Rising Moon

Since tourism has been low, a group that has brought some 10,000 pilgrims and tourists to Israel from more than 190 countries should be a cause for celebration. But for many, it’s not.

Over the past year and a half, the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), a non-governmental organization with special consultative status within the United Nations, has held a number of rallies, conferences and prayer vigils in Jerusalem, including a five-day international seminar in December 2003 and the Women’s Walk for Peace in July 2004.

These activities have set off alarm bells among those involved in counter-missionary activity in Israel. Why? Because the IIFWP is the brainchild of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the Korean-born multimillionaire. Moon is the founder and leader of the Unification Church, notorious because of allegations that it brainwashes its members into giving up their lives, disconnecting ties with family members, and proselytizing for Reverend Moon.

A Cult of Christianity
Theologically, the Unification Church is, at best, a cult of Christianity. It does not represent historical, biblical Christianity in any way. Leader Sun Myung Moon’s theology can only be described as insane.
Given the fact that the Unification Church rejects the essential doctrines of the Christian faith, teaches heresy, and engages in unbiblical practices, Christian churches can not have unity and/or any form of cooperation with the Unification Church or its front groups.

The 84-year-old Moon, whose followers are often dubbed Moonies, is the controversial, self-proclaimed messiah whose Unification Church has been classified as a cult by the Knesset and the French Parliament, among others.

His book, ‘Divine Principle and its Application,’ the basic text of the Unification Church, was cited in the January 1987 Knesset report of the Inter-ministerial Committee for Examining Cults as containing 125 instances of strongly anti-Semitic propaganda.

In the December 1990 report of the Task Force on Missionaries and Cults of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, the “Divine Principle” was said to be “replete with virulent anti-Semitic epithets.” According to Yad L’achim, an Israeli anti-missionary group, the book blames the Jews for all the world’s problems because “they killed Jesus and haven’t accepted Reverend Moon,” says Aharon Rubin, head of Yad L’Achim’s counter-missionary section.

In 1982, Moon was convicted of conspiracy and false tax returns and, from 1984 to 1985, served 13 months in the Danbury Federal Penitentiary in the United States.

After his release, Moon set about rehabilitating his image. He acquired the Washington Times and News World Communications, which owns United Press International, and began meeting with many of the world’s elite, including leading members of the US political scene.

Addressing the US Congress in March 2004, Moon declared himself to be the messiah. “I am God’s ambassador, sent to earth with His full authority. I am sent to accomplish His command to save the world’s six billion people,” he said, according to media reports.

Inaugurated in February 1999 at a gathering in Seoul, South Korea, the IIFWP, according to its website (www.iifwp.org), was founded “in the hope of building a world in which peoples, cultures, races, religions and nationalities could live in harmony, mutual respect, cooperation and universal prosperity.”

The IIFWP claims that a unique feature of their vision is the inclusion of the world’s religious leaders in the pursuit of peace. “We believe that to attain world peace in general, and in the Middle East in particular, we need to create tolerance between religions,” says Shuki Ben-Ami, who serves, he says, as an unpaid spokesperson and media consultant for IIFWP Israel.

According to the Apolegetics Index, an organization that provides research resources on religious cults to Christian groups, the IIFWP is nothing more than “a front organization of the Unification Church.” But Ben-Ami argues, “there are no ties between the [Reverend Moon’s] Unification Church and the IIFWP. They are two separate frameworks.”

Yet Ben-Ami does admit that since the Reverend Moon is the founder of both organizations, at least some individuals could be in both groups.

Ben-Ami is unable or unwilling to tell In Jerusalem where the IIFWP’s budget (either for Israel or the world) comes from or how much it is, other than to say it is financed by contributions from members and receives no government funding. But he concedes that, “there is no formal membership” and says he has no idea how many members there are in Israel or the world.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, in the above mentioned report, noted that, “Moonies use deception and misrepresentation for purposes of recruitment, retention and fundraising.” Similarly, the Spiritual Counterfeit Research Unit states that, “It is standard practice of this cult [the Unification Church] to organize seminars and conferences under fake names and using front groups, without letting the participants know that they were duped into giving legitimacy to a dangerous cult.”

Yad L’achim’s Rubin cites a conference that occurred in May 2003 as an example. “Under the guise of a peace and love gathering, they brought religious leaders, Israeli Rabbis included, to the Hyatt Regency. They spoke about creating peace in the region. At the end they encouraged people to sign a declaration in English, ostensibly about love and peace. They cheated and lied to them.”

Certain Rabbis didn’t understand English, argues Rubin, and didn’t know that they were signing the so-called Jerusalem Declaration, which reads:

“The simple innocent Jewish young man Yeshua, whom God loved and in him placed his hopes and dreams was betrayed by the rich and powerful among his own people who… turned him over to executioners of hateful foreign powers. For this we truly repent.”

Rabbis and other religious leaders may not be the only ones being duped.

Last month, the IIFWP co-sponsored an event in Jerusalem promoting Iranian-Israeli friendship together with Peace and Love International and the Organization of Persian Jewish Immigrants. This was the sixth event the IIFWP cosponsored with Peace and Love International.

Yet Peace and Love’s leader, Attorney Daniel Dana, stated that while he is a member of IIFWP, he does “not know too much” about the Reverend Moon or his connection with the IIFWP.

“I had heard some things but I didn’t really pay too much attention,” Dana explains. “We simply have common aims for peace.”

This, says Rubin, is characteristic of the IIFWP’s activities. “They are spending millions to bring people to Israel. They send women to go house to house to drum up support. But they deny they are doing any missionary work.”

Ben-Ami repeatedly stresses that the IIFWP has brought delegations to support and identify with Israel and Jerusalem when hardly anyone else was coming to this country. “We want to say to Israel that they are not alone. We want to say to Palestinians that they are not alone. Our rallies and vigils are attended by people from all religions. At our September 11, 2004 prayer vigil in Independence Park, we had a rabbi, a priest, an imam, a Druze sheik and an American Indian chief.”

Emphasizing that prominent religious and political personalities attend their events, Ben-Ami notes that Ministry of Interior Ofer Paz-Pines was a guest at one of the IIWFP conferences.

Paz-Pines’ spokesperson, Gilad Heymann, acknowledges that Paz-Pines did attend an IIFWP event, but insists that, “The Minister does not support the position of this movement and especially not of its leader.”

At the Iranian-Israeli event, Prof. Eliezer Glaubach-Gal, president of Professors’ World Peace Academy, Israel, yet another federation under the IIFWP, declared that the IIFWP must increase its activities now. “Many groups want peace but peace must begin in Jerusalem. This is why we sent people from 190 countries here during the last year,” Glaubach-Gal said.

Asked about this statement, Ben-Ami insists that Glaubach-Gal was merely stating his own beliefs. “We believe in peace all over the world. Jerusalem is not any more special that anywhere else.”

Yad L’achim has another theory. “The Reverend Moon is a sick, old man. His followers believe that if they can unite all religions of the world under Moon, he will not die,” says Rubin. “All their activities are aimed at this. They hide behind peace, love and acceptance. And that is why they have now reemerged with a flurry of activity here.”

Ben-Ami is confident that the IIFWP will continue its activities in 2005. “I believe we will continue to bring groups to Jerusalem. The silent majority of Israelis and Palestinians want peace. We are here to strengthen this silent majority. The only missionizing we do is for peace. We are addicted to peace and we truly believe that religion can lead to peace.”

Vacation? Short break? Day trip? Get Skip-the-line tickets at GetYourGuide.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Jerusalem Post, USA
Feb. 6, 2005
Gail Lichtman

Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday February 6, 2005.
Last updated if a date shows here:


More About This Subject


Our website includes affiliate links, which means we get a small commission -- at no additional cost to you -- for each qualifying purpose. For instance, as an Amazon Associate, Religion News Blog earns from qualifying purchases. That is one reason why we can provide this research service free of charge.

Speaking of which: One way in which you can support us — at no additional cost to you — is by shopping at Amazon.com.