Some Concerns about the Unification Church – Part 1

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©1999
The Unification Church [UC] represents a microcosm of many of the characteristics of new religions and cults. In this three-part article we will mention only a few of many areas of concern: UC teachings on the family, morality, the risk of psychological damage and their liberal theological approach.


Some Concerns about the Unification Church – Part 1

Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon © 1999

The Unification Church [UC] represents a microcosm of many of the characteristics of new religions and cults which, unfortunately, have become such a blight on the Western spiritual landscape: alien and eccentric beliefs, bizarre doctrines, authoritarianism, psychological and spiritual abuse, occultism and dehumanization. In this three-part article we will mention only a few of many areas of concern: UC teachings on the family, morality, the risk of psychological damage and their liberal theological approach.


The Family

Moon claims, “I have never divided families or broken homes.”[1] Some Concerns about the But one would never know it. Sontag observes, “The pattern of family disruption has been universal as the church has expanded in each country, although perhaps it varies in severity.”[2] For 50 years Moon has been in the business of disrupting the family, and wherever he goes in the world the disruption appears to be significant. The reason Moon can say he “supports the family” is because his cultic concept of the family is vital to world unification. Without his particular kind of spiritual family, one that is unalterably devoted to him, he cannot succeed.[3] Even when Moon “supports” the family, he divides it. Moon teaches that when a member is saved, his family will automatically be saved,[4] although it may be far down the road. As a result, one’s family may be sacrificed now (for example, abandoned) since this will assist
one’s family’s salvation after death. But if one “compromises” with one’s parents now, it will prevent their salvation and ensure their going to “hell” later.[5] Overall, Moon perceives non-Moon families as satanic. “Your present [marriage and sexual] relationship of love is satanic.”[6] “Married life in the satanic world is not recognized by God.”[7] “When the 36 couples were blessed, I really took away sons and daughters from satanic families.”[8] Since parents are corrupted by satanic blood, they are “false parents.” Moon and his wife, of course, are the “True Parents.” “So fallen people came to possess false parents…. God is to love the True Parents, not false parents.”[9] “How do we separate ourselves from Satan when we are in the Satanic world?… [Partial answer] You have to cut off the environment of your physical parents, and even the fallen husband and wife relationships.”[10] Compared to Moon, one’s family is simply irrelevant: Friends, relatives or parents are not important…. If he [Master] were asked to offer his parents and his children as a sacrifice on the altar he would be willing…. He can throw away his parents, throw away his wife and children…. It will be the same in the future. There is the course of our Master. If you are a devoted follower you will inherit these thoughts from him.[11]
Before I was allowed to speak to him, my group leader talked with me for about 10
or 15 minutes, explaining the reason for my mother’s sickness. She told me that
Satan had invaded her and it was because Satan was working through my family.
The general idea is that Satan works through your loved ones to get you away. In
fact, anyone who tries to get you to leave the movement is Satanic…. I was told again not just that Satan had invaded my mother, my father and the family, but that my family was satanic and evil.[12]The Unification Church has its own rules for marriage and the family. Moon arranges who marries whom (usually the would-be couples do not know each other). Remarriage is forbidden. Even if the spouse dies, “You must remain single all your life,” but the spirit of the dead spouse “will be with you always” as your spiritual “mate.”[13] Moon of course is the exception; he has had at least two and allegedly as many as four wives (Sung Kil Choi, “Miss Kim,” Mung Hee Kim, Hak Ja Han).
On dozens of occasions, Moon has “married” thousands of couples, sometimes hundreds of thousands or “millions.” The consequences and potential for abuse are so great that more than one public proclamation has been issued against such mass marriages. The following
is one example:
Joint Declaration Concerning the Moon Organization, September 26, 1997
Endorsed by the following:
Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Secretary General, Network of Lawyers Against the “Spiritual
National Parents Association of Victims of the Unification Church
The United Church of Christ in Japan Liaison Committee on Unification Association
We oppose the mass communal wedding ceremony…. In the planned ceremony,
Unification Church leader and self-proclaimed messiah Sun Myung Moon and his
third wife Hak Ja Moon are to bless the participating couples. The Unification Church
teaches that this ceremony is the sole way to wash away the sins of the human race
and of the ancestors of the participants and to enable the participants’ children to be
born free of original sin. The Unification Church believers are inculcated with the
idea that as long as they do not receive the blessing of this ceremony, it will be their
fate and the fate of their ancestors to suffer in hell for their sins eternally, even after
death. The believers are obliged to participate in the ceremony as the sole way by
which they can save themselves (so the participants are made to believe)…. Persons
to be married at the mass wedding ceremony do not know or are not informed of
who their marital partner will be until just prior to the ceremony itself….
Although the Unification Church advocates its work in building ideal families, in
reality it has led to the destruction of families and homes throughout the world….
[Members] are made to think that they are responsible for saving their ancestors
who are suffering in hell for sins they have committed. They feel as if they can hear
their ancestors in hell calling out and asking them for help…. Participants in the mass
communal wedding ceremony are requested to pay an exorbitant amount of money
as both a fee for participation and as a donation…. Each of these people are ordered
to pay 300,000 yen as a participation fee and 1,400,000 yen as an obligatory
donation paid in order to receive a special blessing. To come up with this excessive
amount of money many participants have lied to their family and friends, taken on
difficult or hard physical labor jobs or committed illegal acts.
For the upcoming wedding ceremony, already married elderly couples have been
persuaded to receive the blessing of Sun Myung Moon again for which they must pay
a large sum of money. Also, in Japan, many elderly people who have lost their
spouses are being made to pay large sums of money under the pretext that this
money is to renew their wedding ceremony with their spouses now living in the
spiritual world. In Japan, since 1980, about 10 billion yen was collected each month
through “spiritual sales” (of religious objects)—an illegal practice of selling items
such as marble vases and ginseng extract at exorbitant prices….
The Unification Church makes the partners of an international marriage register
their marriage in both countries so that its believers may work unpaid, live a long time and enter freely into foreign countries, not so that its believers may build their
new families. In fact, legally this is a crime of perjury of an official notarized
document and/or the crime of being an accomplice to that act. At present, more than
10,000 Japanese women are being dispatched around the world. Due to the absence
of these women, their homes, their young children, elderly parents and husbands
are suffering. For these women believers, disobeying the instructions of Sun Myung
Moon is more frightening than the destruction of their own homes and families.
These women are intimidated indirectly with such threats as: “If you do not follow
the order of Sun Myung Moon, you will die by the curse of the spiritual world” and
“If you get married by any other way than that provided by the Unification Church,
then you will not be able to bear children. If you do become pregnant, your child will
be born deformed.” These women live in foreign countries and solicit people to
participate in the mass communal Wedding ceremony. In reality, however, they lie
to such people and say that they are working as volunteers for the FFWP or the
WFWP. This fact has come to light and has been broadcasted to other countries. In
November 1996, a Japanese woman who was sent abroad against her will became
depressed and committed suicide….
Over the past 10 years since 1987, we lawyers have heard complaints from about
18,000 people who were claiming sums totaling 67,900,000,000 yen. Still these
people represent only a fraction of all those who have become victims of the
Unification Church.[14]
Further, the UC policy on marriages seems to have shifted. Because marriage was held to be
a truly sacred event that would make one’s children sinless, members would spend years of
sacrifice in the Unification Church for that special blessing of marriage. In fact, you had to
be in the church seven years just to be considered for marriage. Now the UC attempts to
recruit potential marriage couples almost off the street.
There are other consequences to Moon’s doctrine of family. According to Moon’s Principle
of Reversal, in the “satanic” world the order is first to make parents (that is, for a man and
woman to marry) and then make children. Moon’s Principle of Reversal turns this
backward so that people must first make children (spiritually), and only then can they
become “true” parents. In other words, one must gather three converts (who become one’s
spiritual children) who must be willing to die for you. The result is often that one’s spiritual
converts become more important than one’s own physical family. “In our group, some
people have neglected their children and devoted themselves completely to witnessing.
This has happened because, if you are not restored, your children will perish automatically.
If you don’t find three spiritual children, how can your physical children benefit? In that
sense, your problem is more urgent. For this reason, some parents have neglected their
children.”[15] This ends up becoming the bizarre scenario that, in most cases, to ensure the
spiritual success of one’s own children, one would have to neglect them. Whether or not
you are a parent, God does not recognize you as such without three devoted converts, and those converts “must love you so much that they feel they would die for you.”[16] Members
cannot be “blessed” by God without them.[17] They must also ensure their own spiritual
children gather spiritual children and achieve the same “blessing.”
One outcome of this is that UC members do not easily surrender to their spiritual
“children,” and harassment is common for many “backsliders.” Further, one can imagine
the amount of work it could take to get a convert to be willing, literally, to die for the cause.
“One member had a Kendo stick, which is considered a lethal weapon by Rhode Island law,
and a canister of Mace. He was specifically looking for an ex-Moon member.”[18] Then there
is the agony that a member must feel at losing a spiritual child, for such a loss is not only
personal failure but also harmful to his ancestors and descendants. After all, another
reason Jesus died, they believe, is because he could not get three spiritual children who
were willing to die for him. Hence He was murdered and gave His life in vain. Also, “the
disciples of Jesus failed and so they were doomed to die.”[19] It is hardly surprising members
work hard at keeping their converts, and why there is so much furor over deprogramming.
In addition, although officially denied, UC members who have converted to Moon often do
divorce their spouses and leave their children in order to marry within the Unification
Church. In the end, no other marriage is acceptable to the Lord of the Second Advent. Thus,
one woman was told “to divorce [her] husband and leave [her] children if [she] wanted to
be a member.”[20]
Sexual relations are denied husband and wife because “the spirit world requires you to be
completely separated.”[21] Consider the consequences when one spouse is converted and
another is not. “Married couples must abstain from the marriage relationship at least seven
months. There are those in Korea who have been abstaining for over seven years, and live
as sister and brother…. If the wife only follows the Principle, great conflict arises in the
family. The same if only the husband follows. So our church has been accused of destroying
families. This is not true. We are uniting them.”[22] Clearly, sexual abstention may cause
serious strains on the marriage relationship, which is why the Bible counsels, “Do not
deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote
yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of
your lack of self-control” (1 Cor. 7:5). It is not difficult to imagine what it is like to have to
stop the marriage union suddenly upon conversion of one partner, or how hard if not
impossible it is for married couples to sleep in the same bed as “brother and sister” under a
commandment not to have intercourse. Moon admits, “I know there are resentments in
your families.”[23]

And no wonder. With each family member neglected in so many ways so that “the Father’s
cause” may advance, with parents occasionally looking to their children for spiritual advice
and wives assuming the role of spiritual leadership, with no sex or constant guilt over
sexual feelings, and constant pressure to perform spiritually, one can only imagine the
extent of family tragedies that has existed within the Unification Church for the last generation of the whole world, and if
necessary, you are separated and work in different corners of the earth, never,
never wanting your partner back at the time of trial and difficulty…. Your children
may cling to you and want you to stay at home. But you must kick them away and
with determined and almost cruel mind go out to the battlefield.[24]
The Unification Church has lost the longest and most expensive libel suit in English
legal history and was ordered to pay costs estimated at more than $1.5 million.
Dennis Orme, leader of Sun Myung Moon’s church in Britain, claimed damages
against the London Daily Mail for a 1978 article that accused the church of
brainwashing converts and breaking up families. The jury, after hearing evidence
from more than 100 witnesses over six months, decided unanimously that the Daily
Mail was justified in its accusations.[25]



  1. Frederick Sontag, Sun Myung Moon—and the Unification Church (Nashville: Abingdon/Parthenon Press, 1977), p. 135.
  2. Ibid., p. 177.
  3. Master Speaks, 2 (2), p. 5.
  4. Assuming the disciple’s continuing sacrifice and dedication. No UC member knows he is “saved” until he has died.
  5. Ken Sudo, The 120 Day Training Manual (Barrytown, NY: International Unification Church Training Center, n.d.), pp. 160-161
  6. Master Speaks, 2, p. 6.
  7. Ibid., p. 1.
  8. Ibid., p. 12.
  9. Master Speaks, December 26, 1971, p. 1.
  10. Master Speaks, December 14, 1971, p. 6.
  11. Master Speaks, December 22, 1971, p. 10.
  12. Special Report, The Unification Church: Its Activities and Practices, Unofficial Transcript Government Panel,
    Citizens Appearing; Dirksen Senate Office Building, Senate Caucus Room, Washington, D.C., February 18,
    1976, Part 1, pp. 20-21.
  13. Master Speaks, 2, p. 8.
  14. Joint Declaration Concerning the Moon Organization, September 26, 1997.
  15. Master Speaks, 2, p. 13.
  16. Master Speaks, 2, p. 2.
  17. Master Speaks, 2, p. 16.
  18. Special Report, Part I, p. 33.
  19. Master Speaks, 2, p. 2.
  20. Des Moines Register (Iowa), April 4, 1974.
  21. Master Speaks, 2, p. 6.
  22. Master Speaks, 2, p. 1.
  23. Master Speaks, 430, p. 6.
  24. 24 Master Speaks, 430, p. 5.
  25. Christianity Today, April 24, 1981, p. 48.

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