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One of the world's most prominent cult leaders dies, aged 92

Reverend Sun Myung Moon was famous for mass marriages, high-pressure conversion tactics and unorthodox business dealings.

  • Daniel Burke
  • Korea
  • September 3, 2012
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The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, revered as a messiah within his Unification Church but regarded by many others as a vain and enigmatic man who blessed mass weddings, built a sprawling business empire and presided over a personality cult, died on Monday (Sept. 3) in South Korea. He was 92.

Moon had been in intensive care at a Seoul hospital since Aug. 7, according to his church. The cause of death was complications from pneumonia, including kidney failure.

Moon was born in 1920 in what is now North Korea, and rose from a home in which five siblings starved to death to become an ambitious man who harbored a lifelong hatred of communism, craved respect from the rich and powerful and professed a divine mandate to restore a fallen world.

He claimed to have received revelations from Jesus, Confucius, the Buddha, Lao Tzu and Satan.

After founding the Unification Church in 1954, Moon gained fame by holding group weddings for arranged couples, many of whom had barely met before Moon matched them. Ceremonies at New York's Madison Square Garden in 1982, Washington's RFK Stadium in 1997 and Seoul's Olympic Stadium in 1999, drew thousands of couples.

"From the time I was eight I was a well-known as a champion matchmaker," Moon wrote in his biography, "As a Peace-loving Global Citizen."

"I had only to see photos of a prospective bride and groom and I could tell everything." Moon matched thousands of Unificationists, but largely left the job to parents and other church officials in his last years.

If the matches were not always made in heaven, Moon believed that they would nonetheless foster a paradise on earth.

Moon taught that Jesus had died without fathering children, who, as the Messiah's heirs, would have escaped the taint of Original Sin. Moon said Christ chose him to complete his mission by uniting humankind in a single sinless family. Many of Moon's arranged marriages were thus interracial and international. Unificationists called Moon and his wife, Hak Ja Han, the "True Parents" of this spiritually pure lineage.

Full Story: Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon dies at 92

Source: Religion News Service
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