Moon, Sun Myung (1920– )
Founder of the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification
of World Christianity, more popularly referred to as the Unification
Church. Moon was born in Korea on January 6, 1920,
the son of Presbyterian parents. He later noted that on Easter
Day in 1936 he was visited by Jesus and told that God had chosen
him to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth.
He attended Watseka University. During his early adult
years he received revelations on a regular basis, and after
World War II he became a full-time independent preacher in
North Korea. His activities were curtailed by his arrest by the
North Korean government. Released in 1950, he spent three
years preaching in Pusan and then moved to Seoul and
founded the Unification Church in 1953. Some of his revelations,
containing the basic ideas that had been revealed to him,
were published in 1957 as The Divine Principle.
Moon is seen by his followers as the lord of the second advent,
who has come to complete Christ’s unfinished work. His
teachings strive to create God-centered families in order to
make the world a better place for Christ’s second coming. In
1960 he married his present wife, Hak Ja Han, who has, in
bearing 12 children, helped Moon complete his messianic task.
Moon hand-selects marriages between his followers which fulfills
his vision of God-centered families. For example, a mass
wedding was held in New York’s Madison Square Garden to attain
this purpose.
In 1959 Moon sent his first church leader to the United
States. Moon himself came for the first time in 1965. During
that visit he had a sitting with Spiritualist medium Arthur A.
Ford who spoke glowingly of his work and had his picture
taken with President Dwight Eisenhower. He made subsequent
visits in 1969, 1971, and 1972, after which he settled in the
United States. From that point the church began to grow, but
also became an object of controversy as many parents were angered
when their sons and daughters dropped out of college
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and careers to become workers in Moon’s organization. The organization
also reached out to speak to the influential in a variety
of fields, including science, the media, and religion. As the
anticult movement formed in the mid-1970s, the Unification
Church was singled out as its main target. Moon was criticized
from every angle. He was pictured as a power-hungry dictator
who turned his followers into mindless zombies.
Finally in the early 1980s, in spite of the widespread support
of the religious community, Moon was convicted on a tax violation
charge and eventually served 13 months in jail (1984–85),
but upon his release he immediately resumed leadership of the
church.
Over the years Moon delivered lectures regularly, which
have been gathered into a collected work called The Master
Speaks. In prison he wrote a two-volume book, God’s Warning to
the World (1985). As the anticult controversy receded in the
1990s, Moon and his small church became a more stable part
of a wider religious landscape.
Sources
Barker, Eileen. The Making of a Moonie. Oxford, England
Basil Blackwell, 1984.
Mickler, Michael L. The Unification Church in America A Bibliography
and Research Guide. New York Garland, 1987.
Moon, Sun Myung. Christianity in Crisis New Hope. New
York HSA-UWC, 1974.
———. A Prophet Speaks Today. New York HSA-UWC, 1975.