In 2012, Rev. Sun Myung Moon died at the age of 92. Sun Myung Moon was the founder of the Unification Church, more commonly known as “The Moonies.” Moon, a South Korean, was also a multi-millionaire businessman.
In 1936, Moon claimed to have met Jesus Christ on a hillside in Korea. The story goes Jesus informed Moon that as He had been unable to complete His mission and that He had chosen Moon to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. With Jesus Christ as a guardian, Moon established the Tong-il Kyo – the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity.
The group taught a hybrid of religions, including Christianity, Shamanism, Confucianism and anti-communism. Based in Seoul, Moon’s cult quickly spread to the West. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, The Moonies cult had more than four million members from 120 different countries.
In his personal manifesto – released in 1957 – Moon said that had Jesus lived, he would have had the perfect “pure” family. Moon then set about the task of unifying all religions under his rule and liberating them from sins.
In 1988, Reverend Moon made it into the Guinness Book of Records by residing the largest wedding to date. Moon united 6,516 couples at the Olympic Stadium in Seoul. The religious leader then bestowed upon the couples the task of restoring moral virtue to a “godless world” and to fight communism.
Under Moon’s guidance the Moonie newly-weds were not allowed to sleep together for 40 days. First, they had to “get to know each other and prove that their marriage is on a higher plane”. The Moonie couples comprised of many seemingly ill-matched pairs – such as a 43-year-old Korean acupuncturist being married to a 71-year-old African Catholic archbishop.
Hostility began to surface among the parents of children in the cult group. Many complained their children’s personalities had changed. Some even raised lawsuits, accusing Moon of brainwashing their converted children. There were even reports of members of the group being kidnapped and “de-programmed by “cult-busters”.
Evidence of the public hostility towards Moon and his cult can be found in the large volume of public complaints filed with the FBI. On the FBI website, archived files show the FBI investigated Moon, but only briefly, for possible violations of US bribery laws. Despite the investigation, no charges were made against Moon. Given the large number of public complaints made about the Unification Church’s activities, which constitute the bulk of the FBI’s Sun Myung Moon files, it seems almost farcical that Moon wasn’t charged.
One of the FBI files, dated September 2002, spoke of allegations that members of the Unification Church of Sun-Myung Moon were “held in a condition of involuntary servitude as trinket peddlers in Hayward, CA, and other locations in California, Texas, Arizona and Utah, as well as in Korea”.
Is It Illegal?
The memo then notes that these allegations indicate possible violations of U.S. Code 1584. After further investigation this code is defined as:
“Whoever knowingly and wilfully holds to involuntary servitude or sells into any condition of involuntary servitude, any other person for any term, or brings within the United States any person so held, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”
Another of the files, dated August 2001, makes reference to emails that were sent to the American Embassy in London. The emails were sent by “Unsub” who set up several websites including www.darkriverfilms.com. The messages were designed to warn the embassy that Moon was preparing a nuclear strike against the United States and the United Kingdom. The emails urged Ambassador Philip Lader to take the threat seriously. The sender of the emails also spoke of how more than 500,000 emails had been sent to the FBI, US Military Intelligence and the US Senator and Congressmen, warning of Moon’s intentions.
“My question to you is,” wrote the sender, “just how seriously does the US government take Moon’s threats?”
Another FBI file refers to a fire that occurred in1980, which destroyed the main building at the Unification Church in Ulster County, New York. The memo refers to allegations that the fire was a culmination of acts of vandalism, beatings and gunshots fired to the church property. In one incident, a banner was left at the church camp indicating that the Ku Klux Klan was involved in this harassment.
What’s the Evidence?
So with so much hostility felt towards Moon and his cult and with a large number of public complaints made against the Unification Church and its leader, why wasn’t the FBI investigation of Sun Myung Moon pursued? Why wasn’t the South Korean businessman found guilty?
One of the reasons Moon was never charged was because there was never any evidence that the Moonies imprisoned anyone against their own free will. Not only this but there were also many examples of people who had left the church voluntarily. According to The Telegraph, the Moonies used a recruitment method known as “love bombing”.
The tactic was designed to make lonely youngsters feel part of a supportive and loving community. It has also been stated that American civil liberty groups regarded the parental objections towards Moon and the Unification Church as “unconstitutional interference with a person’s rights of affiliation and freedom of religion”.
Another element of Sun Myung Moon’s life – one of the most powerful and richest religious leaders in the world – is that in 1982 he founded The Washington Times. What began as a quirky right-wing propaganda publication quickly afforded widespread respect. In 1991, when Wesley Pruden was elevated to The Washington Times’ editor-in-chief, Reagan hailed the paper as his “favourite newspaper”. Bush even invited Pruden for lunch at The White House, “just to tell you how valuable the Times has become in Washington, where we read it every day.”
Could it be that the Rev Sun Myung Moon’s status as one of the most powerful religious leaders and founder of the White House’s “favorite paper” led the FBI to close its investigations of Moon a little hastily? It wouldn’t be the first time America’s government intelligence agencies were deliberately friendly with the powerful and elite. My mind is cast back to an article I wrote in February this year, about the CIA deliberately funding a radio station to “broadcast news to countries behind the Iron curtain during the Cold War”.
What Will Happen?
As Carl Bernstein, former Washington Post reporter, wrote in a report about how America’s most powerful news media worked hand in glove with the CIA during the Cold War years:
“The CIA’s use of American news media has been much more extensive than Agency officials have acknowledged publicly or in closed sessions with members of Congress.”
It also wouldn’t be the first time the FBI decided to break its silence about previously top secret cases by using the FOIA vault to inform the public.
What are your thoughts – Could the FBI’s investigation of Sun Myung Moon have been abruptly brushed under the carpet because of his status of one of the world’s most powerful figures in both religion and the news media?