Miscellaneous Unification Stuff
Unificationists, Unificationism, And The Unification Church - Answers To Often-Asked Questions
What is it?
How does it work?
What is the nature of church leadership?
What do they want?
Are they a threat?
Aren't their beliefs heretical?
What is it?
The Unification Church is an organized religious body founded in 1954 in Seoul, Korea, by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. The full name of the church is the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity.
Having sent missionaries to Japan, the United States,* and Europe in the 1960s, the HSA-UWC expanded throughout the world in 1975, establishing missions in over 130 countries.
Unificationists believe that all religions can ultimately be united because every genuine faith is the result of God speaking to people in a certain time and place.
Unlike the hundreds of Christian denominations, the Unification Church did not develop as a splintering off from Christianity but out of new revelation. The HSA-UWC is a full-blown movement of spiritual and social regeneration, or in church terminology, "restoration" involving service and outreach in many levels.
* The HSA-UWC was incorporated in the United States in 1961.
How Does It Work?
Question: How is it organized?
The church in America maintains a national administrative headquarters in New York City. States and localities have full or part time church pastors or leaders to service existing congregations and advance the church's outreach.
Church headquarters maintains internal structures to serve the spiritual, educational, and informational needs of its membership. Legal, financial, public affairs and other typical functions of a national organization are also administered from church offices in Manhattan.
Outreach projects of the church, and some projects in close affiliation with the church, are under the jurisdiction of the national administration. Examples are the Interdenominational Conference of Clergy (ICC) and the Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP).
World mission activities belong to the international and not the American HSA-UWC and are administered separately and at a different location in New York City.
State and local churches are financially self-sufficient and in practice operate quasi-independently of the national church.
Numerous businesses and not-for-profit projects are customarily identified in news accounts as owned or run by the Unification Church. Rarely are such endeavors owned or run by the Unification Church. They are rarely even "affiliated" with the church, unless one also wants to report that the Marriott Corporation is "affiliated with" the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints because that is the religion of controlling stockholders, or The New York Times is "affiliated with" reformed Judaism.
Question Where does the money come from?
Like all other churches, revenue comes from contributions.
The largest single source of revenue comes from private contributions.
Donations from businesses started by Unificationists are a second source of funds.
Fundraising projects provide a third and smaller source of revenue.
Twenty years ago, when the church was just setting down roots in America, fundraising was a much larger source of church funding. Fundraising teams full of youth and enthusiasm sometimes aggravated people walking into the local K-Mart.
Last year, fundraising of that kind represented under 25% of the total funding for the American church.
Though no longer providing as dominant a source of revenue, these valuable spiritual and practical training experiences will continue to be made available for the benefit of members.
Question: Doesn't the church promote its religious agenda through projects that deceptively appear non-religious and unaffiliated?
To begin to answer this question, let us profile one of the more prominent organizations initiated by Rev. Moon, the International Cultural Foundation (ICF). In 1972, ICF inaugurated the first of its annual series of the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS).
In the past 18 years, the ICUS conferences have involved thousands of eminent scientists, including many Nobel laureates, at a cost of many millions of dollars. Unificationists have given their time, money, and energy through the years to administer this conference.
If there has been a religious agenda behind the scenes -- that is, efforts at conversion -- then the ICUS conferences would have to be rated a total failure. They haven't yielded one convert to the Unificationist faith and have used up a large amount of money, time, and manpower.
Time after time, prominent participants of the ICUS programs have spoken at press conferences defending the conference for its unique value and academic freedom.
Media coverage of the ICUS conferences reveals a common pattern: journalists biased against Rev. Moon and Unificationist activities are baffled by the conference's integrity. Since the nature of the conference was not open to criticism, journalists have often reported that the purpose of the ICUS conference was to "buy" influence or "gaily" respectability.
The ICUS conferences represent just a small arc on a worldwide circle of outreach initiated by Rev. Moon.
In the mid 70s, Rev. Moon taught frequently in his public speeches that God and humanity suffer most from three major problems: selfishness and immorality in the home and in society; disunity among the world's religions; and the expansion of atheistic ideologies, coupled with an unhealthy trend toward materially-centered culture in the democratic West.
ICF and other organizations founded by Rev. Moon and Unificationists have initiated programs worldwide to help resolve these three problems.
Unificationists encourage and sponsor projects with the cooperation not only of other religious leaders, but of scientific, artistic, media, medical, academic, political, and business interests.
Far beyond focusing on personal salvation as the goal, Rev. Moon and Unificationists have built a worldwide movement directed toward unselfish service and devotion to God and humanity.
Public acceptance of this kind of work would be natural and appreciated. However, with or without widespread understanding and acceptance, the work will continue, because its purpose is not superficial or public-relations oriented.
Question: Doesn't the church teach that deception is justifiable if it advances its goals?
The Principle stresses the Biblical teaching that we reap whatever we sow: whatever good or whatever wrong we do comes back to us.
However, for many years the Unification Church has encountered the claim that it officially sanctions deception. This has never been true.
A news weekly reported about the church, as if it were uncontested truth: "Lying, for instance, is not taboo but a necessary tool in battling Satan. Falsehoods help convert nonbelievers; they are therefore praised as 'heavenly deceptions.'" (U. S. News & World Report, March 27, 1989).
The assertion is a gross and insulting distortion of Unification theology and practices that has resulted from the media's uncritical acceptance of propaganda from activists in the anti-cult movement.
It is a fabrication similar to charges that religious bigots have made against Jesuits, Buddhists, Lutherans, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, Christian Scientists, and many other religions throughout history, during their emergent phases.
Regrettably, there have indeed been instances of deception by individual church members, which can be divided into two categories:
1. Incidents arising from fear of persecution. Harassment and abuse has caused some members to fear identifying themselves as Unification Church members;
2. Implicit and occasionally explicit concealing of membership status by church members involved in church-related communities, most notably an idealistic organization called "Creative Community Project" in the San Francisco Bay area in the early 1970s -- nearly 20 years ago.
The project's affiliation with the church did not at first seem an issue, since few people had heard of Rev. Moon, nor was the church nationally established. After several members had been "deprogrammed," adherents to the Principle teachings began to be criticized because they would invite people to hear their philosophy but not at first identify that these were the teachings of Rev. Moon.
The national leadership of the church sympathized with members concerned that a biased perception of Rev. Moon would prevent someone from hearing his teachings with an open mind. Church leadership also insisted that Unificationists stop this practice of what had not been but was now becoming deception.
Rev. Moon directly addressed the matter in an American church leadership conference at the time. He admonished local church leaders who hesitated to identify him as the source of the teachings.
However, there is another side to the coin and it needs to be brought out. Countless times, friends or associates of church members have been harassed with McCarthyite-like smear tactics. People -- and often the media -- have stamped these non-church people with the epithet "Moonie," even though they do not share Unificationist beliefs, simply because they have chosen to associate with church members and related activities.
Many Unificationists have been denied a job or been passed over for promotion because of their religious affiliation. In the realm of deception, what fair-minded person would think to censure Jewish immigrants who changed their names to disguise their ethnic and religious background so they could get a job in a hostile Protestant and Catholic business community?
Deceptive practices are rightfully criticized. Creating an atmosphere where members of religious minorities such as the Unification Church must be wary of bringing up the subject of their faith affiliation -- as if it were an admission of guilt -- is also a practice deserving criticism.
What Is The Nature Of Church Leadership?
Question: Who leads the church?
Rev. Moon is the founder and spiritual leader of the church internationally. With Mrs. Moon and a council of elders, he is deeply involved with worldwide Unification leadership, advising, and inspiring.
Additionally, the church has various international, national, state or provincial, city, and individual organizational structures.
While he provides spiritual guidance for much of the church operation, Rev. Moon is not legally an officer of the church internationally or in America. HSA-UWC is led by its Board of Directors and the officers elected by the Board.
In addition to asking, "Who leads the church?" it would be apt to ask, "What leads the church?" The answer is that adherents are guided in their daily lives by beliefs they call the Principle.
More about Rev. Moon's background, church history, and beliefs are detailed elsewhere in this page.
Question: Rev. Moon served time in prison on a conviction of income tax fraud. Doesn't this discredit him as a religious leader?
Rev. Moon served 13 months in a federal correctional institution in the US. from 1984 to 1985. As chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch conducted an extensive investigation into the Justice Department's successful pursuit of Rev. Moon, and concluded:
* "The three Justice Department attorneys who initially undertook an independent review of a possible criminal action against Rev. Moon unanimously agreed, independently of each other, that there was no case."
* "Rev. Moon's tax liability, even if the government's case could be proven, was a mere $7,300 for a three-year period (or roughly $2,433 per year). I have been advised that the Justice Department's own guidelines state that criminal tax cases will not be brought if the alleged tax deficiency is less than $2,500 per year."
* "Despite the career attorneys' recommendations not to prosecute, and no evidence of any kind to establish that even a single cent of the money in dispute was given to Rev. Moon personally, and not to his church, the Justice Department was nevertheless persuaded to seek an indictment by a zealous assistant US. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, who built a case entirely on supposition and innuendo."
* "It simply makes no sense whatsoever to expect that a man who has managerial control over such large sums of money would intentionally conspire to avoid a few thousand dollars in income taxes."
The courtroom record showed that Rev. Moon had duly paid taxes on every cent of this fund used for his personal expenses. The interest income belonged to the Unification Church, yet the government successfully argued before a jury that it belonged personally to Rev. Moon.
Forty leading groups and individuals signed amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs on behalf of Rev. Moon's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The outcry in support of Rev. Moon by the religious community and civil liberty organizations has rarely been seen in United States legal history.
Reverend Moon has been jailed four other times by three other governments. Other religious leaders imprisoned by secular authorities -- to name just a few -- are Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., St. Francis, Ignatius Loyola, George Fox and, of course, Jesus Christ.
Those who know Rev. Moon see his ordeals as badges of honor conferred on a man of uncompromising faith.
Question: Doesn't Rev Moon use religion to support a lavish lifestyle?
Rev. Moon does not live lavishly. In fact, his lifestyle is austere. He has never demonstrated concern for personal comfort or material status.
It is true that the church provides for the well-being of Rev. Moon and his family, much as the Catholic or Orthodox Churches care for their patriarchs.
Until the early 1970s, the Moon family lived in a tiny four-room apartment above the worship hall in the first headquarters church in Seoul, Korea. Only after that was the church in Korea able to provide them with more adequate quarters.
Today, because Rev. Moon often commutes back and forth between the United States and Korea, the church provides him with one residence in Seoul and one in New York, which are owned by the church and not by Rev. Moon. Even these residences serve more as international conference centers than as a home. There is room upstairs for the family, which still lives in cramped quarters which afford them little private time together.
Certain American industrialists who amassed huge personal fortunes sometimes committed a fraction of their wealth to public purposes. Rev. Moon, however, doesn't t seek to be a person of private means. Donations, profits, and fundraising receipts go for the church and other organizations founded by him.
Long before the income tax case, bookkeepers in the church knew Rev. Moon to be strict about proper use of church funds. He himself is exceedingly disciplined on this point. He teaches church members, "Anyone who collects someone else's money for the public purpose and uses that money unscrupulously for himself is a thief That kind of person will be destroyed from within."
Church members in America noted that during his first speaking tour, Rev. Moon would express hospitality by providing guests with as lavish a meal as the church could afford, yet he regularly ate his dinner before the speech -- at a local McDonald's.
Finally, the leader of the Unification Church doesn't "use" religion. He is a genuinely religious person with a great dream and desire to serve God and humanity. A challenge as narrow as obtaining wealth for himself would not satisfy him.
Question: Where did church beliefs originate?
The Principle was first taught 45 years ago by Sun Myung Moon, a young Korean man raised in a culture steeped in Korean folk religion and Confucianism and in a family that had converted to Christianity, through the Presbyterian Church.
The Korean youth had a life-changing experience at age 16. Jesus came to him while he was in prayer on Easter morning and set him on a spiritual journey to unravel the mysteries of the Bible and the reason for the gap between the ideal of a Christian way of life and the suffering all around him.
For the next nine years, through intense Bible study, prayer, and suffering, the main structure of the Principle was revealed to Rev. Moon. In 1945 he began to teach publicly. He published the first official text of the Principle in the late 1950s with the help of early church members.
Rev. Moon is the discoverer and the authoritative teacher of the Principle. However, he did not actually sit down and write the text. The first official text in English was a very literal translation of the Korean version, subjected to slight editing by native English speakers, and published in 1973.
The Principle text, along with numerous speeches and sermons by Rev. Moon, has been translated into several languages. However, Rev. Moon considers only the original Korean to be fully authoritative.
What Do They Want?
Question: Isn't the church just a front for Rev Moon's financial empire?
As in other religious communities, most members of the Unification Church donate to support outreach programs -- pastoral and missionary work, interfaith outreach, evangelical programs, feeding, clothing, and providing health care to the poor, and cultural and educational programs in support of the arts and sciences.
The essence and purpose of the Unification Church are religious. Its goals are encompassing. For any non-profit entity to transform its vision into reality, funding is needed.
Various for-profit businesses which have been founded or inspired by Rev. Moon are separately incorporated from the church, and are tax- paying entities which observe the laws of the land just like any other corporate citizen in America.
The word "front" is just a pejorative term used by people who are either ignorant of or hostile to the numerous projects and people inspired by the Principle teachings. The term "front group" serves the purpose of discrediting legitimate projects and activities. The term "up front" would be more apt to describe what the church and its members do.
Question: I read that Rev Moon wants to lead a worldwide theocracy.
Rev. Moon does not aspire to political office and has never seen his calling in the political sector. He has always been a spiritual leader. Members of the church believe he is someone with a prophetic mission for this period in history.
Jesus said that the kingdom of God is within us. The concept of theocracy in Unification theology derives from this concept, that the Kingdom of God on earth is the place where God would guide people individually through their conscience and socially through each family structure.
God is never coercive. As people grow responsive to the love of God and transform their daily living by high ethics and principles, that is when we will see God's kingdom on earth. This is what Rev. Moon has always taught. In an ideal world t that aspect of government whose function is to coerce human behavior will cease to be necessary. The Principle is a religious text, not a political prescription.
In practice, Rev. Moon seeks to influence individuals in the direction of world peace, and moral and ethical responsibility. He encourages ethical people to seek responsible positions in society; he urges people in positions of influence to work for beneficial change.
Are They A Threat?
Question: Isn't it a cult
The Manson family and the Jonestown tragedy popularized the sinister concept of the previously emotionally neutral term "cult."
Attacks from a well-organized, self-proclaimed "anti-cult movement" led by professional deprogrammers produced what many leading experts on new religions call the "cult hoax" of the 1970s. Much of the "cult explosion" has been the product of hype and tabloid journalism.
In the mid-1970s, leaders of the anticult movement needed support and funding. They chose the Unification Church as their target and symbol of the "cult menace."
George Swope of the National Citizens Engaged in Reuniting Families, Inc., wrote: Because we can't be effective using the buckshot approach, we must zero in on ONE cult. If our government investigates one cult and finds grounds for prosecution, we can move on to the other cults. The cult we have chosen is Moon's Unification Church.
In deciding an $11 million judgment against an anti-cult organization for libeling a new religious group, a California Superior Court said: Cults are claimed to be just about every bad thing in the book these days, and with the pervasive images of Manson and Jim Jones hanging over us, any group that is called a cult is immediately associated with those two people. As stated by Dr. Melton, "to call someone a cult is the 1970s equivalent of labeling them a pinko communist in the days of McCarthyism. Once the accusation is made, that stigma remains even if proven to be totally wrong."
'Biermans, John T. The Odyssey of New Religions Today, New York: Edwin Mellen, 1988.
'Witness Lee, et al. v. Neil T Duddy, et al.,
Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, No. 540, 585-9, June 26, 1985.
Question: Aren't they brainwashed?
Many people are troubled by those who are transformed by a genuine religious conversion experience.
The experience of conversion from one religion to another has been a cause of controversy and persecution throughout history.
Joining the Salvation Amy is already indicative, if not of total breakdown, at least of a predisposition to insanity. (Switzerland, 1883); The Methodists are the most bewitching people that ever lived; for when once a person hears them, it is impossible to persuade them to return back again. (letter published 1837)
Conversion to any religion can cause redefinition of one's values and goals. New Converts often exhibit a sense of having found new meaning in life.
Every mainstream religion has been subjected to attack by friends or family members of someone who embraced it as their new faith. In some cases, attacks have been prompted by religious leaders who genuinely perceive a threat to their particular faith.
The Unification Church is based upon freedom of conscience. People who freely choose to join the church may also freely choose to become inactive. It is widely accepted among scholars who study the Unification Church that members freely come and go in and out of the church. Yet adherents of the anti-cult movement accuse the Unification Church and other religions of gaining new converts and maintaining commitment through "brainwashing."
Members of the church whose faith is broken through a coercive ordeal (popularly known as a "deprogramming") are encouraged by professional deprogrammers to believe they were somehow rendered incapable of thinking for themselves.
The brainwashing theory has been repeatedly discredited and dismissed by numerous sociologists, psychiatrists, theologians, and other respected and credible experts. They point out that the charge is frequently used by deprogrammers to help former converts feel absolved from personal responsibility for their own decisions and actions.
Ready press attention has helped to perpetuate the brainwashing myth. Several apostate members of the Unification Church have profited from the brainwashing myth by writing sensationalist books.
Numerous scholars have pointed out that the accounts of deprogrammed apostate members should not be taken at face value because of their distorted perspective.
Question: Doesn't Rev. Moon tell them whom they have to marry?
Most church members desire that Rev. Mom recommend a marriage partner. Romantic "courtship" relationships of the sort common among unmarried people in the West are discouraged within the culture of the church.
The concept of engagement and marriage is more in keeping with long recognized
traditions in Asia, and some cultures in Europe. Courtship begins from the time a couple is engaged, and their entire life together is a process of deepening love for one another. The Unification Church holds that a romance which is born and grows this way has a better chance to become rooted and lasting, particularly when anchored in a shared understanding and faith in God.
Westerners persuaded by the romantic ideal of a more "me"-oriented 20th century culture may be surprised to note the research on marriage in the church by Dr. Joseph Fichter, Professor of Sociology at Loyola University in New Orleans. In his book, The Holy Family of Father Moon, Fichter points out that the Unificationist way of engagement has been an accepted pattern for most of humanity for most of history.
A shared faith and desire to live with one's spouse in accord with the Principle, are the secrets to Unificationists' successful marriage customs.
The preference of church members to have Rev. Moon's recommendation in choosing a partner is a phenomenon the press and public understandably view as unusual.
Of course, it is unusual. What it is not is evidence of "brain- washing," but of a serious decision deeply, prayerfully, and freely taken. Unificationists would like their choice to seek Rev. and Mrs. Moon's counsel to be understood as resulting from a profound regard for their spirituality and insight. The prospective couple may accept or decline the recommendation. Church members have a one to three year courtship period before beginning their family life.
Question: Don't they all get married at the same time in one huge, impersonal ceremony?
Huge, unusual, and extraordinary? Yes, of course. But it's not impersonal and it's not inexplicable.
Unificationists place great importance on marriage and family. Marriage is the central sacrament of church life. The large wedding ceremony represents a deeply felt act of witnessing before God. Each spouse and couple openly dedicate themselves to one another and to the betterment of their community. Dr. James H. Grace, chairman of the Philosophy and Religion Department at Glassboro College, studied the Unification approach to marriage. He wrote in his book Sex and Marriage in the Unification Movement: A Sociological Study, that America -- and especially the religious institutions -- could learn something very important about marriage from the Unification ideal. It could restore a sense of responsibility to the Christian home and relieve the ego-fulfillment pressure that exists in many marriages today.
With regard to the size of the ceremonies, there are three things to mention:
1. Nearly 40,000 church members have considered it an honor to have Rev. and Mrs. Moon officiate at their wedding. As a practical matter, if Rev. and Mrs. Moon had to appear at that many individual weddings, they would have little time to do anything else with their lives.
2. For Rev. Moon and Unificationists, the ceremonies represent a very important demonstration of understanding, peace, and unity, involving men and women from all racial and cultural backgrounds.
3. Couples who have become married as part of a large group often feel a sense of community that leads to an extended family support system. The mass wedding -- or in church terminology the "blessing" ceremony - - represents a bonding within the community of married couples which helps develop a sense of caring for each other.
Engagement and marriage in the Unification Church works. The divorce rate of 5-10 percent is well below the national average.
The mass weddings also illustrate a "Catch-22" in media coverage of the church. Rev Moon knows that the weddings powerfully reinforce false and damaging stereotypes of Unificationists, as so-called brainwashed "cult" followers.
Yet the weddings continue. Their religious meaning and spiritual significance to Unificationists outweigh concern about media and public perception.
Most news accounts predictably report the weddings as a weird practice -- not as an act of integrity putting church beliefs ahead of short- term public relations considerations.
On the other hand, when church beliefs inspire activities that appear normal and respectable, the media often cynically dismisses them as "attempts to gain credibility."
Question: Doesn't the church want to impose outmoded, Puritanical attitudes toward sexual relations before marriage on the rest of society?
Life within the Unification community is meant to be an ongoing process of personal growth that can be as fulfilling as it is challenging. People often find themselves attracted by the, "spirit" within the Holy Spirit Association. Occasionally there are people who find such an open atmosphere unsettling or even threatening.
Contributing to the well-being of the community is a shared understanding of the pain that results from premarital and extramarital sexual relationships.
Many religious teachings historically have been fearful and disdainful of sex. Unificationism teaches that sexual love in marriage beautifully expresses and recreates an experience of divine love and is also a primary path of spiritual growth. Instead of having a hang-up, Unificationism offers greater clarity which leads to better relationships, more stable marriages, and a more fulfilled monogamous sexual life.
Particularly in the West since the Second World War and the advent of the "Playboy" sexual ethic, there has been a more and more critical attitude toward the traditional idea of abstinence prior to marriage. Young men and women have discounted it as one more outmoded notion from the past in light of the "new morality" Religious leaders have either been unable to give meaningful reasons for premarital abstinence or have themselves been convinced that the practice is passed.
The Unification Church is largely successful in instilling abstinence in single members because the Principle itself offers clear reasons for abstaining.
The Principle teaches that the original fall of humanity from God's grace was brought about by the misuse of love, or selfish love, by our first ancestors. They tried to claim a sexual union with one another without first having individually matured in a loving and responsible relationship with God.
Everyone knows that you can't give what you don't have. Without developing "God-centered" spiritual maturity -- that is, personal integrity, genuine responsibility, and the ability to love unselfishly -- one is not ready for the requirements of conjugal love.
The goal of men and women of the church before marriage is to develop a mature relationship with God. The Unification community provides a mean to practice such love in a brother and sister relationship with one another.
The sexual union of man and woman has become de-spiritualized in modern society. Unificationists believe in that union as the highest expression of spiritual love between husband and wife. It never was intended to be a casual encounter between people who hardly know each other.
That attitude historically among many clergy that sexual love even in marriage is something merely to be tolerated or treated with disdain, has contributed to the shabby moral atmosphere in our modern societies.
Unificationism teaches that a husband and wife bonded in marriage recreate the image of God and thereby draw God's love to them. Premarital relationships
create obstacles to growth by weakening the spiritual unity of husband and wife that is supported by their sexual love.
The Unification Church unashamedly promotes its doctrine that the sinful consequence of the fall of man described in the Bible is a cheapening of one of the most beautiful and spiritually vital aspects of human creation -sex.
Unificationists believe that understanding and appreciation of Unificationist teaching of the fall of man will go a long ways toward realization of a spiritually healthy society.
A combination of widespread disillusionment with sexual permissiveness coupled with epidemic social diseases and AIDS now seems to be moving society back to monogamous behavior. Question: Aren't Unificationists weird?
There is no cookie cutter from which all Unificationists are stamped. Unificationists are real people -- they come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, and from all levels of society. They are lawyers, students, taxi drivers, computer programmers, doctors, professors, housewives, carpenters, and retired persons too.
The lingering image of the Unificationist as a fresh-faced 20-year-old whose days are spent in soliciting donations at a truck stop was never typical and has become ludicrous.
Acceptance and understanding of Rev. Moon and Unificationism has progressed steadily over the past decade. Many persons have studied the Principle and involved themselves in various aspects of Unificationist activities.
After people get to know Unification members, they often remark, "You're not what I thought. You're normal!"
Even harsh critics who have made the effort to investigate, usually come to realize that Unificationists are normal in many ways, with unique temperaments, expressions, and tastes, and a commitment to their faith.
However, there is something that lends a common identification to church members: their lives are dedicated to God, their families, and fellow human beings. For many, the Unification faith brings real meaning to their lives, fulfilling needs unmet in their previous religious affiliation.
Journalists committed to portraying accurate information and impressions who want to go beyond superficial and poor reportage -- will find an exploration into what Unificationists are really like to be time well spent.
Aren't Their Beliefs Heretical?
Unification beliefs, referred to as the Principle, instruct that 2,000 years ago the teachings of Jesus represented the highest spiritual understanding that human beings were capable of receiving. Today, human consciousness has advanced to a point that through Christianity and other religious paths, modern men and women are seeking even higher levels of enlightenment to satisfy their spiritual needs.
Unificationism is unique in that it is inclusive of all major historical religions in its world view and seeks to affirm their various roles in history. Some theologians believe that the Unification Church is Christian to its core. Others disagree.
Unification theology, which is also enriched by oriental thought and culture, additionally asserts:
* Jesus -- Messiah and Son of God -- is a separate being from God Himself.
* God works through human history to achieve an ideal world on earth.
* The Old and New Testaments of the Bible indicate God's original purpose for creating. They provide the record of how God has been helping fallen humanity regain a capacity for achieving an intended state of goodness.
* God did not take a vow of silence once the Bible was canonized. He provides continuing revelation. * All people are born to be sons and daughters of God.
* Evil is not part of God's creation and can eventually be eradicated.
* Marriage and family are the most central sacrament in a person's life and the essential building block of all social organization.
As the core statement of the belief of the Unification Church, the Principle is a unique and ambitious piece of religious literature intended to help all people discern God's relationship to the world.
The Principle is the basis for lengthy study and application by Unificationists and a sizable and emerging body of scholarly literature.
Question: What are the Unificationist beliefs about Jesus Christ?
Unificationism is very much in accord with the teachings of Jesus, but differs with conventional Christian teaching about Jesus.
Unificationists anticipate an end to tragic human suffering once people live by the words of the Sermon on the Mount.
Unificationists take seriously Paul's description of Jesus as the "2nd Adam," coming to fulfill what the 1st Adam failed to do.
The Principle makes a dramatic departure from much of traditional theology in stating that had the people of his time followed Jesus, his crucifixion would not have been necessary, Jesus would have provided people with a way of achieving their originally intended potential, and God's ideal could have developed from that time.
This belief is possible because the Principle teaches that Jesus -- Messiah and Son of God -- is a separate being from God Himself.
Admittedly, this response is inadequate. Church beliefs are introduced in The Principle: Level IV and in Unification Theology, books which are yours for the asking.
On the Unification Church --
". . . more orthodox and more creative in dealing with scripture and the Christian tradition than many other contemporary churches. We should rejoice in its fervour and be glad to learn from its theology."
Dr. Herbert Richardson,
Professor of Religious Studies
University of Toronto
On Unification theology --
". . . the most radical, powerful, and constructive force for the future of Biblical studies since the Protestant Reformation."
Dr. Thomas Boslooper,
Member of the Dutch Reformed Church;
Professor of Biblical Studies,
Unification Theological Seminary
"I have read the Principle. If people have trouble with the Principle, they have trouble with the Sermon On The Mount."
Reverend James Bevel,
Former Chief Strategist for
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Unification Church 4 West 43rd Street New York, NY 10036 Public Affairs (212) 827-0463
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