Cultic Studies Review, 1(3), 2002, 312-315
The latest tragedy to come out of the Unification Church (UC) is definitely the murder of the 18-year-old daughter and 'blessed child" from a Moonie family. The young woman had been soliciting door-to-door for the UC in a dangerous neighborhood late at night. Sadly the UC has never been able to be honest about anything as far as I can see, and this case is no exception.
When I was growing up in the UC I was taught that The Divine Principle said that children born from blessed members were free from sin and did not need to pay "indemnity" like their parents and others. Fund-raising, which is an obvious way to boost the group’s income, is also part of the "indemnity" process, a way to show commitment to the cause by working long hours, living in vans, and sleeping little while praying a lot.
During my time in the UC there was a direct shift from "blessed children" being special into seeing them as new resources for the UC and Sun Myung Moon, the founder and head of the organization. This shift occurred as church membership declined. Resources were additionally stretched as many of the “second generation” (i.e., those born into the group) started to leave the UC, or at least be less devoted than their parents, and to build relatively regular lives (e.g., go to college) and move beyond the control of the UC. Obviously, the UC began to see “blessed children” as a "gold mine" to exploit.
About ten years ago a kind of campaign or focus was started with the intent being to use the offspring of those members who were now themselves older, perhaps unwell, less able to work full time for causes, or needing to work and live a more secular life, especially due to having many children. All of a sudden there were meetings upon meetings to get the “second generation children” "prepared" to forge a new future for the church by paying their dues, which, according to the ideology of the UC, they don't actually owe.
The emphasis was mainly on getting them "blessed" (the UC term for sacred marriage) to other children in the group and doing it fairly young, or at least matching (betrothing) them to another “blessed child” so that they don't stray from the UC. Obviously the UC found that children from members of the church, like all young people, were not exempt from falling in love in high school or college, so something had to be done to prevent “immorality” or the worst case scenario of leaving the group altogether. Many “children” have been married or matched as young as 14; but they don’t officially marry with a state license until 18 or older so the UC doesn’t run afoul of the law in this matter.
The final goal in all of this is to prepare them to become the next generation of workhorses for the UC by fundraising, ocean church, CARP, HARP, etc. In the past many member’s children would attend secular high schools or college, but with Bridgeport under Moon’s belt it soon became the place for the majority of moonie children to go & thus even at college the UC could keep an eye on them, so to speak.
The UC has constantly changed its original principles and ideology to keep up with Rev. Moon’s new “dispensations.” Years ago “blessing” was indeed a very sacred thing, one you had to work for by bringing in new members and spending many years in some kind of service; now for the sake of numbers they “re-bless” already blessed members and marry people off the street, some just sign papers and eat sweets! I cannot tell you how funny it is to see the same faces in the crowd of wedding dresses and suits. Years ago “blessed children” being born without sin would choose their own partners, and years ago Moon was going to marry his own children interracially, but later decided that the other races weren’t pure enough, so he married them only to Koreans, preferably rich ones who were also leaders’ children or founding members. It was also understood years ago that you could only be “blessed” once to one person for eternity, but that changed too when Moon’s children didn’t stick to their marriages and when it became common knowledge that Moon was married twice, actually three times with a number of “special circumstances” (women) during and between marriages.
To add insult to injury, the whole idea that “children born without sin” (i.e. “blessed children”) must somehow be “blessed” AGAIN is theologically ridiculous. Making sure that they “marry” within the church to another child whose parents are also Moonies, however, is a clever ploy to keep the UC insular. Moreover, they must pay for their blessing, which could cost them and their family anywhere from $2,000 - $4,000 or more, as if it weren’t sufficient that the parents had given their lives and belongings to the church. This practice became yet another way to collect "indulgences."
The UC also pushed the blessing of dead relatives, which cost a few grand, and other clever ways of squeezing money out of people, but I don’t’ have time to go into all of these here. Keep in mind that most UC families are extremely poor, and many actually borrow these monies from relatives outside the UC or must earn extra funds on the side in whatever way possible. Even though I was raised in the group and witnessed such exploitation all my life, it still boggles my mind.
There are, of course, more children in the UC then members, so exploiting children is a convenient way to expand and make money for the organization.
Here's yet another interesting point. One doesn’t see Moon's own children going door-to-door selling trinkets, nor any high level leaders’ kids. They're usually too busy going to Yale or Harvard or taking Ballet lessons with private instructors or being in horse-riding competitions. However, they do graciously find the time to give speeches to the second-generation children to "fire them up," for clearly their opulence depends on convincing these children/young adults to serve and devote their lives to Moon and his family.
The Unification Church, oh pardon, Family Federation for World Peace, is skilled in the art of dodging the “real” question with clever political nonsense or the same excuses they have always used. They are priming the children of the UC to be the future, which all children are to all families, groups, countries, and civilizations. But the question here that weighs heavily on my heart and mind is what kind of future will these children, now young adults, have, and how long will it take before they see that they are not part of something noble and good, but rather are being used and exploited against their own will in some case, or at least against their own theology, to forward Moon and Company's image and financial gains. They are so young that like all youth they can succumb to the desire to be liked, accepted, and to become part of a group. This is normal, but it makes them even more vulnerable. Many of them will see things differently as we all do as we age and grow, but by that time they may have missed vital opportunities, may have numerous children, and in some cases may have become psychologically injured and financially destitute.
Last but not least, it is important to note that when the UC got involved in the "abstinence" movement here in the USA, they used their contacts with other youth to eventually go into the teaching of the UC, an underhanded but very clever tactic. To see these kids rallying for "family values" representing Moon and the UC is like seeing the Pope marching with Catholic youth for free sex while passing out condoms. The whole thing is a joke. Moon is anything but a family man with family values.
Having said all that, never underestimate the power the UC holds over its youth. They use it hard and fast, and many more stay than leave now, whereas just a few years ago it was the other way around. That is why they put such an emphasis on controlling and exploiting the young.
It's a terrible shame for this poor young girl and her loved ones, but no doubt the UC will give her death some "great spiritual meaning," and perhaps the grieving family will even be graced by meeting Moon or someone in his family, and then they will feel so deeply honored and it will all be OK. Such a morsel of false honor doesn’t balance out the terribly high price this family and their daughter paid to give a few more dollars to a man who has hundreds of millions, if not billions.