The Daily Pennsylvanian (DP) published an article titled “Some religious organizations on campus show ‘darker side’” (April 5, 2012). This report included information about Rev. Moon’s Unification Church (UC), commonly called the “Moonies”, which is now using a new name “Lovin’ Life Ministries”.

Leaders of the controversial church, which has often been called a “cult”, disliked the DP article and ultimately demanded that it be retracted and removed from the newspaper’s Web site. The Ivy League publication established in 1885 caved in to the pressure and pulled the story. The student newspaper explained this was “due to a combination of factual and editing errors.”

Crescentia DeGoede, the local Philadelphia leader of a UC linked organization called the Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP), crowed about the results she achieved through her meeting with DP staff. CARP is the UC organization commonly associated with proselytizing at college and university campuses.

DeGoede’s accomplishment was also reported by Dan Fefferman, the president of the so-called “International Coalition for Religious Freedom”, which has been characterized as a UC “front group”.

Rev. Sun Myung Moon

moontrib2reut.jpgAccording to full page ads paid for by Moon, which were run in newspapers across the United States during 2002, religious leaders in “Spirit World” had a meeting to confer special heavenly status upon him. Those assembled included Martin Luther, Karl Marx, Confucius, Jesus and God in a meeting during Christmas the previous year. And they unanimously decided that Moon is the “Savior, Messiah and King of Kings of all humanity.”

Moon also can be quite outspoken about his distaste for certain minorities. In one speech he called for a global government with him in charge and said that once empowered, he’d cleanse the world of gays, who he referred to as “dung-eating dogs”, which should be eradicated through a “purge on God’s orders.”

Does this seem somewhat similar to the rants and megalomania attributed to Charles Manson, Jim Jones or David Koresh?

Rev. Moon also was criminally convicted of tax fraud. He served a sentence in federal prison. And despite numerous appeals that conviction was never overturned or pardoned.

Moon’s former daughter-in-law Nansook Hong says, “Father [Rev. Moon] demonstrated contempt for civil law every time he accepted a paper bag full of untraceable, undeclared cash collected from true believers”. She adds, “There was no question inside the church that the Reverend Moon used his religious tax exemption as a tool for financial gain in the business world.” And that “Personally, the Moons had an almost physical aversion to paying taxes. Lawyers for the church spent most of their time trying to figure out how to avoid them. That’s why the True Family Trust fund was based not in a U.S. bank but in an account in Liechtenstein.”

Imagine how hard it must have been for the editors at DP to sit down with and defer to the demands of Moon’s church.

The DP deal

Fefferman announced that DP had “promised” to do the following:

1. Publish in their next issue at least a few of ANY letters to the editor our members submit to the DP before Wednesday, April 25th.
2. Publish a revised version of the “Darker Side” article on the Internet, in which they will correct their use of the terms Moonie and deprogramming¦The original version of the article will cease to be available after this revision has been made.
3. Publish a notification of the revision to the “Darker Side” article in print, directing readers to read the revised article online.
4. Publish a follow-up article featuring our contemporary movement in Philadelphia.
5. Communicate and consult with us each step of the way.
6. Read any quotes they intend to use from interviews with our membership to us before they publish them, upon our request.
7. Meet with Dr. Dunning [the professor who was misquoted by them in the original article] to understand his point of view and take corrective action for the misdeeds against him. They will also be encouraging him to write a letter to the editor, which they intend to publish.

DP has apparently complied with each and every UC demand.

The subsequent article published by DP titled “Creating a new generation of the Unification Church” reads like a “puff piece” based upon a UC press release filled with propaganda, rather than a legitimate news story.

“High pressure tactics” and “brainwashing” 

In this revisionist version concerns about cults are spun by an apologist into when “families feel…robbed of their children”, but children feel that “their families” are “being irrational and not letting them choose their religion the way they want to.”

“Choosing their religion the way they want to”?

The original DP article squelched by UC leaders reported about the “high pressure tactics” used by campus religious groups to recruit Penn students.

The New Zealand Herald reported about a speech made by Moon and published in 2004 on the Unification Church website. Moon said his followers “must cast aside their friends and teachers, even their parents, and follow the True Parents” (meaning Moon and his wife).

“Humanity must mercilessly eradicate all bonds and relationships with the satanic world, not showing even the slightest attachment, and in this way return to the zero point and mark the dawning of a new creation,” Moon added.

Some might even observe that Moon’s goal of reaching “zero point” seems like a cryptic allusion to the net result of what has been called “brainwashing”.

In fact, the UC has been “convicted of brainwashing” in Japanese court.

Of course according to Pastor Iwasaki Shota, supervisor of Lovin’ Life Ministries in Delaware and Pennsylvania, who is quoted in the newly revised article published by DP, this reflects a “situation in Japan”. He sees this as something like a conspiracy, which includes a “whole operation of media, government and police working on the side of the deprogrammers”. Shoto urges students “to work with Congress and ministers in the U.S. to help the situation in Japan.”

However, to better understand the background concerning UC problems in Japan read this “Joint Declaration Concerning the Moon Organization (September 26, 1997).

A former member that grew up in the UC told NPR, “Everything was a system of control…That’s what it seemed to me like. They were kind of breeding us to be a certain way. And if you weren’t that way, there was something wrong with you.”

Moon’s own daughter doesn’t necessarily disagree. “Those of us – myself included – who were born into this movement or born into this family, we had no choice in the matter”, In Jin Moon told NPR.

Another former UC member told NPR, “If you left the church, you fell off the face of the earth…It’s the worst thing you could do. One person told us at Sunday school once, that blessed children who fall out of the church go to a box underneath of hell.”

For more details about what it’s like to grow up in the UC read “Growing up with the Moonies“.

Information control

The DP deal also included making sure that no copy of the offending article remained online.

DeGoede told the UC Newsletter, “The executive editor of the DP told me by phone that she has ordered former deprogrammer Rick Ross to remove the DP article from his website, and he has said he will comply in a couple of days.”

The article as it was originally written had been archived at the Ross Institute Internet Archives (RI) within the Unification Church subsection.

After the DP editor called the previously published article was converted to a news summary, which remains intact within the RI archives.

Apparently encouraged by their success with DP UC leaders thought they might try another news outlet in their ongoing effort at information control.

RI received an email and registered letter from National Public Radio (NPR) about another archived news report titled “Unification Church Woos a Second Generation” (February 17, 2010). NPR requested that this article be removed from the RI archives.

The article was then converted to a news summary, which remains intact within the RI archives.

Why did UC leaders take such an interest in the articles archived at RI?

This probably occurred because both the NPR report and DP article prominently mention a new name now being used by the UC in North America — “Lovin’ Life Ministries”.

Anyone that does a Google search for “Unification Church” will find that the RI subsection devoted to the UC comes up on the first page of results.

This means that it is relatively easy to find out that — “Lovin’ Life Ministries” — is really just another name the UC is using to potentially recruit unwary college students.

Historically, deceptive recruitment tactics have been a frequent focus of complaints about Rev. Moon and his church.

Moon has used literally hundreds of names to promote himself, his agenda and/or pursuits over the years. This name game can be seen as an attempt to obscure the past and/or avoid all the bad press linked to Moon and his Unification Church.

The hateful “M word”

Rev. Moon’s followers now revile as “pejorative” the label “Moonie”, which they once considered a “badge of honor” in the 1970s. Today the “M word” is categorized by the US as “hate language”

It also seems that any criticism of the Unification Church is likely to be labeled “hate language” by UC leaders.

But just last week a British newspaper the Mail noted that “Moonie cult leader Sun Myung Moon” has the dubious distinction of being banned from entering Britain. He shares that honor with Louis Farrakhan and the American white supremacist Dennis Mahon.

Spin control?

Fefferman, a devoted disciple of Moon for decades is looking forward to participating at the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) annual conference in Montreal. He will present a paper titled “Are ICSA, Info-Cult, and the Unification movement ready for mutual dialogue?”

There will also be a panel discussion at the ICSA conference in July titled “Ethics, activism against, and dialogue with cultic groups” moderated by longtime cult apologist Eileen Barker.

Ms. Barker once received $25,000 from Rev. Moon to help fund her book “Making of a Moonie” (published 1984). In her book Barker generally minimized the damage done by the UC. Rev. Moon apparently got his money’s worth. Now it seems Barker may yet again yield further dividends.

ICSA’s Web site also confirms the planned event.

Eileen Barker was also once named prominently by fellow cult apologist Jeffrey Hadden in a memo he prepared proposing a plan to counteract the American Family Foundation, which is now known as ICSA. Hadden queried “whether it might be possible for the UC in collaboration with several other NRMs [new religious movements sometimes called "cults"] to raise a significant amount of money that could go–no strings attached–to an independent group, which in turn, would entertain proposals and fund research on NRMs.”

Can cultic groups really change and become ethical new religious movements?

Can Rev. Moon and the UC be trusted or is this all just contrived spin control?

Nansook Hong once remarked, “They [the Moons and UC] have orchestrated a remarkably successful campaign to win respectability and wield political influence. As usual, they have succeeded by deceitful means.”

Family business

If and when groups called “cults” do genuinely change this is typically precipitated by a dramatic shift in leadership. And if such a group wants to implement real accountability this is most often demonstrated through democratic reforms and meaningful financial transparency.

However, the UC appears to be run more like a family business than a legitimate church organization. There appears to be no meaningful accountability for UC leaders, except to Rev. Moon.

But Moon is 92, so it won’t be long now until his children begin carving up his multi-billion dollar business and spiritual empire.

The church remains essentially a family business ruled over by a hereditary dynasty.

All that appears to be happening is an old Moon is being eclipsed by new Moons.