Polite society and Sun Myung Moon

This article was originally published by the Korea Times in Seoul following the death at 92 on Sept. 3, of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of The Washington Times.

By Michael Breen

It’s hard to feel sorry for a billionaire, harder if he’s regarded by thousands around the world as the messiah.

Sun Myung Moon and his wife Han Hak-ja on March 22, 1972 during his visit to Britain. /Steve Wood/Express/Getty Images

But spare a thought for Rev. Moon Sun-Myung who in public, outside of his adoring inner circle, never had a single good review. He was vilified and ridiculed most of his adult life. The criticism and hounding of his followers ­ contemptuously known as “Moonies” ­ have been unrelenting. Why? Not because his beliefs and claims are any more ridiculous than other religious notions, but because they were new.

Everyone, it seemed, had a reason to dislike him. The political left hated him for saying communism was the anti-Christ; Christians said he was anti-Christ; to most, he was a conman who used religion to get rich, a brainwasher of young people, a nut-case who claimed to chat with the dead, a man who broke up families, who had a factory that made weapons, who wanted to control the White House, and maybe take over the world. …

Satisfied with this media interpretation, society failed to ask the right questions about what Moon stood for and whether he was really that dangerous. As a result, even democracies put him on the black list with known terrorists. He was banned for decades from Japan and most European countries.

If his story presents an unflattering example of how most societies are incapable of handling heretics in a dignified and democratic manner, it is also a modern example of the ancient phenomenon of how religion is born.

For Moon’s real offense is to be a modern-day Jesus, to have something new to say about God and to assume that doing so makes him spiritually superior to the rest of us.


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