Moonies marry complete strangers

One of the most notable aspects of Moonie life is that you don’t get to pick your partner. Reverend Moon, the North Korean who started the religion in the 50s, believed that the secret to world peace lay in uniting all the world’s races in marriage. When the organisation was growing, Moon would select the couples himself, but as the religion grew the job fell to specialist ‘matching advisors.’ The practice has outlived Moon, with Moonies still marrying complete strangers that the organisation has selected for them.

The religion holds mass wedding ceremonies

Moonies are famous for the mass wedding ceremonies that they hold, with thousands of couples – most of whom have only just met – tying the knot at the same time. Naturally, such an event requires a pretty sizeable venue, and the wedding ceremonies have been held in Seoul’s Olympic Stadium and Madison Square Garden. During the ceremonies, all the grooms are dressed in matching black tuxedos with red ties, whilst the brides all wear white dresses and veils. Reverend Moon used to preside over the ceremonies himself, but, since his death, that honour has fallen to his widow.

The Moonies have three day sex rituals

Without a doubt the most talked about Moonie ceremony is the three day sex ritual, and for good reason: it’s pretty insane. After tying the knot with a stranger in a mass wedding ceremony, Moonies have to wait 40 days before consummating the marriage. When the special day comes, couples meet in a ‘holy’ room with a picture of Reverend Moon and his wife hanging on the wall. For the first two days of the ritual, the woman assumes the dominant position, with the couple wiping their bodies with holy water and praying beforehand. On the third day, to mark the fact that they’re about to be reborn as Adam and Eve, the man gets to go on top. The final step of the ritual involves wiping up the resultant mess with a handkerchief which is kept as a holy – and extremely unhygienic – memento.

Moonie recruiters are master manipulators

Whilst the organisation steadfastly calls itself a religion, the Unification Church is often accused of being a cult. One of the main reasons for this is the manipulative techniques that Moonie recruiters employ. When new recruits are introduced to the church, recruiters heap exorbitant amounts of praise on them and take an extreme (and seemingly genuine) interest in their lives. This technique is often referred to in psychological circles as ‘love bombing’, and it’s known to form a key part of the strategy narcissists use to gain a hold over those they want to manipulate.

The Moonies love guns

After establishing the Unification Church in South Korea, Reverend Moon took his new religion to the United States, where it has developed a strong following amongst conservative Republicans. Since the reverend’s death, his children have largely taken over running the organisation, and they have introduced some colourful aspects. In particular, Hyung Jin Sean, one of the reverend’s sons, has blended his love of firearms into the organisation’s traditions, which he has justified by claiming that the ‘rods of iron’ mentioned in the Bible refer to assault rifles.

They hate being called Moonies

Despite the prevalence of the term, members of the Unification Church loathe being called Moonies. It’s unknown whether this is because they are concerned about the organisation seeming like nothing more than the product of a charismatic cult leader, or because of the word’s association with an immature and vulgar prank. In either case, members of the organisation refer to themselves as ‘unificationists,’ and they wish everyone else would too.

They believe that family is everything

The Unification Church is built on the premise that families – heterosexual families, to be precise – are the true path to God. The religion’s guidelines, laid out in Moon’s book The Divine Principles, stipulate that family values matter above all else. Whilst Reverend Moon claimed that his religion presented new and radical ideas, many have accusing him of simply recycling the more conservative parts of the Bible and putting his own spin on it.

Reverend Moon’s children shot people for fun

Despite the fact that the core tenets of the Unification Church revolve around conservative family values, Reverend Moon’s children were insufferable, spoiled brats. Classmates reported that the reverend’s children were bullies, frequently shooting other students with BB guns for their own amusement. Things didn’t get better when they reached adulthood, and reports of rampant drug abuse, affairs, spousal abuse, and alcoholism followed most of the reverend’s children, many of whom died young.

The Moonies recruited heavily from universities

Reverend Moon moved to South Korea to capitalise on the growing prevalence of Christianity in the mid 1950s. After establishing his organisation, Moon began heavily recruiting from colleges and universities around Seoul. Moonie recruiters would pull up to uni campuses and begin ingratiating themselves with the students, eventually convincing them to attend ‘Bible study sessions.’ Willing students would then be loaded into vans and driven to Moonie indoctrination centres, where they would essentially be brainwashed into the organisation.

Moonies refer to Reverend Moon and his wife as their ‘true parents’

After founding the Unification Church, Reverend Moon positioned himself as a messiah figure, and eventually began referring to himself and his wife as the ‘true parents’ of the church’s adherents. This practice has become one of the defining aspects of the church, and does nothing to diminish the impression that the organisation is a cult. It also makes it even more creepy that Moonie marriages have to to be consummated in front of a photo of the reverend and his wife.