Unification Church and Islam

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The relationship between the Unification Church and Islam has often been noted, both by scholars and the news media. The Divine Principle, the official textbook of Unification Church beliefs, lists the “Islamic cultural sphere” as one of the world’s four major divisions (the others are the East Asian, the Hindu, and the Christian spheres).[1] An official Unification Church website says:

Unification teaching recognizes the Prophet Muhammad and the religion of Islam that is based on the truths revealed through him as pivotal in God’s providence of restoration.[2]

Unification Church support for Islamist anti-communists came to public attention in 1987 when church member Lee Shapiro was killed in Afghanistan during the Soviet war in Afghanistan while filming a documentary.[3][4] The resistance group they were traveling with reported that they had been ambushed by military forces of the Soviet Union or the Afghan government. However, the details have been questioned, partly because of the poor reputation of the group's leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.[5][6]

In 1997, the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (which is critical of United States and Israeli policies), praised the Unification Church owned newspaper, The Washington Times and the Times’ sister publication The Middle East Times (along with The Christian Science Monitor owned by the Church of Christ, Scientist) for their objective and informative coverage of Islam and the Middle East, while criticizing the Times generally pro-Israel editorial policy. The Report suggested that these newspapers, being owned by churches, were less influenced by pro-Israel pressure groups in the United States.[7]

In 1997, Louis Farrakhan, the leader of The Nation of Islam, served as a "co-officiator" at a blessing ceremony presided over by Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon and his wife Hak Ja Han.[8] In 2000 the Unification Church co-sponsored the Million Family March, a rally in Washington D.C to celebrate family unity and racial and religious harmony, along with the Nation of Islam.[9] Farrakhan was the main speaker at the event which was held on October 16, 2000; the fifth anniversary of the Million Man March, which was also organized by Farrakhan.[10] Unification Church leader Dan Fefferman wrote to his colleagues acknowledging that Farrakhan’s and Moon’s views differed on multiple issues but shared a view of a "God-centered family".[11] In 2007 Rev and Mrs Moon sent greetings to Farrakhan while he was recovering from cancer, saying: "We send love and greetings to Minister Farrakhan and Mother Khadijah."[12]

In the 1990s and 2000s the Unification Church has made public statements claiming communications with the spirits of religious leaders including Muhammad and also Confucius, the Buddha, Jesus, and Augustine, as well as political leaders such as Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Leon Trotsky, Mao Zedong, and many more. This was reported to have distanced the church from Islam as well as from mainstream Christianity.[13][14] From 2001 to 2009 the Unification Church owned the American Life TV Network (now known as Youtoo TV), [15] which in 2007 broadcast George Clooney's documentary, A Journey to Darfur, which was harshly critical of Islamists in Darfur, the Republic of Sudan.[16][17][18] It released the film on DVD in 2008 and announced that proceeds from its sale would be donated to the International Rescue Committee.[19] In his 2009 autobiography Moon praised Islam and expressed the hope that there would be more understanding between different religious communities.[20] In 2011 representatives of the Unification Church took part in an international seminar held in Taiwan by the Muslim World League. The purpose of the seminar was said to be to encourage inter-faith dialogue and discourage terrorism.[21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Exposition of the Divine Principle 1996 Translation Chapter 3 Eschatology and Human History, accessed September 3, 2010
  2. ^ UNIFICATIONISM AND ISLAM: MUTUAL RESPECT AND JOINT EFFORTS TO BENEFIT THE WORLD, reverendsunmyungmoon.org, accessed September 3, 2010
  3. ^ Afghanistan: eight years of Soviet occupation, United States Department of State, March 1988, The campaign to target foreign journalists had more tragic results. Two American filmmakers, Lee Shapiro and Jim Lindelof, were apparently killed by a regime attack while traveling with the mujahidin. In 1986, Lindelof had been named paramedic of the year for his efforts training Afghan medical workers. In response to protests, Kabul stated it could not "guarantee the security of foreign subjects" who enter illegally, whose presence it views as "evidence" of "external interference."
  4. ^ 2 Americans killed in ambush, Pacific Stars and Stripes, October 29, 1987
  5. ^ Two US journalists reported killed in Afghanistan; details murky, Christian Science Monitor, October 28, 1987 "Two American journalists are believed dead in northwest Afghanistan, diplomatic and resistance forces say here. Filmmaker Lee Shapiro and his soundman, Jim Lindalos, both of New York, were killed Oct. 11, reportedly in a Soviet or Afghan government ambush, according to United States consular officials. However, the resistance group that accompanied the film team has a poor reputation among most informed observers, and doubts have arisen over whether the two Americans did indeed die in an Afghan government or Soviet attack."
  6. ^ Kaplan, Robert, Soldiers of God : With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan, New York : Vintage Departures, 2001, p.170
  7. ^ As U.S. Media Ownership Shrinks, Who Covers Islam?, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 1997
  8. ^ From the Unification Church to the Unification Movement, 1994-1999: Five Years of Dramatic Changes Massimo Introvigne, Center for Studies on New Religions "The ceremony in Washington, D.C., included six "co-officiators" from other faiths, including controversial minister Louis Farrakhan from the Nation of Islam. The Blessing ceremony in Seoul on February 7, 1999 also featured seven co-officiators including Orthodox Rabbi Virgil Kranz (Chairman of the American Jewish Assembly), controversial Catholic Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo and the General Superintendent of the Church of God in Christ (a large African American Pentecostal denomination), Rev. T.L. Barrett."
  9. ^ Million Family March reaches out to all
  10. ^ Families Arrive in Washington For March Called by Farrakhan, New York Times, October 16, 2000
  11. ^ Clarkson, Frederick (October 9, 2000). "Million Moon March". Salon. Salon.com, Inc. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  12. ^ Prayers for Minister Farrakhan health, recovery continue, Frost Illustrated, January 31, 2007
  13. ^ Unifying or Dividing? Sun Myung Moon and the Origins of the Unification Church George D. Chryssides, University of Wolverhampton, U.K. 2003
  14. ^ Unification Church of America History by Lloyd Pumphrey
  15. ^ John Dempsey (2007-06-01). "American Life TV targets baby boomers". Variety. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  16. ^ American Life TV targets baby boomers: Channel airing Clooney's Darfur docu Variety, June 1, 2007
  17. ^ The Time 100: George Clooney
  18. ^ Clooney's Docu on Darfur to Air Monday
  19. ^ AmericanLife TV Network (ALN) Donates Proceeds From "A Journey to Darfur" DVD to the International Rescue Committee
  20. ^ Moon, Sun Myung (2009). As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen. Gimm-Young Publishers. ISBN 0-7166-0299-7. 
  21. ^ World Muslim League plans seminar for Taiwan, Taiwan Today, February 16, 2011

External links[edit]

  • Islam, article in Unification Church sponsored encyclopedia.