|Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Holy Spirit Association For The Unification Of World Christianity (or Unification Church), died Monday at the age of 92.|
"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 worshipers.
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." ~ Associated Press
A Few Unification Church Facts & Beliefs
- Founded in 1954 by Moon.
- 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 believed that he was a Messiah and traveled to other realms where he communicated with Moses, Jesus and Buddha. He alone had the power to forgive sins.
- In 1957 Moon published The Divine Principle, which he viewed as greater than the Bible.
- In 1944 Moon married the first of several wives, and in 1948 was jailed for bigamy. In 1960 he married Hak Ja Han, who bore him 13 children.
- Moon caught public attention by conducting mass weddings, one in Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1982 (2000 couples) and another in 1988 (6,500).
- The Unification Church owns many other religious organizations, political groups, and businesses, such as The Washington Times and the New Yorker hotel.
- In 1984 and 1985, Moon served prison time for filing false tax returns in America.
- Moon focused on interfaith dialogue, particularly with Christianity
- A video from 2004, posted on the website of what was then known as the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, showed a ceremony taking place in a U.S. Senate office building attended by Moon and several members of Congress. Speaking Korean, Moon declares himself the messiah and says he'd spoken to the spirits of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, both of whom he said found strength in his teachings and mended their ways.
- Today the Unification Church (also known as "Moonies") claims 3 million followers, while ex-members and critics put the number no higher than 100,000.
- Moon's death sparks a 13-day mourning period, longer than the mourning periods for late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
|Rev. Sun Myung Moon & wife Hak Ja Han perform a mass-wedding in Seoul in 1982|