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Jul 31 11 6:53 PM
Jul. 25, 2011
TOKYO — The Olympic Games are no stranger to influence-peddling scandals and delegate buying in the selection of venues. In December 1998, for example, it was revealed that International Olympic Committee delegates had been on the receiving end of all types of bribes—ranging from Super Bowl tickets to plastic surgery—in order for Salt Lake City to secure the 2002 games.
A 2006 investigation by the governor of Nagano Prefecture found that the Japanese city has expended $4.4 million “on entertainment alone” in efforts to host the 1998 games. The report concluded Nagano had engaged in “illegitimate and excessive level of hospitality” to IOC members,
This is not to imply that the IOC corruption continues to be rampant, but rather, that with the selection of any venue, it’s to be expected that the media in other countries are wont to nitpick over any decision.
On July 6, when the IOC announced that Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province, South Korea had been picked to host the 2018 winter games, TV cameras zoomed in on the tear-streaked face of Korea’s champion figure skater Kim Yuna - who had energetically campaigned on behalf of her country.
South Korean president Lee Myung-bak promptly announced the nation would invest the equivalent of 40 billion Japanese yen into upgrading facilities.
But the confetti had barely settled in Seoul after the announcement when Asahi Geino (July 28) ran an article noting that the site of the 2018 games has close ties with the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, aka the Unification Church.
“The church is the largest shareholder of the Yongpyong ski resort, with 49.9% of shares,” says Yoshifu Arita, a well known investigative journalist and currently a member of Japan’s House of Councilors. “In addition, the Segye Ilbo newspaper founded by the church [called Sekai Nippo in its Japanese edition] owns another 12.59%.
“In other words, for all intents and purposes, the resort is owned by the Unification Church. In books and other church publications, the hotel, condominiums, ski slopes and other facilities are introduced as ‘sacred territory.’ The site has also been the venue for ‘special training seminars’ attended by Japanese church members, at which founder Moon Sun Myung (now age 91) participated.”
Actually, Pyeongchang is already famous in Japan for another reason: the heart-throbbing coffee shop scene in “Winter Sonata,” the lachrymose 2002 TV serial starring Bae Yong Jun and Choi Ji Woo—credited with setting off the “Hanryu” boom in Japan—was shot there. Subsequently, hundreds of thousands of Japanese fans have traveled to the ROK to visit the famous spot.
“You can also see ‘Winter Sonata’ spin-off goods on sale there,” says Arita. “Naturally I suppose a travel agency affiliated with the Unification Church has tied up with Japanese tour operators to promote tourism to the area. The church is most likely to benefit from the holding of the Olympics here. In South Korea, the church enjoys the status of “zaidan hojin” (foundation) and is recognized in Korean economic circles.
“From the Japanese viewpoint, when organizations engage in religious gimmickry, it may raise ethical problems, but I’m not necessarily saying I’m opposed to South Korea’s hosting the Olympics just because of this,” a cautious Arita adds.
Moon Hyon-jin, the founder’s seventh son, has also been quoted as saying that he will “expand investment in the Yongpyong Resort,” suggesting that the funds will provide a good return on investment. Korea’s vernacular media has also reportedly remarked that the Unification Church is likely to be the “greatest beneficiary” of the 2018 Olympics.
Japanese, of course, will be cheering for their compatriots to bring home medals. But Asahi Geino remarks that when an international sports event winds up filling the coffers of a religious organization, the sense of irony is inescapable. http://www.japantoday.com...i/view/questions-raised-over-unification-churchs-involvement-in-2018-winter-olympic-venue
Nov 8 11 5:43 AM
[B.C., Canada - rnb],
Now known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, most locals are probably more familiar with the name Moonies, the term first used by the media in the United States to refer to the followers of the Unification Church founded by Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
Earlier this month, a recruiter was going door-to-door in the Shellmont neighbourhood, inviting residents for dinner at a home at 8760 Greenfield Dr.
The young woman, of Korean descent, posed a series of questions, such as whether the homeowner considers families to be of primary importance, and if people irrespective of cultural backgrounds should come together.
Simon Fraser University cult expert Barry Beyerstein said he would consider the Moonies to be a cult based on the checklist of attributes that distinguish religions from cults.
Beyerstein said the door-to-door pitch is a classic example of the deceptive recruiting practices that cults employ, noting that no mention of the religious movement is indicated off the top of the conversation.
By approaching people about “motherhood” issues that “no decent person could be against” they effectively gain a foothold.
“It’s called the foot-in-door technique,” he said.
“That’s right out of the textbook of social persuasion.”
Another item on the checklist is exploitation. While most, if not all, religious groups ask for followers to pay their dues, he considers those that go to extremes, such as signing over paycheques, or demanding that followers prostitute themselves, would be considered a cult.
If the group then forces members to sever ties to family and friends, and insists that they get information only from those in a leadership position, this should raise alarm bells that this is probably a cult, Beyerstein said.
As is the case with the Unification Movement, the leadership claims to be “divinely chosen” which Beyerstein said becomes the leadership’s excuse from following all strictures of morality. This could extend to telling couples to split up, or exploiting members sexually.
Moon was known to organize mass weddings, between strangers, he said.
Some cult groups use coercive tactics to force members to stay within a group, using physical means and even kidnapping to keep them from leaving.
Some cult followers are told, for example, “you’re scum without us,” Beyerstein said.
Beyerstein urged residents to do their homework before signing on the dotted line or accepting a dinner invitation from a stranger.
“I don’t think that anybody should ever sign into anything at the front door,” he said, whether it’s someone selling encyclopedias or vacuums. “If you’re looking for something, get it from a legitimate source.”http://www.richmondreview.com/
Feb 24 12 10:39 AM
BISHKEK -- A court in Bishkek has ruled that the South Korean-based Unification Church can no longer operate on Kyrgyz territory. Earlier this month, the Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security, the Kyrgyz Prosecutor-General's Office and the State Directorate for Religious Issues filed a complaint with the court.In it, the state bodies claimed the church's activities posed a threat to Kyrgyz national security by forcibly propagating nontraditional religious views without proper registration.
Religious authorities in a number of post-Soviet states, including Russia, have harshly criticized the Unification Church, whose members seen here in a mass wedding in Seoul in 2002, calling it a Cult.
The Unification Church became active in the former Soviet Union in the 1990s and has thousands of followers in the region.Religious authorities in a number of post-Soviet states, including Russia, have harshly criticized the movement, calling it a sect.Some curbs have been imposed on the Unification Church in those places as a result.The Unification Church was founded in South Korea in 1954 by Sun Myung-moon, whom followers consider to be a messiah.http://www.rferl.org/cont...ion_church/24493505.html
Feb 27 12 4:50 AM
Mar 25 12 3:00 AM
Why do Presidents praise him and millions follow him? Because he is a cult leader… a wolf in sheeps clothing that’s why.
Sun Myung Moon
What is the meaning of lesbians and homosexuals.. the place where all different kinds of dung collect.and referred to gay people as "dung-eating dogs."
Am I foolish and insignificant or am I great? I gave all the individuals in the world cause to kneel down in front of me. I served the famous professors and scholars, and eventually they learned that the Reverend Moon is superior to them. Even Nobel laureate academics who thought they were at the center of knowledge are as nothing in front of meLet's say there are 500 sons and daughters like you in each state. Then we could control the government.So from this time of peak every people or every organization that goes against the Unification Church will gradually come down or drastically come down and die. Many people will die - those who go against our movement. The time has come when the whole world must be concerned about me. From now on, American Christianity must follow me. Father thinks about the three races, yellow, black, and white. Orientals can contribute in the spiritual aspect, white people can contribute in the analytical, scientific area, while black people can contribute in the physical area-physical educational development of physical fitness, the area of health
In daily life, which sex is usually more disruptive or problem-causing? Percentage-wise, it is usually women. What contributes to that? It is mainly because they lack perseverance.
Jesus Christ is trying to follow me, my footsteps, all the way. He stayed in Paradise, because he did not marry. But I gave him marriage. Don’t you want to meet the wives of Buddha, Confucius and Muhammad? They sent letters of gratitude to me from spirit world. They pledge that even if their religion disappears, they will follow me. Can you imagine anyone in this world claiming to have married those past saints? The rings I prepared for their marriage cost a great deal per couple. Did I do that because I am crazy?
If your love organ does not listen to your conscience, then you should cut off the tip. Even if it takes that extreme measure, we have to make sure our mind and body become one.
That's why I can dream dreams that God Himself never dreamed. I'm that kind of person. I can believe the things even God can't believe. I can do things even God can't. That's why God hated me more than Satan hated me.
The five great saints and many other leaders in the spirit world, including even Communist leaders such as Marx and Lenin, who committed all manner of barbarity and murders on earth, and dictators such as HITLER and STALIN have found strength in my teachings, mended their ways and been reborn as new persons
With just a glass of Coca Cola, I can feel more intoxicated than the others, and they will comment, "How strange! You are only drinking Coke, but you are enjoying it more than we are enjoying our wine. What is your secret?" I could tell them, "Your taste buds get numbed by wine so you can't appreciate how good Coca Cola tastes. But I really enjoy the taste, so it has made me intoxicated."
Well these are just a few of the many things Moon has said… his hatred of the Jewish people is most frightening as like many racists they preach this and nut cases hear what they want to hear.
Moon for hiring well-known celebrities to speak at events that he sponsors in order to gain credibility for himself and his organization. Among them have been Maureen Reagan (daughter of former President Ronald Reagan); former President Gerald Ford; George and Barbara Bush; comedian Bill Cosby; Marilyn Quayle (wife of former vice-president Dan Quayle); Republican vice-presidential candidate, Jack Kemp; Olympic gold medalist and speed skater, Dan Jansen; the widow of the late Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King; civil rights activists, Ralph Abernathy and Joseph Lowery; ABC News anchorwoman, Barbara Walters; astronaut, Sally Ride; former British Prime Minister, Edward Heath; Robert Schuller, Senior Pastor of the Crystal Cathedral; Ralph Reed, executive director of the Christian Coalition; Beverly LaHaye, president of Concerned Women of America; and singer Pat Boone. Do these folks not read or is it Greed??? They were duped by a KING OF DUPERS... Not the king of heaven..
Sep 2 12 5:14 PM
GAPYEONG, South Korea — The Rev. Sun Myung Moon was a self-proclaimed messiah who built a global business empire. He called both North Korean leaders and American presidents his friends, but spent time in prisons in both countries. His followers around the world cherished him, while his detractors accused him of brainwashing recruits and extracting money from worshippers.
These contradictions did nothing to stop the founder of the Unification Church from turning his religious vision into a worldwide movement and a multibillion-dollar corporation stretching from the Korean Peninsula to the United States.
Moon died Monday at a church-owned hospital near his home in Gapyeong County, northeast of Seoul, two weeks after being hospitalized with pneumonia, Unification Church spokesman Ahn Ho-yeul told The Associated Press. Moon's wife and children were at his side, Ahn said. He was 92.
The church will hold a 13-day mourning period and start accepting mourners Thursday at a multipurpose gym at its nearby religious center, the church said in a statement. The funeral will be held on Sept. 15, and Moon will be buried at nearby Cheonseung Mountain, where his home is located, the statement said.
Moon founded his Bible-based religion in Seoul in 1954, a year after the Korean War ended, saying Jesus Christ personally called on him to complete his work.
The church gained fame — and notoriety — by marrying thousands of followers in mass ceremonies presided over by Moon himself. The couples often came from different countries and had never met, but were matched up by Moon in a bid to build a multicultural religious world.
Today, the Unification Church has 3 million followers, including 100,000 members in the U.S., and has sent missionaries to 194 countries, Ahn said. But ex-members and critics say the figure is actually no more than 100,000 members worldwide.
The church's holdings included the Washington Times newspaper; Connecticut's Bridgeport University; the New Yorker Hotel, a midtown Manhattan art deco landmark, and a seafood distribution firm that supplies sushi to Japanese restaurants across the U.S. It acquired a ski resort, a professional football team and other businesses in South Korea. It also operates a foreign-owned luxury hotel in North Korea and jointly operates a fledgling North Korean automaker.
The church has been accused of using devious recruitment tactics and duping followers out of money. Parents of followers in the United States and elsewhere have expressed worries that their children were brainwashed into joining. The church has pointed out that many new religious movements faced similar accusations in their early years. Moon's followers were often called "Moonies," a term many found pejorative.
Born in 1920 in a rural part of what is today North Korea, Moon said he was 16 when Jesus Christ first appeared to him and told him to finish the work he had begun on Earth 2,000 years earlier. Moon, who tried to preach the gospel in the North, was imprisoned there in the late 1940s for alleged spying for South Korea; he disputed the charge.
When the Korean War broke out in 1950, he went to South Korea. After divorcing his first wife, he married Hak Ja Han Moon in 1960. They have 10 surviving sons and daughters, according to the church.
In South Korea, Moon quickly drew young acolytes to his conservative, family-oriented value system and unusual interpretation of the Bible. He conducted his first mass wedding in Seoul in the early 1960s, and the "blessing ceremonies" grew in scale over the years. A 1982 wedding at New York's Madison Square Garden — the first outside South Korea — drew thousands of participants.
"International and intercultural marriages are the quickest way to bring about an ideal world of peace," Moon said in a 2009 autobiography. "People should marry across national and cultural boundaries with people from countries they consider to be their enemies so that the world of peace can come that much more quickly."
Moon began building a relationship with North Korea in 1991, even meeting with the country's founder, Kim Il Sung, in the eastern North Korean port city of Hamhung. In his autobiography, Moon said he urged Kim to give up his nuclear ambitions, and that Kim responded by saying that his atomic program was for peaceful purposes and he had no intention to use it to "kill my own people."
"The two of us were able to communicate well about our shared hobbies of hunting and fishing," Moon wrote. "At one point, we each felt we had so much to say to the other that we just started talking like old friends meeting after a long separation."
When Kim died in 1994, Moon sent a condolence delegation to North Korea, drawing criticism from conservatives at home. The late Kim Jong Il, who succeeded his father as North Korean leader, sent roses, prized wild ginseng, Rolex watches and other gifts to Moon on his birthday each year. Moon said Kim Il Sung had instructed Kim Jong Il that "after I die, if there are things to discuss pertaining to North-South relations, you must always seek the advice of President Moon."
The church also sent a delegation to pay its respects after Kim Jong Il died in December and was succeeded by his son Kim Jong Un.
Moon sought and eventually developed a good relationship with conservative American leaders such as former Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Yet he also served 13 months at a U.S. federal prison in the mid-1980s after a New York City jury convicted him of filing false tax returns. The church says the U.S. government persecuted Moon because of his growing influence and popularity with young Americans.
In later years, the church adopted a lower profile in the United States and focused on building up its businesses. Moon lived for more than 30 years in the United States, the church said.
As he grew older, Moon also handed over day-to-day control of his empire to his children. His U.S.-born youngest son, the Rev. Hyung-jin Moon, was named the church's top religious director in April 2008. Other children run the church's businesses and charitable activities in South Korea and abroad.
In 2009, Moon married 45,000 people in simultaneous ceremonies worldwide in his first large-scale mass wedding in years, the church said. Some were newlyweds and others reaffirmed past vows. He married an additional 7,000 couples in South Korea in February 2010. The ceremonies attracted media coverage but little of the controversy that dogged the church in earlier decades.
Hyung-jin Moon told The Associated Press in February 2010 that his father's offspring do not see themselves as his successors.
"Our role is not inheriting that messianic role," he said. "Our role is more of the apostles ... where we become the bridge between understanding what kind of lives (our) two parents have lived."http://news.yahoo.com/uni...n-dies-92-185236876.html
Sep 7 12 3:52 AM
Oct 17 12 11:51 AM
By Elizabeth Flock
October 15, 2012
Unification Church honor guards carry a coffin containing a body of late Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the controversial founder of the Unification Church, after his funeral service at the CheongShim Peace World Center in Gapyeong, South Korea, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012.
On the heels of a Washington Whispers report Saturday that Douglas Joo is out as Washington Times chairman, the conservative newspaper announced on its Web site Monday it has a new president and CEO.
Larry Beasley, a former St. Petersburg Times and Los Angeles Daily News executive, has been appointed to that position. According to a source close to the board, this is the first time in the 30-year history of the Times that the editor running day-to-day operations is not a member of the Unification Church, which owns the paper.
Requests for comment from multiple members of the executive staff of the Washington Times were not immediately returned.
But questions about the future of the paper have been floating around since the September death of powerful Unification Church founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a self-proclaimed messiah and globally successful businessman. The Times has long been perceived as the centerpiece of the church, with long-time Moon-watcher Larry Zilliox telling Whispers recently that Moon showed off the paper to various world leaders.
But it was also a costly endeavor. Back in 1991, Moon said the church had already spent nearly a billion dollars to support the paper. More recent reports about the paper's profitability, including from Talking Points Memo in 2009 and Politico in 2011, are mixed.
While surviving Moon family members have taken over the leadership of the church, the source tells Whispers that the Times' board realized independent leadership, not another church member, was needed to keep the Times afloat. Thomas McDevitt, a Unification Church member who had been running the day-to-day operations at the paper, has now been moved into Joo's chairman role.
An editor in the newsroom, who did not want to be named, told Whispers the change in leadership could "only be a good thing."http://www.usnews.com/new...s/2012/10/15/washington-times-gets-first-president-and-ceo-who-is-not-a-member-of-unification-church
Aug 29 13 4:42 AM
Aug 29 13 4:50 AM
Conversion: Mark Palmer was married in a Moonie mass wedding
The singing grew louder and more aggressive. Some people clenched their fists and thumped the air in time with the music. Others stamped their feet.
We were only minutes away from the arrival of Sun Myung Moon on stage in a vast hall at one of the Unification Church’s training centres in a place called Barrytown in upstate New York.
The men — or ‘brothers’, as they were known — were on one side of the room, the women — ‘sisters’ — were on the other.
A Japanese man with poor English then led everyone in prayer, during which we were reminded of what an honour it was to shortly be in the presence of the ‘True Father’.
Moon walked on to the stage with his interpreter and began speaking — and did not finish for four hours.
He was 55 years old; I was 19 and coming to the end of my gap year, which was to conclude in a way that amazed me then, and still amazes me now nearly 40 years later.
It was 1974 and I had met the Moonies a couple of weeks earlier in Boulder, Colorado. Richard Nixon had just resigned as U.S. president and I was about to make a radical departure from what the Unification Church used to call ‘the satanic world’.
There was nothing much in my disposition to suggest such a turn of events.
Certainly I had been a rebellious teenager, leaving my public school a year early to do my A-levels elsewhere because I couldn’t stand my housemaster, the petty rules or the uniform.
But I came from a stable, loving — and privileged — family.
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Mass nuptials: Couples from around the world participate in a mass wedding ceremony arranged by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church at Sun Moon University in Asan
My father used to go down on his knees every night and pray before bed; my mother was not religious but was a stickler for form.
I had gone to Canada with a friend and worked in the Toronto factory of Peek Freans, a sister company of Huntley & Palmer — the famous biscuit firm where my father was managing director.
I used to enjoy writing and kept a diary as my friend and I hitch-hiked across Canada and into the United States.
Reading some of the entries today, I realise I was idealistic and, like so many young people, searching for something.
Communes were popular at the time. Plenty of us took seriously Bob Dylan’s line about the ‘times they are a-changin’.
Changed man: Mark at a Moonie concert at the Royal Albert Hall, left, and before his conversion in 1974
In October, my friend returned to Toronto and I continued in America on my own, fetching up in Omaha, Nebraska, where I met an American woman in her late 20s called Renee.
She was heavily into meditation and spiritual matters, talking a lot about the freeing of the mind.
Her brother had met and joined the Unification Church in Boulder, Colorado, and Renee wanted to find out why. I was intrigued, too.
The centre in Boulder was called Sunburst. Its members were clean-cut, enthusiastic and welcomed me as if I was the most important person in the world.
The atmosphere was Woodstock meets the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme, with lots of guitar playing, holding hands and clearing up rubbish from the streets downtown.
It worried me a little that the men all sported short hair and had ditched denim jeans for sensible trousers, but they seemed an infectiously happy lot.
There was hardly any mention of Moon.
I listened to the Divine Principle — as the teachings were known — and it made sense, especially the bit about Jesus wanting to establish heaven on earth but being thwarted by unbelievers who refused to change their wicked ways.
I liked the idea of families being at the centre of a new world, where people loved each other regardless of race, colour or class.
I was taken by the camaraderie, the sense of purpose.
Strangely, my only doubts came when I was in that hall listening to Moon himself.
He shouted a lot and gesticulated more in the manner of Adolf Hitler than Jesus Christ — but I was smitten, not by the man, but by the all-consuming desire to help him and his young followers achieve their mission.
Blessing: Moon and his wife bless the brides and the grooms in a mass wedding ceremony at Chamsil Olympic Stadium in Seoul in 2000
When I finally returned to Britain I told my parents I was going to join the Unification Church. They were shattered.
They had good reason to be.
The movement in this country was led by a volatile couple called Dennis and Doris Orme.
She had been one of Moon’s earliest recruits and seemed to think this gave her the authority to chastise members who were not working hard enough, while finding it perfectly acceptable to shop at Harrods and be driven round in a flash car.
For the next six years, I fund-raised in this country, Germany, France and Italy as part of Moon’s One World Crusade; I lectured to potential new recruits, and on one occasion I spoke at a packed Royal Albert Hall where my job was to be the warm-up man and compere for a Unification Church concert, followed by a ranting speech from Orme.
The more doubts I had the more I committed myself, the more determined I was to overcome my ‘fallen nature.’ In an effort to get closer to God, I once fasted for seven days while sleeping on the streets of New York outside the UN building in protest for some cause or other.
I abstained from all alcohol and used to take a cold shower whenever I felt any carnal desires.
On Sundays, I rose at 4.30am and attended The Pledge, when at 5am we renewed our vows of obedience and bowed before a framed photograph of Moon and his wife.
'In one his speeches he came out with the scary line: "I am your brain!" '
The dangerous aspect of all this was how Moon and his senior lieutenants took a dim view of anyone who thought for themselves. In fact, in one his speeches he came out with the scary line: ‘I am your brain!’
At the time, I put this sort of outburst down to cultural differences or Moon’s words being lost in translation, but it was far harder to justify his lavish lifestyle and vacuous affection for those who lined his pockets.
Unification Church: The movements founder Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his wife Hak Ja Han Moon join hands to bless couples during a mass wedding ceremony
I know for a fact that there was a Rolls-Royce sitting in a garage in Chislehurst in case he was around, while members received nothing except board and lodging.
During all of this, my parents showed extraordinary patience.
Rather than outright confrontation or, as some parents chose to do, kidnapping me and hiring de-programmers to deconstruct the Moon mirage, they quietly pointed out the inconsistencies.
They reminded me that it was odd for a ‘messiah’ to be investing in the manufacture of guns and munitions (including a Korean arms factory); they stressed, correctly, that Moon had had several wives and that his sexual past was far more lewd than anything he was trying to combat in the U.S. or Britain, and they gently pointed out that faith should not be confused with certainty.
By that stage I had put myself forward for a Moonie wedding.
It’s not completely true that all Unification Church members marry total strangers chosen for them by Moon — although some certainly do.
'We first met at a so-called ‘matching ceremony’ attended by Moon himself in New York.'
There was a gap of at least a year between meeting my future wife and taking part in one of those mass weddings.
She was American and a few years younger me.
She was from Los Angeles and had joined the Moonies while at university.
We first met at a so-called ‘matching ceremony’ attended by Moon himself in New York.
We discussed our possible future together and married in Madison Square Garden a year later along with 2,074 other couples, shortly after I had moved to New York to work on Moon’s newspaper. My section editor was not a member of the Unification Church.
In fact, he was an Italian-American alcoholic who used to be a highly respected journalist at a major news agency, and without whom I would never have become a journalist myself.
Thousands participating in a ceremony in a Washington stadium are blessed by Moon and his wife during the arranged marriages of 3.6 million couples around the world, linked by satellite
I ended up listening far more to him than Moon.
Shortly after getting married, my wife and I independently — but almost at the same time — decided we no longer could remain in the church.
I had done too many intellectual somersaults. I had witnessed too many sleights of hand, too many occasions when the ends could not justify some dubious and outright dishonest means.
One of the last straws for me was a meeting with a Korean called Colonel Pak, one of Moon’s closest disciples.
He was a slippery bully distinctly lacking in any humility and with a penchant for supporting Right-wing dictators in Central America, where later the Moonies bought up huge tracts of land. ‘By his fruits you shall know him’ came to mind.
Extricating myself was difficult, not because of pressure from Unification Church members but because I had gone out on a limb, trodden a particular path and now it was time to retrace my steps, start all over again.
My wife and I moved to London and we had two children together.
The marriage did not survive but we remain on good terms and are immensely proud of our children.
I was then single for a long time but was fortunate enough to meet someone and fall in love.
My wife Joanna and I were married five years ago.
I am less proud of allowing Moon to lord it over so many young people’s lives over such a long period of time (although the numbers of people he influenced is vastly exaggerated).
As I understand it, his own family is largely dysfunctional.
Following his death at the age of 92 at the weekend, rival churches under the control of various Moon children are already squabbling.
Then there are the businesses, the houses, the trappings of conspicuous consumption.
Me? I think the reason I like sitting near the back of my parish church on a Sunday morning is because the Church of England does not claim to have all the answers.
Some people think today’s religious leaders should be more strident. I am not one of them.
Sep 22 14 2:55 AM
One Sunday morning in February 2010, Bob Exler, a fiftysomething engineer, arrived at the faded ranch house in northwest Houston where he regularly worshipped the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Most people know Moon for his mass weddings and his ultra-conservative newspaper, The Washington Times. But Exler, who joined Moon’s Unification Church in 1972, had been inspired by Moon’s mission to rebuild the traditional family. As he told me, “I didn’t want to be part of this McDonald’s Drive-Thru society, where you go from one partner to another.”
For many years, the Sunday service had followed an unchanging routine. Exler and his wife, Susan—who were matched by Moon and married in a mass ceremony at Madison Square Garden—would join fellow disciples in pledging their loyalty to a portrait of Moon, or, as they called him, “True Father.” They would then sing hymns in Korean and English, and listen to sermons by a rotating cast of elders.
But on this particular Sunday, Exler and his fellow congregants arrived to find that the portrait of their leader, in his traditional Korean robe, had vanished. In its place was a wide-screen television with simulcast footage of the Reverend Moon’s 45-year-old daughter, In Jin, speaking from a podium at the Manhattan Center, the concert venue where “America’s Got Talent” was filmed. With her thick makeup and sculpted red hair, In Jin bore a striking resemblance to a game-show host. After welcoming the “one hundred six churches all across the country” that were tuning in, she pointed out the church’s new “Liberace piano,” a rhinestone-encrusted Baldwin grand. Her love of Liberace, she explained, dated back to a show she’d seen in Las Vegas as a child. “I must say that he was fabulous,” she recalled, in an affected British accent. “He used to fly through the air, hoisted on a cable. He wore glorious capes—some were rhinestone, some were velvet, and they had all different textures.” At first Exler was intrigued, but after months of watching In Jin’s broadcasts, which had replaced the church’s normal services, his fascination turned to dismay. “We just turned on the TV, sat there for ninety minutes, then everyone went home,” says Exler. “The sense of community was destroyed.”
In Jin had assumed control of the U.S. church at a precarious moment for Moon’s religious empire. Her father had come to the United States from Korea nearly 40 years earlier, aiming to “subjugate” America as the first phase in a plan to establish a new world order. Moon had gone on to amass extraordinary political influence, building a vast network of powerful right-wing organizations and forging alliances with every Republican presidential administration since Ronald Reagan’s. In 2004, he and his wife even staged an elaborate coronation ceremony in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, which at least a dozen lawmakers attended.1 Republican Roscoe Bartlett bowed down before the couple, and Democrat Danny Davis carried in one of two golden crowns that were placed on their heads. Moon then informed the audience that “kings and presidents” had declared him “humanity’s savior” and that Jesus, Buddha, Hitler, and Stalin had been “reborn as new persons” through his teachings.
But in recent years, Moon’s plans to remake America and salvage humanity had run into trouble. Followers had drifted away; his political influence had ebbed. With his ninetieth birthday approaching, he increasingly looked to his children to preserve his life’s work.
In Jin, Moon and his wife’s fourth child, seemed suited for the task. She had a modern American upbringing and a master’s degree from Harvard. In 2009, she took over the Unification Church of America and introduced a bold modernization program. Her aim, she said, was to transform the church into one that people—especially young people—were “dying to join.” She renamed the church Lovin’ Life Ministries, shelved the old hymn books, and launched a rock band, an offshoot of which played New York clubs under the moniker Sonic Cult. She also discarded the old Korean-inspired traditions: bows and chanting gave way to “Guitar Hero” parties, open mics, concerts, and ping-pong tournaments. What’s more, In Jin broke some long-standing taboos. Rather than adhering to the church line on arranged marriage, for example, she encouraged young people to play a role in choosing their own spouses.
Her reforms were met with heated resistance. Across the country, Moon’s disciples took to the Internet to denounce In Jin’s “bling-bling” style and her “ridiculous accent.” One online critic dubbed her ministry the “mushroom church,” because “all you do is sit passively in the dark and are fed bovine excrement.” Within two years, nationwide monthly attendance plunged from roughly 26,000 to less than 7,500, according to internal church documents.
Yet In Jin persisted, confident that, with time, she could win over the doubters and bring her father’s church into the modern era. In early 2012, she gave an upbeat sermon about music, motherhood, and true love. “This is an incredible year and I feel so many wonderful things are going to unfold,” she said. “This is about you and me. This is about America. This is about our future.”
But after the service was over, In Jin disappeared from public view. She stopped delivering the weekly broadcasts, and even quit showing up at the church’s Manhattan headquarters. After several months passed with no sign of her, some parishioners began pressing for information on her whereabouts. They were blocked at every turn. Even the highest circles of church leadership couldn’t—or wouldn’t—say what had happened to In Jin Moon.
Before long, it became clear that the House of Moon was crumbling and In Jin had become caught up in its downfall. But her disappearance was only one part of a much more complicated saga—one that involved illegitimate children, secret sex rituals, foreign spy agencies, and the family of Vice President Joseph Biden. Even by Moon’s famously eccentric standards, the collapse of his American project would turn out to be spectacular and deeply strange.
Just before dawn on February 12, 1965, Sun Myung Moon shuffled off a plane at San Francisco International Airport, carrying a suitcase of Korean soil. His disciples later drove him to the hills overlooking the city. As a strong wind blew, the wiry 44-year-old buried a clump of the soil, and declared the spot holy ground—“a place where you can come to pray and not be bothered by Satan.” He spent the next month touring the continental United States in a blue Plymouth Fury station wagon. All told, he and his followers staked out 55 plots of holy ground, including one on the Ellipse in front of the White House.
This brief U.S. visit was a vital step toward realizing Moon’s messianic vision. Born in 1920, he had grown up in a thatched straw hut in northwest Korea during the brutal Japanese occupation. When he was ten, his family converted to Christianity. Moon eventually joined a fringe Christian sect that engaged in sexual “purification” rituals. After Allied forces liberated Korea in 1945, he moved to Pyongyang, which was then under Soviet control, and started his own church. But other ministers complained about his teachings, and, in 1948, Moon was arrested and reportedly charged with “polygamy.” According to his memoir, he was beaten until he vomited blood and sentenced to five years in a communist prison camp.
When the Korean War broke out, Moon escaped across the border to the South Korean city of Pusan. From his one-room mud hut, he could look down into the harbor where the United States and United Nations unloaded troops and supplies. It was at this point that he began writing down his theological ideas—a mix of Christianity, Confucianism, shamanism, and anti-communist bile—sometimes on the walls and ceiling of his hovel.
The central pillar of Moon’s theology held that Eve had a dalliance with Satan in the Garden of Eden and then slept with Adam, which is how human beings were burdened with original sin. Moon also believed that people, movements, and even entire countries embodied these biblical figures. He himself was the “perfect Adam,” and his mission was to help humankind reclaim its original goodness by forging a new world order led by Korea, the “Adam nation.” America, the “archangel” nation, would play a key role in this mission by helping Korea to rout communism, after which it would bow down to the Korean-led regime, with Moon as its king and messiah.
The nationalist overtones of Moon’s teachings appealed to some influential Koreans, including several English-speaking South Korean Army officers. Among them was a savvy young colonel named Bo Hi Pak, whom Moon tapped as his deputy. In 1961, the military ousted South Korea’s democratic government, and several Moon acolytes were catapulted into key posts, including inside the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, or KCIA. Bo Hi Pak was dispatched to Washington, D.C., where he served as a liaison between the KCIA and U.S. intelligence agencies and built political inroads for Moon’s organization.
While Moon’s theology had geopolitical ambitions, he saw his family as the means for realizing his vision. At the age of 40, he married his cook’s daughter, a delicate 17-year-old beauty named Hak Ja Han. Moon claimed that their union marked the beginning of the “completed testament” era, in which Moon would reverse the fall of man by making his wife pay penance for Eve’s sins. For three years, he stashed Hak Ja Han in a rented room, kept her in bitter poverty, and forbid her from seeing her family. The goal was to rid her of Eve-like defiance and cultivate “absolute obedience” so that she could bear children free of original sin. By the winter of 1960, the first of these perfect children had arrived.
Moon told his followers that they could join his sin-free bloodline by marrying a spouse of his choosing and engaging in a series of rituals. First, the newlyweds would beat each other with a bat, and then they would perform a three-day sex ceremony involving prescribed positions in front of Moon’s portrait. After the final sexual interlude—in missionary position—the bride would bow down to the groom, a confirmation that they had restored the “lost ideal of goodness.”
Moon returned to the United States in 1971, and two years later brought over the key to humanity’s salvation—his rapidly growing family. By now, he and Hak Ja Han had seven children, including eleven-year-old Steve, eight-year-old In Jin (or Tatiana), four-year-old Preston, and three-year-old Justin. (All the Moon kids were given both Korean and American names.) Moon settled the family on a wooded 18-acre estate in the Hudson River Valley, which he christened East Garden.
He also began aggressively recruiting new followers, who were expected to live in monk-like purity. Alcohol and drugs were off-limits, and sex outside marriage was the worst possible sin, punishable by eternal hellfire. His religion appealed to young people who liked the communal ethos of the counterculture, but not the drugs and free love. His growing army of heavenly soldiers raised money by hawking flowers and candles in airports and on street corners. Funds also poured in from Japan (the “Eve nation”), where young devotees persuaded elderly Japanese widows to liberate their ancestors from hell by purchasing grossly overpriced trinkets. By 1974, the U.S. church was raking in $8 million a year.
Moon plowed this money into U.S. businesses, including a shipbuilding firm,a recording studio, a cable TV network, the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan, and a 50-state seafood operation. He also began spending generously on political causes. At the height of the Watergate scandal, Moon and his followers organized “God Loves Richard Nixon” rallies on Capitol Hill and bought full-page pro-Nixon newspaper ads all over the country. Moon also assigned pretty young devotees to cozy up to lawmakers, with the goal of planting three in every senator’s office. The women managed to insinuate themselves into several offices—including then–Speaker of the House Carl Albert’s—where they lobbied and collected information.
These heavy-handed tactics led many to view Moon as a dangerous cult leader. Writing in the Daily Mail, the father of one former devotee described Moon’s followers as “mindless” fund-raising “robots” who had no ideals except “the half-baked ravings of Moon, who lived in splendor while his followers lived in forced penury.” In 1976, Congress began looking into a massive covert KCIA operation designed to sway U.S. policy toward South Korea. The investigation found that the Moon organization was likely a “political tool” of the Korean spy agency and had “systematically violated U.S. tax, immigration, banking, currency and Foreign Agents Registration Act laws.” In retaliation, the church filed a $30 million lawsuit against Representative Donald M. Fraser, who chaired the subcommittee behind the investigation, and launched a brutal—and ultimately successful—campaign to scuttle Fraser’s 1978 Senate bid. But despite their efforts, Moon was charged with tax evasion. A late ’70s Gallup Poll found that Moon “elicited one of the most overwhelmingly negative responses ever reported by a major poll,” his only rivals being Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro.
Meanwhile, an even greater threat to his American project was brewing, this time in his very own home.
Moon expected his followers to sacrifice everything, but this wasn’t true of his own family. His wife and children, who now numbered 13, had the run of East Garden and its lavish manors, one of which contained abowling alley, six pizza ovens, and a waterfall in the dining room. Moon raised his brood like the royal children he believed them to be. They attended private schools and had tutors imported from Japan, fast cars, purebred horses, and even hunting weapons. Mrs. Moon was not deeply involved in their upbringing—according to former church members, she spent much of her time shopping. Tim Porter, an ex-member who grew up near the family compound, calls her the Korean “Imelda Marcos.”
The task of caring for the messiah’s children fell to his followers, who didn’t dare discipline them. “The Moon kids were like gods—completely and utterly exempt from the rules,” says Donna Orme-Collins, a onetime Unificationist whose father directed the British church. Moon’s eldest son, Steve, a plain, slender boy, was particularly brazen. In the late ’70s, he wasexpelled from an elite middle school for shooting students with a BB gun. Moon sent him to live with Bo Hi Pak, but Steve’s behavior only deteriorated. He started doing drugs and picking fights, and Pak was unable to rein him in. At one point, according to members of the Moon and Pak families, Pak even resorted to spanking his own son—a sweet, studious boy who went by the American name James Park—when Steve got out of line.
Moon eventually shipped Steve off to South Korea. There, according to a speech Steve later gave, he joined a rock band and started chugging a bottle of whiskey a day. According to several sources close to the family, including Trenor Rapkins, a former church member who grew up near East Garden, when Steve returned home in the early ’80s, he was more volatile than ever. “He would start yelling, and mucus and spit would start flying out of his face,” Rapkins recalls. “Sometimes he would start throwing punches or waving his gun around.”
Steve’s behavior made a deep impression on In Jin, who had a taste for American culture and chafed at the notion that women should be pure and deferential. According to sources close to the family, by the time she was 16, In Jin was accompanying Steve on all-night drinking jaunts. “She basically worshipped him,” says one member of her inner circle. “She was really into partying and rock and roll, because he played it.”
Afraid that American culture was corrupting his children, Moon turned to his religion’s catch-all solution: marriage. In 1982, he arranged for Steve to wed a naïve 15-year-old Korean girl named Nansook Hong. Hong would later recall Mrs. Moon telling her that she had been brought to America to reform Steve and that, should she fail, she would be “failing God.”
The following year, Moon’s 17-year-old son Heung Jin smashed his Jeep on an icy freeway and died. This created a theological quandary for Moon, since according to his teachings, only married couples could enter God’s kingdom. He solved his dilemma by arranging to have his dead son marry Bo Hi Pak’s second-eldest daughter, Julia. At the same time, In Jin, who was 18, was to wed Pak’s teenage son, James, who had taken the spanking for Steve.
In Jin was mortified, according to family members. She had no interest in James, who was nerdy and quiet, and she was taken instead with his rowdy, handsome younger brother, Sam. But Moon insisted, and his wife stood by him, despite everything she had endured in her own arranged marriage. She even agreed to co-officiate the macabre ceremony. First, In Jin and James traded vows, then Julia trudged down the aisle holding a photo of the dead Heung Jin, after which James gave a groveling speech. “In a million years, I would never deserve to become the husband of In Jin,” he said. “My mission is to work to deserve it for the rest of my life.” The whole ordeal left In Jin traumatized. “She felt like it was institutional rape,” says one member of her inner circle.
Yet whatever resentments In Jin harbored, she remained loyal to her father. Later that year, Moon was sentenced to 18 months in prison on the tax-evasion charges. The church launched a $30 million campaign to overturn his conviction, with In Jin as its public face. According to The Washington Post, in July 1984, thousands of evangelical pastors were invited on an expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. Although billed as a pageant for religious freedom, the event quickly devolved into a pro-Moon rally, with hundreds of devotees waving placards that read, “REV. MOON INNOCENT VICTIM OF BIGOTRY." The emotional crescendo was a speech by In Jin, who wept as she recalled the “tears and sweat” her father had shed for America.
The campaign, which cast Moon as an innocent man who had been prosecuted for his unconventional faith, struck a nerve. A motley coalition, including the American Civil Liberties Union, then–Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch, and religious conservative leaders such as Jerry Falwell and Tim LaHaye, eventually rallied behind him. This helped transform Moon from a pariah to a martyr.
By the summer of 1985, when Moon was released from prison, the Reagan Revolution was in full swing and Moon was perfectly positioned to benefit.The Washington Times, which he had launched three years earlier, had become a must-read among conservatives—Reagan himself read it every morning. Moon also won points with the New Right by wading into anti-communist proxy wars in Latin America. In 1985, after Congress cut off aid to the Contras, the Washington Times Foundation launched a pro-Contra slush fund. According to Bad Moon Rising, an investigative history by John Gorenfeld, a Moon front group called CAUSA (Confederation of the Associations for the Unification of the Societies of the Americas) also distributed money and supplies to Contra rebels. In another case, Moon’s organization reportedly helped finance a coup—orchestrated by right-wing paramilitaries, cocaine cartels, and fugitive Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie—that toppled Bolivia’s democratically elected government. Bo Hi Pak later visited the mountainous Bolivian city, La Paz, and declared, “I have erected a throne for Father Moon in the world’s highest city.”
Moon’s think tanks and front groups also advanced his agenda on the home front. CAUSA spent millions of dollars hosting expenses-paid “Godism” workshops, which promoted Moon’s theology as an antidote to communism and were attended by a number of Senate staffers. Moon also launched the American Family Coalition, which soon surpassed the waning Moral Majority as one of America’s leading religious conservative organizations. And he worked with conservative Christian leaders on a grassroots campaign to push the Republican Party to the right. As his network expanded in Washington, Moon’s dream of remaking America seemed within reach.
By this point, In Jin and James had settled into something resembling Moon’s ideal of married life. James, who held a PhD in finance from Columbia and a law degree from Harvard, launched an investment firm, called Paradigm Global Partners, and began carving out a reputation as a hedge-fund guru. In Jin, who had studied philosophy and political science at Columbia, raised and home-schooled their children.
But Steve, who now ran a church-owned music venue, the Manhattan Center, couldn’t manage to put his wild youth behind him. Like other Moon ventures, the Manhattan Center was lavishly funded by Japanese “donations,” which Steve treated as his private ATM. According to people close to the family, he once marched into the office with $600,000 in a Bloomingdale’s bag and skimmed off $400,000. It was gone in less than a year.
The cash fed Steve’s drug addiction. According to sworn statements from Steve’s wife, Nansook Hong, and people close to the family, by the early ’90s, he was spending days holed up in his room gorging on cocaine. And he pressured others to join in, including James Park. Hong claimed that, when she was seven months pregnant with her fifth child, she found Steve doing cocaine at East Garden and tried to flush it down the toilet. Steve “smashed his fist into my face, bloodying my nose,” Hong later recalled. “He wiped my blood on his hand, then licked it off. ‘Tastes good,’ he said. ‘This is fun.’”
Early one morning in 1995, Hong hustled her five children into the back of a cargo van and fled East Garden. She later filed for divorce and published a devastating exposé of life inside the compound, In the Shadow of the Moons. In 1998, she and a Moon daughter, Un Jin—who claimed her husband had abused her, too—went on “60 Minutes” and unleashed a flurry of allegations about sex, drugs, and violence inside Moon’s ideal family. Moon was still reeling from this bombshell when, the following year, his second-youngest son, Phillip, who was also trapped in an unhappy arranged marriage, hurled himself from the seventeenth floor of a Harrah’s casino in Nevada and died.
The family turmoil made a mockery of Moon’s teachings. Moon had already lost some of his political leverage during the early ’90s, as communism crumbled and Democrats seized control of Congress and the White House. Now, many disillusioned followers began turning their backs on the church. Moon, who believed that America’s culture of “moral degradation” had caused his children’s downfall, grew bitter toward his adopted country, which he branded “Satan’s harvest.”
But he didn’t give up on the United States entirely. Instead, he began courting new groups, such as socially conservative black churches and Democratic politicians. The church also launched the Women’s Federation for World Peace, which packaged his theology as a tool for the “liberation of women.” (Liberation in this case meant reviving traditional families by being “unusually obedient.”) Mrs. Moon, whose role in the church had been mostly ceremonial up until this point, was named president. She began traveling the world proclaiming herself a co-messiah and urging women to devote themselves to their families. “We must spread, to the whole world, a model movement ... in which we embrace our husbands and raise our children properly,” she told a crowd in Seoul. On several occasions, former President George H.W. Bush, a major beneficiary of Moon family donations, appeared alongside her, as did his wife, Barbara. In a major departure, Moon formally declared Mrs. Moon to be his equal and promised she would “inherit everything from Father.”
Moon also tried to persuade world leaders and outside clergy to accept him as their king. In the spring of 2000, he invited 120 American ministers to South Korea, and gave them diamond-studded gold watches. Just after the 9/11 attacks, Moon convened a summit in New York City of religious and political leaders—including Falwell, Dan Quayle, Richard Holbrooke, and the Nation of Islam’s president, Louis Farrakhan, whose Million Family March Moon had underwritten the previous year. The goal was to find “solutions to global violence.” But the mood was fractious, especially after Farrakhan suggested that Osama bin Laden had been wrongly scapegoated. Instead of uniting behind Moon, as he had predicted, the post-cold-war world was only growing more divided.
With every setback, Moon’s plans only grew more grandiose. Later that year, he made an announcement: By February 2013, all humanity would join hands under the banner of a global “nation of cosmic peace and unity,” called Cheon Il Guk. Moon and his followers began preparations in Korea—launching a police force, commissioning an anthem, and adopting a flag. They also built Moon an elaborate castle, shaped like the U.S. Capitol building. If Moon couldn’t actually conquer America, at least he would do so in symbolic form.
Around this time, In Jin was living in Boston and pursuing a doctorate in divinity at Harvard. Her father, who was splitting his time between New York and his kingdom in Korea, no longer kept close tabs on her. Over time, she shed her sense of familial obligation. She started writing and recording romantic pop songs. (“You see how I burn beneath your steady gaze / You see how I yearn to be a meadow where you graze.”) And around 2004, according to a half-dozen sources close to the family, she started an affair with a keyboard player and longtime Unificationist named Alistair Farrant. Soon, Farrant abandoned his wife and children and began camping out at In Jin’s place.
James Park was crushed. “He felt really displaced,” says one member of his inner circle. “He felt like he had lost his family and everything that gave him meaning.” Park started binging on cocaine and Paradigm, his company, suffered. According to people with inside knowledge, one of Park’s business partners began angling for control of the company, and Park began hunting for a buyer friendly to his interests. As luck would have it, he found one in an unlikely quarter: then-Senator Joseph Biden’s family.
At the time, Biden was mulling a 2008 presidential bid. According to sworn statements from people involved in the deal, he worried that his son Hunter’s lobbying career could hurt his campaign and asked his brother James to find Hunter a new line of work. (Hunter Biden disputed this account in an interview with The New Republic.) James Biden approached abusiness associate named Anthony Lotito, who connected him with James Park’s camp, and the three men began negotiating to buy Paradigm.
On its face, the deal looked solid. Paradigm’s marketing materials boasted$1.5 billion under management and generous returns, and Lotito believed they could quickly expand into union pension funds, which tend to have close ties to democratic politicians. So Lotito and the Bidens pushed ahead. In the spring of 2006, they signed an agreement that gave them a controlling stake in the company, in return for $21 million in cash, to be paid in six months. Hunter Biden—who had no financial industry experience—was named CEO, with a salary of $1.2 million. But it was clear that they needed James Park’s hedge-fund expertise, which meant confronting him about his cocaine habit. According to three sources close to the negotiations, James Biden visited James Park and persuaded him to seek treatment at a center in Florida.2
The Bidens soon realized that Paradigm wasn’t as solid as they thought. Instead of $1.5 billion under management, it had just$200 to $300 million, and its holding companies were buried in debt. Worse, the Bidens’ main financier backed out.3 But the Bidens found a way around the lack of capital. That summer, according to court documents and people close to both sides of the negotiations, they approached Park, who was still in treatment, and cut a new deal: Instead of $21 million in cash, they would fork over an $8 million note. Hunter Biden and his lawyer, Marc LoPresti, maintain that the deal was fair, given the state of the company. But people close to Park say he was emotionally fragile and felt indebted to the Bidens, which put him in a vulnerable position.
Finally, in 2008, the economy collapsed, after which it emerged that Allen Stanford, whose firm was soliciting investors for one of Paradigm’s funds, was running a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. While the fund itself was solid, investors were spooked. In 2010, Paradigm filed for voluntary liquidation. “It was a thicket,” Hunter Biden told me. “Every time you thought you saw a way out, there would be another road block.”
James Park was never able to collect on the $8 million note and found himself facing a mountain of debt. But James and In Jin were able to fall back on their Moon family ties. According to three sources close to the family, In Jin’s younger brother Preston—a Harvard graduate and former Olympic equestrian who controlled most of the family’s American enterprises—agreed to bail the couple out with several million dollars. It was a decision that Preston would come to regret.
By now, Moon was in his late eighties and contemplating his legacy. Despite his promises that Mrs. Moon would “inherit everything,” he had begun divvying up his global empire among his sons, including Preston, Steve, Justin, and Sean. But once again tragedy struck the family. In 2008, Steve died of a heart attack at 45. This left an opening for In Jin who maneuvered her way to the helm of the Manhattan Center—the only one of Moon’s daughters to assume a leadership role. She immediately gave her lover, Alistair Farrant, a top position and fired half the staff, many of them long-standing church members. She also began courting new talent, including a thirtysomething rock musician named Ben Lorentzen.
That summer, Reverend and Mrs. Moon were injured when a helicopter they were traveling on crashed into a South Korean mountainside. While they recovered, their children began squabbling over the only major piece of Moon’s empire that remained up for grabs: the Unification Church of America, which oversees the movement’s U.S. congregations, along with hundreds of millions of dollars in assets. Preston saw himself as the natural heir. But In Jin also spotted an opportunity. Her family hadn’t fully recovered from the Paradigm debacle, and, according to people close to her, she was hungry for additional income. When Justin approached her about staging a takeover, she agreed.
While Preston was out of the country, Sean, who headed the international church, issued a memo saying that In Jin was to be “chairperson of the Unification Movement in America.” The American church then convened a board meeting, led by In Jin. Most of the existing board members were pressured to resign and were replaced with In Jin’s allies, after which In Jin was formally elected chair. A bitter family feud ensued. Preston later staged his own boardroom coup at Unification Church International, the holding company for the Moon family’s U.S. business, giving him unfettered control over billions of dollars in assets. He used the proceeds to fund an offshoot movement that drew on his father’s teachings without deifying the Moon clan.
In Jin, meanwhile, assumed the role of chief pastor of the American church and began using it as a vehicle for her own passions. She launched the band Sonic Cult, with Lorentzen as the lead singer. She also pushed back against the traditions that had confined her in an unhappy marriage—openly condoning divorce and encouraging younger members to marry for love.
In Jin had her own reasons for loosening the church’s mores, as Lorentzen’s on-again, off-again wife, Patricia, discovered. In late 2009, Patricia traveled to New York with their two young sons to visit Lorentzen for Christmas. While they were staying at the New Yorker Hotel, Patricia borrowed Ben’s laptop and found his e-mail box brimming with sexually explicit messages from In Jin. “I was so shocked,” Patricia told me. “I went back to my room and sat there trying to digest it.” She confronted In Jin over e-mail, after which she says Lorentzen and another man turned up at her room and delivered an ultimatum: She and the children had to be out of the hotel by the next morning, or they would be tossed out by security. (In Jin and Ben Lorentzen declined to be interviewed.)
Patricia later tried to alert the church’s liaison for family matters, Phillip Schanker, to the affair, but James Park assured Schanker there was no cause for concern. As Schanker explained in a letter to one parishioner, “In Jin’s husband came to me, thanking me for being honest and trying to protect True Family and our movement, assuring me that this was a misunderstanding, that he trusted his wife, and that the wives of the men she works with easily became jealous and created false rumors.”
Meanwhile, the family feud erupted into open view, as the siblings sparred over billions of dollars in assets in court. And one of In Jin’s deputies traveled the country delivering a PowerPoint presentation that cast Preston as a “fallen” Adam who was “being controlled by Satan.” This was the state of play in early 2012, when In Jin disappeared.
On September 2 of that year, the movement was dealt an even bigger blow, when Moon died of pneumonia at age 92. Two weeks later, some 15,000 people packed into a Moon-owned stadium outside Seoul for the memorial. Mrs. Moon vowed to continue her husband’s quest to build “a world where all people live as one great family under God.” After the service, she and her children knelt above his burial vault, clasped hands, and prayed. Through all of this, In Jin remained conspicuously absent.
It was around this time that a birth certificate for a four-month-old boy began circulating on the Internet. To the astonishment of Moon’s followers, the child’s parents were none other than In Jin Moon and Ben Lorentzen. The baby probably would have come to light sooner had James Park not worked to cover up his existence; according to people close to the family, James helped In Jin rent a house in Cape Cod where she and Ben could lay low during her pregnancy.
Now, on top of mourning their messiah, Moon’s American disciples had to digest the news that his supposedly sinless daughter was trampling his most sacred teachings. “The core of our faith is purity before marriage and fidelity between husband and wife,” longtime church member Mary Anglin told me. “We’ve devoted our lives to this vision. Then In Jin turned around and slapped us all in the face.”
As it turns out, Moon didn’t always live up to his virtuous teachings, either. In April, I spoke by videophone with Annie Choi, a soft-spoken, 77-year-old Korean woman with ruddy cheeks and thick silver hair. Choi, who joined Moon’s church along with her mother and sister in the 1950s, alleges that she engaged in numerous sexual rituals—some involving as many as six women—beginning when she was 17 years old. Her story, which is consistent with the accounts of several early followers, supports the claim that Moon’s church started out as a sex cult, with Moon “purifying” female devotees through erotic rites.
By 1960, when he married Hak Ja Han, Moon was touting marital fidelity as his religion’s foundational ideal. But Choi maintains she stayed on as Moon’s mistress until 1964, when she moved to the United States. The following year, Moon made his inaugural visit to America. By the time he left, Choi says, she was carrying his child.
News like this could have sunk the fledgling American project. But Bo Hi Pak made sure that didn’t happen. According to Choi, who has never before spoken publicly about the experience, Pak’s wife stuffed her mid-section with cloth diapers and pretended that she was pregnant. When it came time to give birth, Choi says that Pak accompanied her to the hospital and passed her off as his wife. The following day, he dropped her off at her empty apartment and took the baby back to his home. Later, Mrs. Pak brought Choi some seaweed soup, but Choi told me that she couldn’t eat it. “I just sat there crying, with my tears falling in the pot.”
Choi stayed in the United States to be near her son, Sam Park—the same young man In Jin had fallen for during her teenage years. (By all accounts, she was unaware that Sam was her half brother.) Then, at age 13, it dawned on Sam that the kindly “aunt” who visited periodically was actually his mother. “Suddenly my life made a lot more sense,” Sam told me in April, when we met in Phoenix, where he and Choi live.
Bo Hi Pak later approached Sam and his mother with a contract. As a sign of their “mutual love, affection and respect,” it read, Sam, Choi, and Pak would release one another—and the Moon family—from “any and all past, present or future actions,” including those arising from inheritance claims. In return, Sam and Choi would each receive $100.
Alleging that they were victims of “theology-based” racketeering, Sam and Choi are now suing the Paks and Moons for $20 million. Neither the Unification Church nor the lawyers for the Moon and Pak families responded to requests for comment.
Sam Park’s existence was an indignity that Mrs. Moon had to endure. But by the time In Jin’s love child came to light, Mrs. Moon’s husband and master was dead and she was free to handle the situation as she saw fit. She demanded that In Jin resign. In Jin laterissued an apology to members of the church. “It was never our intention to hurt anyone,” she wrote. “All we wanted was to love and to be loved.”
Next, Mrs. Moon moved to claim the inheritance her husband had promised. She wrested control of the international church from Sean andissued a memo saying, “[E]verything that is carried out in Korea from this day onward will be centered on True Mother.” She later ousted Justin, who controlled most of Moon’s Korean enterprises. After five decades spent in Moon’s shadow, the kingdom was in her hands.
And despite Moon’s views on wifely subservience, it soon became clear that Mrs. Moon did not share all of her husband’s opinions. She began speaking out in surprisingly critical terms about Moon’s preoccupation with America. During a trip to New York late last year, she complained that he had squandered 40 years in the United States for “such little” return. Many members suspect that she will soon turn her back on his beleaguered American project entirely. “Reverend Moon really cared about America,” says Richard Barlow, a former Unificationist missionary, who maintains contact with elements of the church leadership. “But his wife doesn’t feel that strong connection, and she’s ousted her children who do.”
In late February, the matriarch celebrated the arrival of Cheon Il Guk—Moon’s global kingdom of peace and unity—before some 15,000 devotees who packed into the Moon-owned stadium in Korea, wearing identical wedding garb. The crowd sang the Cheon Il Guk national anthem, and then Mrs. Moon, the former cook’s daughter, swept into the stadium wearing a jeweled crown and a purple robe festooned with gold embroidery. She marched slowly up a long stairway to a giant replica of the Moon family palace and took a seat on a white throne. Next to her was an identical throne, reserved for her dead husband. An attendant handed her a “heavenly scepter,” and she climbed to her feet: “I proclaim the first year of Cheon Il Guk.” Trumpets blared, and the stadium filled with mist.
Afterward, several of Moon’s old friends gave congratulatory speeches, including former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, who lauded the festivities as an “affirmation of marriage and family.” “We often take the family for granted,” Hastert said. “However, when the family system begins to break down, all manner of personal and social problems emerge.” It was a fitting epitaph to Moon’s American project and his diminished political empire.
Organizers put the number at 81.
Joe and James Biden knew the center well: A judge had sent their brother, Frank, there after a string of arrests, one of them for trying to flee a Blockbuster with DVDs shoved down his pants.
The funder, a law firm called SimmonsCooper (now the Simmons Law Firm), was a top contributor to Joe Biden's congressional campaigns.
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