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Page 3 Profile: Sun Myung Moon, Unification Church founder


What, this chap created a religion?

He certainly did. The Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the Unification Church, is almost a deity to his followers. Long before Lady Gaga had her Little Monsters, Moon had his Moonies. The Korean claimed that Jesus appeared before him at the age of 15, urging him to complete the work that was left over following the crucifixion. After a spell in a North Korean labour camp that tainted his view of communism forever, he launched the Church in 1954. It claims to have seven million followers, although critics say this is an exaggeration. Regardless, all will be praying especially hard for their leader tonight.

Why, what's happened?

The 92-year-old was rushed to hospital in South Korea on Monday, and is undergoing treatment for pneumonia. His doctor has given him just a 50 per cent chance of survival, and he is breathing through a respirator. The church is preparing itself for the worst: Moon was seen as the individual who would bring about man's salvation as Jesus never could, so who will take his place?

How are his followers feeling?

Incredibly hungry, actually. The church called for 40 days of prayer and a three-day fast in a bid to galvanise their leader's convalescence. But should Reverend Moon depart this life, you suspect their devotion will continue as normal. They've certainly weathered more bizarre events. The church became renowned in the 1980s for its mass weddings. One, at Robert F Kennedy Stadium in Washington, drew 28,000 couples. The unions were not legally binding, instead acting as a blessing: the couples, and any children born to them, would be freed from the burden of original sin.