Victims of ‘spiritual sales’ increasing, lawyers say
Four members of a seal stamp company in Osaka, Japan have been arrested for intimidating customers into buying expensive products.
The suspects — whose company is connected to the Unification Church, a religious cult — contacted three women through fortune-telling services and threathened them over many hours saying, “You will become ill,” “Your life is in danger,” or “Your family line will fail.”
Lawyers engaged in support of spiritual sales victims have pointed out the link between the company and the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (Unification Church).
Police will investigate their relationship.
Victims of spiritual sales by the Unification Church and other organizations have been increasing recently, says the National Network of Lawyers against Spiritual Sales, with a total of 1,510 damage reports made in 2008, up more than 200 cases compared to 2007.
The Unification Church, which since 1997 is officially known as Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, operates under many names and has countless front groups, organizations and business.
Cult founder and leader Sun Myung Moon, whose followers used to refer to themselves as Moonies, considers himself to be the Messiah. He believes his mission is to correct mistakes he claims Jesus made.
Theologically, the Unification Church is a cult of Christianity. Defined from a theological perspective, a cult is a religious group or movement whose doctrines and practices deny, contradict, or otherwise deviate from the essential doctrines of the religion it identifies itself with.
Sociologically the movement has cultic elements as well.
The “Spiritual Sales” scam was a scam used by the Unification movement to swindle Japanese widows out of their life savings by pressuring them to spend tens of thousands of dollars on relics that allegedly had the power to free their deceased husbands and family members from eternal punishment. It is estimated that the church scammed between $600 million and $1 billion before the Japanese government cracked down on the practice.
Ancestor Liberation is a new twist on spiritual sales. The main difference is that this scam is aimed at church members. I have obtained Unification Church documents that indicate a particularly disturbing element of the practice. What is particularly bizarre is that the liberation of one’s ancestors is accomplished by attending workshops conducted by dead people–namely, the channeled spirits of Reverend Moon’s mother-in-law, Dae Mo Nim and Moon’s son, Heung Jin Moon (aka Heung Jin Nim).
• Moonies in Japan: As of May 1987, about 300 lawyers have registered with the National Network of Lawyers Against the Spiritual Sales. The Network seeks to eradicate spiritual sales and to aid those persons who have suffered damages as a result of spiritual sales. At present, the Network is counselling about 300 damaged parties who claim, if calculated in total, a sum of 7,000,000,000 yen. The families of the believers who have suffered damages are co-operating in most cases.