Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the Unification Church, has died in South Korea. He was 92.
The Associated Press is reporting that Moon died Monday at a church-owned hospital near his home in Gapyeong, northeast of Seoul. He had been hospitalized two weeks ago with pneumonia. The Washington Times, the newspaper founded by Moon, said he died just before 2 a.m. local time Monday from complications of pneumonia.
NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty has reported on Moon’s legacy.
Here’s what she says:
“Moon began focusing on his central mission: creating families. He presided over mass wedding ceremonies, joining tens of thousands of couples at a time. Moon would often match people who had never met before the ceremony.
Moon was determined to spread his influence beyond religion. He became active in conservative politics. He took out full-page ads defending President Nixon during Watergate. He bought a gun manufacturer. He started universities and founded TheWashington Times in 1982.”
Moon’s Unification Church says it has millions of members worldwide, but as NPR’s Hagerty reported in February 2010. no one knows the exact numbers. In the U.S., estimates range from 15,000 to 25,000.
Here’s more from that story, which details the church’s efforts to woo a second generation of believers:
“The young believers at the marriage workshop wear this history as a badge of honor. Sure, they know some people view their church as a cult, and they bristle at the term “Moonie.” They know their parents were ostracized — and some deprogrammed — for following their Korean Messiah.”