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Unification Church and anti-Semitism

The Unification Church officially condemns anti-Semitism, yet as recently as 2003, self-proclaimed Messiah Sun Myung Moon was declaring near the U.S. Capitol Building:

"Jewish people, you have to repent. Jesus was the King of Israel. Through the principle of indemnity Hitler killed six million Jews. That is why."

While many of the church's recruits have historically been Jews, rabbis have long seen what Rabbi A. James Rudin pattern called a pattern of "unrelieved hostility to the Jewish people" in Moon's Divine Principle, including stereotypes and notions of collective guilt long condemned by mainstream Christian denominations.

Whatever the intent of Sun Myung Moon, his language was enough to prompt condemnation by the extremist Jewish Defense League in the 1970s, which took offense at Unification Church views of Jews. And, calling Moon's words "medicine love" that doesn't necessarily taste good, Unificationist FAQ-master Damian Anderson has warned against watering down the message.

Table of contents
1 Unificationist views
2 Jewish views
3 Passages in Rev. Moon's talks
4 Controversy
5 External links and references

Unificationist views

Members of the Unification Church, for their part, consider the church to be both pro-Israel and pro-Jewish and thus are puzzled and hurt by charges that the church's teachings could be regarded by anyone as anti-Semitic. Church leaders repeatedly asked for discussions with Jewish leaders who raised the charge of anti-Semitism in 1976, and after getting no response took out full-page newspaper ads to call attention to the church's pro-Jewish and pro-Israeli stance.

Rev. Sun Myung Moon has said:

  1. The Unification Movement categorically condemns anti-Semitism, the most hideous, abject and cruel form of hatred. We regard the murder of six million Jews in Europe the result of political short-sightedness and lack of moral responsibility on the part of Germany's political and religious leaders, and [others who] acted too late to block Hitler's ascent to power, postponed the action for his downfall, and did nothing to rescue the victims who were the captives of his satanic plans and designs.
  2. The Unification Movement recognizes the divine and natural right of the Jewish people to physical survival and preservation of its specific religious traditions.
  3. The Unification Movement regards the Land of Israel as a haven for the Holocaust survivors and sanctuary for all those individual Jews who are trying to escape physical persecution and religious, racial or national oppression.
  4. The Unification Movement [will work] for an acceptable accommodation between the Arabs and Jews, and to achieve a genuine and lasting peace in the Middle East, one of the most important corners of the world.
  5. The Unification Movement is grateful to God, to His true and righteous prophets and saints of our common spiritual tradition who prepared the foundations on which we stand and organize our struggle. We consider ourselves to be the younger brother of our Jewish... brethren, all of whom are children of our Heavenly Father. We regard it as our duty to respect and serve the elder sons of our Father, and it is our mission to serve Judaism ...
  6. The Unification Movement [is] guided by the concepts of Unity and Brotherhood expressed in the Divine Commandments, the foundations of our common spiritual heritage. [1]

Jewish views

The Unification Church is accused of traditional Christian forms of theological anti-Semitism.

Blame for the crucifixion

Many Jews feel that the church's views on Jewish responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus are anti-Semitic. The head of the church, Sun Myung Moon, has called on Jews to repent for the crucifixion, though it has recent gone unnoticed by such anti-hate groups as the ADL.

Blame for the Holocaust

Several authoritative statements by Rev. Moon about the Holocaust appear in Jewish eyes to place the blame for it mostly on the Jews themselves, as divine retribution for the crucifixion, which is another classic anti-Semitic idea.

The Rudin report

According to Jews and Judaism in Rev. Moon's Divine Principle, a report issued by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in 1976, "every time Rev. Moon mentions Jews or Israelites he portrays them collectively as reprobate, with evil intentions."

The controversy raised by the AJC centers around passages found in Divine Principle, the church's theology textbook. Rabbi A. James Rudin, Assistant Director of the Interreligious Affairs Department of the American Jewish Committee, wrote:

Passages in Rev. Moon's talks

In a sermon delivered on March 2, 2003, Moon said:

In this passage, Moon clearly calls on Jews to repent and join his movement, if not his church per se.

He also seems to assert that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus, and that this was the cause of the Holocaust. Blaming Jews for the death of Jesus, and asserting that the Holocaust was in some sense divine retribution, are classic anti-Semitic ideas.

Unificationists, however, maintain that it's not that simple: it was Roman soldiers who actually crucified Jesus, and the church condemns the Holocaust. This leaves a puzzle for theologians, having to do with the church's little-understood teaching of "indemnity" -- but clearly drawing a line of causation between the Jews' alleged guilt for killing Christ, and what the UC, to many, seems to view as a subsequent payback in the Nazi Holocaust.


Jewish people and Unificationists and their critics, including many Jews, disagree on two major points:

  1. whether it is "anti-Semitic" to regard Jews, ancient or modern, as bearing any degree of responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus
  2. whether the church is "blaming" the Holocaust on Jews (i.e., whether the church considers it to be divine retribution)

External links and references