Comments: 132 • Responses: 31  • Date: 

Tlali2285 karma

Silly little question, but....

I was approached by a moonie when I lived in South Korea. She showed me this video of majestic looking animals with a voiceover.

There were lines like "Dolphins: children of the sea." and "Penguins: the gentlemen of the arctic."

Do you remember ever seeing a video like that? It was definitely memorable! 🤣

Pandamabear34 karma

That does sound adorable, alas, I don't remember it!

DigaLaVerdad40 karma

Did Abe support the church? Was he ever a member?

Pandamabear80 karma

There's no evidence Abe was ever a member, but plenty that he supported the church. Just last year, for example, he recorded a congratulatory message to one of the Unification Church's organizations. But you can check out this article that goes into detail on Abe's connections, that he actually inherited from his grandfather who was also connected to Sun Myung Moon, the church's founder.

rotatingruhnama36 karma

Why did you leave the church?

Pandamabear127 karma

Without going into too much detail, I noticed a lot of hypocrisies among the leadership of the church. For example, sexual purity is one of the core tenets of the church. You're not supposed to have sex before marriage, or even kiss/hold hands, and divorce is extremely frowned upon. Yet the founder, Sun Myung Moon, had multiple wives and children out of wedlock, not to mention the sex ceremonies that happened very early on in their history.

fatalkilers22 karma

Did you just walk free from it, or do you have to pay a "price" to leave?

Pandamabear124 karma

My experience is not necessarily representative of everyone who has left this cult, but in my case, the price was losing a lot of friends, the disappointment I experiened from my parents, and the complete loss of the worldview I had used to navigate the world up until that point in my life ( I was 19 years old). Many people who are in a cult and leave, either come back or join a different one. You can't just empty your brain of beliefs and keep going, they have to be replaced by something, and that can be an incredibly difficult and precarious process.

xgamer4441 karma

What is it like, now, having left behind such a huge part of your life? Your whole previous worldview and support network... just... gone?

How are you filling the parts of your life that are now left in your past?

Pandamabear1 karma

Honestly, I feel very lucky in a lot of ways. It has definitely been challenging at times, but the way I see it, I got an opportunity to start from scratch and come up with my own set of beliefs and values that speak to ME. My experiences have given me a deeper understanding and appreciation of the role that worldviews and religions/spirituality has in society as a whole, the good and the bad. Also, I have siblings who are out and we support each other, and I'm immensely grateful to have them in my life.

pilot2031-49 karma

Makes joining a cult look like a cycle.

Atheism and Christianity are technically belief system. So if a cultist leaves a cult, becomes a Christian or an atheist. Through an outsiders perspective he’s cured and healthy.

But he likely just found a way to satisfy his desire to believe through more accepted belief systems like Christianity and atheism.

Pandamabear23 karma

We all need a framework/belief system to make sense of the world and want to be a part of a supportive community. Personally, I don't care if that's religious or not, as long as people are happy, aren't being taken advantage of, and respect others' beliefs.

TheNerdWithNoName2 karma


Pandamabear1 karma

Fixed thanks!

Spartan05089234-9 karma

Does this church have anything to do with the crazy degree to which Japanese anime won't portray any sort of romantic intimacy unless the show is specifically targeted at adults?

Pandamabear22 karma

I think this is less of the case of the UC (Unification Church) influencing Japanese culture, and more so a case of the values of the UC aligning with Japanese culture. Japan has historically been one of the main sources of new members and has always been the biggest money maker for the UC (in terms of donations, tithes, fundraising, etc). Japan, like Korea, are/were in many ways ripe for the doctrine of the UC.

enaikelt5 karma

I would love to hear you elaborate on how and why Japan and Korea are ripe for UC doctrine, and how Japanese values align!

Pandamabear9 karma

This is a great question that I'd really need to think about and research to answer fully. But to give you an idea, both countries suffered devastating losses as a nation, Japan with the end of WWII, and Korea with the Korean war, which steamrolled the entire country, twice, after a long period of repression by the Japanese. They were both facing a rapidly modernizing world and society was reorganizing to the new reality. In that environment, Christianity started to spread faster than it had ever before, in both Japan and Korea. If I'm not mistaken I've read that time there were actually quite a few Christian cults and self-declared messiahs in Korea.

noeldc8 karma

WTF do the moonies have to do with anime and Japanese culture in general?

Pandamabear5 karma

Pretty much nothing to do with anime, but not that they're connected to the assassination of Shinzo Abe, they've become a bit more culturally relevant to Japan I think.

stonedtarzan28 karma

As someone in the US who has seen many extreme religious organizations from the Mormons to the scientologists; do you feel like there is any major similarities or differences between this organization and other groups who are notorious as predatory and emotionally abusive?

Pandamabear44 karma

Most differences come down to different beliefs, but there are countless similarities between extreme religious organizations, and also between extreme religious organizations, mainstream religious organizations, and even celebrity/political followings. Here is a list of the most common similarities.

There's a saying "What's the difference between a religion and a cult? About a thousand years". I'm not anti-religion, I've seen religions do a lot of good. But the corruption of power within religious organizations, in particular any type of "cult" following, is just so, so common, that I try to avoid them altogether.

paBacken24 karma

Do you still miss being part of the church or are you glad that you can leave that mostly behind, and did leaving the church affect your relationship with the remaining family members?

Pandamabear41 karma

I have good memories with many fellow members who were and probably still are great people. That said, I'm very glad to have left the beliefs behind me.

Leaving absolutely affected my relationship with family members, and it continues to put a strain on things. I do my best to stay connected and avoid controversial topics with those who are still involved, unless necessary.

ViceAdmiralHappy19 karma

Reposting because I didn't know I had to ask a question? So here's the question - How are you doing?

As a former Moonie myself, it's always fun to see others on here. Glad you got out! Hope you're living your best life!

If you need any help answering questions, let me know. That ring is giving me PTSD though.

Pandamabear17 karma

hahaha ya, that ring! Didn't have anything else for proof, they never gave me a moonie license Lol. It's always great to meet one of us in the wild! Feel free to chime in, you probably know things I don't!

ViceAdmiralHappy10 karma

You don't keep a copy out of the CSG or DP in your place out of pure guilt? come on!

Pandamabear7 karma

Nah man, that's what cold showers and fasting conditions are for Lol

ViceAdmiralHappy9 karma

Can't believe the church got involved in an assassination. It's WILD. I guess the guy's mom didn't do enough liberations to get the evil spirits out of him.

You're doing a great job answering questions though. The only way to expose the church for what it is is to let people know about it's corruption/influence in the world/politics. Thanks for doing the AMA!

Pandamabear8 karma

Thanks, ya I did a double-take when I read it. To be fair, there's no evidence they were directly involved in the assassination itself. Their actions, however, did seem to be the motivating factor behind the assassin. So might as well raise some awareness about it. Take care you!

Kolytsin17 karma

To what degree were you or your parents, as rank and file members, pressured to contribute your money, labor, votes, and time (e.g., canvassing activities) to achieve the objectives of the church? Objectives in this sense could be getting new members, political activities, building the church war chest, etc.

Pandamabear25 karma

I would say that the pressure to contribute was directly correlated with how strongly you believed in it. If you were a true believer there would be an immense amount of pressure because you'd believe this was a unique, incredibly rare opportunity to serve God. Like THE God. Not doing everything possible would mean unmeasurable regret and anger from all your ancestors in the afterlife. My parents had to spend 7 years apart, fundraising, recruiting and doing Church work before they were allowed to settle down and have kids. Over the years they have given a lot of money to the church, and a lot of time. I could make a long list of things they do if you want, but don't want to make this post too long.

I know families that were in the church that went every once in a while and barely gave anything. But like most cults, status comes from how much you contribute. So if you recruit someone who wants to get to the top, cha-ching.

Kolytsin1 karma

One clarification. You said "allowed to settle down". Does the local Church Leadership have significant influence on when their local members make their personal life decisions and does this influence vary according to the level of "true belief" as you mentioned earlier? In what form does this influence take (e.g., the parents would continuously consult with church leadership for their guidance until the church leaders 'blessed' them and told them they should now focus on marriage creating a family)

Pandamabear2 karma

The way the Church operates now is very different from the early days of the church in the 60's-80's. When my parents joined, you could be asked to leave your job, and go wherever the messiah, Sun Myung told you. 7 years of service before starting a family was standard, as getting "blessed" (married) was considered a huge privilege. But even after marriage, many members were asked to pioneer all around the world, even to countries where the church was persecuted and could get you killed. If you were a true believer, you'd go wherever the messiah asked you, and many did. But I don't think it's that intense for most members anymore, the bar has certainly been lowered. Influence on the groups as a whole takes the form of narratives that are created, often in lectures or special declarations that justify how the leaders are mobilizing the members for different actions. Individually, church leaders do take part in major decisions in many families, it is a support network after all. But again, depends on how much cool-aid you've had.

fatalkilers12 karma

What made you join the group in the first place?

Pandamabear66 karma

Like most people who are religious, I was born into it, didn't really have a choice, and just assumed I was special enough/chosen to be born into the ONE correct belief system.

Pandamabear18 karma

Have you seen this article connecting Shinzo Abe's grandfather, former Prime Minister Kishi, to the church?

YES! It was really great to see that come out yesterday and shine a light on what has been a very obscure relationship, that most people would frown upon. Moreover, it's relevant because the American Republican party still has very similar ties to the Unification Church's various organizations.

mizu-no-oto9 karma

Interesting information on the Republican Party. I will have to read up on that.

Mainstream media in Japan is not going anywhere near this level of reporting. It says a lot for freedom of the press.

As a side note is was on Shinzo Abe's watch in 2016 that a Specially Designated Secrets Act law was enacted which has since greatly blurred the lines on what can and can not be reported. This lack of clarity has caused reporters to pull up and be more cautious. Here is a bit on this.

Thanks for being available for questions today!

Pandamabear3 karma

I'm not familiar with how investigations go in Japan, but I did find it kind of interesting that the police there have been completely mum on which "religious organization" the assassin was targeting.

rinsaber8 karma

If its not too personal. May I ask how you left? Assuming your family and some of your friends are in it, it would create some tensions.

Pandamabear19 karma

Leaving was kind of a process. At the time I had just started college and was far away. That helped create the distance I needed to figure things out. First, was making the decision and having the conversation with my parents. Second, a time period of making sure I stuck to my decision and held my ground while trying to figure out what to believe next. Since my parents are still very involved it is something that's always there. A lot of the tension comes from being frustrated with the amount of money and time that is wasted on an organization that simply isn't worth it and has done some very questionable things. But I've done my best to make my peace with it, there are worse cults to be a part of.

sojojo6 karma

What led you to join them?

Pandamabear19 karma

I was born into it, but my parents joined when they were in their early twenties. There were many reasons they joined, but part of it was that they were disillusioned with the Catholic/typical Christian interpretation of the Bible and found the teachings of Sun Myung Moon to be appealing enough to be convinced that he was the second coming of Christ. Keep in mind this was during the cultural revolution of the 60s. Some people were taking mind-altering drugs and going to Woodstock, others like my parents got involved in mind-altering cults.

sojojo8 karma

All the more impressive that you got out of it.

My Mom told me stories about them and other groups trying to recruit her in the early '70s in SF. Coincidentally she was/is Catholic, but held on to those beliefs rather than join up.

I can empathize with your parents. I left the church for related reasons but ended up atheist after a lot of self-reflection.

Pandamabear3 karma

Thanks, glad you figured things out for yourself also!

VideoGameDana5 karma

What do you know about the involvement of the Moonies and the CIA?

Pandamabear11 karma

Ohh man, this is a rabbit hole. Were there ties? Probably. Sun Myung Moon had ties to all the North Korean regimes over the years (There's a photo of him walking and holding hands with Kim Il Sung, if i'm not mistaken.) as well as the KIA (korean intelligence agency).

There were some congressional hearings in the 70's, about the influence of South Korea/KIA in the US congress as well where his name came up a few times. My best guess is that he was used for diplomatic backchanneling, while also playing both sides for power and leverage. All that combined with the fact that he was pretty cozy with Nixon and fought strongly for the nation to forgive him, and mobilized his people for republicans--I mean there were definitely some shady somethings going on.

Nikki-the-Ninja4 karma

Are you doing okay @pandamabear ? I’m sure the assassination has also dredged up a lot of difficult memories for you & while I am glad you were able to disconnect from the religious aspect, I hope you are managing okay despite the strain from your friends & family who are still engaged with the cult

Pandamabear6 karma

Thanks, it's not always easy to manage. But I'm doing well all things considered! Figured I'd try to raise some awareness about the UC considering what happened to Abe.

Darryl_Lict3 karma

Where did you grow up?

Pandamabear9 karma

I hopped around a bit between different areas in the USA and Latin America.

Sexy_Rhino3 karma

How important is arranged marriage to the Moonie religion? I knew two monies once and this was the only detail that stood out to me.

Pandamabear7 karma

Yes it's definitely something that stands out. Sexual purity is of utmost importance in the UC, and you are not supposed to date. The leader used to match people himself, but as far as I know, it's still very similar now to what happens in a lot of Muslim countries. If you're interested in someone you're supposed to ask your parents to talk to their parents, or parents go ahead and try to find something agreeable for their children.

skeletonflowers2 karma

what are your opinions about the gun moonies?

Pandamabear12 karma

Mostly harmless, but still scary because all it takes is one person to go over the edge. Sean Moon, their leader, seems to be trying to be some kind of Christian gun Alex Jones, webcasting sermons full of conspiracies and nonsense, which is also concerning.

kcufyxes1 karma

Is the faith or teachings of UC related to or inspired by Christianity?

Pandamabear9 karma

Yes, it is mainly inspired by Christianity and the Bible. They essentially believe that, Jesus was NOT supposed to be crucified, and that Sun Myung Moon was the second coming of Christ, here to finish what Jesus couldn't. Wikipedia link for more details

kcufyxes4 karma

All of this originated from one religion in the middle east, reality truly is absurd.

Pandamabear4 karma

It truly is a wild timeline we're living in.

pilot20311 karma

Is the church a cult? What are their beliefs?

Pandamabear6 karma

Yes, it is the definition of a cult. They believe that a Korean guy named Sun Myung Moon was the second coming of Christ who would create the kingdom of heaven on earth before he died, that Jesus wasn't supposed to die, that the fall of Adam and Eve was a sexual sin rather than the literal eating of fruit, among others.