the funds were not really his, but were held in trust for members of the Japanese Unification Church. The United States church had only about 300 members at the time and had not yet incorporated. Moon claimed that, after using a small portion of those funds for his family's living expenses (and declaring the portion used on his income tax returns), he transferred the balance to the Unification Church of America after its incorporation. Holding church funds in a minister's name is a fairly commonplace action, particularly in small churches, and many churches filed amicus curiae briefs in Moon's support.
There was quite a bit of sentiment against Moon and his church in the United States at that time. Moon and his supporters felt that they were being specifically targeted because of their religious beliefs and practices. The opposition claimed that Moon was a con artist and that his organization was a criminal enterprise.
The charge of criminal tax fraud carries a high legal requirement — the prosecution must prove to a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant intended to evade paying taxes, not simply that the taxes were unpaid due to a mistake or failure to understand the law. And they did not accept the defense's contention that the funds in question were being held in trust for the church Rev. Moon was building. Indeed, the judge forbade any mention of religion at the trial.
Moon critics have often portrayed the jury verdict as a failure to pay taxes that was an intentional evasion rather than a misunderstanding of the law. But a careful search of on-line sources and library materials finds no acknowledgement of the legal theory that Moon (a) was a reverend; (b) that his Japanese followers regarded him as holding the money in trust for them pending incorporation of the church in the US; (c) that disputes over tax liabilities ten or a hundred times as much, have been regarded as mere accounting oversights when the taxpayer was popular; or (d) that it doesn't make sense for someone to put his own money in the biggest bank in America and then give the money to a church without claiming that funds transfer as a non-taxable donation (it would have reduced Rev. Moon's adjusted income for that year to zero, and he wouldn't have had to pay ANY taxes on the money he spent on his family).
Moon was convicted of the charges, and given an 18 month sentence and a $15,000 fine. He served 13 months of the sentence at Danbury minimum-security prison and because of good behavior was released to a half-way house.
Moon is forbidden under the Schengen Treaty to travel to major continental European countries; Japan similarly refuses him entry.
Supporters regard the tax case as politically motivated. They also dismiss the news criticisms as liberal bias and defend Moon's alliance with conservatives as crucial for liberating America from sin and guiding it to lead a world of peace.
Difficulties encountered in founding a new faith
Unification Church: legitimate religion or cult? Who will decide?
In the early 1970s, Rev. Moon was denounced as a cult leader who used mind control and brainwashing on his followers to extract money from them. The controversy over these charges had peaked by 1976 and gradually diminished as his youthful American followers settled down, got jobs or started businesses, and built links to local churches in their communities. The APA's pronouncement that there is no scientific merit behind the theory of mind control removed the legal basis for deprogramming in the US. By the early 1990s Moon and his church had largely rehabilitated its public image.
Some critics continue to describe Moon as a billionaire businessman who uses his followers as political footsoldiers. They accuse conservative figures like Jerry Falwell of compromising their stated beliefs to take his millions (Moon lent Falwell $3.5 million for his struggling Liberty University.) His followers love him in spite of the criticisms, which they have often portrayed as an organized smear campaign.
And while the movement is out of the public eye, it has risen as an influential force in American civic life. Shunned as a convicted felon by Japan and the European Union, Moon has come to be seen as a martyr by his followers and even by some outside conservatives. By 2003, Unificationist missionaries were working for their longtime goal of sex purity in New Jersey public schools, on a government abstinence-based sex education grant.
After the end of the Japanese occupation of Korea, Moon personally suffered the brutal excesses of North Korean communism. Some writers have asserted that Moon's anti-Communism is a reaction to his personal suffering, as opposed to having any spiritual or religious basis. Many critics have seized upon this point of view as evidence for their claim that the Unification Movement has primarily a political basis. Thus, they argue, his Unification Church is a cult as a opposed to a religion.
A German court found, however, that:
- "Moon, who was born and grew up in a Japan-occupied Korea, started to preach his religious teachings back in 1945 or 1946 before he personally encountered difficulties with communism. Following Moon's torture and imprisonment by the North Korean communists from 1947 to 1950 he was not reported to have engaged primarily in political agitation, but rather in daily worship. Furthermore, he was barred from the Presbyterian Church as early as 1948 owing to his different religious teachings. These facts alone prove that Moon's teachings have a religious foundation and do not result solely from his personal experience with communism."  (http://www.religiousfreedom.com/Whatsnew/whitepaper.htm)
Later, he found a fellow opponent of Communism in Ronald Reagan. Moon reportedly spent a billion dollars from business-related sources to support the conservative and influential newspaperThe Washington Times, which in 2002 he called "the instrument in spreading the truth about God to the world." Furthermore, decades after Congressional scrutiny and a prison term for tax fraud, his generosity to the New Right (including opening an account for the Contra part of the Iran-Contra equation) has earned him a world of deference from his former enemies.
Opponents often cite the fact that Moon has served time in prison or been banned from traveling to some countries as proof that he is illegitimate, and has been called a cult leader. Moon's supporters dismiss the prison terms and travel bans as examples of persecution, arguing in particular that Jesus himself was persecuted and ultimately executed at Jewish leaders' behest (Moon and his followers hold the controversial position that the Jews were responsible for Jesus' death (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2003/09/24/moon/). See Unification Church and anti-Semitism). Opponents also frequently challenge or dismiss Moon's credibility, calling his conviction and prison term in the United States for tax evasion as evidence that he is a blatant fraud and a deliberate felon. They also criticize him for using the Unification Movement to operate and subsidize a number of major conservative news organizations, including the Washington Times and United Press International.
Moon Crowned by U.S. Congressmen
As part of an Ambassadors for Peace ceremony, Rev. Moon was one of several dozen honorees at a ceremony at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on March 23, 2004. In what both church insiders and media commentators have called a "coronation ceremony", Moon and has wife were given bejeweled crowns by Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-IL.
The media ignored the event at the time, but a freelance journalist, John Gorenfeld, spent the next three months reconstructing the details of the event. His writings forced a sheepish Washington Post, scooped by Web sites, to cover the Senate ritual, which the New York Times editorial page compared to an act of the Roman emperor Caligula.
Moon announced that he would save everyone on Earth as he had saved the souls of even such murderous dictators as Hitler and Stalin — who had received "the Blessing" through him. Moon said the reformed Hitler and Stalin vouched for him from the spirit world, calling him "none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent".
The awards ceremony was the grand finale of the Family Federation's coast-to-coast "take down the cross" tour, intended to inspire almost 300 Christian minister to remove crosses from their churches — the idea being that the cross has been an obstacle to uniting religions. Wealthy churches largely have refused to participate in the tour, and nearly all the church's success has been in poor neighborhoods.
Critics claimed later that most of the congressmen in attendance didn't expect a coronation but thought the awards dinner was only to honor activists from their home states as "Ambassadors for Peace". A flier for the event (http://www.gorenfeld.net/blog/2004/05/back-from-memory-hole.html) claimed an impressive list of attendees, including Republicans Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland and Charlie Black, a top Republican strategist. Democrats were named, too, like Rep. Harold Ford of Tennessee. Sen. Mark Dayton (Dem - MN) was also in attendance, later claiming he had no idea what was going to occur at the event.
Rev. Moon, perhaps the most controversial religious leader in the United States in the 1970s, has been criticized by a wide range of opponents. Some civil libertarians consider his call for unity between religion and politics a violation of democracy's separation of church and state, and that he would crush individualism.
Christians object to his unusual theological demands ("take down the cross" was the theme of a 2003 campaign for Easter). Jews have objected to his doctrine that the Holocaust is a consequence for killing the first True Parent (more commonly known as "Jesus"). See Unification Church and anti-Semitism.
Early Congressional opponents like Donald Fraser dogged Moon for association with figures in the Koreagate influence-peddling scandal, as well as alleged financial fraud. In the 1990s, thousands of Japanese elderly claimed to have been defrauded of their life savings by Moon followers' spiritual sales, a conviction upheld in 1997 by the Supreme Court of Japan.
In the 1970s, Moon was accused of breaking up families by aggressively encouraging young college students to break off contact with the outside world, and sell trinkets to raise money for the church. Church sources counter that Moon urged members to "write a letter to your parents every ten days".
The Unification Church — as well as the ACLU, coming down on the side of freedom of religious association — has rejected foes' claims of coercive mind control. The church has had brushes with deprogrammers who kidnap family members out of the movement.
In Washington, however, Moon first found common ground with strongly anti-Communist leaders of the 1980s who appreciated Moon's fierce opposition to the USSR and support of Nixon in his hour of need. Today, Moon's followers are indirectly supporting George W. Bush's faith-based initiative at the grass-roots level, due to a common interest in increasing religious participation in government-funded social services, and in encouraging sexual abstinence as a solution to unwed pregnancy over an emphasis on contraceptive promotion.
The Hanja for "Moon" (文), the reverend's surname, means "word" or "truth" in Korean. The character "sun" contains Chinese character for fish. The character "myung" (明), part of his given name, means "bright" or "shining", and is composed of the Chinese characters for sun and moon.
Much wordplay has been made of the fact that Sun and Moon are parts of "Sun Myung Moon", although the Korean words carry no connotation similar to the English words they resemble. For example, Evangelical author James Bjornstad entitled his theological critique on Unificationism The Moon is Not the Son, thus asserting that Rev. Moon is no Christ, i.e., not the "son of God".
The U.S. press began using the term "Moonies" in 1974 (a play on "hippies"). Members of the church were divided in their feelings about the name, some wearing it as a badge of pride and others disdaining it as lacking respect. In the 1980s, the church publicly rejected the term as a pejorative intended to tarnish its image.
Forms of address
Members call Rev. Moon "Father" (short for "True Father"). Some ministers (chiefly Americans of the Baptist faith) who have recently come to associate themselves with the Unification Movement have taken to calling him "Father Moon". Similar titles are used for Mrs. Moon.
At scientific or other scholarly conferences, the form "Dr. Moon" has been used since Rev. Moon received an honorary doctorate from Shaw Divinity School.
Speeches about world peace
Rev. Moon opposed U.S. President George H. W. Bush's 1990 plan to use military force against Iraq (which had then recently invadied oil-rich neighbor Kuwait). Moon wrote a letter to Bush that said, "George Bush, President of the United States, you cannot win this battle without the help of God Almighty."  (http://www.unification.net/1991/910415.html) A letter to Mikhail Gorbachev in January of 1991 asked the Soviet leader to spend forty days in peace negotiations.  (http://www.unification.net/1991/910217.html)
After the allied offensive he gave a speech in which he said:
- "100,000 soldiers are reported to have died in the Iraqi war. If you count 100 relatives of each soldier, it means that practically there are millions of people who now have antagonism towards the white people of America. These Arab people will remember this country whose main religion is Christianity, who came and destroyed all Iraqi facilities and industry. They won't easily forget this."  (http://www.unification.net/1991/910303.html)
- Official biography (http://www.unification.org/rev_mrs_moon.html) at US church home page
- unofficial website of the Unification Church, which contains information and past speeches by Moon. (http://www.unification.net/)
- Sun Myung Moon, The Early Years, 1920-53  (http://www.unification.org/ucbooks/earlyyears/) unofficial biography by church member Michael Breen.
- Dark Side of Rev. Moon (http://www.consortiumnews.com/archive/moon.html)
- Moon Shadow The Rev, Bush & North Korea (http://www.counterpunch.org/madsen01142003.html)
- Where in Washington, D.C. is Sun Myung Moon? (http://www.iapprovethismessiah.com)
- Unofficial Unification Mail List (http://www.smartgroups.com/groups/unification)
- Sun Myung Moon's Claims Examined (http://www.wellspringretreat.org/html/journal/v9n2/moon.htm) Excerpted from The Moon Is Not the Son By James Bjornstadde:San Myung Mun