Moonie leaders deny a claim by an Auckland woman that their group asks supporters to leave their spouses if they do not join the organisation.
The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said the group used its “peace ambassador” scheme to recruit members. If their spouses did not join too, it encouraged them to break up.
“Peace meetings discuss how the family is the nucleus for peace, but how parents and couples may not be right for each other – the reason why there is no peace in this world,” she said.
“It will be revealed that the ‘True Parents’ of all humankind are the Rev Moon (the new Messiah) and his wife of the Unification Church, as appointed by God. For the world to have real peace, all must become his children.
“To become true children, followers must give up everything they own and donate them to the cause.
“Those that have spouses who object will be asked to leave their spouses, and the church will help them find a new mate, and they will be joined together in a mass wedding ceremony presided over by Rev Moon.”
A speech by the Rev Sun Myung Moon, published in 2004 on the Unification Church website, says his followers “must cast aside their friends and teachers, even their parents, and follow the True Parents”.
“Humanity must mercilessly eradicate all bonds and relationships with the satanic world, not showing even the slightest attachment, and in this way return to the zero point and mark the dawning of a new creation,” Mr Moon said.
Guy Steward, an Aucklander who has written a book about mind control, said he took part in an intensive weekend course run by the Moonies in New York 18 years ago.
“By the end of the weekend, they have pressured you up to make a decision about Moon, about whether he is the Lord of the Second Advent or not,” he said. “Then if you show more interest, they invite you to a week-long seminar… It’s like some of these other motivational seminars.
“It’s the intensity of it all and the control of your time that can make it fairly convincing to some people.”
But the New Zealand patron of the Universal Peace Federation, Sir Peter Tapsell, said the idea that the Moonies broke up marriages was “rubbish”.
“Everyone seems to have developed a tremendously strong belief that they are bad people, that they are dangerous, that they do all sorts of ulterior things. I have never seen anything like that.”
NZ Peace Council president Simon Kan said he did not know of anyone in the movement who had had to leave their spouse. “At the moment I have a problem with my wife, but they are not trying to get us to split up.”