I think it was back in the mid-1970s that the the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon (pictured here) came to Kansas City to promote his Unification Church. I was on the reporting staff of The Kansas City Star and was assigned one Saturday evening to cover his appearance.
I don't recall a lot about that evening except that I think I wasn't allowed to stay with Moon very long and that I didn't write a very long story about it. But Moon and I did meet and shake hands.
I've been both intrigued and at times repulsed by Moon and his unique and astonishingly self-centered and works-righteousness approach to religion.
This whole matter came to my memory again recently when, to my surprise, a representative of the Unification Church was among those asked to give a brief history of his faith community in the U.S. at a community Thanksgiving dinner I emceed.
After that event, someone asked me what I knew about the Unification Church. The person who asked said she sometimes has heard it referred to as a cult. That's obviously become a pejorative term these days (it didn't used to be) and it's one I try to avoid. But in response to her question, I linked her to this recent story in The New Republic about the church.
It's rather lengthy and certainly distressing as it reveals the decidedly checkered history of the Unification Church and especially of the wildly dysfunctional Moon family.
I suppose the lesson here is that people checking out religious traditions to which they may want to attach themselves would do well to be thorough in their investigation before jumping in. All religions have dark spots in their histories, and potential adherents should know about those as well as about the light they've shed on the world. Going into a religion in complete ignorance is a good way to make a major mistake.
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HOPE HEAVEN DOESN'T CHARGE, TOO
If you want to tour the Washington National Cathedral, you're going to have to start paying an admission fee to cover budget shortfalls, it's reported. More proof that the D.C. at the end of Washington stands for Deficit City.