Last month, Moon Organization leader, Rev. Hyung Jin Moon (Sean Moon), told his followers of his Sanctuary Church to be ready to take up arms and die for President Trump. The bullets in his crown and Moon referring to himself as King, is of course disturbing. Fortunately, after Sun Myung Moon died, there was a power struggle and several of the Moon sons fought with their mother for money and power. Justin Moon, his brother, owns Kahr Arms as well as a large gun factory and controls great wealth. Most people do not know that Moon bought the Washington Star newspaper and created the Washington Times which has been used for decades to promote conservative right-wing points of view. The founding editor of the Times left because of editorial interference (they said he was dismissed) and spoke along with William Cheshire, the editorial page editor who also later resigned. A 1991 presentation was videotaped explaining why they left–the paper was not independent. This presentation also included Michael Warder, editor of Moon’s first U.S. paper, the News World, later called the New York Tribune. Warder, a leader in the Moon organization was a witness in the trial and later conviction of Sun Myung Moon for conspiracy to evade income taxes. The Moonies spent an estimated $2-3 billion dollars on the Washington Times– a propaganda entity which failed to make money for decades. Did Americans, including Republican Presidents have no problem with a Korean with a felony conviction that had ties to South Korean intelligence not a question for anyone?
In 1974, I remember being told that if North Korea invaded South Korea, the American members will need to go to the front line to die, so it will draw America into a war to protect South Korea. The past years of Trump’s control of the White House has for me, like many former members, been excruciating–a nightmare. This threat to freedom has motivated me to work extra hard to help educate anyone who would listen.
As a former member, I recognize the parallels between the Moon cult and the Cult of Trump. Many young people have never heard of the Moonies. But they may have changed names, and no longer use the Unification Church but The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU).This more recently was changed by Hak Ja Han Moon to Heavenly Parents Holy Community (HPHC). Please remember that they almost continually change names. In the 1978 final report of the House Subcommittee Investigation into South Korean KCIA activities in the the United States, there were 80 pages of a 400 odd page report on what officials is the best name: the Moon Organization. The report explained their reasoning at the beginning of the section on Moon because there were so many entities but they were all essentially one organization–controlled by Moon. Yet, they have hundreds of entities either owned or controlled by the Moon family. This is a an updated front group list. My personal experiences helped me to recognize the dangers of the Cult of Trump. You can read my story in Combating Cult Mind Control. If you do not yet own the book, I have decided to share chapter two from it, “My Life in the Unification Church”.
On the ten-year anniversary of Jonestown in 1988, when my first book was first published, I made a promotional appearance on Evening Magazine. I talked about my experience, along with how cult leaders control members, even to the point of death. In this segment, my parents, Milton and Estelle Hassan, give a rare interview. (Please note we lived 1.3 miles from where Donald Trump grew up, however, he lived in Jamaica Estates and we lived in a small attached three-bedroom house on the “other side” of Union Turnpike. I was recruited into the Moon cult while a student at Queens College.)
The Unification Church began in Seoul in 1954, founded by Sun Myung Moon. When he died in 2012 at the age of 92, his youngest son, Hyung Jin Moon, became his successor. The Unification Church is sometimes known as “The Moonies” and the Sanctuary Church is an offshoot. They preach a unified “true” Christianity, but both Jews and Christians reject this utterly as untrue. Moon says Jesus was never supposed to go to the cross, and that he therefore failed his mission to take over the world for God.
It has a wide variety of front groups: religious fronts; political fronts; media fronts; social and cultural fronts; recruiting fronts; educational fronts; and business fronts. The Moon organization has a long and documented history of controversy which includes systematic deception, separating new members from their families and friends, intensive mind control indoctrination and shady business and political dealings.
And some of the mentality we see today is a repeat of what this group taught and continues to teach. Some right-wing extremists, QAnon members, and devoted followers of Trump preach that they are anti-communist– with a focus on China. Moon taught that democracy is evil, and that we need an automatic theocracy to not only bring back God in America but also to establish a world unification around them- with all other religions being evil and being banned.
Three months after leaving the Moon group, I realized I wanted to go public and expose it, which I have been doing ever since, writing books about how these groups work, and working as a therapist to protect people. My latest book, The Cult of Trump, is a considered by many to be a must-read book that describes how cult leaders work, including Donald Trump, and exposes the motives and secret organizations behind it, including The Family and Opus Dei. US President Donald Trump exhibits a stereotypical profile of a destructive cult leader, which is malignant narcissism. His almost four years in office has harmed America, as he has tried to undo our checks and balances, undermine the credibility of our media, and promote authoritarianism.
Joseph Erobha, a former member of the Unification Church who credits me for helping him leave and uses the pen name Sanchu the Cat, interviewed me for a blog he wrote on Medium entitled, ” ‘Cults,’ Moonies, and Trump: Seven Questions for Steve Hassan.” He asked me seven questions. The interview was videotaped and is below. In line with this blog, question five is of utmost interest:
5) Like you, I found the parallels between Trump and Moon to be uncanny: histories of sexual misconduct, a disregard for facts or logic, blaming others instead of taking responsibility, “Koreagate” and “Russiagate”, familial nepotism, savior complexes, etc. Why do you refer to Trump and his group as a ‘cult’?
Let me just say that when I was approached to do the book, I started with the knowledge that Trump was a malignant narcissist. Why? Because I had studied other cult leaders over my career, and all of the attributes: the lack of empathy, the grandiosity, the need for admiration, the lying, the manipulation, the paranoia, the inability to trust. You just go down the whole list. I wrote a chapter in The Cult of Trump comparing him with Jim Jones, Hubbard, and with Moon. So that’s one element of an authoritarian cult, which is the characteristics of the leader: he never takes responsibility, always blames everyone else, lies incessantly, gaslights incessantly, saying things like, ‘Oh, I never said that.’ We have a video of you saying it, but that’s, ‘fake news.’
“So, when I started researching for the book I realized that there were a lot of right-wing cults that were connected with to the Moonies. For example, the Family. I had never heard of that group. Of course, they called themselves the Family. I had never read Jeff Sharlet’s two books, but I was like, ‘Oh!’ Because they were the people who had done the National Prayer Breakfast for the past eighty years, that all presidents come to, and I realized, ‘Oh, so Moon was at the Prayer Breakfast and then he was immediately brought to see Nixon!’ Which resulted in us fasting for three days for Nixon. […] Then I learned about the New Apostolic Reformation Movement, which has an estimated 300 million to 400 million people worldwide. They have an estimated 30 million Americans, but these are authoritarian cults.
“Some of them are small, some of them are really big, and they have leaders who call themselves either apostles or prophets and claim to have direct revelations from God, and cast out demons, and do fake healing, but they do BITE (Behavior Control, Information Control, Thought Control, Emotion Control) methods to make people dependent on them. So when they say that God is using Trump, all of his followers are now in the cult of Trump, even though they’re actually following someone else as the intermediary. […] And so, it really fits the model of a political cult with a lot of religious figures who are influencing their followers, even though Trump is so obviously malevolent, misogynistic, racist and a few other things. But the mindset of no matter how many lies he tells, no matter what facts are being delivered, people do thought-stopping and they just need to believe and follow in faith, and that mirrors my experience in the Moonies.”
We must sound the alarm. Warn people. Educate. The younger generation needs to be better informed so as to avoid the pitfalls of destructive cults. Moon’s toxic far-right legacy lives on. We must continue the fight against it.
Video Interview with Joseph Erobha
- ‘I was a Moonie cult leader’
- Vice Media: The Believers: A Former Cult Member Explains How He Escaped
- How Well Do You Know Your Moon (HWDYKYM) Ex-member website with lots of information.
- Emperor of the Universe
- Today Extra: Man who escaped cult reveals tractor crash led to ‘deprogramming’
- The Moonies and TM Attempt to Reinvent Themselves
- The Truth About Sun Myung Moon by Steven Hassan with actual quotes from Moon
- Mooniverse (My Former Cult) is Attempting a Reboot
- Dark Side of Rev. Moon: Buying the Right By Robert Parry
- Consortium News archive on Moon by Robert Parry
- The Moonies – The Today Show 11-1993
- The Moonies – The Today Show 2-1994
- Unification Church Front Groups – Updated 09/04/2021