Jen Kiaba, a young woman who left the Unification Church — the Moonies — that she was raised in, has a really incredible article about her life in that cult. It focuses a lot on the marriage she had arranged by Rev. Moon himself and the story is heartbreaking to read.
My mother dropped me off at East Garden, one of the Moon family’s mansion-compounds in Tarrytown, NY, and I entered into the ballroom of the estate with approximately 10 other nervous young people. For the next several hours, one of the Korean leaders proceeded to lecture us on our unworthiness. That’s when I found out that by the time we left, we were all going to be Blessed to someone.
The panic blossomed. I had to leave and began approaching anyone, even strangers, to ask to borrow their cellphones. Repeated calls home, begging my parents to come pick me up, were answered in the negative.
By the end of the day, the ballroom was packed to capacity. Young people from all over the United States, Asia, and Europe had answered Rev. Moon’s call. Late in the evening, Rev. Moon came out to address us through his interpreter. Though I had never heard them from his mouth before, I desperately wanted to hear words of wisdom — or something that rang true — from the man who held my future in his hands.
One phrase stuck out to me in the monotony: “Do you want me to match you tonight?” A thunderous “Yes” answered Rev. Moon’s question, and we were lined up into rows, divided down the middle, and categorized.
I should have left, I tell myself. I should have simply snuck out of the sweltering ballroom, slipped out of the mansion, and found my way through security to get outside of the compound. Even if I had had to follow the train tracks from Tarrytown back home, I should have left. But with no money, no means of communication, and no idea if I would have a home to go back to if I left, I was frozen in place. Besides, I had been trained to obey.
Suddenly Rev. Moon began pointing. A girl, then a boy would stand up, acknowledge each other, bow to Rev. Moon, and then be ushered out to be “processed” by administrators. My breathing was shallow; I tried to quiet my mind and draw upon the things I had been taught.
Absolute faith. Absolute Love. Absolute Obedience.
When Rev. Moon’s finger pointed to me, time stopped. I looked deep into the eyes of the man who had bidden me to rise with his gesture and saw nothing. I was gazing into the eyes of the man who was determining my future, and I had expected to see some sort of timelessness, or to feel as though his eyes were digging into my soul. But he was looking through me, as though his finger had arbitrarily found its way to me in a game of love roulette. I felt suspended over an infinite emptiness.
The whole thing is very long but absolutely worth reading. She was “blessed” to a Norwegian man she’d never met and endured a miserable marriage for two years before managing to escape the marriage and the larger cult she had known her entire life. She and her sister, who escaped before she did, have a blog about their experiences.
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