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  Wikipedia: Sun Myung Moon

Wikipedia: Sun Myung Moon
Sun Myung Moon
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Reverend Sun Myung Moon (문선명; 文鮮明, born January 6, 1920) is the founder of the Unification Church (established on May 1, 1954, in Seoul, South Korea). With his wife Hak Ja Han, he is co-leader of the overall Unification Movement, comprising a colossal constellation of conservative civic organizations allied politically with other Washington, D.C. evangelicals. Rev. Moon established the Washington Times in 1985.

Overview

Moon is seen by opponents as a billionaire industrialist and a cult leader who "brainwashes" his followers to extract money from them and to use them as a political footsoldiers. They have also linked Moon to other controversial figures such as Jerry Falwell. His followers believe he is the Messiah, and they love him in spite of the criticisms, which they have often portrayed as an organized smear campaign.

Some critics continue to advance the claim that Moon's church originated the term "Moonies". Church source deny this claim, maintaining that the American press invented the term. In the '70s, the term was soon associated popuarly with other new religious movements such as the Jonestown suicides. The church did not protest the use of the term until the 1990s, when it publicly rejected it as pejorative and view its use by opponents as a deliberate attempt to tarnish their image.

And while the movement is out of the public eye, it has risen as an influential force in American civic life. Shunned as a convicted felon by Japan and the European Union, Moon has come to be seen as a martyr by his followers and even by some outside conservatives. By 2003, the puritanical missionaries of Moon -- who still delivers uncompromising speeches near the Capitol, calling gays "dung-eating dogs" and calling the Holocaust the Jewish "indemnity" for killing Christ -- were working for their longtime goal of sex purity in New Jersey public schools, on a government abstinence-based sex education grant.

After the end of the Japanese occupation of Korea, Moon learned first-hand to despise the brutal excesses of North Korean communism. His experiences inspired a lasting hatred of Communism that helped him forge a powerful political alliance with the Reagan administration. Moon has spent a billion dollars to run the conservative, influential Washington Times, which in 2002 he called "the instrument in spreading the truth about God to the world." And decades after Congressional scrutiny and a prison term for tax fraud, his generosity to the New Right (including opening an account for the "Contra" part of the Iran-Contra equation) has earned him a world of deference from his former enemies.

He was born Moon Yong-myung (文龍明) in Sangsa-ri (上思里), Deogun-myun (__), Jeongju-gun (定州郡), North P'yǒng'an Province, Korea (now in North Korea) to Moon Kyung-yoo (文慶裕) and Kim Kyung-gye (金__).

When he was 15, Moon says, he had a vision or revelation of Jesus Christ while praying atop of a tall hill. In this vision, Jesus allegedly confessed to failing in his mission -- as he'd never gotten married -- and implored Moon to complete his work in purifying the sex-corrupted lineage of mankind.

In 2003, Rev. Moon announced that the representatives of the five major religions -- as well as several dozen dead U.S. presidents communicating from the Spirit World -- declared him to be "the savior and messiah of humanity."

Opposition

Rev. Moon, the most controversial religious leader of the 1970s, has been criticized or thwarted by a wide range of opponents. Civil libertarians object to his call for unifying church and state and crushing "individualism." Christians objected to his unusual theological demands ("tear down the cross" was the theme of a 2003 campaign for Easter). Jews have objected to his doctrine that the Holocaust is their payback for killing the first True Parent. Gay rights groups have been openly resentful of being cast as "dung-eating dogs" in his uncompromising calls for "sexual purity." And early Congressional opponents like Donald Fraser dogged Moon for alleged ties to the Koreagate influence-peddling scandal, as well as widespread financial fraud. In the '90s, thousands of Japanese elderly claimed to have been defrauded of their life savings by Moon's "spiritual sales."

Above all, Moon has been accused by parent groups of breaking up their families by aggressively encouraging young college students to join his movement, break off contact with the outside world, and sell trinkets to raise money for the church. The Unification Church -- as well as the ACLU, coming down on the side of freedom of religious association -- has rejected foes' claims of coercive mind control. The church has had brushes with "deprogrammers" who kidnap family members out of the movement.

In Washington, however, Moon first found common ground with strongly anti-Communist leaders of the '80s who appreciated Moon's fierce opposition to the USSR and support of Nixon in his hour of need. Today, much of George W. Bush's faith-based initiative is being indirectly promoted at the grass-roots level by Moon organizations, who share a common interest in sexual abstinence, and in increasing religious participation in government-funded social services.

Imprisonment

Sun Myung Moon has been imprisoned six times: twice in North Korea, three times in South Korea, and once in the United States. Members of the Unification Church generally consider these examples of religious persecution. He was jailed by North Korea for preaching Christianity, forbidden by the communist government. Police beat him and left him for dead, but a disciple nursed him back to health.

The second time, Rev. Moon got a five-year sentence in Heung-Nam labor camp, where prisoners were routinely worked to death on short rations. After serving 2 years, 10 months of his sentence, he was liberated when UN troops advanced on the camp and the guards fled. In South Korea, Rev. Moon was imprisoned three times, one of which was for counterfeiting, using North Korean money during the civil war. He was released when one of his old schoolteachers vouched for him. He was also charged with draft evasion; these charges were eventually dropped.

The sixth time Rev. Moon was imprisoned was in the United States on charges of tax evasion and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Congressional investigators such as Robert Boettcher discovered what they described as breathtaking financial misdoing, including a scheme to raise money for a church PR fund that disguised itself as a fundraiser for sick children. Congressman Donald Fraser also investigated the church's aggressive recruitment practices.

US Tax case

In 1982 U.S. federal prosecutors charged Rev. Sun Myung Moon with criminal tax fraud, and a federal Grand Jury brought forward an indictment. The charges stated that Moon failed to declare as income (and pay taxes on) $112,000 in earned interest on a Chase Manhattan bank account, $50,000 of corporate stock.

Rev. Moon's Messiah Defense was his contention that he was holding the money and stock on behalf of his church -- and, therefore, that it wasn't actually his.

The prosecution maintained that both the money and stock were his personal property.

The judge forbade any mention of religion at the trial and denied Moon's request to have a bench trial.

Upon arriving in the United States in the early 1970s, Rev. Moon had established an account at Chase Manhattan Bank with approximately one million dollars in funds.

One of the defenses used at trial was that the funds were not really his, but were held in trust for members of the Japanese Unification Church. The United States church had only about 300 members at the time and had not yet incorporated. Moon claimed that, after using a small portion of those funds for his family's living expenses (and declaring the portion used on his income tax returns), he transferred the balance to the Unification Church of America after its incorporation. Holding church funds in a minister's name is a fairly commonplace action, particularly in small churches, and many churches filed amicus curiae briefs in Moon's support.

There was quite a bit of sentiment against Moon and his church in the United States at that time. Moon and his supporters felt that they were being specifically targeted because of their religious beliefs and practices. The opposition claimed that Moon was a con artist and that his organization was a criminal enterprise.

The government offered to drop all the charges if Rev. Moon would give up his green card (permanent resident visa) and agree never to visit the US again. Rev. Moon preferred to go to trial, professing his belief in the fairness of American justice but saying that he would not have been prosecuted if "his skin had been white or his religion Episcopalian."

The jury determined that Moon's failure to pay taxes was an intentional evasion rather than a misunderstanding of the law. The charge of criminal tax fraud carries a high legal requirement -- the prosecution must prove to a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant intended to evade paying taxes, not simply that the taxes were unpaid due to a mistake or failure to understand the law.

Moon was convicted of the charges, and given an 18 month sentence and a $15,000 fine. He served 13 months of the sentence at Danbury minimum-security prison and because of "good behavior" was released to a half-way house.

Family

After the 1957 divorce from Choi Sun-kil (崔先吉), Moon's wife since 1944, Moon married Hak Ja Han Moon (韓鶴子) ("Mother Moon") in 1960. Hak Ja Han was 16 years old then. Together, they are the True Parents to UC members. With Choi, Moon has a son, Moon Sung-jin (文聖進).

Name

The Hanja for "Moon" (文), the reverend's surname, means "word" or "truth" in Korean. The character "myung" (明), part of his given name, means "bright" or "shining", and is composed of the Chinese characters for sun and moon, so word play on Rev. Moon's name provides a source of merriment to Unificationist disciples.

References


  

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