The Words of Hyung Jin Moon From 2009
[Following is a translation of an article about an interview of the Rev. Hyung Jin Moon conducted by Mr. Hwan Young Kim of the Korean news daily Joong Ang Ilbo. There was no editing done on the article, so that the article as it was originally written. Picture courtesy of journalist Jeong Dong Choi.]
World president of the Unification Church Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, who attained a degree in philosophy and comparative religions from Harvard University, has formed close friendships with Buddhist, Catholic and Protestant church leaders in Korea and abroad. Recently, he completed a 21,000 bow special devotional offering.
The Unification Church approaches us in various forms: Japanese Unification Church believers who are so glad to meet Koreans (since Korea is where the “Messiah” was born), claims of splinter groups of the Unification Church, performances of the Little Angels who have taken Korean culture overseas since 1965, joint marriage ceremonies, doctrines that cite the Bible but appear to be so different than Christianity, Korea-Japan and Bering Strait tunnel projects, the role the Unification Church played in the process of Carter, Kim Dae-jung and No Mu-hyeon visiting North Korea, etc. When people find out about these various aspects of the Unification Church, their responses vary. Some feel admiration, some are mystified, some are enraged, while others are curious. Sometimes people are confused.
There are some people in America who claim that the Unification Church is threatening American democracy. Their claim is that the Unification Church has won over the leadership of America -- people like U.S. Senators and members of the House of Representatives. Part of the evidence they put forth to support their claim (that the Unification Church is a threat) is that the Washington Times as a mouthpiece for conservatives. The Washington Times, which belongs to the Unification Church, was President Ronald Reagan’s favorite newspaper.
On the 9th, top executives of the Washington Times were fired. Some of the American media, including TPM, is reporting that conflict between successors of the Unification Church is behind the firings.
The Reverend Dr. Sun Myung Moon, who celebrated his 90th birthday on January 31 of this year, decided on a succession plan centering on his three sons who graduated from Harvard University. Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, who is in charge of the religious field, studied philosophy and theology at Harvard. This reporter met with Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, the world president of the Unification Church (Unificationism) in his office at the Unification Church World Headquarters Church in Chungpadong, Seoul. Following are the main points of the interview with him.
Q: What happens to people when they die?
A: During a person’s life, he stores a certain type of “energy” based on his actions. If he does something good, he gains stores “energy,” but if he does something bad, he stores bad “energy.” When he goes to the world after death, he will be surrounded by spirits who have similar energy as he. That is because similar people are attracted to each other.
Q: Is there no Heaven or Hell?
A: There is no Heaven or Hell, but the good spirits and evil spirits are apart. You could say that Hell is where one is separated from God. On the other hand, people who have abandoned selfish ways of thinking and lived a life of helping others live with similar people in the spirit world. Some people ask, “Shouldn’t people who did bad things receive a more severe punishment?” Let’s look at it this way: When there is someone whom we don’t get along with near us, our minds become uneasy. When there is someone out to get us, we endure even greater suffering in our hearts. To have to live for eternity with people who harmed others throughout their lives because you harmed others throughout your life is a very distressing and scary proposition.
Q: Please tell me about your experiences with Buddhism and Catholicism.
A: After graduating from high school, I went to Fairfield University, which is run by the Jesuits, for two years. This was before I transferred to Harvard University. It was while I was attending Fairfield University that my older brother suddenly died due to an accident. The priest who taught religion and philosophy comforted me greatly at the time, and helped me overcome the feeling of loss that I had. I was always very interested in Oriental religions, and was crazy over Bruce Lee in high school. I once visited the Shaolin Monastery in order to learn martial arts and Buddhism. I was close with a Buddhist priest (Korean name is Il-mi) who came from Korea to study in Harvard. Once I spent a summer in a monastery in Italy. Coming in contact with Buddhism and Catholicism was a good opportunity for spiritual searching and learning.
Q: What was it like to meet the Dalai Lama?
A: He is a true saint of this age. He was a marvelous person. I have always been a fan of his writings. Normally, people can only meet him for around five minutes, but I was able to engage in religious dialogue with him, covering various subjects, for around one hour.
Q: If the Unification Church were to proclaim, “We are not Christian,” then wouldn’t many conflicts between Christianity and Unificationism be resolved?
A: It seems that there is some misunderstanding. We are not a Christian denomination.
Q: How many people believe in Unificationism?
A: There are about 20,000 core believers whom we call “central members.” They truly do a lot of work. They volunteer sacrificially for many events and for the sake of witnessing. If we include the people who come to church at least once a year, there are 300,000 believers. The number of people who have filled out the form to join the church is 1,200,000. The number of people who have done so around the world is 4-5 million.
Q: What does Unificationism see as the relationship between religion and science?
A: We believe that both religion and science are based on inspiration from God. We look at the Bible on the basis of the fruits of modern science. The Bible was written by God’s inspiration but human beings wrote it. We do not accept the Bible as 100% literal fact. There is a lot of symbolic and metaphoric language in the Bible.
Q: What do you think of evolution?
A: We accept that evolution takes place but we do not accept Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Science should be based on evidence by Darwin’s Theory of Evolution has too many premises that are not proven.
Q: Is the Reverend Dr. Sun Myung Moon the “Messiah?”
A: Yes, that is true.
Q: Is he God?
A: He is just a person. However, he has perfectly inherited God’s love.
Q: Is he the final “Messiah?” When he leaves, will God send a new Messiah? Is he the only Messiah?
A: My father totally inherited God’s love, for the sake of all humanity, and is spreading that love throughout the world. My father was victorious and completed his role as the Messiah. There is no need for another Messiah to come. There are many tribal messiahs and national messiahs who need to inherit God’s love for the sake of their tribes and nations.
Q: There is a claim that he is the Maitreya Buddha, to use Buddhist terminology. Don’t you think that Buddhists would be angry to hear such a claim?
A: I don’t think so. Buddhist encourage each other to “attain Buddhahood,” don’t they? Anyone can become a Buddha, according to Buddhism. The Messiah, or the Buddha, is someone who works for God’s true love, for Buddha’s compassion. From that point of view, our perspective may be closer to Buddhism.
Q: What will be done if a doctrinal issue arises after he goes to the next world? Will the issue be discussed in a forum such as a religious conference, or will he speak with the earth from the spirit world?
A: Of course we believe in prayer, but I think using a council is a better way to resolve doctrinal issues.
Q: If God exists, then what is the reason that he is not believed in universally, even though he created humanity?
A: God gave us freedom. God does not want us to love him because we are his creation, but out of our own choice.
Q: What are your views on democracy? Some claim that the Unification Church is attempting to establish a world government in which religion and state are one.
A: Democracy is a very God-centered tradition. Therefore, we respect democracy and have recently employed democratic principles in the way we manage our church. God established the democratic system through the “Founding Fathers.” The reason we oppose communism is because of our conviction in democracy. The Unification Church could overcome persecution thanks to the freedom guaranteed by democracy. We do not seek to establish a world government.
Q: When a religious leader dies, there are many cases in which there is a question of who will succeed him. What is the situation in Unificationism? Are preparations being made for the procedure of succession?
A: Yesterday, I talked with my father for eight hours. My father is healthy. As long as he is here, he is the top decision maker. If he is not here, then my mother is the top decision maker. Because of my mother’s presence, there is no confusion regarding succession in Unificationism.
Q: As we see many of the 2nd generation enter the leadership of the Unification Church, isn’t there some criticism regarding succession by heredity?
A: Succession by heredity implies that everything is being given to one’s children. However, in the Unification Church, our religious lifestyle and the management of assets are separate.
Q: What will happen to Unificationism in the future?
A: It is characteristic of new religions to be intense. The believers offer everything and devote themselves entirely to their lives of faith. That is because they are in competition with existing religions. Many changes have already taken place in Unificationism. The kind of intense sacrifice that was asked of early members is no longer asked of all but the most devoted believers and Unificationist pastors.
Translation by Tossa Cromwell, Unification Church USA