Article originally published in 1993
The Truth About Sun Myung Moon
by Steven Hassan
This article intends to shed some light on Sun Myung Moon and his worldwide Unification movement. For decades, the Moon organization has rightfully been the subject of hundreds of newspaper articles, magazine stories, books, radio and television specials. In 1992, PBS television did a one hour Frontline special about the disturbing elements of Moon’s political and business operations. In particular, the Moon organization owns and operates the Washington Times newspaper which consistently loses approximately loses two million dollars a month to operate. The Moon organization has spent an estimated one billion dollars since it began the Times, and has never had to account about the sources of this money. Founding editor James Whelan has spoken out against the Moon group since resigning his position due to manipulation from Moon officials. Are foreign governments using this powerful media tool to exert influence?
In the fall of 1993, NBC’s TODAY show with Katie Couric did a long story detailing a family s grief at losing their daughter to the Moon group. It was gripping television, as the woman, Cathryn Mazer refused to see her brother Jonathan as he stood outside a Moon center and cried up to her through the window. The segment ended with Unification Church President James Baughman and myself coming to odds about the practices of the group. In the spring of 1994, after having left the Moon group, Cathryn appeared again on the TODAY show to explain the deception and mind control used on her during her membership.
The Moon organization has also acquired and operates an accredited college, the University of Bridgeport. Moon was given an honorary doctorate there. Buying the university cost an estimated 60 million dollars. Moon intends to set up a series of Universities around the world. In recent years, the Moon organization has been busy making inroads to deepen and expand their power base. Dozens of top politicians (including George Bush), academics, and media celebrities have accepted paid invitations to speak for the Moon group, Women’s Federation for World Peace, unwittingly lending prestige and credibility. In 2000, Moon bought United Press International (UPI). Veteran UPI correspondent Helen Thomas promptly resigned. It now prefers the name, Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.
In Japan, the Moon organization is in great trouble. Former Moon followers have come forward to give testimony regarding their experiences. Several Korean followers of Moon from the 1950s have gone public in Japan and discussed disturbing elements of Moon s past, including their allegations of Moon s sexual purification rites and plagiarism of Moon’s doctrine. There are currently hundreds of lawsuits against Happy World, a Moon owned company which has been the subject of one of the largest consumer fraud investigations in Japanese history. Over 14,000 people have complained that they were pressured to contribute millions of dollars for spiritual sales. This past year, the first trial resulted in a judgment against the Moon group with a penalty of over two million dollars for the two women plaintiffs.
In the 1980s, the Moon organization lost a major lawsuit in England when they unsuccessfully sued the London Daily Mail for libel. The court found the Daily Mail not guilty and determined that the Moonies were, in fact, guilty of brainwashing and cutting people off from their families. Again the Moon organization had to pay over two million dollars in damages and expenses. It is my desire to show in this article a deeper point of view. I feel it is important to understand Moon’s own words and counter to this organization’s multi-million dollar efforts to influence world opinion.
The Moon organization comprises an international conglomerate of interlocking entities all serving the man who calls himself the Messiah. The Unification Home page on the internet is http://www.unification.net and there is also a newsgroup called alt.religion.unification. I am a former member and leader of this organization and in addition to my 27-month membership, I have tried to keep myself informed about major developments concerning the group since I left in 1976, making me perhaps its number one critic. I have great respect and warm feelings for the vast majority of individuals who are members of the Unification organization. I believe as a group of people they are very intelligent, educated, spiritual, and well-intentioned. I also believe they are deceived, manipulated and mind-controlled by the hierarchy of the church. Please see my home page at freedomofmind.com for my definitions of cults and mind control.
I support their right (and anyone’s right) to believe that Moon is a great man. I can only hope (but not expect) that my right not to believe will likewise be respected. I believe that Moon is evil and a danger to the freedom of all others. History has shown us too many times that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely (Edmund Burke). Since I have had first-hand experience with Moon, I think I have not only the right but the duty to share my knowledge and experience with the public.
When I was recruited into a front organization of the Moon group (The International One World Crusade) in 1974, and was told to drop out of college, quit my job, donate my bank account, and follow, I was an idealistic, nineteen-year-old who wanted to make the world a better place. I was almost immediately selected by Takeru Kamiyama, then one of the top Japanese Moonie leaders in America, to be one of his top twelve American disciples. At that time, Mr. Kamiyama was in charge of all New York members, all U.S. fundraising operations, all real estate purchases, all special projects (such as Moon’s speech at Madison Square Garden, and Yankee Stadium). I was told that Father (Sun Myung Moon) was displeased with all of the American leaders and ordered the retraining (120 days) of all the U.S. leadership. I was personally indoctrinated by Kamiyama, and received a personal exemption for the training by Moon himself. I was told that I was too important to lose. Kamiyama knew that if I went to Barrytown for retraining he might lose control of me to Mr. Ken Sudo, then director of the training program.
I adopted a bizarre and twisted set of beliefs that turned me against my own mind. I was taught that if I have a doubt about Moon or the group, that it was a result of evil spirits that were having give and take with my mind. The solution was to cut off give and take with negativity and pray or chant or read the Divine Principle (his new bible) to re-center myself on God. What I didn’t understand at that time was this was a powerful behavior modification technique called thought-stopping. By doing this technique on myself, I unwittingly short-circuited my critical, independent thinking process. When a person automatically shuts down any negative thoughts and is only allowed to have positive thoughts, no independent thinking or reality testing can take place. I allowed myself to be controlled by fear and an unhealthy dependency on central figures, the term used for leaders within the group.
During my 27 month membership, I excelled and was constantly being held up as the model member, sometimes by Moon himself. Moon twice invited me to eat with him at his estate, once gave me a $400 cash gift and at other times I was given expensive gifts. When the Unification Church Headquarters was moved from Washington D.C. to New York, a model church was set up at 4 West 43rd St. and I was made Assistant. Director. I was told that I was the internal Abel (the spiritual superior position) to then U.C. President Neil Salonen.
At that time I was very heavily involved in recruiting and indoctrinating new members. I attended virtually every speech Moon made in the New York area, usually after pledge service at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning each week, as well as special talks and private leadership meetings. Having an opportunity to be with the Messiah was likened to being with Jesus 2000 years ago. For me, the more effective analogy was that it was like being with Moses when he was given the Ten Commandments by God and he was leading the Jewish people from slavery. We were told that since he was sinless, his words were like God’s words.
We were in awe of him and felt incredibly blessed and honored to be his followers. All the members would assemble for at least one hour (usually more than two hours) before Moon’s arrival and we would do unison prayer (everyone praying out loud and simultaneously) and sing holy songs. I was made to believe that the world was controlled by Satan even though as a Jew I had never believed in Satan. The release of The Exorcist movie proved very useful to Moon in this programming process. The membership in New York were all taken to see the movie in which a little girl gets possessed by the Devil. Afterward, we were all taken to Moon s estate in Tarrytown, where Moon told us, God had made The Exorcist. This movie is a prophecy of what will happen to the U.S. if it doesn’t turn back to God and this is what would happen to people who left the Unification Church.
Indeed, as I detail in my first book, Combatting Cult Mind Control (Park Street Press, 1988, 1990), phobia indoctrination is a universal technique to control people s minds. In the mind of someone under cult mind control, they cannot imagine being able to leave the group and be happy and fulfilled. They can only think negative thoughts and have irrational fears that leaving the group is equivalent to leaving God. As a leader, I repeated to members what I was indoctrinated to believe: anyone who leaves the Church is weak; possessed; undisciplined; sex-crazed; drug-crazed, or brainwashed by deprogrammers. Anyone who left the church would go insane; get cancer; have a car accident; their parents would have a heart attack; have stillborn babies or babies with birth defects; they would be condemned by ten generations of their ancestors in the spirit world for betraying the messiah!
In my new book, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves (FOM Press, 2000), I have an entire chapter devoted to phobias and how to remove them from cult member’s minds. I was told to found and be the director of the C.A.R.P. chapter at Queens College in N.Y. (Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles). I proceeded to recruit college students to join a club whose intent was to get them to drop out of college and work full time for the Moon group. This I did while I was no longer a student anymore. After much bad publicity, C.A.R.P. later stopped its practice of systematically pressuring students to drop out of college. They would, however, recommend that they take only one or two courses each semester–enough to keep them legally on campus so they could continue to recruit. C.A.R.P. also went through a subtle name change to the Collegiate Association for Research of The Principle, referring to Moon’s doctrine the Divine Principle.
In 1974, Moon could understand English, and I would ask him questions or make suggestions (like a two-day workshop for C.A.R.P.) and he would reply. Moon spoke primarily in Korean, although sometimes in Japanese and he always had one of his trusted senior officials translate for him. He would say a few sentences and then the translator would speak in English. Whenever the translator said something incorrectly, Moon would get upset, point it out and it would then be corrected. Moon would sometimes comment in bad, broken English. These talks were then audiotaped, transcribed and published by the organization as MASTER SPEAKS. Prior to 1976, these speeches were published without editing or sanitizing of any kind. It was felt at that time, that Moon’s words were holy, and that they should not be fixed or changed in any way. It is interesting to note that these early speeches are no longer made available by the Church.
When I left the Moon group in May of 1976, it was due to a number of things. I was a completely devoted follower and was trained to die, rather than betray Father. First, I was in a near-fatal van accident. I was captain of a Mobile Fundraising Team (M.F.T.) and my members were under orders to make a minimum of $100 per day, otherwise, they couldn’t go to sleep. I was trained to lead by example and so, if they couldn’t sleep, then I wouldn’t either. The EMT’s told me I was lucky to be alive.
After two weeks in the hospital, and an operation on my leg, I was able to get permission to visit my sister, Thea. This led to 5 days talking with former Moonies in an effort to convince my family that I was not under mind control. On the fourth day of talking, I angrily blurted out, “I don’t care if Moon is like Hitler! I’ve chosen to follow him and I will follow him to the end!” Fortunately, the day I started thinking for myself again and arranged for the police to secure my belongings. These included full sets of Master Speaks from 1965 on.
These speeches are important for researchers to read and study. I have been receiving lawyer’s letters from the Unification organization telling me that these speeches were mistranslations and threatening to sue me for reproducing excerpts. My response to this is that these speeches are accurate reflections of how Sun Myung Moon thinks, feels and acts. While a devoted member, I listened to him speak and later reread his words. Why else would he have an interpreter translate for him, if it wasn’t accurate? As I said before, whenever I was aware that the translator said something Moon didn’t like, he corrected him or her. In addition, the organization itself chose to transcribe the words, and print it for members to study. It is my belief that this legal pressure is aimed at trying to intimidate and force me to withdraw.
The Moon organization is interested in promoting only a positive public image. These quotes are a major embarrassment for them. I have heard Moon speak at least one hundred times and attended approximately 25 leadership meetings. He made it very clear that he considers himself to be the greatest spiritual leader in human history, bar none. He often sounds incredibly boastful and arrogant. Some examples of this are:
Out of all the Saints sent by God, I think I am the most successful one already as it now stands. (MASTER SPEAKS 5/17/73)
Then in one sense, Father, Heavenly Father will say Reverend Moon is far better than me, the Heavenly Father. In a short period of time, He will synthesize, He will crush the enemy and let them surrender. Our Master senses this kind of feeling of the Heavenly Father. Also, he is proud of himself and appreciates that Jesus Christ’s unfinished job of 6000 years has been completed by him in his lifetime. (MASTER SPEAKS 7/31/74)
Moon believes that he is ordained by God to take over the earth, where he and his progeny have absolute power to rule politically. He has talked many times about wanting to take over America politically.
I have met many famous so-called famous Senators and Congressmen, but to my eyes they are just nothing; they are weak and helpless before God. (MASTER SPEAKS 5/17/73)
If the U.S. continues its corruption, and we find among the Senators and Congressmen no one really usable for our purposes we can make Senators and Congressmen out of our members. (MASTER SPEAKS 5/17/73)
Let’s say there are 500 sons and daughters like you in each State. Then we could control the Government. (MASTER SPEAKS 3/24/74)
Moon has talked many times about what is wrong with democracy, and how a theocracy is what God wants on Earth. He has been very active courting political conservatives, offering them money for their projects, and positioning himself in the most favorable light. However, his plan was always to use them to help himself.
When it comes to our age, we must have an automatic theocracy to rule the world. So, we cannot separate the political field from the religious. My dream is to organize a Christian political party including the Protestant denominations, Catholic and all the religious sects. We can embrace the religious world in one arm and the political world in the other. (MASTER SPEAKS 5/17/73)
He has been busy setting up the infrastructure for his world takeover for many years. He has long realized that when there is calamity, disaster, economic collapse, that is when he can best operate. In recent years, he has focused his activities in the former Communist bloc countries. It is relatively easy for him to operate there. Throughout the world, he has created hundreds of organizations that operate in the following areas: religion; politics; media; culture; academics; banking and international business.
I am not a day dreamer, I am a master tactician or strategist. When I plan, I execute the plan. And when I execute a certain battle plan, I will always come out with a better result than any other tactician in history. The Korean government learned many tactics from me. And America is going to be learning much from my strategies. (MASTER SPEAKS 3/24/74)
So from this time of peak every people or every organization that goes against the Unification Church will gradually come down or drastically come down and die. Many people will die those who go against our movement. (MASTER SPEAKS 2/14/74)
Moon’s vision of the ideal world is to abolish all religions by absorbing them into Unificationism. Speaking about ecumenism is great for now until the time comes that everyone realizes that he is the Messiah and bows to the floor when he enters the room. Theologically, he believes that if Lucifer (Satan) hadn’t seduced Eve sexually, and she hadn’t seduced Adam, then the whole world would have been one culture centered on God. There would have been no need for religion. People would know God’s Will, and naturally do it. Moon says that it is his plan to restore the ideal God once had for Earth. When I dialog with members and ask them what the group will do (if they ever achieve total political power) with individuals who refuse to give up their religious beliefs?
I was present with a group of top leaders when Moon said in an impromptu, unrecorded talk that when he takes over the U.S., he will amend the Constitution and make a capital offense for people to have sexual relations with people they are not assigned to marry. He proceeded to say that improper sex was one of the greatest sins and that we would be doing those people a favor by taking their physical bodies away from them, so they couldn’t sin anymore. My reaction at the time when Moon said this was, “Yes, Father!” I am now embarrassed that I could have ever been so twisted away from my values. For those of you who do not know, a capital offense is an offense punishable by death.
Moon believes that all of the world religions have served one purpose: to prepare for God to send the sinless man to set up the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Jesus was sinless, Moon teaches, but Jesus was never able to fulfill his mission to marry and have sinless children. The Jewish people were God s chosen people, but they failed to follow Jesus, and due to people s faithlessness and sin, Jesus had to go to the cross in order to save people spiritually. Moon teaches that Jesus resurrected spiritually, not physically and that Jesus couldn’t go to Heaven until Moon married him to a Korean woman and they raised spiritual children together. Moon teaches that you can only enter Heaven as a heterosexual couple. In Moon’s world, there will be no rights for gays. Likewise, Moon taught that all children and all marriages besides those sanctioned by the Unification Church is evil.
From his point of view aborting a sinful child (not a product of one of his arranged marriages) was not a sin, it was a good thing since there would be one less person to restore. Since Moon teaches that the child is deemed spiritually alive when it takes its first breath, it sets him ideologically 180 degrees apart from the religious conservatives who oppose abortion.
Moon teaches the doctrine of indemnity. It is the belief that only by working and providing good spiritual conditions that past sins can be erased. Moon made this reference to the Holocaust in 1974.
By killing one man, Jesus, the Jewish people had to suffer for 2000 years. Countless numbers of people have been slaughtered. During the Second World War, 6 million people were slaughtered to cleanse all the sins of the Jewish people from the time of Jesus. (MASTER SPEAKS 2/14/74)
A prominent rabbi James Rudin wrote an analysis paper of the Divine Principle in the late 1970s for The American Jewish Committee and found dozens of anti-Semitic references throughout the book. As I said before, in the world that Moon wants to rule, there will not be room for any other religion besides Unificationism.
Moon believes that in the ideal world all languages will be abolished except Korean. He believes that the Korean race is superior and that Orientals are more spiritual than Caucasians or dark-skinned people. Although Moon’s rhetoric is against racism, his words and actions seem very racist. I was present for his blacks are more talented in the physical aspect talk and I remember at that time looking into the eyes of an African-American woman. We shrugged our shoulders and felt that if Moon was saying it, then it must be true. Here is an excerpt from that speech.
Father thinks about the three races; yellow, black and white. Orientals can contribute in the spiritual aspect, white people can contribute in the analytic, scientific area while black people can contribute in the physical area. Physical educational development of physical fitness, the area of health. That s one of the reasons Glenda Moody s project (D.C. Strider s Track club) with young people is very fantastic. From now on, two thirds of the athletes may come from black people. Even basketball games have a dominant population of black people. The talented area of black people is in this physical aspect. So, the short cut for the black people s achievement in this world is in this physical aspect. (MASTER SPEAKS 7/29/74)
Moon seeks political power and if he ever succeeds in achieving it, then democracy and freedom will be lost. His organization exists in a rigid hierarchy or superior and subordinate, known as the Cain-Abel relationship. In the group, if your superior orders you to do something, and you hesitate, you are made to believe that Satan will invade that hesitation. Just obey! Do what you are told and God can work.
The time will come, without my seeking it, that my words will almost serve as law. If I ask a certain thing, it will be done. If I don’t want something, it will not be done. (MASTER SPEAKS 3/24/74)
The whole world is in my hand, and I will conquer and subjugate the world. (MASTER SPEAKS 5/17/73)
Moon is also a man who believes that the ends justify the means. I have experienced firsthand the deception used by Moon and other leaders in recruiting, fundraising, public relations and politics. I was in charge of all transportation for a 7 day fast in front of the United Nations in which hundreds of Unification members were told by Moon not to reveal to anyone who we were.
Moon instructed me personally to tell members that he was only married once before Hak Ja Han. Mr. Kamiyama later told me that Moon had had children by two other women before his present wife. I was also ordered to lie about membership numbers.
I was told to say publicly that there were 30,000 members in the U.S. when I knew the number was closer to 3,000. In August 1995 Moon held a mass marriage of some 35,000 couples in a stadium in Korea. The Moon PR claims that 360,000 couples were married around the world via a video internet link. Of course, they can’t prove this impossible number. I was deceived throughout my own recruitment into the group. When I asked the members purporting to be Queens College students, if their group was religious, they looked me in the eye and said, “Oh no, not at all.” That was only one of the hundreds of lies I was told and later told members and the public as well. Here is what Moon told members in 1972 in a speech On Witnessing.
At this stage you are not supposed to let her know you are in the Unified Family. She thinks you have nothing to do with it. So when she says wonderful [about the Moon lecture you have asked her opinion about] and you say no then suggest you would like to hear it again and see. This will be criticized, that you are using such a strategy to convince them. But with the motives behind it, even if they find out later that you had such a strategy, they will appreciate it. (MASTER SPEAKS 1/3/72)
There are also other printed material which can help me to document the pattern of lying. In England, at the Rowlane Farmhouse, Moon said:
So telling a lie becomes a sin if you tell it to take advantage of a person, but if you tell a lie to do a good thing for him that is not a sin. Even God tells lies very often; you can see this throughout history. (MASTER SPEAKS 3/16/72)
There was a book of collected sayings and aphorisms of Moon called The Way of God’s Will . During my initial indoctrination, I was told to study and meditate on the meanings of these deep words. After I severed ties to the group, I reread them and came across this one:
Evil has deceived goodness into evil. But goodness has not been able to deceive evil into goodness. Perhaps this is why Christianity couldn’t accomplish God s will bravely until today. (From WAY OF GOD S WILL)
One of the biggest series of lies perpetrated by the Moon leadership pertained to the 1977-78 Congressional Subcommittee Investigation into Korean CIA activities in the U.S. (Final Report-October 31, 1978). In the final report, there were some 80 pages specifically on the Moon organization. In it, the researchers said that Moon owned and operated an M-16 gun factory and had acted at times as agents for the Korean government. The Moon organization spent millions of dollars on full-page ads in major newspapers and published a book called The Truth is My Sword and in it they said that the government found no evidence of wrongdoing. Giant lies! The report clearly states that it found evidence that the Moon group systematically violated numerous U.S. laws and even recommended setting up an interagency task force to research and prosecute the group. Moon eventually became a convicted felon for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government of tax revenues and served 13 months in Danbury State prison.
In this article, I have attempted to cover some of the important themes regarding Sun Myung Moon and his Unification Organization. I believe that any legitimate religious leader or group must be upfront about who they are, what they believe and what they expect of people if they want them to become members. Any group that systematically tells lies cannot be trusted and infringes on people s free will to make informed decisions. There are over 50,000 former U.S. members of this organization. Currently, I believe their American membership is around 6,000. This includes all of the people married to Americans to help them get green cards. Since the release of Nansook Hong s book, In the Shadow of the Moons (Little Brown, 1998), there has been a steady stream of defections from disillusioned American members. Nansook was in a blessed marriage to Hyo Jin Moon, eldest son and divorced him after alleging he was: a drunk; a cocaine addict; a wife-beater; a fornicator and was not sinless as he was supposed to be. In October of 1999, Young-jin Moon, another one of Moon s children committed suicide by jumping off a 17th floor railed balcony. It is my hope that many other individuals will come forward and add their own testimonials and documentation regarding the Moon organization. The internet is a fantastic tool to share resources and information.
Copyright ©1993, 1999, revised 2000, Steven Hassan
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About the Author:
Steven Hassan M.Ed. LMHC, NCC has helped thousands of individuals and families recover from undue influence (mind control). With over 40 years of experience, he is sought after as one of the foremost authorities on undue influence and controlling groups and individuals. Steve understands the subject from a unique perspective as both a former cult member and as a clinical professional. Steven Hassan has published 4 books about cults. His first book, which came out in 1988 under the title Combatting Cult Mind Control, was updated and rereleased in 2015 as Combating Cult Mind Control. Chapter 2, My life in the Unification Church has been placed for free on this web site. This book is available as an audiobook as well as on kindle.
Steven is the Founding Director of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center, a coaching, consulting, and training organization dedicated to supporting individuals to have the freedom to think clearly and to freely consider how they want to live their lives. Steven pioneered a breakthrough method called the Strategic Interactive Approach (SIA), an effective and legal alternative for families to help cult members. The SIA teaches family and friends how to strategically influence the individual involved in the cult.
Learn about how the Strategic Interactive Approach can help rescue your friend or loved one out from under predatory influence.
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