TESTIMONY OF “Robert” Former Moonie – Unification Church, now known as Family Federation for World Peace.
This is how it happened to me some years ago. I was travelling in the United States and on my first visit to New York City. As I was sightseeing on my own, I was approached by a girl near the New York public library (cults often use members of the opposite sex to recruit new members). She introduced herself and began to ask me questions about my beliefs. She asked me what I thought about the state of the world and what the solutions might be. Then she told me about herself. Realising that she was sincere and genuine, I listened. She told me that she had been a communist but had now found something better. Would I be interested in finding out about it?
Hers was a group which had Christian-based solutions to many of the world’s problems. When questioned about what organisation she was involved in, she replied that it was a College group which helped overseas students, and if I wanted to know more, there was a dinner evening I could attend the following week. Since I was searching for some answers and was feeling lonely, I accepted her offer.
The evening of the dinner, the girl met me at the subway station and we walked to an apartment where some enthusiastic students of different nationalities had gathered to eat and talk together. Several older people were there who seemed to be particularly respected by the students. They were obviously leaders. There was a short lecture after the dinner about the world’s problems, and spiritual solutions were offered which seemed to be a mixture of Eastern and Biblical ideas. Not much more information was revealed, although I was asked some questions about myself and my beliefs, and everyone showed an intense interest in me (I was being “love bombed”).
Over a period of four months I stayed in touch with the girl, occasionally attending social events, and often talking and disputing with her over the phone. I maintained a cautious but friendly contact with the group, having soon discovered that they were members of Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. Not long before I actually joined up with them, the news of the Jonestown tragedy came out in the media (November 1978). The Unification Church quickly published a statement denying its cult reputation. I felt safe enough to keep meeting them. Finally, after Christmas 1978, I was invited to a weekend workshop where I would have the chance to hear more about the church, meet some key people, and be able to decide for myself whether it was the truth or not.
The weekend workshop was highly pressured and full of Unification Church doctrine from start to finish. It began with challenges for us to keep an open mind. As the weekend continued, it was clear that it was leading to a climax. We were told that if we stayed to the end we would discover the truth about who the Lord of the Second Advent really was. Of course, we all suspected who it would be, but the emotional intensity of the experience, the enthusiasm of the lecturers, and the love and concern of the Church members was so overwhelming that we really wanted to be in on the excitement and expectation of it all. Maybe, after all, it was true. These people knew something we didn’t, and they were very convinced and concerned that we should know about it too. After many facts and figures about Bible dates and periods of time, and Bible prophecies which seemed to support the Unification theology, there was a final, very emotional lecture (tears were appropriately shed at this point) about how Jesus had failed because His people had not kept their portion of responsibility. We were told that in accordance with Biblical prophecy the Messiah had now arrived from the East “as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines to the west”, and that he had paid indemnity for us and was now here to fulfil God’s mission – which of course God had wanted to accomplish all along, but had been prevented from doing so by the failure of people to fulfil their responsibility.
(According to Unification theology Jesus accomplished only limited salvation for us, because the cross could not remove original sin. In fact He did not come to die on the cross but to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. However because He was rejected He could not accomplish this. Christians, therefore, can be united with Jesus in heart but must wait for the resurrection of their bodies which are still under the law of Satan. It is up to humans whether the Messiah comes as Lord of Glory or Lord of Suffering, but Moon has come to make God’s plan successful – as Lord of Glory. The tragedy of Christ’s “untimely” crucifixion is now resolved by the coming of the Lord of the Second Advent, i.e. “Father” Sun Myung Moon, who is here to deal with our original sin and to change the world by ushering in a new kingdom, in which all religions will be finally unified around Christianity.)
Those who had survived the weekend workshop were then encouraged to go to a seven day workshop which followed immediately after. There, in the heart of Manhattan, we talked and prayed and discussed and attended lectures and visited art galleries and museums and the United Nations and made friends and got very excited about what we were learning. There were also sessions of heart searching and sin confessing and mutual back-slapping, commiserating, exhorting – whatever was necessary for ensuring our allegiance. There was also constant “love bombing”, Unification Church doctrine, and group pressure to conform. Every time I mentioned my desire to do something else, or to keep travelling, there were expressions of great sadness about the idea. I felt obligated to stay on. I also began to feel a sense of mission and purpose, that I was actually part of a great movement which could change the world.
For another two months I lived with the group, who were members of the Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP) – a College front for the Unification Church. We were told that we should become “heavenly guerillas” on the campuses, and that we should “burn ourselves out” (but still stay alive!) for the mission. We would go to the people of America with weapons of heart, tears, and love, and we were to be one hundred percent serious in our mission. By choosing this way of work and sacrifice, we would be inviting God to live in America again.
We fund-raised, mostly on New York’s West Side, selling chocolates and requesting donations for “a Christian church” – mainly from people who would have been better off keeping what little money they possessed! We witnessed for Moon on the campus of City College of New York and attended Unification Church meetings downtown where cultural shows entertained us before the Church’s leaders preached about Moon. We got up at 3 a.m. on Sunday mornings to travel out to New York State to hear Moon’s Sunday sermons. This sometimes meant standing (the tent at Moon’s estate was always crowded) for the better part of four hours while Moon preached from 6 to 10 a.m. Exhaustion was often a problem and I was pushed beyond my normal energy level. However the work was too important for us to relax. Another seven day workshop was held at Moon’s theological seminary in Barrytown, New York State. There we met Sun Myung Moon, and endured a rigorous routine of early morning exercises, lectures during the day, and training in “Divine Principle” (Moon’s doctrinal textbook).
When students needed to do their College studies there was some accommodation for them, but usually their studies were sacrificed for Unification Church activities. If people needed to travel, it was under the auspices of the Church. When I was asked by relatives in New Jersey if I could attend the funeral of someone I had met while staying there, it was suggested that I “let the dead bury the dead”. We were constantly on guard against being enticed or seduced by Satan who, we were told, often used unbelieving parents or friends to draw us back. As for Christians, they were portrayed as being like our older brothers, but they were persecuting their younger brothers because they did not understand our mission. Fear was a predominant factor, and when I did get to visit my relatives I tried to conceal the fact that I was staying with Moonies. When they did find out, I tried to reassure them that everything was alright. However within myself I knew that it was not. I felt estranged, fearful and tired, and found it difficult to communicate – not realising, of course, that I was under mind control.
Fortunately my relatives were Christians. They and their church prayed for me. I was also blessed by the fact that I had been taking steps towards faith in Christ just prior to my involvement with the Moonies, and not only questioned Moonie doctrine during my stay with them but also kept praying (in Jesus’ Name) that God would show me the truth. Definite disparities emerged between Moonie doctrine and experience. The Christian principles and spiritual ideals aspired to by the Unification Church did not seem to have the power behind them that they should have – even though they spoke about the Holy Spirit and called themselves “The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity.” The ideals seemed so good, but I could not reconcile the contradictions.
With my visa expired, and my desire to travel unquenched, I left America – and the Moonies. They put no pressure at all on me to stay with them. If I had remained and become a committed member, relinquishing everything and giving full allegiance, it might have been a different matter, but I went on to Canada for two months and there began to read the New Testament. I also stayed at a University campus where I met a theology student who had previously been a Hell’s Angel bikie. Through my discussions with him and my study of the New Testament, I recommitted my life to Christ and began to experience God’s peace. However parts of Unification Church doctrine were to remain in my mind for about another six months, and it was only through further Bible study and the help of a patient counsellor that I was able to leave it all behind.
Obviously, when I joined the Moonies I was young, vulnerable, searching, and spiritually naive – a prime target for such a group to pull in. I am grateful that it turned out to be only a brief encounter. As for the girl who got me involved, she left soon after I did and we have remained friends by correspondence. Little did I realise, after leaving the Moonies, that in the years ahead I would discover some disturbing parallels within the Christian Church itself.