The Words of Hyung Jin Moon From 2011
Kwon Ran, a news reporter for the South Korean television broadcasting network SBS, wrote the following on her reporter's blog: ublog.sbs.co.kr/kpacubo?targetBlog=117934 after attending International President Hyung Jin Nim's New Year's meeting with religion reporters on January 18, 2011. (Translation by Tongil Foundation <www.tongilgroup.org/system_eng/bbs/board.php?bo_table=newsandwr_id=100>)
The Women Married to Jesus, Buddha, Confucius and Muhammad "May you receive Heaven's Blessing in the New Year." This is the New Year greeting in the Unification Church.
"Heaven's Blessing" refers to the fact that "In the world under God's dominion, His bountiful love and grace are the greatest blessings," and the greeting expresses the wish that the person receive that love and grace. This was the greeting offered by Rev. Hyung Jin Moon in a meeting with reporters held to mark the New Year.
This was my first time to attend this type of meeting with reporters after being assigned the religion beat on the culture desk.
Actually, all I knew about the Unification Church was that it was founded by Rev. Sun Myung Moon and that the church holds mass weddings that had been a topic of discussion over the years.
I learned at this event that the official legal name of the Unification Church is "Family Federation for the World Peace," although the church decided in February 2010 to use "Unification Church"; that some 27,000 people in our country -- including adults and children -- regularly attend Unification Church services; and that the church has some 180,000 registered members worldwide.
I also learned that if you go to the Unification Church's headquarters church in Yongsan, called "Cheon Bok Gung," you will find displayed there paintings of Jesus, Buddha, Confucius and Muhammad, and that this is because the Unification Church considers these figures to be saints and so attends them together with God.
During the Seol holiday, when the lunar new year begins, Unification Church will be holding a week-long Cheonbok Festival for the first time in its history. During the festival, earth brought from the birthplaces of the four saints will be distributed to church members, providing an example of how the church embraces a variety of religions.
Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, International President of the Unification Church, sits with Rev. Yeon Ah Lee, his wife, at a meeting with religion reporters on Jan. 18, 2011. The two have five children after 13 years of marriage, and show a living example of the Unification Church's biblically based teachings that the three great blessings are to be fruitful, multiply and have dominion over the earth.
Because the church serves the four saints as God's messiahs, there are four women in the Unification Church who have married each of the saints. Their existence was revealed to the public last year during a banquet commemorating the publication of Rev. Sun Myung Moon's autobiography. Because this was topic not easily understood by the general public, the reporters attending the recent meeting with Rev. Hyung Jin Moon asked him to explain.
The following was the explanation given by Rev. Moon, the youngest son of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who has succeeded his father on the path as pastor to the Unification Church. (Rev. Hyung Jin Moon is only 33 years old in secular age, but is widely knowledgeable, having attended a Catholic school, delved into Buddhist doctrine and meditation methods, and received a degree in comparative religion from Harvard. He shows an interest in all religions, and has a good understanding of many.)
"In the Catholic Church, priests and nuns are said to be married to Jesus,'" he said. "In this case, 'marriage' in the Christian tradition refers to 'promise' or 'covenant.' This is the reason these women wear rings. It means they have pledged themselves to serve these saints as they would a physical spouse. In the world of religion, there is nothing strange about this."
"It is a marriage relationship that is spiritual, not physical," Rev. Moon said. "The women in our church who are married to Jesus, Buddha, Confucius and Muhammad have committed to offering themselves completely for the sake of their respective spouses. They offer special devotion and serve the four saints more than others."
The Unification Church has hundreds of couples who have been joined in "marriages with spirits." They say that these are done so that people who have died for various reasons will not be alone in the spirit world and will be able to live eternally with their spouses. Both spouses enter into these covenants, so they cannot be broken for eternity, they say.
It is all somewhat difficult for nonbelievers to understand, and for this reason it has been controversial at times. In any case, religions deal with the metaphysical, and individuals are given the freedom to believe as they choose. So if another person's belief differs from my own, I cannot say "That's not right," or "You're wrong."
These were some of my impressions after attending my first meeting of this type as a reporter covering religion. Perhaps for this reason, I personally felt that the efforts by the Unification Church and Rev. Hyung Jin Moon to embrace all religions seemed quite good.