The Unification Church of the United States is a new religious movement officially founded in 1954 by Sun Myung Moon (which has led to the referring of his followers as "Moonies") and moved to America in 1959, where he established his international headquarters. Since its founding, the church has expanded throughout the world with most members living in Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and other nations in East Asia.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the Unification Church became noted for its political activities, especially its support for United States president Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal, its support for anti-communism during the Cold War, and its ownership of various news media outlets and newspapers which tend to support conservatism.
Unificationist beliefs are derived from the Christian Bible and are explained in the church's textbook, the Divine Principle, which was published by Moon in 1956. Divine Principle is considered to be the "third testament" of the Bible, and superior to the Bible.
Unification theology asserts that God has both masculine and feminine qualities based on the universal fact of polarity. It teaches that The Fall was the result of sexual sin: Eve had sexual relations with Satan (the spiritual fall) and then with Adam (the physical fall). Therefore, salvation requires a physical redemption which involves “Blood cleansing”, which is female members of the church were required to have sex with him to cleanse themselves of Satan's influence. The Blessing is the most remarkable Unification ritual. Moon matches up each couple a month (or less) in advance, selecting from among the Church membership.
In the 1970s, Moon gave a series of public speeches in the United States, including one on the grounds of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., where Moon spoke on "God's Hope for America" to 300,000 people. In 1975, the Unification Church held one of the largest peaceful gatherings in history, with 1.2 million people in Yeouido, South Korea. In 1982, the first large scale Blessing ceremony held outside of Korea took place in Madison Square Garden in New York City with 2075 couples. In 1988, Moon matched 2,500 Korean members with Japanese members for a Blessing ceremony held in Korea, partly in order to promote unity between the two nations.
In the 1970s the Unification Church was accused of "brainwashing" by the newly-active anti-cult movement that human subjects are indoctrinated that causes “an inability to think independently and a disruption of beliefs.”
Philip Zimbardo discusses mind control as "the process by which individual or collective freedom of choice and action is compromised by agents or agencies that modify or distort perception, motivation, affect, cognition and/or behavioural outcomes”, and he suggests that any human being is susceptible to such manipulation.
On the other hand, James Richardson observes that if the new religious movements (NRMs) had access to powerful brainwashing techniques, one would expect that NRMs would have high growth rates, yet in fact most have not had notable success in recruitment.
In The Making of a Moonie: Choice or Brainwashing?(1984), Barker writes that she rejects the "brainwashing" theory as an explanation for conversion to the Unification Church. Barker spent close to seven years studying Unification Church members using in depth interviews and questionnaires.
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