Moon Madness Remembered
by Gordon Neufeld
Note: This article is a summary of several articles that Gordon Neufeld has
written. Some of these have been published in the major media. As with 'ALL'
independent articles posted in this section, the copyrights rest with the
author's themselves. Please contact them with questions or comments
regarding their stories.
There are links to Gordon's articles throughout the summary, or you will
find an organized list of links at the end of each article. READ THEM ALL!
They are worth the effort. I also have a few links at the end of this page,
to Gordon's current Online Efforts.
~It was not that I was emotionally vulnerable that caused me to join the
Moonies (although, in fact, I was and am). Nor was it my chronic loneliness
that caused me to recklessly abandon my identity for more than a decade. It
was, rather, simply that I had the bad luck to be in the wrong place at the
wrong time, during one of those inevitable intervals in life when I was
between jobs and therefore easily persuaded to spend what was supposed to be
a mere three days on a farm in Northern California. In short, I was duped.
~To begin at the beginning: at age 23, in August of 1976, I left my native
Canada for what I though was a two-week trip to California. On only the
second day, while sight-seeing in Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, I was
approached by two young men who vaguely promised me a free dinner with a
bunch of friendly people. They did not say it was the Unification Church of
the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. They did not even say it was a religious group.
So I went.
~Four weeks later, after having been persuaded to repeatedly postpone my
plans to return to Canada, I finally heard the name "Sun Myung Moon." By
then I had spent nearly a month at the camp in Boonville, California
supposedly run by the "Creative Community Project." I had been subjected to
a relentless schedule of activities, including repetitious lectures and
group meetings that left almost no time for independent reflection. I had
unwittingly stumbled into a thought reform environment, and now I was
~After three months recruiting other victims in San Francisco, I was
abruptly sent to Los Angeles to join the International One World Crusade, a
team that was led in military fashion by a German church leader. In April
1977 our team was moved to New York, and soon after, I was sent away to join
Moon's relentless fundraising teams, the so-called "National M.F.T." In
spring of 1978 I was rescued from the M.F.T. by sheer good fortune: someone
I had met while fundraising learned that I am a Canadian and reported me to
the Immigration and Naturalization Service. I was forced to leave the United
States (through a "voluntary departure", a process which leaves no record),
but I was soon called back to join a class of prospective Seminarians who
were to begin classes at the Unification Theological Seminary in Barrytown,
New York that fall. But first, Moon shipped us all over to London, England
for a failed witnessing campaign he dubbed "Home Church."
~UUpon returning to the United States, the Seminarians settled into an
arduous routine in which academic study was little more than an elaborate
charade, which we were intended to play out for two or three years --
pretending to think, but never actually giving ourselves over to independent
thought. Those that did give in to the temptation to start thinking were
quickly sent away. One brother went on the Christmas fundraising break and
did not return for more than a year. Inevitably, after one year of dedicated
conformity, in my second year I began thinking also, and this resulted in my
being abruptly dropped from the Seminary. I should mention that even though
I had resumed some independent thinking, this did not mean that the effects
of mind control were suddenly "snapped" or dispelled. It simply means that
from that point on I was in a constant state of inner conflict.
~AAt this point, I was in a curious position in the church: unwanted in my
former mission, but not specifically designated to another mission. I was in
the unique position of being able to choose my own next step. I decided that
I was troubled by emotional problems which, if I could just fix them
completely, would no longer stand in the way of my being a "good Moonie."
So, to fix the problems, I decided to undertake Primal Therapy at Arthur
Janov's Primal Institute in Los Angeles, and asked to be sent to Los Angeles
for this purpose. Amazingly, my wish was granted. I suppose the Seminary
authorities didn't really care where I went or what I did: they just wanted
me out of there.
~Those who know about Primal Therapy know how contradictory it is to
Unification Church practices. In a church that tells its members to bottle
up feelings, a therapy that instead encourages giving in to violent throes
of emotion would seem almost heretical. And yet I was incapable of seeing
the contradiction: I thought that when church leaders talked about
"Restoration", that they actually meant it, and that this included
restoration of emotional problems. I believed that Primal Therapy was the
path of Restoration for emotional problems.
~Of course, I was wrong, but never mind that. The point is that I was on a
deeply contradictory path that probably would have helped me to leave the
Unification Church on my own had not another circumstance intervened.
~TThat circumstance was the "Blessing." In December of 1980, Sun Myung Moon
called all eligible members to New York to be matched up for an arranged
marriage, and I was matched at that ceremony to an English woman I had never
met. In July of 1982, Moon following up the matching ceremony with the
formal mass wedding ceremony at Madison Square Garden, in which I
participated with my fiancée. I later wrote about that ceremony in an
article which can be viewed on this link:
~Although I was not allowed to live with my new fiancée for many years, I
was now obligated to her in extremely important ways, and when she became
emotionally troubled, I was expected to go after her, to "save" her, that
is, to keep her from leaving the church. These efforts brought us closer as
a couple, but they were ultimately unsuccessful. In 1984, my "Blessed" wife
left the Unification Church, and I was required to wait for Sun Myung Moon
to grant me a new spouse, when and if he decided to do so. But by this time,
I had seriously compromised myself, by moving back to Canada so I could work
legally to raise money to visit my former spouse, as she had demanded. I
would now have to gain the support of a Unification Church leader if I was
to be considered eligible for the Blessing again, but the Canadian
Unification Church leader (in 1985) considered me a flake and wanted nothing
to do with me. There was, finally, no choice but to go back to the United
States, so in 1986, I went to the state of Montana to do exactly this.
~I chose Montana because I knew the leader there from my Seminary days, but
in the end he mostly just served as an example of what I didn't want to be.
He was clearly just going through the motions, but his heart was no longer
in it. He was sick of the endless, pointless campaigns, but he couldn't
admit this to himself. On the other hand, there was another brother in
Montana who was chronically rebellious, but who still felt obligated to
stick it out anyway. I had to ask myself: "Do I want to be like either of
these men?" It seemed pointless to continue to be in the church if you were
going to just listlessly go through the motions, or alternatively exist in a
state of constant unresolved rebellion. I chose to do neither. Fearing that
I was headed for an empty, shallow, meaningless life (a fear that later
proved unfounded), I nevertheless chose to quit.
~TThe story doesn't end there. Even though I physically departed from the
Unification Church in 1986, and returned to Canada, it took another six
years of "floating", during which time (in 1990) I came perilously close to
rejoining the Unification Church. Ultimately, though, I resolved to pursue
my dream of going back to school to become a writer, and this caused me to
sever all remaining ties to the church, although I was only really able to
do so after I read Steven Hassan's excellent book, Combatting Cult Mind
Control. At the time, I didn't believe mind control existed and I expected
to reject Mr. Hassan's conclusions. Instead, I was completely won over by
his arguments, and I decided that I had been under mind control after all.
Subsequently, I wrote about my new insights in a series of articles that
were published in the Vancouver Sun, including my initial breakthrough
article, as well as articles comparing the Unification Church to aspects of
the Solar Temple and Aum Shinri Kyo.
~I am now at work on a book about my Unification Church experiences, which
will be titled Heartbreak and Rage: Ten Years Under Sun Myung Moon.
Gordon Neufeld: firstname.lastname@example.org