Demands for money sowed seeds of doubt in convert
John Taylor, a university graduate from Hampshire, first encountered members of the Unification Church when they handed out magazines near where he worked.
He was disillusioned with Anglicanism but still believed in God and their ideas struck a chord and they persuaded him to give up his former life and dedicate himself to the church.
“They said they were a charity with a new understanding about God,” he said.
“I just felt good vibes and found that the way that they treated religion was very interesting. I didn’t agree 100 per cent but a lot seemed true. I joined two months later.”
He said the first years after he joined in 1975 were exciting even though he lived a life of “poverty, chastity and obedience”.
“There was no alcohol and no smoking and definitely no sex out of marriage. Any extra money had to be sent to HQ so they could buy more properties.”
By 1980, he was summoned to America to see Sun Myung Moon so that he could be found a wife.
“There were a few hundred of us and Rev Moon just paired us off.”
He and Marie, who was from France, were married shortly afterwards. “We agreed with whatever he said because we thought it must be God’s will, ” Mr Taylor said.
After the wedding, the couple were separated for three years in what is called the “engagement period”, not meeting until 1983 when Marie moved to England.
They had two children but by 1990 Mr Taylor, now 58, was harbouring doubts.
“We went to Camberg in Germany to meet Rev Moon who was greeting new members from Eastern Europe. The night after we met him we were woken at 2am and told to gather in the hall.
“Hyojin, his eldest son, just started swearing at us and said we had not welcomed his father with enough enthusiasm.”
This was coupled with ever greater monetary demands.
“There were some ridiculous requests,” Mr Taylor said. “In the mid- nineties we were told we had to go to Brazil where Rev Moon had bought land and have our photos taken with him and his wife Hakja.
“For the privilege we had to pay him $1,600. It seemed outrageous.”
His doubts were further fuelled by demands from the Moon family for members to pay $100 in order to “liberate” ancestors, posthumously enrolling them into the church.
“I thought that this is just a racket and refused,” he said.
The final straw came when he read the autobiography of Moon’s daughter-in-law, In the Shadow of the Moons, which made allegations about infidelities and drug and pornography addictions.
“I just could not believe the hypocrisy,” Mr Taylor said.
“I had to get out and so did my wife and children.”
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