The Unification Movement (UM) is embroiled in a battle of the sexes.
It began with the passing of Rev. Sun Myung Moon (True Father) in September 2012 and intensified as his widow, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon (True Mother), consolidated her position as head of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) and the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (HSA-UWC or Unification Church).
The battle lines are drawn between True Mother and her eldest and youngest living sons, Hyun Jin and Hyung Jin Moon, both of whom lead break-away organizations. Conflicts among these three leaders and their followers have led to the fracturing of relationships among the movement’s membership and leave-taking by some with little or no resolution in sight.
In this struggle, gender has become a flashpoint of contention. True Mother made it clear after her husband’s passing she would assume direct authority over the UM. Her sons condemned her presumption and stated definitively that neither she nor any female will ever be in a position to inherit True Father’s authority or lead the UM because of their gender. Thus, the dynamic of gender conflict in the post-Sun Myung Moon UM has been one of matriarchal assertion and patriarchal reaction.
This article outlines patterns of matriarchal assertion and patriarchal reaction in the UM. The concluding section proposes gender-neutrality as an alternative model of UM leadership.
True Mother’s assertion of authority followed a four-stage trajectory in the years following True Father’s passing. These included 1) her assertion of leadership; 2) a critique of masculine leadership; 3) altered practices and innovations; and, 4) theological interpretations from a matriarchal perspective.