By Howard C. Self
President, Right To Believe
On September 7, an article appeared in the Washington (D.C.) CITY PAPER entitled “Lengthy Lawsuit Exposes Rift Within Unification Church”, written by Nathaniel Eisen. (https://washingtoncitypaper.com/article/530522/lengthy-lawsuit-exposes-rifts-within-unification-church/) Written in a journalistically neutral tone, the article covers a number of the key issues in the landmark 10+ years civil court case, “Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) et al vs Hyun Jin Moon et al” which is now awaiting a critical DC Appeals Court decision. (The case is better known as “The UCI Case” within the Unification Movement, in reference to the religious not-for-profit organization [UCI] at its center.) The UCI case developed out of the ongoing contentious Unification Movement Religious Schism.
We are grateful for this effort to inform the citizenry about this case that many are viewing as a landmark religious freedom court battle. To truly understand this case, one must have an understanding of both the Unification Movement AND the underlying Religious Schism now roiling its ranks. It is never easy to understand any religion. That task is even more difficult when the faith is a so-called “new religion” and even more difficult still when that religion is undergoing a fundamental schism. In spite of these challenges, the CITYPAPER article covered a number of key issues. Understandably, there are a number of important factual and historical points concerning the “UCI case” that only an “insider” would know. I write today having been a member and leader within the Unification Movement for over 46 years. I experienced first-hand numerous episodes that have led to the bitter disappointment and visceral disgust of many current members of the Unification Movement toward actions that the Plaintiffs (FFWPU) have taken before and during the lengthy trial.
For example, the Plaintiffs from the beginning lied to and misled the Founder – the Reverend Sun Myung Moon before his passing in 2012 – and to the worldwide membership of the Unification Movement as well. They continued in this false vein after the UCI case was started – misleading and lying to the court. The leader of FFWPU, Mrs. Hak Ja Han (Reverend Moon’s widow) admitted to this continued use of deception under oath when she declared on the stand that her youngest son, Sean Moon, was never the heir to Reverend Moon. Yet, she and the FFWPU leaders had, for years, famously proclaimed Sean to be the heir and included that premise as the major crux of their narrative against Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon in the UCI case. When that lie is unhinged with the truth that Sean was never the heir, the FFWPU’s entire case falls apart.
It is very important that the historical record show the clear truth of the unprincipled motivations and processes that the Plaintiffs have employed in both the UCI court case and throughout the Religious Schism of the Unification Movement. In this writing, I will explain more about the “Sean Moon deception” as well as other key points not yet covered.
The Importance of the “Sean Moon Deception”
It is not possible to exaggerate the significance of the “Sean Moon deception” both within the Unification Religious Schism and in the UCI court case. Unfortunately, even many members of the Movement under the sway of current FFWPU leadership do not realize that a historical and providential scam has been foisted upon them. The false narrative that the FFWPU presented to the DC Superior Court centered on the fabricated premise that Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon became a “jealous and disobedient son” who was “passed over” and ran away with assets AFTER his younger brother, Sean was named the new successor and heir to Reverend Moon. This premise was a centerpiece of their filing and as it turned out, the basis for Superior Court Judge Laura Cordero’s faulty summary judgement (follow this link and find case 2011 CA 003721 B) which is now under appeal.
Indeed, Sean had been catapulted to the international leadership of FFWPU and other organizations. His name prominently appeared on the official filing of the UCI lawsuit. Sean was in fact the international president of FFWPU for three full years during which the Unification membership was led by Mrs. Hak Ja Han and her cohorts to believe that Sean was the “new successor”. Yet, after never correcting the false narrative to the Superior Court, Mrs. Hak Ja Han- the current principal of FFWPU– testified twice (in 2018 and 2019) in two separate depositions under oath in another court case, that Sean had never been the heir! In fact, she testified in the UCI case itself that Sean’s understanding of Reverend Moon’s core teaching- the Divine Principle – was that of a middle schooler. When asked by the lawyer in the UCI case, “then why did you put him into such a prominent leadership role?” she refused to answer. We now know that she did it solely in order to remove Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon from his proper positions. The blaring truth is that Sean Moon was never intended to be the heir and NEVER was the heir. The one and only heir to Reverend Sun Myung Moon and the only one that is the Adamic figure now leading the Unification Movement is Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon. (Follow the link to the videos of Mrs. Hak Ja Han’s 2018 deposition. An excerpt of her deposition in a separate 2019 case can be found here under case number 3:18-cv-01508-RDM.)
Further, Mrs. Hak Ja Han’s deposition also makes it crystal clear that Reverend Moon never approved several key decisions that Sean had purported were made under his father’s approval. Among the most important lies revealed was Sean’s controversial institutional name change from “FFWPU” to “Unification Church” in 2009. This decision meant the reversal of the Unification Movement’s direction AWAY from focusing on a church structure as Reverend Moon had famously directed in the 1990s and throughout the 2000s with his message of the “end of the church” era. For years, Mrs. Hak Ja Han and the FFWPU leaders approved and acted upon this change to refocus the Movement again on the church structure…which we now know Reverend Moon never approved. In fact, the FFWPU leadership had carried out major institutional and personnel changes – most in Reverend Moon’s name – about which the aging Reverend Moon was never consulted. Then, suddenly in one fell swoop, Mrs. Hak Ja Han disowned those official FFWPU memos that contained directives issued without Reverend Moon’s approval to the worldwide movement years earlier….and whose contents were central to the FFWPU’s false narrative in the UCI case. It was on the basis of these official memos that FFWPU leaders had built the fictitious case against Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon and UCI. It is clear now that the entire Unification Religious Schism AND the UCI court case were based on a long series of outright lies and deceptions by Mrs. Hak Ja Han and other FFWPU leaders.
Mrs. Hak Ja Han’s admissions under oath mean nothing less than that she, Sean and other FFWPU leaders had deceived the Founder, Reverend Moon, the entire membership of the Unification Movement, AND the Superior Court of Washington, DC. She proved with her own words that the “passed over, jealous, and disobedient son” accusation against Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon was a total and outrageous lie. Fortunately, the Appellate Court judges are now aware of these important admissions and will certainly add them to their considerations. The truth invariably comes out!
The Truth About the 2008 Letter from Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon to Reverend Moon
The Washington CITY PAPER article is very mistaken on the subject of the 2008 letter from Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon to Reverend Moon. (See unofficial copy of letter). The author positions this historical and now public document as being the cause and justification for Dr. Moon’s removal from numerous positions and the subsequent installation of Sean Moon as the “new heir”. This is what FFWPU wants the world to believe. The truth is that Reverend Moon wholeheartedly accepted the letter (or report) and its conclusions. He was so enthralled and in total agreement with it that he directed that members around the world read and study it. Reverend Moon then made the letter a part of the daily morning scriptural readings known in the movement as “Hoon Dok Hae”. Many members remember Reverend Moon’s positive reaction to the 2008 letter. (Later, as part of their campaign of lies against Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon, key FFWPU leaders told Reverend Moon that Dr. Moon was not really the author of the letter, which negatively influenced the aging Reverend Moon.). The Family Federation has a video record of Reverend Moon’s positive reaction to the letter and his directive to leaders to read it, but they will not show that video to the membership nor to the court; preferring to continue misleading and lying about the letter.
It is a certainty that the 2008 letter did not cause the installation of Sean Moon. Later, when Sean was denounced and exiled from the FFWPU by Mrs. Hak Ja Han, it became clear that he was installed in FFWPU leadership by her, based on her own desire to remove Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon so that she could eventually take the leadership role for herself. Further, Sean could not “replace” Dr. Moon in any capacity simply because Sean was never acknowledged as “Fourth Adam” (as admitted to under oath by Mrs. Hak Ja Han herself). Sean was merely installed into a clerical, technical, administrative, “front person” position which would necessarily always be under the providential, messianic, Adamic leader of the Movement, i.e., either Reverend Moon or Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon. The Unification Movement has always been and will always be a spiritual movement led by a charismatic Adamic figure. In contrast to that reality, the FFWPU twisted the truth and fashioned its false hierarchy claiming the FFWPU to be the supreme entity to which Dr. Moon must submit. This is a blatant distortion and lie about the very nature of the Movement AND of God’s historical Providence.
The 2008 letter is indeed a religious document and a historical record that accurately described the forward-looking providential aspiration and direction led by both Reverend Moon and Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon. It also documents the internal religious schism that was brewing within the Movement due to the behavior of FFWPU clerics, Mrs. Hak Ja Han and several of Dr. Moon’s siblings. The letter is a testament to how Dr. Moon was properly implementing the providential directives his father believed in, despite all-out opposition from clerical forces and others. The letter can be read by anyone and everyone to judge this for themselves.
The Important Aspect of Reverend Moon’s Age
Another important issue not addressed by the Washington CITY PAPER article is the consideration of Reverend Moon’s age and declining health in the context of the developing Religious Schism and UCI court case. In 2011, when the UCI litigation was initiated by Mrs. Hak Ja Han, Sean and the FFWPU clerics, Reverend Moon was 91 years old. As with all people, his physical and mental capabilities could not stay the same as those of a younger man. His health was in decline and would continue to deteriorate until he passed away the next year at the age of 92.
However, Reverend Moon’s name would never appear on any court documents. He had learned from bitter personal experiences in his long life that secular courts cannot be entrusted with providential persons or matters. Reverend Moon, though completely innocent, was imprisoned unjustly six times – in Japan, North Korea, South Korea and in the United States. Further, he knew that the New Testament advises the faithful to settle their differences with each other and not to entrust secular courts with deciding questions of faith or the fate of individuals. Reverend Moon’s view on this subject helped to establish the very nature of the Unification Movement culture. Contrary to this well-established view, Mrs. Hak Ja Han and the FFWPU leadership contrived to bring Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon and UCI to court, under what we now know clearly were false and slanderous premises. And they have continued to press the UCI case, now well past its tenth year, at the cost of many hundreds of millions of donated dollars.
There seems to be no limits to the lengths to which Mrs. Hak Ja Han and the FFWPU leadership will go in pursuing this insidious goal. They and their cohorts have brought around 30 other court cases worldwide against Dr. Moon and his associates. All of them have either been dismissed outright or lost by the FFWPU side.
A good example of their unlimited chicanery is the 2010 video that was initially released by FFWPU (and quickly retracted) (link to video) in which Mrs. Hak Ja Han and Sean are blatantly and for an extended time, pressuring the 90+ years old Reverend Moon into signing documents that would be beneficial in their quest to destroy Dr. Hyun Jin Moon. The video, as you can see, shows the extent of his mental frailty. It also graphically shows how unscrupulous actors would willingly violate the trust and sacred bond towards their father and husband in the final years of his life for their own ends. To his great credit, Reverend Moon, while under extreme pressure and being videotaped at 4:30am in his own bedroom, refuses adamantly to write Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon’s name onto the document. And to the chagrin of his wife and youngest son, he never did.
Another glaring example of how these FFWPU conspirators took advantage of the aged and now more emotional great spiritual leader was plotted and carried out a year earlier in 2009 when Reverend Moon was 89 years old. In a leadership meeting in a place named “Sokcho” in Korea, Mrs. Hak Ja Han, Sean and high-positioned FFWPU clerics, presented a fake letter to Reverend Moon. They insisted to Reverend Moon that the letter, sent through a spiritual medium, was from the Spirit World – from his recently passed away son, Hyo Jin Moon. They knew that Reverend Moon was in mourning and suffering greatly from the loss of his beloved son. They calculated that presenting it as coming from his son would have greater impact on the aged leader. Together with the letter, they presented an organizational chart and personnel directives as also having come from the Spirit World. Not surprisingly, the contents of the letter and chart were strongly in favor of Mrs. Hak Ja Han and Sean, while they were very critical and detrimental towards Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon.
Tragically, the 89 year old Reverend Moon was emotionally impacted by the thought of his lost son and he believed that these messages were genuine. In 2011, one of the clerics involved in the scheme- Chang Shik Yang – admitted that the letter presented to Reverend Moon was bogus. It was not from a spiritual medium as they had told Reverend Moon, but Yang had written it himself. It is clear from this and other incidences that Mrs. Hak Ja Han and the FFWPU leaders would do anything in manipulating Reverend Moon in order to get him to align with their nefarious agenda against Dr. Moon.
The Significance of the Fourth Adam Position
While the Washington CITY PAPER article mentions the “Fourth Adam” title being bestowed upon Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon, it understandably could not expound on the religious significance of that position within the Unification Movement. As mentioned above, the Movement is most properly defined as a charismatic, providential and messianic movement. Therefore, the Movement follows the spiritual authority of the Adamic figure. Jesus was called the “Second Adam” in the Bible, because the messianic mission entails the restoration of the failure of the original Adam’s family in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of human history. Accordingly, Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the Unification Movement who was called to his mission by Jesus, is known and referred to as the “Third Adam”. In 1998, Reverend Moon acknowledged his son, Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, as the “Fourth Adam”. Therefore, it is Dr. Moon who carries the ongoing messianic mission with all of its responsibilities. In the Unification Movement, the person with the Adamic title represents the ultimate expression of spiritual authority. Therefore, although he held no organizational titles, Reverend Moon was known to be the spiritual leader of all Unification Movement organizations. The same is true for Dr. Moon.
As the Fourth Adam, Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon is ultimately spiritually responsible for all levels within the Unification Movement, including the family of Reverend Moon which Unification members recognize as the “True Family”. Even under the greatest persecution from members of his own family, including his mother, Dr. Moon has continued to state, “I will be responsible for my family”. Therein lays the reason that Dr. Moon did not lash out or initiate litigation against the FFWPU in the earlier years of the Religious Schism conflict – even though it was well within his rights to do so. Dr. Moon was desperately trying to protect his family as well as the Movement itself. Sadly, his mother and FFWPU leaders not only disregarded his attempts to bring reconciliation, but pushed for lengthy secular court litigation based on the falsehoods that have been reported above.
Abuse of the First Amendment and Washington, DC Non-profit Law
Another key issue, and one that greatly concerns religious leaders of all faiths and non-profit advocates alike, is that in fulfilling the request of the Plaintiffs to remove duly appointed directors from the UCI board, the Superior Court violates not only the First Amendment, but also Washington, DC non-profit law. Amici briefs from respected First Amendment “watchdog” organizations, The Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty and The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty and a third from a coalition of 10 renowned law scholars, unanimously expressed the opinion that the First Amendment protections of religious freedom of the defendants have been violated by the court’s summary judgement. They all ask the Appellate Court to dismiss the case. ( Link to amici briefs )
In addition to this Constitutional violation, Washington, DC non-profit law prohibits the courts from interfering with a duly appointed non-profit board – unless it is within the context of a “derivative suit” (DCCA Rule 28(j)). The UCI case is NOT a derivative suit (one where shareholders are suing on behalf of a corporation). Therefore the Superior Court has also exceeded its authority under the local non-profit law.
Simply put, the UCI case is a suit where a third party (FFWPU), which should have no legal standing, finagled a way to use the legal system for its own purposes in its improper attempt for a corporate takeover of UCI. Sadly, the Superior Court fell into their trap and granted them the takeover they unlawfully sought. The court could do so however, only by violation of both Constitutional and local laws.
The Washington CITY PAPER author provides the opinion of a renowned law school professor in his article, but does not mention the amicus brief seen above that was filed by 10 prominent professors from prestigious law schools. That now makes 11 legal experts who clearly explain their reasons for asking the Appellate Court to dismiss the UCI case on Constitutional religious abstention grounds. Their collective opinion is not surprising considering the fact that religious issues are at the core of every aspect of the case!
Again, thanks to the Washington CITYPAPER for its attempt to cover the landmark, but quite complex, UCI court case. As has been stated before, it is not possible to understand this case without an accompanying understanding of the Unification Movement and its Religious Schism that spawned the case. The author introduced a number of key aspects in his article. The points that I have focused on here were either not covered adequately or mentioned at all, yet they are critically important for understanding the real truth of the UCI case and of the Unification Schism. I sincerely hope that this writing will be helpful to all who are searching for that truth.