Camp K, aka Maacama Hill, a Unification Church recruitment camp in Northern California
Updated December 12, 2022
1. The Moonies of Northern California by Gaye LeBaron
(with an added sidebar about the UC chinchilla farm and the Christina Bahn fur company)
2. Unification Church leaders stole passports from guests
3. Mary Canning was indoctrinated at Camp K – got out after a few months
4. Petra Hillsing went under cover at Camp K to find a missing girl.
5. Ingo Michehl was indoctrinated at Camp K – got out after six years
The Moonies of Northern California
By Gaye LeBaron The Press Democrat 1993
The phone call from a worried friend in Berkeley was about a camp in Sonoma County. A young Czechoslovakian visitor, he said, had been diverted from his itinerary by an impromptu invitation to visit this camp with a young man he had met on the street in San Francisco.
My friend wanted to know what I knew about this camp. My first reaction was to say, “Nothing at all,” but then I thought back a dozen years, recalled the headlines and wondered: Were we talking about the Moonies again?
There was a time when we talked about Moonies a lot around here.
The news of the last decade has been mostly about the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s trial and subsequent prison term for tax evasion [and document forgery]. But the clip files from the ’70s are fat with controversy centered around two Unification Church properties in our own back yard.
▲ The ‘Moonie’ Ranch in Boonville, 1975. The sign says ‘Welcome,’ but visitors weren’t. In 1977 the New Ideal City Ranch was ordered closed.
In 1975 [Papasan Choi] purchased a 600-acre ranch near Boonville, which the Moonies called the New Ideal City Ranch. The property was a home base for a sales force of young converts who peddled goods (mostly roses and terrariums) in the Bay Area as well as Santa Rosa and Ukiah. Newsweek had just published an article about the Unification Church. It told of the members’ belief that the Rev. Moon may be “a second messiah,” and of the formation of a new organization for parents who feared their children were being brainwashed by church members. Reporter Vicki Allen, working in the PD’s Ukiah bureau, interviewed two of the peddlers, who told her the money went to pay for buses to bring people from population centers and for food for the weekend visitors.
The Moonies and their recruiting practices were coming under more scrutiny nationwide. Young people virtually disappeared from homes and college campuses after going off to visit “a camp” with people they met on city streets, in airports or bus terminals. The barbed wire fences around the Boonville ranch lent a sinister aspect.
In the fall of the year the media learned another new word — ‘‘deprogrammer.” Ted Patrick, who specialized in reversing the brainwashing techniques, was hired by a Lake County couple to rescue their daughter, who had joined the Moonies while a student at the University of Oklahoma. Patrick deprogrammed the young woman, who told her story to The Press Democrat, confirming the worst fears of many parents, that people who fell under the influence of the group ‘‘no longer knew their own mind.”
Patrick was a controversial figure. The drastic measures he used ultimately resulted in a conviction for false imprisonment and a kidnapping charge, of which he was acquitted. His work, he said, required desperate measures. Moon’s recruitment system, he charged, constituted ‘‘psychological kidnapping” and reduced converts to ‘‘mindless robots.”
The drama of deprogramming was a gripping story and, as the word spread, frightened parents came to Mendocino County looking for sons and daughters who had come to visit the New Ideal City Ranch and never come home. Throughout the mid-1970s, Ukiah courts were seldom without petitions for conservancy from families hoping to bring their children home.
Sheriffs deputies went to the ranch on one occasion and, by court order, removed two sisters, ages 19 and 21. In a dramatic trial, their mother was named conservator while the Moonies sat together in the courtroom, locking hands across the rows of seats.
Camp director Noah Ross, who had earlier testified that conservatorship and deprogramming were the same as kidnapping, told the press he was pleased with the judge’s action since the girls seemed “impressionable and immature.” In subsequent interviews Ross accused the press of bias and denied that recruits were being brainwashed.
▲ These five were held under a conservatorship order. Four of them left the Moonies.
Meanwhile, a significant court case was in progress in San Francisco where five adult Moonies, ranging in age from 21 to 26, were turned over to their parents, by court order, for 30 days. Religious libertarians were appalled at the court decision to turn adults over to their parents’ care. Some compared the persecution of the Moonies to the Salem witch trials. Other theologians charged that the Unification Church was not a true Christian church. Ultimately the decision was overturned by the state Court of Appeal, but not before four of the five had abandoned the Moonies and returned to their families.
Parents kept coming. But now the Mendocino County DA’s office had people to work with them in attempts to quietly reunite them with their children. Cases of young people being hidden from parents were reported. In one case, a hired deprogrammer abducted the wrong girl. Deprogramming, which had been aimed primarily at Moonies and Hare Krishnas, spread to other religions. In Texas, parents actually hired a deprogrammer to lure their daughter from the influence of a Baptist Church. More and more people were questioning the authority of parents over adult children. The ACLU became involved.
But as more young people abandoned the ranch, more stories of misrepresentation and abduction were told. One woman reported that her new friends told her they were taking her to the Oakland bus depot and brought her to Boonville instead.
The camp was under scrutiny from county planning officials. They needed a permit to operate a religious retreat. They were ordered to produce an environmental impact report. And, finally, in 1977, the New Ideal City Ranch was ordered closed.
They moved to what they called “Bambi Land,” the Mendocino Woodlands State Park, east of Caspar, where they used the campground for their training sessions for up to 100 people.
The Moonies came to Sonoma County in the fall of 1977. New Education Development Systems Inc. of Berkeley, an affiliate of the Unification Church, bought Camp Maacama, the former Camp Fire summer camp on Highway 128 and Maacama Creek east of Alexander Valley.
The new training center was made to order. There was only one entrance, across a narrow footbridge, and it had a permanent permit to operate as a camp. By the end of 1978, camp director Ross estimated that more than 10,000 young people had attended weekend seminars there. He did not say how many had actually joined Moon’s church.
… After the People’s Temple tragedy at Jonestown in November of 1978, the Moonies’ profile became ever lower. [Camp K, for Camp Korea, was later renamed Maacama Hill.]
The Boonville ranch became a farm. Most of the land is now leased for cattle grazing. A few followers of Moon still raise chinchillas there.
Sun Myung Moon invested nearly $3 million in a cruel chinchilla farm at Boonville
Chinchillas are smart: dolphins, porpoises and chinchillas can retain the ability to differentiate between ‘p’ and ‘b’, but they don’t develop language. Chinchillas suffer when they live their lives in small cages.
Chinchillas are easily distressed, and when they are unhappy, they may exhibit physical symptoms.
In nature, chinchillas live in social groups that resemble colonies, but are properly called herds. Herd sizes can range from 14 members up to 100, this is both for social interaction as well as protection from predators.
As pets, Chinchilla not only need scrupulous physically care, like temperature control, diet control, but also psychological care, which refers to simply, playing with them. It is probably correct to say that the chinchilla is more sensitive psychologically than physically. It can survive an astonishingly bad diet, mistreatment and poor physical environment if psychological factors such as those caused by moving the animal from its accustomed quarters or shipping it.
▲ Chinchillas are social creatures
Paul Werner on Sun Myung Moon’s chinchilla providence:
“In October 1983 we acquired our second farm and upon Father’s request, started breeding chinchillas, in October 1984, after investing some time and money to accommodate them. They are very sensitive animals and require a certain temperature, meaning we had to install a heating system for the wintertime and air-conditioning for the summer. They are also most content listening to classical music.”
from the Personal Testimony of Rev. Paul Werner, May 1985
The business was probably called “American Chinchillas” which was connected to One Mind Farm, Inc., 14751 Hwy 128, Boonville, CA 95415.
One Mind Farm, Inc (Active). Date Established: Feb 17, 1981. The entity has been operating for over 41 years. In 1981 it may have been registered at 818 West Seventh St. 2nd Fl., Los Angeles, CA 90017
▲ Chinchilla skins
Sun Myung Moon’s teaching of the three blessings meant nothing to him.
Second blessing: Moon had illegitimate children (Hee-jin Moon +) while married to his first wife (Sun-gil Choi), and another (Sam Park) while married to Hak Ja Han. He showered her with cash and luxury goods.
Third blessing: While out fishing, Moon threw trash in the oceans and watched ginseng bottles as they bobbed into the distance. Moon condemned chinchillas to lives of suffering for the gain of his own family.
Some of these businesses may have been used for money laundering, as Nansook Hong has explained. A lot of cash came in from Japan. (ref. Nansook Hong)
Quote from the New York Times:
The Untold Story of Sushi in America
By Daniel Fromson
Unification Church International would turn out to be much more than a sushi holding company. Sometimes directly and sometimes via a shell company, it would finance Moon’s media properties, his anti-Communist activism, his ballet company, his tax-fraud appeal by Laurence Tribe, even a chinchilla ranch in Northern California (which received nearly $3 million). But it would also be a vehicle through which the religion guided the seafood business.
Hak Ja Han owned, or had some close association with, a luxury clothes store, Christina Bahn Incorporated, in New York selling dresses, coats, skirts, hats, stoles, muffs all made of fur. Wholesale furrier 401 5th Ave. Active from June 1978. Domestic Business Corporation File Number: 495977. Registered Agent: Haengmi Skulstad (almost certainly a ‘blessed’ Unification Church member). Members who knew about the store used to visit it.
▲ Christina Bahn Fine Furs of New York
▲ Christina Bahn furs for sale in Japan
▲ A Christina Bahn coat
▲ A coat made from chinchilla skins
[End of sidebar]
In Napa County, where the Moonies now owned the 600-plus-acre site that had been Aetna Springs in Pope Valley, the county denied them permits to expand.
In ’80 and ’81, parents still came occasionally to fetch their sons and daughters. One Canadian boy leaned over the fence to talk to a friend and pleaded with him to leave the Moonies. “Moonies?” he said, turning to the camp residents behind him. “Are you the Moonies?” They acknowledged that they were connected. He climbed over the fence and rejoined his friend.
On another occasion, in what would be the last news story of the activities of the Moonies here, a family came from County Donegal in Ireland to reclaim their daughter, Mary Canning a Dublin school teacher, who had joined the Moonies while on a visit to the United States. [see below]
They had a confrontation at the bridge with church members carrying crowbars and broomsticks. They retreated. Their efforts to see their daughter were thwarted. She, in fact, was returned to Dublin, to stay with a Moonie couple who lived there, before her family left Sonoma County. [She was soon “deprogrammed”.]
So you see, when my friend called about the young Czech man who had gone “to a camp in Sonoma County,” it brought back some vivid memories. Pleased to report, he returned to his relatives in Oakland at the end of the week, called it all an interesting experience and flew home to Czechoslovakia.
Not like the old days. Thank heavens.
UC leaders stole passports from guests at California workshops.
By Frank Frivilous (an alias)
I recently had one of my neighbors reveal to me that he was Roger, the infamous troll … He also revealed that he had stolen my passport and ID from my luggage under direction from Noah Ross at Camp K / Maacama Hill in Northern California. This among other things, resulted in my deciding to stay in the Creative Community Project for a while. Well… 25 years or more to be exact. He also told me that Noah, Jennifer and Nicolas routinely got him and others to do the same to all of the foreign workshop guests at Camp K. This wasn’t provided in the manner of a tearful confession but rather like a boast in order to have a dig at my expense. …
Mary Canning was indoctrinated at Camp K
Irish Independent October 2, 1981
Cult fighter seeking total eclipse of the ‘Moon’
By Alan Murdoch
The total eclipse of the ‘Moon’ — that is the aim of Allen Wood, former member of the Moonies and now their arch-enemy.
Once a top man in the American operation of Korean Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, Wood now spends his time conducting a one-man crusade against his one-time idol.
While Mary Canning spent two-and-a-half months with the Moonies, Wood was with them for four-and-a-half years and became one of their national leaders in the US.
He is the roving “deprogrammer” brought in to break the Moonies hypnotic hold on the girl from Donegal. While he says he will get no money from Mary Canning, it is rumoured grateful parents pay large sums for his services.
“The Moonies have a highly refined psychological technology. The goal of their recruitment and indoctrination efforts is to produce an automaton whose capacity for independent thought has been destroyed,” says Wood, who has himself graduated in psychology since his split with the religious cult.
He now works full-time with young people like Mary Canning, who have fallen under the influence of the Unification Church.
“The Cannings’ experience echoes the pain and suffering of thousands of families throughout the world who have lost a son or a daughter to Moon’s ‘heavenly deception’,” he says.
Wood was with the cult from the late 1960s to the early ’70s and saw with his own eyes the enormous wealth generated by the Church’s members which gives the self-styled messiah Sun Myung Moon a lifestyle comparable with the richest in the world.
“Those who claim that the Moonies have grown out of their fanaticism and their ends-justify-the-means philosophy need to take a closer look”, says Wood, who is seriously concerned about the organisation’s “burgeoning economic and political power. Their strategy, tactics and overall objectives remain unaltered”.
Wood, 34, who comes from New York, describes himself as a “councillor in the field of destructive cults”.
Besides the Moonies, he campaigns against other cults which demand total commitment from their recruits, such as Hare Krishna, Scientology, the Divine Light Mission, and the Children of God”.
But it is the Moonies he fights against most forcefully.
He has spent most of the last six years on a crusade against them, submitting evidence to US Government Commissions investigating the sect, written books about them, and was a key witness in the recent libel case in the High Court in London when the Church challenged a newspaper report about them.
Wood was instrumental in proving that the description “the church that breaks up families” was correct.
His experience of the Church makes him a major authority on it. In 1970 he was made its Chief Political Officer in the US, and in 1971 he directed its operations in the University of Maryland.
But despite Mary Canning’s escape, Mr. Wood says: “the psychological and emotional slaughter of the innocent young people who are dragooned into the Moonies continues unabated.
Recently the cult moved 300 “missionaries from Britain to West Germany after a ‘successful campaign’ – over 2,000 British youngsters were ‘converted’”.
Just how many never see their families remains to be seen. But there is likely to be no shortage of demand for the services of Allen Wood.
Mary claimed the Moonies had used mind control to prevent her from listening to her conscience. And during her involvement she was trained to believe that the part of her which questioned Moonie teaching was Satanic.
But despite the unhappiness of her two-month ordeal, she read out a message to the sect at the conference organised by the Minister of State at the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, Mr. Paddy Harte.
“I do not feel resentment towards the people with whom I came in contact while I was in the Moon movement. I feel great anguish for you Moonies, who honestly believe that what you are doing is good. I feel greater anger towards those in positions of leadership who know that what you are doing is destructive and that it has nothing to do with God.”
Mary revealed that after two months with the sect, she was no longer free to ask questions or disagree with their teaching. She crushed down questions which came into her mind about their teaching and behaviour.
She said that after this time, she looked on the love and concern of her parents as being the result of interference and evil influence.
And she recalled that one of the people “responsible for her spiritual growth” had asked her if she would be prepared to kill her parents for the sake of God’s work. When she didn’t reply, he became very angry, she added.
By Petra Hellsing, posted on her website on June 24, 2015
(All the photos marked ‘private’ can be seen on Petra’s website; the link is above. This text, translated from Swedish by Petra, has been edited for clarity. Petra is interested in hearing from people who had the ‘Moonie experience’. She makes podcasts. Her contact details are below. This story gives some good insights from an outsiders point-of-view.)
The Search for a Missing Norwegian Moonie
In the mid 1980, at the age of 21, I was an au pair in California in the US. I lived in Mill Valley, a fancy neighborhood north of the Golden Gate bridge.
In my free time I used to go to the Swedish Church, located on Hyde Street between Lombard Street and Fisherman’s Wharf in downtown San Francisco. The church was a safe haven for au pairs and other folks from Europe who had gone out to explore the big world.
One day I stumbled into two Norwegian siblings who had come to the States to look for their younger sister. Some years before she had been caught up in a Korean cult called the Unification Church and they were very concerned about her well-being since they’d lost all contact with her.
Sun Myung Moon founded the Unification Church. He passed away in 2012; he was a self-proclaimed Messiah who said he had met the biblical Jesus and now had his mandate to establish God’s Kingdom on earth. [ LINK to Jesus and Moon ]
▲ Mr. and Mrs. Moon greet the Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa. A handshake that according to the movement legitimized Sun Myung Moon as being the Messiah.
As a Moonie you serve Mr. Moon, also referred to as ‘True Father’. You do this by recruiting new members, raising money to the movement and eventually you marry a partner chosen by Mr. Moon.
A true win win-situation for the cult.
If you are truly blessed you can give away your children through adoption. This is a true win-win situation, because by doing so a childless couple somewhere out there finally becomes a real family and you can once again give ‘True Father’ your full attention without the distraction of a child. This is the ultimate proof of love and devotion.
▲ The ‘True Father’ conducting a mass marriage in South Korea.
The cult had a recruiting base downtown and a training camp in the mountains a few hours’ drive north of San Francisco. Since the siblings would not be welcome in the cult’s properties, they asked me if I wanted to make my way into the organization by allowing myself ‘to be recruited’ by the cult. Hopefully, on the inside, I would be able to locate their sister, so that they could take action and arrange for her to be kidnapped and deprogrammed by a special team that was standing by. And oh, could I barely wait!
I prepared myself by watching interviews with ex-members on videotape so that I knew what special treatment I could expect.
I learned about how love-bombing – overwhelming and unmotivated love and attention – in combination with little sleep and a tight schedule would serve their purpose to indoctrinate me and make me one of them.
I also met with psychologists and deprogrammers who showed me things I should be aware of, and take precautions against.
The plan was simple.
We would arrange for me to be picked up by a Moonie in Union Square in downtown San Francisco – a place where they recruit many new members. I would then agree to come along to their student camp in the mountains.
▲ Union Square in San Francisco.
Once in the camp I would take a lot of pictures, without attracting unnecessary attention. Lots of parents around the world had children hidden in the cult, and if I could return with picture proof that their sons and daughters were in the camp, captors stood ready to steal back the young people to their families.
Most important of all was that I went home when the weekend camp was over. I was under no circumstances allowed to stay after the four day long camp ended. Though, I was told that both the car and the phone were always ‘broken’ on the last evening of the camp – to prevent people from leaving. The reason was simply that they occasionally needed more time to break some of the visitor’s mental defenses.
One Saturday we got to work. I dressed myself typically Swedish (neon-colored shorts), took a visible stand at the square, unfolded a big tourist map and waited. All supervised by the kidnappers who stood at a safe distance.
After approximately 15-20 minutes I hear a voice behind me; ”Hello?”
I turned around and meet Ted for the first time, my ticket into the Unification Church.
By coincidence the next camp started next Thursday
Did I need help, I seemed lost? Was I only passing through? Ah, I came from Sweden, that’s sounds nice. Ted told me that he belonged to an international Student organization.
And by the way, would I be interested in sharing a cup of coffee at their office nearby?
A few hours later I had finished my coffee, seen the picture of the Organization’s founder on the wall and met countless of smiling students who all spoke inspiringly of a camp in the mountains.
By coincidence the next camp started next Thursday. Ted asked me if I wanted to come along. Of course I wanted.
After a few hours’ drive in an old minivan filled with young people, we reached our destination; Maacama Hill.
▲ In a place far, far away, one of the movement’s indoctrination camps in 1981 – Maacama Hill. (Picture: private)
▲ The bridge to the Maacama Hill camp. The site is now owned by a different organization.
Maacama Hill was beautifully located, beside a river, with dramatic vegetation surrounding it. The place was undeniably remote. How would I ever make it out of here if they refused to ‘repair the car‘? Hardly any vehicles passed on the small winding road outside the camp?
That would have to be a problem for days to come. Today was only Thursday and I would not go home until Sunday. Hopefully I would be okay.
▲ The girls’ building at Camp K.
I was guided to the girls’ building where I was supposed to sleep. Everything was spartan and run-down. The bunk beds were tightly squeezed into the cramped quarters.
The standard was really low — and my heart was torn apart for all the young people who actually lived their lives here.
▲ On a bedside table was a picture of the “True Father”. (Picture: private)
The pace was rapid right from the start with early mornings, late nights, and intense activities all day long. I was not left alone for one second.
New boys were constantly shown attention by the sweetest Moonie girls — and new girls shown the same by the most charming Moonie boys.
▲ A new guy flanked by a German Moonie veteran. I met the visitor outside the camp afterwards and told him what he had really experienced. “The United States is a dangerous country!” he said, and went home to his home country with the promise never to go abroad again. (Picture: private)
Boys and girls were kept strictly separated in the camp. You could seldom talk in private with someone of the opposite sex without having a smiling Moonie engaging in the conversation. I marveled at how the new recruits did not see and react to this obvious unnatural behavior.
The Camp gets serious
For the first few days the focus was on sports and good companionship. We played volleyball, laughed, ate together and enjoyed the nice weather. Religion wasn’t mentioned at all.
▲ New recruits top line: Guy in the red shirt and Swedish guy next to the far right. Bottom line: I second from the far right. (Picture: private)
As time went by, the small talk more and more turned towards existential questions. Had I ever thought about the meaning of life? Was I satisfied with my life?
Then we were introduced to the first lecture in the class room. Participation was voluntary, of course, but not going to the lectures was simply not an option.
▲ Ready to be indoctrinated. Ted in the striped shirt is leaning towards me from the left. (Picture: private)
Soon we spent more time in the classroom than we did on the volleyball court. The purpose of the teaching was to prove that Sun Myung Moon was the new Messiah.
What would the leaders do if they found out I was a spy?
Now it was getting really hard to do this spy thing. It was emotionally hard. I felt as if I was betraying the new young people in the camp since I saw them becoming prey for the cult without being able to warn them. But how could I?
I had been sent into the camp with a mission, and I simply could not reveal my true identity without endangering my assignment.
And besides, what would the leaders do if they found out I was a spy? My quest was to take as many pictures as possible, lay low and get a ride home on Sunday night. Period.
▲ A lecture on the Divine Principle: “Jesus failed, since he died on the cross, right? So a new Messiah would have to complete the Mission, right?” (Picture: private)
Everything became more intense as we got closer to Sunday. The generally held “Good to see you” songs at breakfast were replaced by religious songs with lyrics about the ‘True Father’. A short prayer was held before every meal and the discussions became more personal and intrusive, the breaks got shorter and the lessons longer.
On the Saturday evening we had a barbecue on the river bed. When all the sausage and marshmallows were eaten, there was a revival meeting.
▲ I am wedged between two Moonie friends. (Picture: private)
Two dark-haired sisters sang religious songs with empathy, and with tears running down their cheeks, they explained how they had found the true meaning of life in the Unification Church.
▲ Happy sisters. (Picture: private)
Then one of the leaders gave a short sermon with such passion that the fire next to him faded in comparison.
▲ Passionate leaders [Susan is on the left].
Finally Sunday came and Ted was getting more anxious than ever. Had I decided to stay yet? Surely my job could wait for a couple of weeks?
And by the way, he certainly mentioned that I was an absolutely amazing person, that I brought life and color to Maacama Hill? This place would not be the same without me! Rationally I knew that the compliments had nothing to do with me, that the words spoken were love-bombing to break my resistance down in order to make me more receptive to their doctrines.
But at the same time I thought they were friendly and considerate, how could they be wrong?
Emotionally this was extremely stressful. I tried to act flattered on the outside, while on the inside I was fighting it off. And I knew that I had to make my way out of the camp on Sunday night, or I would be in real danger.
▲ Your only contact with the world outside is through “The Only Place”, a form of mini-store in the main building.
As darkness fell over Maacama Hill I insisted that I had to go home that same evening. Ted tried to convince me to stay and had an increasingly hard time to hide the irritation that was behind his smile.
Then all of a sudden we were told that something was wrong with the car. So perhaps it was still best to go home tomorrow? And besides, it was getting dark outside. But I still demanded that I wanted to go home. Right away.
The tussle continued. Finally I had enough. I took Ted aside and told him that I knew who they really were, so unless they wanted me to start a scene in front of the other new recruits they should take me home. Now!
▲ My last photo from the camp. All are unaware that the car is working just fine and is about to leave for freedom in San Francisco. (Picture: private)
Suddenly it was urgent to get me out of there. I was no longer a potential member but rather a security threat. The car was ‘repaired’ in a flash. A Moonie followed me while I collected my belongings and then guided me directly to the waiting car. The atmosphere was awkward and I was not given the opportunity to say goodbye to anyone.
The Norwegian sister was not to be found in the camp, her brother and sister went back to Norway without her. I still don’t know what happened to her.
I found a German girl who had been missing in the cult for a few years. Her family were grateful for this sign of life.
For a while Ted kept trying to recruit me. One day, for instance, he showed up at my front door with a plate of freshly made chocolate chip cookies. He also invited me to one of their morning services in a typical townhouse in a suburb of San Francisco. It was like a regular worship service with hymns, prayers and a sermon. If only I had not known…
At the morning service, some 25 years ago, “Lean on me” was sung. This is a song I still can’t listen to without wondering what happened to the Norwegian girl.
“Lean on me” https://youtu.be/iZR4cVE0Htw
Ingo Michehl’s testimony
STATEMENT ABOUT MY EXPERIENCE WITH CARP, STUDENT BRANCH OF SUN MYUNG MOON’S UNIFICATION CHURCH
How I joined
In October 1986, after completing my high school back home in Germany, I decided to travel the United States for three weeks to evaluate universities and to visit my host family in Auburn, California, where I had been an exchange student for one year in 1982. After visiting them, I went to San Francisco to meet with one of my “host sisters”, and to then move on to Yosemite, Southern California, Florida and finally back home. (I had a “Welcome America” ticket which gave me four flights in the U.S.)
▲ Powell and Market Streets in San Francisco in the 1980s.
Having just arrived in San Francisco by Greyhound, I went to Powell and Market Streets to observe the famous turning of the cable cars. As I was standing there looking around, I was approached by two Japanese “students” (though as I found out later they were not students), one of them being a woman in her thirties by the name of Hitomi Kanepa, who, since her husband left the Unification Church, has resumed her maiden name Saito. She is most likely at the present still at the Unification Theological Seminary in Barrytown, New York. She and her companion, Yoshihisa (I believe his last name is Nozawa), smiled at me with a bright and loving smile which rendered me completely unsuspecting, and when they invited me for a “a cup of tea” at their “international student club”. I, considering myself an international student, accepted their invitation.
I was impressed by the luxurious location of this student club in a marble-walled office building, as well as by the people who seemed very energetic, bright, intelligent and … international. Steve Greene, a British man in his thirties, said that he had been involved in this student organization for about seven years doing volunteer work as a staff member. His altruistic ambition impressed me. He gave me a short lecture about the principles of “CARP” – their vision to unite students from all over based on the idea that truth is universal. Then I was invited to dinner at the “Bush Street Center”, where all of the participants were shown a slide show about a beautiful workshop site in Napa Valley (Camp K, later known as Maacama Hill) with many obviously excited, joyful young people of all nationalities. After dinner we sat together in small groups of 3 or 4. After joining CARP I learned that these groups were composed of 2 or 3 members and one “newcomer” – for the purpose of pushing the guest to go to workshop that night.
We were encouraged to join the workshop to meet international people, to exchange ideas and learn about this exciting new vision. Having been to many music, exchange-program and school-related workshops, I consented to sign up for a seven-day workshop, although it meant altering my travel plans. The high energy at the center, as well as my having been somewhat lonely after traveling by myself for about ten days, dispelled any doubts regarding this apparently harmless opportunity.
At no point was I told that this was part of Rev. Moon’s Unification Church, a religious organization, and that the purpose of the workshop was to recruit me as a full-time member of CARP, to serve the rest of my life for an average of 18 to 20 hours a day to further the cause of establishing a totalitarian theocracy under the leadership of the self-declared Messiah Sun Myung Moon.
I come from a well-protected, stable family background in Germany. My dad is an engineer, my mom is a loving housewife. I have never seen an illegal drug with my own eyes. I was rather naive and utterly unprepared for this kind of subtle and “loving” manipulation. Also, I had broken up with a girlfriend in Germany not too long before, which had left my heart shattered and vulnerable, starving for love.
▲ Three Camp K / Maacama Hill leaders.
In the camp, I was overwhelmed with the love I was shown by members. Everyone was serving each other, surprising each other with little “love bombs” (tokens of one’s affections such as secret notes of affirmation, etc.). I was to believe that is the ideal world family of true love – and I did. I did not notice that I was being isolated from the outside world. The schedule was rigidly regimented, including precise wake-up time, two 2-hour lectures in the morning, specific sports and game times in the afternoon, followed by two to three more lectures, sometimes until 8, 9 or even 10 PM at night. Having had a major in German and English literature in my German high school, and being by nature interested in philosophy and truth, I did not find it odd that we were being bombarded with all this one-sided information.
▲ Camp K / Maacama Hill group sharing
In retrospect, however, this procedure reminds me much of the “thought reform techniques” used on American prisoners in North Korea who were indoctrinated with communism and turned against their own country and its values by the communist regime during the Korean War.
I was deprived of information from the outside world as a frame of reference. And also the location of the workshop was in a remote area, there was no TV, no newspapers and telephone calls were only possible after getting permission and were highly discouraged.
I soon found myself fascinated and entangled with the doctrine, feeling compelled to stay by the message that upon continuous repetition I had unconsciously come to accept. I was unable to overcome the fear I had been indoctrinated with, i.e. the fear of betraying God and of being invaded and destroyed by satan if I left this “heavenly fortress” (or “bootcamp”) that, I had come to believe, protected me.
The fear I had been “injected” with, and my desire to serve God, were from then on often used to manipulate my decisions, to eliminate choices which did not serve the group’s purposes – thus undermining my own freedom of choice.
My leaders in California, including Mr. Aokie (regional director), Myra Stanaecki, and a woman named Jossenta, upon learning that I was scheduled to begin my civil service (the mandatory substitute for military service) in Germany by December 1, 1986, had a meeting, and rather than advising me to return home, told me that … “I should decide.” Since I had accepted their teaching, choosing the option of returning would have been equal to betraying God and committing spiritual suicide. As a freshly committed new member I would never opt for this choice – and they knew and relied on it.
All attempts by my father to reach me and to warn me, as well as to pressure the leadership of CARP to send me home to attend to my obligation in Germany, were blocked. Most of his messages did not get through to me. My father has kept all the records of phone calls with leaders in California, such as those to the people named above and to Tom Frohlich, which were kept secret from me. I was blocked from all negative information, and at the same time I was being programmed against my parents – that satan was using them to pull me out of the movement, to destroy my eternal spiritual life. My group leader at that time during 40-day actionizing) was Myra. She one day told me that my Dad had called and that I should call him back. But she also prepared me, saying that he might be very negative about the movement, and that my mother and brothers might also respond very emotionally and negatively against the movement – which is a normal form of persecution, since satan does not want us to do God’s Will. I did not believe my parents would not believe me that this is a legitimate group – but to my shock her “prophesy” proved 100% correct – which of course reinforced my faith in her judgment. I was numbed to the pain of my family and friends regarding my decision to evade the draft (which made me an outlaw in Germany) and to stay with the group in America.
After the seven day workshop it was expected that I would stay for the “formula course”: 21 day workshop, followed by 40-day actionizing, then for 3½ years of MFT (Mobile Fundraising Team – soliciting funds for the group by selling products such as “laser etchings”which were pictures engraved on aluminum foil), then 3½ years of witnessing … and then the rest of my life serving the group’s purposes in much the same ways. Of course I was “free to go (or run away)” – and betray God and True Parents!
Apart from inducing me to violate the law in my home country, I was also asked to join the MFT team and to break the American law by selling products without a permit, traveling from state to state, and soon to become an illegal alien when my visa expired. I was not the only illegal alien CARP entertained, working without wages for 18 to 22 hours per day, making an average of $200 to $300 per day. Most of the team members were foreigners (predominantly Japanese and European travelers who had been recruited during their vacations much as I had been.)
All 11 of us slept in a Ford van. We traveled at night and fundraised during the day. We heard of a few other teams who had serious accidents with even some people getting killed because “the driver had been invaded by satan”. What that usually meant was that the driver had fallen asleep behind the wheel. I met several members with severe health problems due to such accidents. And the medical care for them – as later for me when I developed back-problems due to carrying my 25 pound backpack day in and day out – was insufficient, if provided at all. How much more effective is it to have slaves working for you that don’t need ‘physical’ chains?!
Other illegal activities we were led to engage in through our leaders were such things as sleeping with 5 or 10 people in a one person bedroom (without paying the extra amount), sneaking into state parks to sleep there, use the showers and leave before they would open so we would not have to pay. All this was justified because according to Rev. Moon’s teaching, the end justifies the means – and we were working and living to help America and the World.
Rev. Moon himself once stated, upon being asked about “white lies” by a member, “If you tell a lie to make a person better, then that is not a sin. … Even God tells lies very often.” [Master Speaks: Rowlane Farmhouse, England, 1974] This may account for the practice of “heavenly deception” we were taught in order to accomplish the group’s goals. So when I later went to recruit new converts, I likewise hid the true identity of the group – “for the better of the newcomer” who would otherwise not join. The end justifies the means.
Another example of “Reverse Psychology”: My last leader, Mr. Tetsuo Yoshizumi in Chicago, once came to me after my not having completely followed one of his instructions. He stuck a few hundred dollars into my shirt pocket, pushed me and yelled “I don’t want you in my center any more! You are satan! Go back to Germany – with satan! NOW! Pack your stuff and GET OUT!”
I was shocked! If I obeyed his command I would be committing “spiritual suicide” We had been taught that upon leaving the church satan would invade us completely, he would destroy our family, cause us to become insane or die because of some horrible accident. At meetings we would continuously hear testimonies from leaders about members who would not “unite” with their leaders (called CF’s or Central Figures).
One story the regional director of Chicago, Rev. Hong, one of Mr. Moon’s first disciples, told us was that upon disuniting with his directions, a member’s child had just been born without any ears. Another disobedient member had developed cancer – satan’s punishment.
What would you have done in my situation if you had been indoctrinated with all these very real fears? Well, some part of me was rebellious, saying “OK! If all my work is not enough, and you really want me to leave – I’ll go!” However, another part of me, which was dominated by fear, guilt and low self-esteem which my leader had beaten into me (verbally as well as physically), was stronger. Consequently I lowered my head and said, “I repent! I’m sorry! I’ll never do it again!” But that was not enough! He wouldn’t accept it, telling me with an ice cold voice that I was insincere and arrogant – until I cried. Only after what seemed like an agonizing eternity he showed “mercy” and accepted my repentance “one last time! The next time you know what will happen!” He gave me a fasting condition (I believe it was a three day water-fast. At other times it had been 40 hours or even seven days of fasting to repent and separate from satan.
Another time I was just about to do my two hours of prayer conditions which would be finished at about 2 AM – when he told me through his assistant that I had to add another two hour repentance prayer because of some goal I had not accomplished. He added with emphasis that if I “failed”, that is if I fell asleep for even one minute, I would have to do it over again until I succeeded. So, feeling almost dead, I finished at 4 AM that night – only to rise as usual at 6:20 AM for the standard morning service, during which we would be expected to pray with a loud voice. He would listen, and if our prayer was not deep or loud enough, he would rebuke us and make us do it over again.
Perhaps due to my exceptionally high fundraising average, I “graduated” early from MFT, and was sent to Chicago at the beginning of 1989 to witness, that is to recruit new members, at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). After flying to Germany for a very short time to get a new visa, I was enrolled in language school so I could get a student visa. Although I had been promised that I would be able to study, I was later only allowed to enroll at a junior college to take easy, non-time consuming classes in order to maintain my visa. I was made to feel guilty for even spending this time of studying “for myself”, instead of my “public mission”. I was not allowed to pursue a degree, and finally I had to drop school when my leader felt I was spending too much time there.
Each of the foreign CARP members had mailed in 200 applications for the green card lottery, and I had won a green card. Yet, because my German passport had expired and I could not get a new one without returning to Germany, my leader, Mr. Yoshizumi, forbid me to go, saying that I had made some “bad condition” again. It was more likely he knew that I would have to deal with the German government which was still looking for me since I evaded the draft, and that would mean my parents and friends might eventually have gotten a hold of me.
This happened in the spring of 1992. During my stay in Chicago I had to visit a chiropractor for a while because of the severe back problems I had developed during MFT – which I am still struggling with today. Again I was made feel guilty for “wasting public time” and “enjoying the massages while brothers and sisters were working so hard for God’s Providence”. I stopped going. Besides witnessing all day and preparing lectures until 2 AM during the week, I still had to fundraise each weekend, selling pictures from Friday to Saturday. Also I had to sell flowers each Holiday, regardless of the temperature. On Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve our flowers, the water in which they were standing became frozen solid. It’s amazing to me that despite the insufficient clothing we only got stiff faces and extremities instead of frost bite. The wind in Chicago gets VERY cold. Since I was a top fundraiser I was fortunate enough to have my own vehicle in which I hid when the weather got too terrible.
On New Year’s ’93 I was “blitzing”, selling flowers bar to bar in Chicago with my Central Figure who was driving the van. He dropped me off at different locations. I could not go back until I had sold out both buckets of flowers that remained – which took me until 4 AM. I remember the empty and sad feeling walking out of a bar I had just gotten kicked out of when I heard the popping of champagne bottles and joyful congratulations when the clock turned to 12 AM and the new year began. I walked outside and … cried. I felt so lonely and homesick, full of despair and crushed. But as so often I caught myself and redetermined to accomplish my goal … for God and True Parents. After all, I was sacrificing myself for the sake of the world.
How I left
Having been in Chicago for over three years, I was still having a very difficult time with my leader, Mr. Yoshizumi. I often could not understand his broken English and because I still included my own ideas in trying to accomplish his directions. I could not “deny myself completely” and I still had a spark of self-esteem left, which to him was arrogance. The weekend of Easter ’93, April 9-11, I again had to sell flowers on my usual pitch in South Chicago Heights. However, on Easter Sunday I also had to travel to Quincy, IL, about 6 hours Southwest of Chicago, to conduct a meeting for the network marketing mission I was pioneering. I had planned it several weeks ahead, but the night before, my leader told me that I could only go if I sold out all my flowers except for $20 or $30. So I “blitzed” the bars until about 4:30 AM Sunday morning, trying to sell my last few bunches. Knowing that I had to be in Quincy by 1 PM I stopped, because I knew that I needed at the very least two hours of sleep to be able to drive the 6 hours non-stop. So I distributed the last few bunches to the other team members’ buckets, took a nap from about 5 to 7 pm and left. I conducted the meeting in Quincy, slept for about an hour there and returned late at night – only to get up at 6:20 again the next morning, Monday.
As I was washing up after morning service, Mr. Yoshizumi suddenly was standing in the bathroom. He scolded me for disobeying his orders. “WHY did you disobey my order? I TOLD you you could only leave if you sold all flowers! But you distributed some to the other members!” He hit me and pushed me twice. Each time I fell with my back against a sharp, protruding corner of the bathroom wall. I was devastated, too weak and tired to even think. I was angry inside but I pushed it aside. I blocked it out of my mind. It was simply too much to take. Again I had to fast and repent. A day or two later I could hardly walk or breathe because of intense chest pain. Each step hurt tremendously, even each bump in the road I hit while driving the car. But I had to continue to make my appointments and fulfill my mission.
As my pain got worse and I began to feel cold and miserable, I called a Filipino doctor friend of mine, Dr. Juliet Dumlao, whom I had become acquainted with while fundraising. As I described my symptoms to her over the phone, she was very worried and said I should go to a hospital immediately because I might have had a heart attack. At the time I did not connect my symptoms at all with being pushed against the wall. I couldn’t do that, I replied (because of my mission work), so she ordered me with a doctor’s authority to at least go to bed. I said OK – but knowing my leader I did not do so until 10 PM, after finishing the most important tasks. Nevertheless, when he learned of my early return he ordered me to his office. I said I could not come because I was having cold sweat and I was very weak, but his assistant, Mr. Yone, insisted. So I dragged myself to his room and explained my pain and my conversation with the doctor. He was furious. “How come you are so incredibly selfish? You don’t care about our spiritual children you are killing every day (which meant that I couldn’t “save” or convert them through my lectures) – but you call a doctor for yourself!” He yelled and screamed at me but I was so sick I could only stand there and receive it. When he finally felt it was enough he graciously permitted me to rest some the next day.
All this was still not enough to make me leave, since my commitment was not to any person, but to God and the truth. I could only leave if I came to believe that the Divine Principle, the teaching of the Unification Church, was not the truth, and that Rev. Moon was not the Messiah. Thank God, this lifesaving information was finally supplied by a Christian engineering student at the UIC campus. I met him when I was distributing flyers, and on our first appointment on April 20th and in following meetings he pointed out to me that the DP is in clear contradiction to the Bible. Finally I came to realize that the DP could not be the truth, since, because we believed in the Bible as a revelation from God, He cannot contradict himself with a later revelation.
I left on Mother’s Day, May 9th, after selling out over $2,000 of roses as my last commitment to the church. Lesly, whom I had informed about my intention to leave and had asked for a place to stay, was able to oblige, so I stayed with him for a few days. However, because I was still coughing, we went to the Lawndale Christian Health Center in Chicago. I was worried that I might have picked up a tuberculosis virus. The test turned out negative, but when the doctor did an x-ray, he noticed that my left lung was collapsed to almost 20%, which was at the border of being fatal. He said, if I was lucky it would reinflate by itself, but if it had been more than 20%, I could have died. Puzzled about the cause he asked if I had had any trauma to my back recently. At first I denied this, but when he illustrated his hypothesis, I realized that I had indeed received a trauma injury recently, which I had completely blocked out of my mind. It was the incident in the bathroom when my leader had pushed me!
Since the incident had already happened almost a month previous, the deflation may well have been over 20% at the time. He said that I should wait for about 10 days. If it did not reinflate by itself by that time, he would need to introduce a hose through the back to suck the air out and reinflate the lung. I was terrified, but fortunately it DID reinflate.
Back in Germany, the prosecution against me was still under way, but thanks to indescribable efforts on part of my dad, the government finally dropped the draft and I only had to pay a $1,500 fine … on top of the approximately $15,000 to $20,000 my dad had spent in lawyer’s expenses and phone calls, etc.!
Summary of some of the unethical practices I experienced during my time in CARP/the Unification Church:
a) Fraud – The deceptive, manipulative tactics of recruitment, including mind control, used to get and keep me in the group and the hiding of the true identity and religious nature of the group. This cost me the loss of seven of the most important years of my life, during which I could neither get a proper education nor earn any money for my future family.
b) Assault, personal injury and mental cruelty – such as the bathroom incident, etc.
c) Health problems as consequence of rigorous fundraising requirements: back problems (lower back pain, worsened scoliosis), extreme tension headaches, sleep disturbances. I almost died after my pneumo-thorax condition because, like several other members I know of, I was forbidden to see a doctor.
Tetsuo Yoshizumi (my leader in CARP who assaulted me)
Unification Theological Seminary , Barrytown, NY 12507 (his last address; I was instructed to use his name to do the network marketing business)
Jim McAuley, M.D. (the doctor who examined me)
Lawndale Christian Health Center , 3860 W. Ogden Ave. Chicago, IL 60623
Juliet M. Dumlao, M.D. (the Filipino doctor) 1159 Westgate , Oak Park, IL 60301
Note 1. I still have the copies of my x-rays which show the partial lung collapse, and the doctor at the Christian health center, as well as Dr. Dumlao should be able to verify my claims. (Dr. Dumlao was the doctor I first called when I could hardly walk due to the pain in my chest – a day after the incident where I was pushed against the wall.)
Note 2. The “Women’s Federation for World Peace” is founded and headed by Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon, Mr. Sun Myung Moon’s wife. Although to the public it is declared as being “separate” from the Unification Church, inside the group it is viewed as the same. It is a means through which to recruit new members and gain public respect. According to speeches of Mr. Moon it is OK to lie to the public because “the end justifies the means.” A practice known as “Heavenly Deception.”
For more info write to me at: Am Boelt 8, 48527 Norhorn, Germany
Ingo Michehl has a website:
A Threat to Democracy, Freedom …and Families
by Ingo Michehl, M.Ed. (C. Psychology)
To the public, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon tries to appear as a benevolent, conservative religious man. What few people know or take serious is that he and his wife claim to be the “True Parents of mankind,” the “Return of Christ,” that his goal is to take over the world, that living as a core member of his Unification Church is a type of modern day slavery, and that families whose loved ones have joined the church live in agony and terror, because they are hardly ever allowed to see their loved ones and because they are often threatened that all contact will be cut off if they speak negatively about the church!!!
In October, 1986, I was deceptively recruited by CARP, student branch of the Unification Church. As most former members, who were finally able to free themselves from the manipulative influence of the group, I now am convinced that it is a dangerous, destructive cult.
I was a dedicated core member of CARP from 1986 to ’93. I initially was invited to a cup of tea at an “international student club” by two Japanese “students” in San Francisco. A cup of tea that was to cost me 6 ½ years of my youth, and my family a mountain of emotional and financial resources.
Through a well designed array of deceptive recruiting and manipulative indoctrination techniques I was systematically stripped of my critical thinking abilities and transformed from a liberal agnostic to an extremist right wing religious fanatic …within a matter of weeks. I was made to stay illegally in the US, to illegally sell pictures and flowers to raise money – even at subzero temperatures, living with 11 people in a Ford van – without pay, social or medical insurance. I worked 18 to 20 hours on average, 7 days a week, 360 days a year, not allowed to see my family and friends. Imagine spending seven Christmas evenings alone on a cold, lonely street corner selling flowers or pictures. My leader even forbid me to attend a church service with the argument “you’re not a Christian!” – I remember sitting in the basement at night crying as my heart was breaking over the pain of loneliness and missing my parents and friends. Another member came down … and couldn’t even relate. Of course you were supposed to relate those sort of feelings to the loneliness of “Father” and “Mother” Moon…
Through lucky circumstances I was able to snap out of the mindset and leave …after 6½ years, and after having illegally raised over $600,000 for the group.
I wrote these pages to share about my experiences – and those of others – and to provide a resource for people to form their own opinion. Please investigate thoroughly before lending your name and thus support to this organization. Critics and specialists in the field believe Mr. Moon to be a dangerous cult leader on a quest for absolute power.
My experiences may be different from the perceptions of present members – but they coincide with reports and feedback I frequently get from other former members.
- ARTICLES REGARDING THE MASS WEDDING ON November 29, 1997 in WASHINGTON, D.C.
1. The Dark Side of Rev. Moon
2. “Blessing” ceremony in DC
- What the “blessing” REALLY does to people’s lives:
e-mail from a child in Scotland
- Social / Public Interest
- Deutsche Seiten
- FEEDBACK FORM
- Other Resources / Hot Links
For questions or feedback you may send me an e-mail at:
(PLEASE read my website before asking for more information)
The Social Organization of Recruitment in the Unification Church PDF
by David Frank Taylor, M.A., July 1978, Sociology
Moonwebs by Josh Freed (the book was made into a movie)
Ford Greene – the former Moonie became an attorney
Crazy for God: The nightmare of cult life by Christopher Edwards
Mitchell was lucky – he got away from the Unification Church
My Time with the Oakland Family Moonies – by Peter from New Zealand
Resources for Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships
‘Misunderstanding Cults’ book
– Introduction and chapters by Benjamin Beit-Hallami and by Benjamin Zablocki