40 Years in America

Business Ventures

All of these initiatives raised questions about funding. In actuality, movement support of its non-profit organizations, though amounting to as much as $10-15 million dollars a year, paled in relation to expenditures on its for-profit business and media ventures. In 1983, according to the Maeil Economic Daily, the movementís Korean business enterprises had total assets worth $198,000,000. These included two titanium industrial companies, a pharmaceutical company, a stoneware company, and Tong-il industries which was a Republic of Korea defense contractor but also produced lathes, milling machines and boilers. These holdings appeared to be extensive or even ominous to movement detractors who often described Rev. Moon as a Korean industrialist. However, as sociologist David Bromley argued in a study of "The Economic Structure of the Unificationist Movement" (see J. Richardson, Money and Power in the New Religions, 1988), "A simple aggregate dollar comparison of UM economic resources with those of mainline churches leads quickly to the conclusion that the former are dwarfed by the latter." Bromley cited sources that put the value of mainline, church-owned, tax-exempt property in the United States in excess of $1 trillion and annual church income in excess of $20 billion in 1976. Even "similarly aggressive single denominations," such as Mormonism, far outstripped the UM with an estimated income of nearly $2 billion and estimated total assets approaching $10 billion in 1985. And if one used the movementís "controversial public solicitation of funds" as a basis of comparison, again according to Bromley, "Other religious organizations generate much larger revenues." He noted research that showed "the top four programs on television took in over a quarter of a billion dollars in 1980."

The movementís Korean enterprises provided only marginal funding for U.S. operations during this period and were themselves, particularly Il Shim Stoneworks, the beneficiaries of cash flow from Japan. In reality, Japan was the economic juggernaut which powered the worldwide movement. In 1984, two former church officials in Japan reported that the movement there had sent more than $800 million into the United States over the past nine years through a variety of businesses that benefited greatly from Japanís overheated economy. Most of these funds supported start-up and operating costs for large-scale fishing- related enterprises, daily newspapers in New York and Washington, and a commercial feature film release.

American mobile fundraising teams supplemented this funding from Japan for the church in America. Bromley estimated, "At the height of this effort there may have been 1,500 to 2,000 fundraisers and ... revenues of $40,000,000 to $60,000,000" but acknowledged that "UM officials insist that receipts actually peaked at $20,000,000." However the figures are calculated, the period clearly was one of significant economic expansion and diversification.

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