Don’t Call Us “Moonies”

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In December 1971, Reverend Moon came to America as the founder and spiritual leader of the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, which then as now he has referred to by it’s shorter name, the Unification Church.

In October 1973, Time magazine and Newsweek wrote about our church. Instead of referring to “Unification Church members,” Time coined the phrase “Moonites,” whereas Newsweek decided to refer to church members as “Moonists.”

While these publications respect the rights of homosexuals to refer to themselves as “gays” and the right of blacks to be referred to as “blacks” rather than as “negroes” or “coloured people,” they took it upon themselves to coin derisive names for a religious minority. Eventually The Washington Post was among the first (if not the first) to use the even more disrespectful term of “Moonie” in February 1974.

Unification Church members have every reason to be proud of associating themselves with the name of Reverend Sun Myung Moon. However, as several civil rights leaders concerned about systematic persecution of our church have pointed out, ‘Moonie’ was crafted as a derisive term and is being used against Unificationists in the same way that the term “nigger” was used to degrade the blacks.

Another form of religious bigotry is to substitute the word “cult” for church. The word “church” connotes that which is normal, legitimate, and merits respect. The word “cult” suggests immature people who have sacrificed their freedom to the dictates and whims of some illegitimate personality.

We request that the public and the media respectfully refer to our church not as “the Moonies,” not as a “cult,” but as the Unification Church. Our members may be identified as “Unificationists” or “Unification Church members.”

I have written to members of the Unification Church in America and encouraged them to stand up against this form of blatant bigotry, which if permitted to spread, will only inflame prejudices and incur innocent people.

Rev. James A. Baughman
The Unification Church in America
October 1989

Notes for news men and women about pejorative term “Moonie”