Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Self Proclaimed Messiah Dies

Rev. Sun M. Moon, Built Worldwide Religious Movement
WEARING billowing white wedding dresses and smart morning suits, thousands of happy couples crammed into vast venues to exchange vows. Unpaid volunteers, mass weddings and a £600m fortune...
They didn’t mind sharing their Big Day with up to 60,000 others — or even the fact that their spouses were total strangers.
The newlyweds, who were members of the controversial Unification Church, or Moonies, were there to carry out the wishes of their beloved leader, Sun Myung Moon.

Rev Moon ... created an empire from mass weddings
At the weekend the Rev Moon, whose mass wedding ceremonies became infamous during the 1970s, died, aged 92, in South Korea.
At its height, the religion he founded boasted more than five million members worldwide. There are thought to be more than 300 Unificationist families in the UK.
Critics have branded it a cult which indoctrinates young idealists into rejecting their families and handing over their worldly goods to the Rev Moon and his church.
While his followers did unpaid fundraising, Moon lived lavishly and headed a massive business empire with interests from chemicals and pharmaceuticals to mining and arms manufacturing.
His personal wealth was estimated at more than £600million.
The church says he died from “overwork from frequent trips abroad, including to the US, and from morning prayers which caused respiratory disease.”
Sun Myung Moon’s path to infamy began when he announced he was the Messiah and claimed he’d had a chance meeting with Jesus who came to him in a vision.
Jesus apparently explained to the 15-year-old from a family of farmers in Japanese-occupied Korea how he had been unable to complete his work and asked if Moon would finish the task — namely, establishing God’s kingdom on earth and bringing peace to humankind.
That was on a Korean mountainside on Easter Sunday, 1935. For the next few years Moon knuckled down to his task with hours of prayer and spiritual chats with “Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha and other saints and sages of all faiths”.
He once told Time magazine: “God is living in me and I am the incarnation of Himself. The whole world is in my hand and I will conquer and subjugate the world.”
His first goal, after the chat with Jesus, was to graduate from high school and he went to study electronic engineering in Japan.
There, he said, he was imprisoned and tortured for his student underground activities. He returned to Korea where he married Christian girl Sang Il Choi, then was apparently arrested and tortured again by the Japanese.
By the time the Second World War — and Japanese occupation of Korea — ended in 1945, the 25-year-old Moon had developed the fundamentals of the “Divine Principle” upon which his new religion would be founded. At the heart of his beliefs was the strength of “God-centred” families. Moon believed that Jesus, had he lived, would have married and started the perfect “pure” family to liberate the world from the sinful influence of “Eve’s illicit sex with Satan”.

Rev Moon and wife ... holding lavish ceremony
The mass weddings, which have involved up to 40,000 couples, were his way of emphasising the importance of the family, and himself as “the True Father”.
He would hand-pick the perfect partner for each of his followers from photos — including a 71-year-old African Catholic archbishop he paired off with a 43-year-old Korean acupuncturist.
He would don a crown and white and gold robes to marry his followers en masse, then send them out into the world to recruit converts.
British students Robert Haines and Christabel Hill were among 3,000 couples blessed at a South Korean stadium by Moon in 2007. Robert said he was matched by his and Christabel’s parents who were Unificationists.
In 1946, Moon was already married but his website explains how, while buying rice for himself and his pregnant wife, “Reverend Moon was told by God to leave his family without notifying them and go to Communist North Korea to preach.”
There, he was thrown into a concentration camp, almost beaten to death, and only saved from a firing squad when, at the end of the Korean War, the Americans liberated the camp just before his scheduled execution.
Moon took two disciples to South Korea and in 1950 built his first church. Early members claimed his teachings were based on the idea that the human race had to be purified through sex.
Followers could have their body and soul cleansed through sex with Moon himself, and that their marriages were invalid until their wives had also slept with Moon. He always denied that.
After five years away from home, he was reunited with his wife and son but she was unable to accept his dedication to his mission and they divorced. His church in Korea, meanwhile, was growing, as were his business interests, set up to employ his disciples. In 1958 he sent his first missionaries to preach his message in Japan and America.
Two years later, soon after follower Hak Ja Han had turned 17, he married her and followed the occasion with the first of a series of group marriage blessings.
Moon himself visited America for the first time in 1965, on a 40-nation world tour, and the first Moonie missionaries to Britain arrived from Korea in 1968.
In 1971 he moved to America to expand his church and business empire. As membership boomed with thousands of young people seeking a new way of life, parents, alarmed at personality changes, accused the church of brainwashing.

At the same time, his business empire grew to include TV stations, media chains, including the Washington Times and United Press International, golf courses, sushi restaurants, car, helicopter and arms factories, hotels, horse farms and even a football club and a ballet company. While his followers lived frugal lives he lived in a New York home styled like a Korean palace.
But trouble was brewing. In 1982 he was jailed for 18 months in America for tax evasion and by the mid-1990s membership of his church in the West had plummeted, though numbers are still high in Korea and Japan.
The True Family — his 13 children with Hak Ja Jan — were also under the spotlight. In 1998 his eldest son was denounced as a violent cocaine addict and a year later another son committed suicide, aged 21.
But Moon could still boast some heavyweight supporters.
He claimed on video in 2004 that the spirits of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and murderous Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had both declared him the Messiah, the saviour of humanity, and had heeded his teachings and mended their ways.

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