By Jack LaValley
Mother Moon (Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon) wants tribal messiah work in America to give millions of people access to God’s love through the Holy Blessing so they can practice “living for the sake of others” and usher in a new era of peace and security for all citizens. It’s a beautiful aspiration filled with expectant hopes and dreams.
The challenge to this ambition is few people know anything about us, and we are a group with limited financial resources. Our relatively small American movement has few resources to effectively tackle a multitude of serious social ills.
In this article, I explore how — after 40 plus years of unrelenting, sacrificial work by thousands of members and billions of dollars invested to “bring America back to God” — our movement has yet to emerge as a leader in transforming American culture.
I then look at how we might alter this situation and more effectively integrate Unification ideals into the fabric of American society.
I do not criticize any individual, institution or leadership, but prescribe next steps so we make good on our promise to transform American culture through Unification ideals.
Since the passing in 2012 of our founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon (Father Moon), our movement is in a period of reevaluation and self-correction. From our IPEC 7-day National Divine Principle Revival Workshops, to the “God’s Hope for America: Remembered, Revived, Reimagined” bus tours, to the “miracle of the Madison Square Garden event” and our recently renewed “Blessing Movement” and tribal messiahship initiatives, we earnestly try to “get our message out,” hoping to influence people’s minds and hearts to embrace our worldview and religious teachings. Our ongoing efforts to impact American culture come on the heels of some unthinkable internal setbacks.
Hundreds of our young adults experienced great shock and disappointed in 2012 when In-jin Moon, then president of our American movement and Lovin’ Life Ministries, abruptly resigned from her positions when it became known she had carried on an extramarital affair and secretly bore a child.
By Dan Fefferman
“Political theology” investigates the ways in which theological concepts relate to politics, society and economics. In this article, I examine the ways in which the expression of the political theology of the Unification Movement has evolved since its early days, especially in the U.S.
From its beginning, Unificationism has had to deal with tensions between its vision of One World Under God and its commitment to ridding the world of threats to that vision, especially that of communism. This tension led to various alliances in the political world that have impacted the Unificationist community significantly and remain unresolved today.
Victory Over Communism
From the 1960s through early 1980s, the expression of Unification political theology in the public realm was largely focused on “Victory Over Communism.” The movement’s commitment to world unity transcending race and nationality was prominent in its spiritual and evangelical work, but took a back seat to VOC in terms of activism.
Divine Principle (DP) itself provides the rationale for giving priority to VOC:
“The Third World War is the final conflict in the providence of restoration. Through this war, God intends that the democratic world bring the communist world to submission and build the ideal world… [W]hether the Third World War is waged by force of arms or as an ideological conflict depends upon the responsibility of the people…serving the providence of God…. [I]t is inescapable that this worldwide conflict take place.”
Reflecting this imperative, Rev. Sun Myung Moon founded the International Federation for Victory Over Communism in 1969 as a major ideological offensive. IFVOC established coalitions with other anti-communist organizations throughout the world. In the U.S., members created the Freedom Leadership Foundation (FLF) as the American affiliate of IFVOC. Thus, it created a “hawkish” face in terms of public image, despite its equally strong commitment to world peace, which remained somewhat hidden.
By Michael L. Mickler
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.
By David Eaton
Does the “Culture War” actually exist or is it purely a myth?
In the aftermath of the 2004 presidential election, Morris P. Fiorina of the Hoover Institution published Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America, in which he contends the idea of America being a “deeply divided” nation is specious.
Offering copious data, he claims a high percentage of Americans possess moderate viewpoints regarding social issues and politics, and we are not as “deeply divided” as those on the fringes of the political spectrum (or the news media) would have us believe.
Yet, the divisiveness that has become so pervasive in our culture indicates that our country is, in fact, highly polarized.
According to Fiorina, these fringe elements tend to confer with coteries who reinforce their particular perspectives and do not represent the large, moderate and politically ambivalent demographic that seeks pragmatic solutions to problems.
This is a countervailing argument to that of Pat Buchanan who has long held America is under siege due to the encroachment of non-traditional religious (or contra-religious) influences and not-so-well intentioned multiculturalists who see little or no value in the Western tradition. For Buchanan, nothing less than the soul of America is at stake.
Fiorina admits, perhaps unwittingly, that there is something to Buchanan’s claim when he states:
“The culture war metaphor refers to a displacement of the classic economic conflicts that animated twentieth-century politics in the advanced democracies by newly emergent moral and cultural ones. Even mainstream media commentators saw a “national fissure” that “remains deep and wide,” and “Two Nations under God.”… [M]any contemporary observers of American politics believe that old disagreements about economics now pale in comparison to new divisions based on sexuality, morality and religion, divisions so deep as to justify fears of violence and talk of war in describing them.”
By Ronald Brown
Most commentators call the current American involvement in the Muslim world the “War against Terrorism,” “War against Islamic Extremism,” “War against Radical Islam,” or one or the other pseudonyms that politicians, analysists, and journalists have dubbed it. In essence, it is simply the latest installment in the millennium-old confrontation between the Christian and Muslim civilizations.
The Rise of Islam
Since God first revealed to the Prophet Mohammed that he was the completion of a long line of divinely inspired prophets, Islam has considered itself the authentic religion of God. Each of the many prophets from Adam and Abraham through the prophet Dhul-Kifl to Jesus revealed elements of this primal religion, but sadly their followers failed to understand the content of these revelations.
Jews turned the revelations of Abraham into a tribal religion that shunned outsiders while Christians distorted Jesus’ teachings and declared him a deity equal to God, thus abandoning the core monotheistic goal of God’s revelation. But finally, God called up still another prophet to return humanity to his path and Islam was the result.
The Golden Age of Islam
Sweeping across the Arabian Peninsula and into the heartland of the Middle East, Islam was confident that Jews would emerge from their self-imposed ghettos and embrace the “fulfillment” of the religion founded by the prophets Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, and Christians would abandon their deification of Jesus and return to monotheism.
By Mark P. Barry
Few Americans realize that the hasty 1945 division of Korea and ensuing communist eradication of Christianity in the north occurred despite the efforts of a handful of uniquely qualified American officials. These men were born in the pre-World War II American Christian community in northern Korea, and were concerned, while serving in the U.S. government, about the fate of a land no less their home than America.
Historians generally maintain the U.S. government was largely uninformed about Korea during the Second World War and paid it scant attention. But these American Christians, serving in significant roles in the wartime U.S. government, sought to direct U.S. focus and efforts toward Korea. Despite their best efforts, they were unsuccessful and there is an almost complete absence from the historical record of their efforts.
Dr. George M. McCune was the best-known of these second-generation born and raised in Korea of American Christian missionaries. He became the main expert on Korea for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA. His father, Rev. George S. McCune, a Presbyterian missionary, headed Union Christian College (also known as Sungsil School, both a high school and college) in Pyongyang, where, interestingly, Kim Il Sung’s father (who later married the daughter of a Presbyterian minister) attended (the late Ruth Graham, wife of Rev. Billy Graham, also attended high school there for three years).
The younger McCune was born and raised in Pyongyang, the “Jerusalem of the East,” and earned the first doctorate in the study of Korea from an American university in 1941. He served in the OSS from 1942 and the next year became Korea desk officer for the Department of State, the leading official in the U.S. government on Korean affairs. His brother, Dr. Shannon McCune, was an expert on the geography of Korea and East Asia.
By Jack LaValley
At a recent scholarly gathering, one participant concluded it is likely the current divisions in the Unification movement will continue indefinitely. In this article, I propose a four-pronged approach to end the polarization between the disparate groups and bring them together to fulfill the highest aspirations of Divine Principle.
I do not intend to criticize any individual, institution or leadership, but want to present a conceptual framework upon which we can overcome the historical challenge of denominational/religious division we face.
First, I discuss how reinterpreting “True Family theology” changes the rules for who can be involved in putting an end to the conflict.
I identify how the conflicting groups can shift from position-taking to problem-solving and move beyond sterile debate to engage in genuine dialogue.
I suggest a third, alternative narrative to move us beyond the limiting narratives we’ve been told thus far by the conflicting groups.
Finally, I recast the conflict in terms of a need to heal broken relationships and strengthen bonds of love between family members.
The three groups involved in the conflict (Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, Family Peace Association and Sanctuary Church) employ a variety of tactics to defend their positions, such as: assuming their group is always right; giving no possibility the other parties have parts of the answer to end the conflict; always trying to prove the other party wrong; listening to find flaws and refute arguments; defending “our own version of the truth;” seeing only one side of the argument; looking for weaknesses in the other’s position; creating a winner/loser mentality; and, seeking a conclusion that supports one’s own position.
By Keisuke Noda
Denominational splits are one of the most challenging issues in the Unification movement. As Unificationism presents itself as the “new truth” to resolve religious/denominational divides, the claimant carries the burden of demonstrating its truth with evidence. Even if Unificationists cannot solve this reality immediately, they should at least be able to articulate the Unificationist approach to religious/denominational unity.
Underlying these splits is the idea of authoritarianism, found in religious fundamentalism in other religions as well. This position enhances division and is contrary to Unificationism as exemplified by Reverend Moon. Within the broad spectrum of Unificationism, there are various interpretations including authoritarian.
I will explain what authoritarianism is in the current context of denominational splits, why and how it can be a problem, and how religious authority can be established in a non-authoritarian way. I contrast Rev. Moon’s approach to an authoritarian one.
Since authoritarianism is a complex and broad subject in social science and found in all types of institutions and organizations, be they religious or not, I focus only on the question of the process of establishing religious authority.
Authoritarianism results in an authoritarian personality and creates such a culture. Although Rev. Moon’s critics characterized him as an authoritarian, he seemed to be trying to eradicate such tendencies from the Unification Movement. I highlight his non-authoritarian approach to religious/denominational unity.
By Gordon Anderson
The rise of Donald Trump, Brexit, Geert Wilders, and Marine Le Pen can be seen as a reaction to the failure of Western liberal establishment culture to successfully lead the transition to global society. These popular figures do not represent a higher stage of development, but a return to the last successful level of social development—nationalism.
We could say it is a reset. A “headwing,” or integral, worldview should supply the necessary elements that liberalism has so far ignored in its zeal to create a more just and inclusive world.
A Fall at the Top of the Growth Stage
Unificationists can view this nationalist retrenchment as a fall at the top of the growth stage in Christian culture. Reverend Moon observed in 1960 that Christianity in the West had reached a peak and needed guidance to move the world to the next level. The cultural revolution of the 1960s sought equal rights, freedom from oppression, environmental sustainability, global harmony, and true love.
These were reactions against limitations in traditional societies that needed to be transcended. However, those who led the social revolution did not have solutions but reacted like children who had matured enough to sense injustice, but not enough to develop a parental heart or a responsible approach.
While a few extraordinary figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mohandas Gandhi sought to move to the next stage of development on spiritual foundations, the masses engaged in social movements that sought political solutions—solutions based on the force of law. The result was, in Unificationist terms, “a reversal of dominion.”