The Unification Church is downplaying membership in its church and is upholding a more broadly based movement that focuses on giving “blessings” to families and recognizing Sun Myung Moon and Mrs. Moon as “true parents,” according to recent articles.
Yoshihiko Joshua Masuda, a theologian from the Unification Church’s Sun Moon University in South Korea, sees a de-emphasis on church membership in the UC’s recent practice of holding Blessing services for couples who are not members but are part of the more broadly based Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU).
In fact, the institutional names of the Unification Church and the HSA-UWC have been in “disuse” since last April, said Masuda, who delivered a paper on the subject at the Association for the Sociology of Religion meetings in Toronto last August. Moon has claimed in 1994 that the UC was supposed to wither away after completing its mission of inviting people to the Blessing.
Organizers of the Blessing have claimed that 7,000 Christian ministers have attended seminars sponsored by the Family Federation in the U.S., according to Faith Today (July/August), a Canadian evangelical magazine. Evangelical leaders such as Jerry Falwell and Ralph Reed have participated in such activities. In promotional literature sent to churches from the federation, there is little mention made of the group’s connection to Moon, writes David Dawes.
Moon’s establishment of the FFWPU still remains a puzzle to new religion and anti-cult specialists. In the Danish magazine Spirituality in East and West (Number 1), an article says that “It is possible that no one really knows what will happen [to the UC]. Maybe Moon once again has been dreaming that all other churches will follow his example and drop their special organizations in order to unite and unify all believers worldwide, [including] the Moonies.”
Moon is said to be “on the wane” and fervently attempting to bring about the kingdom of God before he dies. This accounts for Moon’s increasing preaching on the importance of marriage and his universal parenthood, as well as his ever-growing blessing services (he plans to bless 3 billion marriages in 2000). Unificationists, however, still continue their proselytism. Recently they have been doing home visitations and sprinkling people with holy water.
“In this way they perform a purification blessing which will be announced with gigantic numbers in order to express the border-breaking ability of the community which was once called the Unification Church.”
(Faith Today, M.I.P. Box 3745, Markham, Ont., L3R 0Y4, Canada; Spirituality in East and West, The Dialog Center, 46, Katrinebjergvej, DK 8200 Arhus N, Denmark)