Episode 166: The Moonies: The Cult that Unified the World

This episode is brought to you by El Yucateco

On this episode of the Sofa King Podcast, we talk about one of the largest religious cults in the world: The Moonies. Officially called the Unification Church, this massive group was founded by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon in Korea in the 1950s. It has grown to be one of the largest fringe religious groups in the world, with some estimates of 7 million followers at its height. As with all such groups, however, it comes along with a healthy dose of brainwashing, money hoarding, and a leader who claims to be the replacement for Jesus Christ on earth.

Sun Myung Moon was born in Korea in 1920 and survived the Japanese occupation of the country, the Soviet Occupation of the country, the Korean War, and a prison labor camp. He came out of all of it as a strong and charismatic religious figure. It helped of course that when he was only a teenager, Jesus Christ came to him and told him he was destined to finish the work that Christ couldn’t complete!

What was that work, exactly? It was unifying the people of earth to avoid World War Three and populate the planet with happy families and children. The Moonies do this work by marrying each other. A lot. Moon has hosted “Blessing Ceremonies,” in which he marries couples. His first one had 36 couples, but he didn’t stop there. He held one for 2000 couples, one for 6500, and stepped up his game to 30,000 couples in New York. And as late as 2009, he married 45,000 in a global ceremony. These are all arranged (read: forced?) marriages in which the couples don’t even know each other and are often from countries that normally hate each other.

What’s more impressive than the marriages, however, are the deep financial holdings of the church and Reverend Moon. He owns North Korea’s only car company, a pharmaceutical company, a US gun company, and several major newspapers. Oh, and do you like Sushi? If so, you are eating Moonie food since they control the market of 75% of all raw fish sold in the US and own the majority of sushi restaurants.

So, even though this cult doesn’t try to send people to magical comets or force people to drink poisoned Kool Aid, they are massive and somehow stay under the radar in spite of their enormous wealth and massive population. If you like cults, fringe religions, corporate corruption, and mind control, this episode has it all!

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