How Well Do You Know Your Moon blog got this in their ‘ask’ box:
“I’m a second generation member from Australia, and I’m currently questioning the beliefs and customs of the FFWPU / Unification Church. I just wanted to ask, when you left the church, did you feel scared at all? Did the thought of ‘what if all they taught was right’ ever cross your mind? I’m currently stuck between leaving the church or staying, and am currently exploring other more ‘normal’ religions. Many thanks.”
I decided to share this with some other second generation who left the church and here are some of their responses:
I legitimately wondered if I was going to get struck by lightening or run over by a car for the first year or so. My mom had had a spiritual child that left and then drowned a few months later, so as a kid she drilled into me that that’s what happens when you leave. Plus I was terrified to tell people about where I “came from” because I thought I would be judged or thrown out – like in so many establishments while fundraising on STF (Special Task Force) – so it took me a long time to develop my family of choice.
When I was younger I had told my parents that I wanted to explore other religions, and they all but forbid me from doing it. They explained that since they knew that following the church was the right path, there was no point in me exploring others. My response was, “Well if it’s right, then there’s no harm in looking elsewhere, because I’ll obviously find my way back,” but they wouldn’t have it. Whether out of fear or just plain stubbornness I still don’t know. To me that is evidence of the total control the church exerts over its members. It forbids them to have empathy or open-mindedness, and it prevents them from experiencing all the goodness this world has to offer.
The Divine Principle teaches that the purpose of life is to attain happiness, and I was anything but happy in the church. Yes I terrified for months before and after I “left,” although I can’t pinpoint an exact event or time. It was more of a series of lifestyle changes that gradually brought me away, but also made me happier and improved my quality of life. As things got better, my fear eventually subsided. My advice? Go explore! Committing to a life of faith is a big decision and should be taken seriously. Land in a place where you are comfortable to be free, express yourself, and explore your unique potential.
I always come back to this answer to the original question: ‘If your parents got to choose their own faith that their parents probably didn’t agree with, why can’t you?’ Isn’t that part of growing? Would they have discovered the UC if they didn’t explore other religions, different from their own parents’?
Also the “pure blood lineage” scenario runs through some sects of the Jewish, Muslim, and basically Judeo-Christian teachings, so the UC is not special in that sense. That’s how the church kept me in fear of disbanding. It’s a false-privileged old way of controlling someone, and it’s the very definition of conditional love.
I would let this person know that practically all of second gens I know have left the church, because we found that the world is bigger than the narrow confines of the UC. It’s okay to question things just like Martin Luther did with starting the Protestant Church, and Rev. Moon did with the UC, and what the Pope is doing right now.
Something I find comfort in is the idea that good people are good people, that goodness is goodness, regardless of affiliation or belief. It’s your character and your actions that matter, that determine the quality of your life and the impact you can have on the world, much more than your creed. Even the DP teaches that people with good hearts are the ones actually closest to God, rather than “whitewashed tombs” of people who claim the truth. Even if it turns out that you’re “wrong” in what side of the fence you decide to jump down on, it doesn’t really matter as long as you live your life well. It’s hard to know or sure what’s true. We just have to do our best with whatever knowledge and certainty we do have. If there is a Heaven, I think all the people who are truly loving, generous, and courageous are the ones who will end up there – be they atheists, Hindus, Mormons, or even Unificationists.
From a young age, I knew the cost of being a Unificationist was big, especially if you really believed in it. I’m not one to half-ass anything, and if Moon was the messiah, I wanted to get matched by him, do at least two years of STF, convert all my friends, make the Divine Principle known, create a perfect heteronormative family under the reign of Cheon Il Guk, and pay indemnity for my Japanese sins.
But for some reason, I was always suspicious of it all. I felt like I didn’t have enough reasons to believe. I would do conditions of 210 bows for 40 days, cold showers, fasting, etc., to receive an undeniable confirmation that Moon was truly the Lord of the Second Advent, like the myths we heard from early UC history. Nothing ever came. What kept me in for so long was the fact that I never experienced a love like I did among church members. That was my testimony and the reason I put my faith in Moon.
Eventually, when I discovered the atrocities done in the name of Moon and by Moon, especially after I read Nansook Hong’s book “In the Shadow of the Moons” I knew I couldn’t stay much longer. I was scared of leaving because of my parents, of course, but also because I thought I’d never have friends like I did in the UC. We constantly heard that rhetoric that friendships outside the Church are pointless and what BCs ‘Blessed Children’ share is unique, etc. After I left, though, I developed deeper friendships than I had in the church. I had friends who loved me no matter what my views on spirituality were and loved me when I fucked up and I found out what true love—that unconditional love we were told about at camp—was really about.
I somehow ended up forming convictions in God, Jesus, etc., that I couldn’t ignore, and despite my cynicism and fear of organized religion, I ended up in a progressive Christian community that could support me in my faith (and me with theirs) and live out these convictions presented by Jesus together.
All that to say, it may be really hard leaving, but it will be worth it. Explore your convictions, your ideas, and be the best you. It fucks with Moonies’ heads when they see somebody so clearly living out true love and not buying into their crap—and outright rejecting it.
First I would tell he or she that “religion” should not be perceived as a social group that one just joins. Even though, that’s basically what it is on the surface. You should look deeper inside yourself. Find something you truly believe in. For me it’s God. I’m not religious. I’m spiritual. Which is something all religions can help you discover within your self. But you should not have to need/depend on a religious group to find/keep your spirituality. I mean that’s just my perspective. Just be an open person. Be infinite. Take everything in. And live your life. I was horrified at the beginning. But then you’re just free. And that’s awesome.
I was afraid whenever I’d go against the church’s rules, but I found that more often than not I wouldn’t feel the repercussions of sin that were promised. The more I went against the church, ultimately the less afraid I became. There was a lot of questioning and doubt, I certainly wondered what would happen to me, and what if they were right. I think it’s good to seek out truth for yourself. Ultimately if you find the church is your answer then you can go back. They’re desperate for more members anyway.
While I was questioning my beliefs, I felt a lot of shame and guilt about being ungrateful for ‘True Parents’, and doubting them so much. I feared God would be disappointed in my lack of faith. But the more evidence I found that the faith itself was inconsistent and false, the more boldly I was able to think for myself and discover who I am. It’s terrifying at first to think that everyone you know and all the adults you’ve looked up to are wrong. But it also gives you freedom, when you can ascertain your own beliefs instead of just checking in with what “Father says”.
There are a million and one religions that purport that they are “right” and “the one”. I don’t think God (if you believe in God) would screw the rest of the groups based on what religion they belong to or what specific traditions they encourage, but rather the love we offer to others. Isn’t that unconditional love?
For me leaving the church was a very big deal. I would say that the fear was more to do with losing something I had invested my time, energy and person into. Eventually the cognitive dissonance becomes too strong and the overwhelming conclusion that what the UC teaches is not true just becomes your new normal. The process is real, it takes time though. Joining other religions can help as a kind of a ‘step down’. I’ve explored a few Christian churches and found that in some circles, having been part of another religion that I believed in and left, has made me far more skeptical than most of the congregation. In others I’ve met people who have had a similar journey from conservative faith into something more complex (and liberal).
Not so much fear for me. Maybe little fleeting twinges of it early on. But it was a slower transition and more gradual over time which I’m sure made it easier. Two points to remember:
1) I’ve never seriously considered that I could permanently lose my relationship with my mother. We’re related by blood. We disagree at times, but if anything threatened my life. She’d only be closer to me, no matter what had divided us. She’s my mother. She loves me. How much more would that apply to my father in heaven. Who not only gave me physical life, but a spiritual nature as well.
2) Would it make sense, if you invested in my business, that I would tell you… “Don’t trust information from anyone else but me. Because only my information will help you understand my stock and make the right choice about investing in it. The more you trust my information, and ignore all other information, the better financial decisions you will make!”
That doesn’t work for ANYTHING you can name in life! The more diverse information you receive, the more thoroughly you will understand something, and the better decisions you will then make.
So why is it that the ones who claim to have the highest, most important truth want to prohibit you from getting information from anyone but them? What are they afraid of?
People that have FACTS on their side, never fear any information that would seem to contradict them, because if they have enough facts on their side, they can easily handle any challenge offered.
But the UC fears such challenges, and wants you to believe that being fully informed is even “evil” and can undermine the supposed greatest truth there is! But that is ridiculous of course, seeing as how, in ANY question in life—finances, house purchasing, medical issues, intimate relationships, science… ANYTHING… the more informed I am, the more thoroughly I understand something, the more I can make the best informed decision!
I, too, was afraid of becoming an apostate.
I had been raised under the belief that Sun Myung Moon was the Messiah since the age of nine. I hardly knew any other life outside of the faith, aside from Catholicism. I was taught, as you were taught, that Moon and his wife were the “True Parents”, an invaluable gift for mankind’s salvation. We were given a rare opportunity not to reject God’s messenger as other generations had. To finally bring about Heavenly Father’s Kingdom On Earth, the Cheong Il Guk. We have yet to see that ideal world we were promised, and I’m sure you know that many divisions have arisen in the Church since Moon’s death over how best to realize this ideal.
What I’m not going to tell you is whether to stay or leave the Church. That’s a decision, I believe, you should have to make for yourself. I don’t know about you, but I feared that leaving the Church, Heavenly Father’s gift, would bring me into the arms of Satan. Much of my motivation for staying, then, was based on this fear of turning away from God, as the Church understood him. If it is guilt or fear that is keeping you tied to the Church, then you must ask yourself, are these the emotions I want to commit me to this belief system? Is such a mindset healthy? Yes, I was afraid, but if I was going to dedicate the rest of my life to following Moon, it had to be because my heart wanted to do it. Otherwise, if I couldn’t commit fully, why commit to the doctrine at all?
I had recently taken a critical thinking class in college, and I began to apply the reasoning of the scientific method to my beliefs in the Church. This basically amounted to weighing the arguments for and against Moon’s messianic authority, then deciding for myself which ones made more sense, which ones seemed to carry more weight. In my research, I found that others like Nansook Hong, Steve Hassan, Donna Orme Collins, and Un Jin Moon had left the Church, to no notable Satanic horrors. In other words, it became apparent that one could leave Unificationism and very well get along with life relatively unharmed. Recognizing that these fears of Satanic seizure had been greatly exaggerated, will grant you a clearer head in making the decision whether or not to keep following Moon.
There are other exercises I’d recommend for you. One would be to look at the claims Moon makes for himself and then look at his behavior. Does Moon’s behavior seem consistent with his claims, the claims of a moral messianic leader? I’d also ask you to read the Bible, if you haven’t already, since Moon claims to follow in the Biblical tradition. Though I’d ask that you read the Bible on its own terms, ignoring any interpretations of it made by Moon’s Divine Principle. Is what is written in the Bible, particularly those teachings of Christ, consistent with what the Principle teaches, or how Moon has lived his life? While we’re on the topic of the Principle, has anything in that book ever made you uncomfortable on an ethical level? If so, ask yourself why. Do the ends ever justify the means in the Principle? If so, what reasons are given to justify those ends? Do these reasons seem to come more out of moral necessity that considers the individual in pursuit of the goal, or do these reasons feel more like rationalizations that privilege the goal over the individual? What sounds more just to you?
As you know, there are people other than Unificationists who have been able to lead morally fulfilling lives. You may have been taught that they belong to the “fallen world”. Ask yourself if the “fallen world” is really as terrible as you had been lead to believe. No doubt, people outside of the Church can do bad things, but are not people inside of the Church also capable of committing similar behaviors? If so, ask yourself what really differentiates a person in the Church from a person outside of it. If it is possible to lead a moral and even a religious life outside of Moon’s teachings, then seriously consider what it is about a belief in Moon that cannot be grasped elsewhere.
Do not be afraid to investigate cherished ideologies and dogmas, religious or secular, in accordance with the scientific method. And like Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, two of the founders of the United States, you must follow reason wherever it may lead. In this commitment there may be a struggle, but the fruits of clarity you will receive, I think, are worth any personal cost. It is better to believe what you believe because it is consistent with your own common sense, than to believe it out of a blind obligation to tradition or sentimentality. I’ll leave you now with the words of Christ, and I pray that you’ll make a decision that best suits your own conscience.
“You will know the truth, and truth will set you free.”
Joseph Nikolas Erobha
Reposted from his blog:
“When I was a Moonie I didn’t feel free, I felt burdened beyond endurance by indemnity. Indemnity is anti God because it is anti unconditional love. Indemnity says you must pay for salvation, yours and everyone else’s, including dead people’s salvation. Indemnity totally and completely ignores God’s unconditional love and mercy which is given freely from profound unconditional parental love.”
My advice on leaving the FFWPU or Unification Church
I was never a true believer in the Unification Church. Don’t get me wrong, I was extremely religious. I went to youth group, attended plenty of workshops throughout the US and abroad, made sure to start off each day with morning Hoon Dok Hae, did conditions, fundraised, and I even taught the Divine Principle. My greatest desire was to be a true believer. The thing is… it never felt right. I loved Rev. Moon and I found the Divine Principle to be extremely logical, but that didn’t mean he was the messiah nor did it mean the Divine Principle was true. I prayed, I fasted, I studied, I took cold showers, I witnessed, I helped the youth in the Church… yet none of this made Moon’s claims true to me. This odd conviction of Moon not being the messiah constantly weighed on my heart.
One day I finally took a step back to look at the Church. I put down the pressure of my friends and family and this odd relationship I believed I had with Rev. Moon and I just looked at the Unification Church for what it was. It was then when I realized what a mess I was in. It took a long time to find peace with the Unification Church and to find out who I was. The pain of realizing my own deception was excruciating. During these days of doubt and departure I was told the following by friends, family, and church elders:
- “It’s a spiritual thing. Evil Spirit World is attacking God’s precious Blessed Children.”
- “You need to improve your relationship with your parents. Your lack of obedience with them is disturbing your vertical connection.”
- “Are you on drugs?”
- “Did you ‘fall’?”
- “You want to leave because you are guilty of your sins. You have to deal with them eventually.”
- “You don’t have a deep understanding of the Divine Principle.”
I had a lot of bogus spiritual advice and accusations. What I really needed at the time was advice, guidance, and conversation with those who were in similar positions. I did not know at the time, but plenty of people were in the same position. Here are some words of “wisdom” for any BC who desires to leave the church.
- Have friends. Do not avoid having close relationships with “outsiders” and MAKE FRIENDS. A lot of BCs have a supremacist view of BCs even after losing faith. The truth is, you can have a relationship with just as much depth with a non-BC then with a BC. I am puzzled by how many who let go of the UC belief system but continue to drown themselves in UC culture and limit their friendships with non-believers. It is true that it is easier to make friends with other UC members because of our similar backgrounds but you are limiting yourself if you only expose yourself to and acquaint yourself with a single culture/social circle. Making friends outside the UC will help tear down your fears and anxieties of the “outside world”, open your mind and force you to re-examine your understandings and ideas, and give you the strength to take a step outside the UC. Plus, there are a lot of cool people who are not in the UC. Please do not limit your social life to a bunch of half-Asian people who know the meaning of ansu and indemnity.
- Value your experiences in the UC. You were raised in it and there is nothing you can do about that now. Maybe you did a few years of STF, a couple 40 Days in Cheongpyeong, had a broken blessing, and never got around to getting a girlfriend in high school… do not let those experiences of pain sour your existence but instead let these experience enrich your life. Pull value out of your experiences and do not let resentment consume your life. It is great to be passionate against the UC–I sure as hell am–but do not let this passion get in the way of effectively exposing the UC for what it is. Contribute an article to HWDYKYM, join the Ex-Moonies group on facebook, have an honest conversation with a BC friend–share your experiences and use it to edify others. Your desire to work against the UC should not be solely out of a raging hatred of the UC but also out of a desire to help others not be deceived like you were and help others get out of that deception.
- Treat members with respect. Even if they can be illogical and can frustrate you, deal with it because you were there once too. Do not become self-righteous and begin to believe you are at all better than members of the UC. The UC is extremely deceptive and the nature of man is extremely weak. Be understanding. Be loving. Be compassionate. Do not maintain friendships with BCs in order to be an activist. Your conversations with BC friends should not just be about how hypocritical Moon’s affairs were or how corrupt the Church can be. They are still your friends and they are still people. Have respect for your fellow man.
- Understand why you do not believe in Moon. I am not asking you to spend hours doing research every day on UC History and the errors of the Divine Principle. Before really cutting ties with the UC, though, I would encourage you to understand why Reverend Moon cannot possibly be the Messiah. Maybe you should pick up the Divine Principle and read through it fully. When I came out as a non-believer my parents asked me to re-read the DP. I did so with much hesitance but as I read through it I realized how incompatible it was with Moon’s lifestyle of sexual affairs and corrupt politics. I had a fuller understanding of why I could never believe in Rev. Moon or Unificationist theology. Know why you do not believe in Rev. Moon so you can confidently walk out and so you can defend your beliefs when criticized by your family and other believers.
- There are others in your position. You are not alone. There are plenty of BCs who have shaky beliefs or are in the UC out of fear and pressure. There are plenty of BCs in the closet with their own doubts and unbelief. There are plenty of people to talk to and share your experiences with. Those BCs who aren’t really hardcore or flaunt their faith in True Parents at workshops are usually closeted nonbelievers. Open up with a friend who may be in that position. Plus, there are plenty of outlets on the internet to connect to freethinkers who were at one point associated with the UC.
Basically, find out what you believe, live your own life, value your past, get connected to other non-believing BCs, and open up your world to those you considered “outsiders”. Leaving may seem impossible but believe me when I say it is not. And when you’re cut off from the legalistic belief system and the pressure of the Movement, you will feel freedom.
An Open Letter to the Unification Church from a former 2nd Gen.
Dear UC / FFWPU,
The other day I was visiting some childhood friends who also grew up “blessed children.” We realized that if the Unification Church had actually practiced “true love”, embodied God’s love and compassion, and created truly kind individuals, we would probably still believe. But we didn’t encounter that God of love we heard so many speeches about while in the FFWPU. In fact, we encountered the opposite. We encountered a God who shames and punishes his children, a love with countless conditions, and a toxic culture that is constantly creating an “us vs them” dichotomy.
There was no room for those who were politically liberal, LGBT or gender nonconforming, or questioning their faith – and authenticity was hard to find.
We may have been drawn to the UC in the 70s, because many of us are also idealists with big hearts. Perhaps we’d fall in love with the communities of faith that existed in the early UC, and perhaps we’d find individuals with a love for God, a love for people, and ideals and visions that could rock the world.
But that was a faded reality by the time we came around. All talk of peace was for PR. BCs were constantly shamed, and members constantly used. There were remnants of what the First Generation encountered, but that was despite the Church, not because of it.
We left the UC / FFWPU because we could not find that Love we heard about. We were sorely disappointed, and we were unable to muster any faith in this thing. Believe us, we tried. We prayed, fasted, sought answers from elders, took cold showers, went to Cheongpyeong – but everything only confirmed something we knew in our hearts: this movement was not of God. All that was of God among us was despite the movement, not because of it.
We’re gone because you pushed us out. You made no room for us. You didn’t even attempt to live out that new truth you claimed changed your life. You were more focused on promoting and protecting your clan, and preserving and enforcing a questionable moral code, and glorifying a single man.
We were not blessed families. We were cursed.
A Former 2nd Gen, and supposedly a “blessed child”.
“The essence of the liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment. This is the way opinions are held in science, as opposed to the way in which they are held in theology.”
– Bertrand Russell, “Philosophy and Politics” 1950
Jordan Peterson – Reality and the sacred (56 minute video)
Introductory lecture by Jordan Peterson (University of Toronto) on the topic of psychology. In his lecture entitled Reality and the Sacred, psychology professor, Jordan Peterson, explores the human search for meaning in a chaotic world and how our perceptions and beliefs shape our sense of reality.
This public lecture, recorded by TVO, describes the way the world is portrayed in deep stories, such as myths and religious representations. The world in such stories is a place of action, not a place of things, and it has its archetypal characters, positive and negative. Culture is typically represented as paternal, nature as maternal, and the individual as hero and adversary. Culture offers people security, but threatens them with tyranny. Nature offers renewal, but also brings death. The religious path of meaning allows people to negotiate this archetypal landscape.
wow this is one of the best Youtube videos I’ve ever seen. I was at the University of Toronto when he made this speech, going through hard times. It feels strange knowing how much this would have helped me as a young undergrad.
I learned more about my depression and what I can do about it listening to this than anything I’ve learned during the years I’ve suffered from it. Thank you