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Self-Proclaimed 'Messiah' Rev. Sun Myung Moon Dies at 92

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 4th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Founding his religion in Seoul, Korea in 1954, after the Korean War ended, Moon claimed that Jesus Christ personally appeared to him and instructed him to complete his unfinished work. Moon, through his own personal interpretation of the Bible which orthodox Christians rejected, forged an eclectic religious system built upon a "Divine Principle" through which he sought to unify all religions.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Spending time incarcerated in both Korean and U.S. prisons, Moon was accused of brainwashing and fleecing money from his worldwide faithful by some detractors.

It was those clean-cut young men and women people would see on the streets selling flowers to allegedly "help fight drug addiction" that would become the most visible members of his congregation - disparaged as "Moonies." However, his disciples and supporters included many more people. Numbered among them were some people in positions of great influence and control.  

Moon's multibillion-dollar enterprise stretched from the Korean Peninsula to the United States.

Founding his religion in Seoul, Korea in 1954, after the Korean War ended, Moon claimed that Jesus Christ personally appeared to him and instructed him to complete his unfinished work. Moon, through his own personal interpretation of the Bible which orthodox Christians rejected, forged an eclectic religious system built upon a "Divine Principle" through which he sought to unify all religions.

The Unification Church gained particular notoriety when thousands of followers gathered for mass weddings and "blessing" ceremonies presided over by Moon himself. Many of the couples came from different countries and had never met, but were matched up by Moon. The arranged marriages reflected his bid to promote a multicultural new world.It also raised serious concerns rearding the controlling influence of the group on such a critical life decision as choosing a spouse.

The Unification Church is said by some to have three million followers worldwide including 100,000 members in the U.S. The church has sent missionaries to 194 countries. Ex-members and critics, however, say the figure is actually no more than 100,000 members worldwide. There are groups of former members who seek to "expose" the group for its practices and claim that it is a dangerous organization.

The Unification Church has vast financial holdings. They include the ownership of the Washington Times newspaper, Connecticut's Bridgeport University; the New Yorker Hotel and a seafood distribution firm that supplies sushi to Japanese restaurants across the U.S.

Moon's church has been accused by some of using unscrupulous recruitment methods and extracting money from followers and supporters through questionable means. Some parents of followers in the U.S. maintained that their children were brainwashed into joining the group.

However, he also had his supporters who, though rejecting his religious system, praised some of the philanthropic and educational work done by the church. 

Born in 1920 in rural North Korea, Moon claimed he was 16 when Jesus Christ first appeared to him and told him to finish the work he had begun on Earth 2,000 years earlier. Moon, who tried to preach the gospel in the North Korea, was imprisoned there in the late 1940s for alleged spying for South Korea.

When the Korean War broke out in 1950, he went to South Korea. After divorcing his first wife, he married Hak Ja Han Moon in 1960. According to the church, they have 10 surviving sons and daughters, according to the church.

Moon was politically and economically conservative and his outreaches were often supportive of other efforts which shared those political and economic positions and goals. As to his religious system, he espoused a family values-oriented lifestyle which he based upon an interpretation of the Bible which defied any classically Christian theology. In fact, it led to his severance from the Presbyterian Church. 

In fact, Moon's religion of unificationism is a syncretic blend of many thoughts from many religious and philosophical systems cloaked in Christian language. His church really came to the public eye with those mass weddings in Seoul in the early 1960s. The subsequent "blessing ceremonies" grew in scale over the years and the 1982 wedding at New York's Madison Square Garden, the first outside South Korea - drew thousands of couples.

Moon died at a church-owned hospital near his home in Gapyeong County, northeast of Seoul, two weeks after being hospitalized with pneumonia. Moon's wife and children were at his side. The church will hold a 13-day mourning period. The funeral will be held on Sept. 15, and Moon will be buried at nearby Cheonseung Mountain, where his home is located, according to an official statement from the church.

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