APn 03/30 1743 Moon-Reincarnation WASHINGTON (AP) -- Some Unification Church members are

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

APn 03/30 1743 Moon-Reincarnation WASHINGTON (AP) -- Some Unification Church members are upset because their church founder, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, believes one of his followers from Zimbabwe is the reincarnation of his son, according to a report published Wednesday. The affair began last fall at the Unification Theological Seminary in upstate New York, where a senior named Charles was believed to be hearing and relaying messages from Moon's deceased son, "Lord" Heung Jin Nim, The Washington Post said, quoting former and present church members. Heung Jin Nim was killed in an automobile accident in 1984 at age 17. According to the Post account: Dick Richard, a former seminary student who recently left the church, said that in "mid-November, I was told there was a black brother from Africa who had been prepared by Jesus ... and that Heung Jin Nim had assumed his body." "It obviously scared a lot of people there .. but they went along with the whole thing because it came from Reverend Moon, the Messiah." The reincarnation incident has caused what some followers of Moon are calling the biggest theological upheaval in the 34-year history of the Unification Church, in part because the Zimbabwean reportedly has been slapping church members and elders. Officials at The Washington Times, which is owned by church members, have tried to distance themselves from the affair. "From the bottom of my navel, I don't want to know about this," said Ron Godwin, the Times' senior vice president for business. "I know that such a person exists and that he's been preaching in the church, but I will walk a mile not to get involved." Arnaud de Borchgrave, chief editor of the Times, at first dismissed the young Zimbabwean as a plant from communist North Korea. "The North Koreans have had a very strong presence in Zimbabwe since day one," De Borchgrave said in an interview from Paris. "It just sounds so ridiculous," de Borchgrave said. "The nameless Zimbabwean -- that strikes me as suspicious right there. ... I've asked people, `Who the hell is this Zimbabwean?' And nobody can tell you." John Rees, co-owner with de Borchgrave of a private intelligence newsletter, "Early Warning," said de Borchgrave's "attitude was primarily one of concern that it would make the paper look ludicrous." The Zimbabwean, who has taken the name of Heung Jin Nim, has been traveling to church parishes around the world, preaching. "This guy talks non-stop," said John Raineri, a photographer for The World and I, sister publication to the Times. "I've seen him speak for three days straight he doesn't rest the whole time." One of the most disturbing aspects of the affair, church members say, is violence attributed to the Zimbabwean. The president of the Times, Bo Hi Pak, was admitted to Georgetown Univeristy Hospital for tests last Dec. 9-17, saying he had recently fallen down a flight of stairs. No injuries were found, but later Pak underwent surgery in South Korea to repair a damaged blood vessel in his skull, according to Times executives. Pak is Moon's closest deputy, and stories that he had been injured spread quickly through the church. Kate Tsubata, a church member, was skeptical until she heard a church elder describe a meeting in which Moon was asked about the reincarnated son's reported violence. The elder said that "even Colonel Pak had been beaten," Tsubata said. "He just let it drop. ... It was quite significant." Tsubata spoke of a friend who was slapped repeatedly by the Zimbabwean. "He described them as stinging slaps to the face, causing him to see stars," she said. "But afterwards, he felt good." Gordon Anderson, secretary-general of the Moon-financed Professors World Peace Academy, reported similar behavior during a church ceremony in the World Missions Center in Manhattan. The Zimbabwean walked among the 100 church members present, listening to their confessions and instructing them to repent, usually through prayers or fasting. "He did slap, but he didn't strike hard enough to hurt anyone. He cuffed me on the ear a little bit," Anderson said.


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank