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“I am a controversial person. The mere mention of my name causes trouble in the world,” Rev. Moon wrote in his 2009 autobiography, “As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen.”

The world “has associated many different phrases with my name, rejected me, and thrown stones at me. Many are not interested in knowing what I say or what I do. They only oppose me,” he wrote.

“Today, though, not even the slightest wound remains in my heart. … True love is a love that forgets it already gave love, and gives love again.”

Rev. Moon became widely known to Americans in the 1970s during his evangelistic rallies across the country, and major rallies at Yankee Stadium and the Washington Monument in 1976. America was in “moral decline,” Rev. Moon wrote in his autobiography, “and [I] played the role of a fireman responding to a call in an effort to reawaken its Puritan spirit.”

But accusations that his church “brainwashed” members helped make Rev. Moon the target of repeated investigations. In 1982, Rev. Moon was convicted of income-tax evasion and eventually served 13 months in federal prison.

Prolific founder

Despite such hostility, Rev. Moon established and helped fund nonprofit organizations, including the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification and the Universal Peace Federation.

He also launched business interests in industries such as shipbuilding, industrial machinery, stoneware, fishing and seafood products, computer software, ginseng tea and other health products, soft drinks, arts and cultural schools, newspapers in several countries and car factories in China and North Korea. In 1992, the church rescued the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut from bankruptcy with a loan reported at $60 million.

A passionate fisherman, Rev. Moon inspired “Ocean Challenge” programs for youths and fishing tournaments in places such as Gloucester, Mass.; Alaska; and Hawaii. In 2011, he launched a marine company in Las Vegas to make a new kind of leisure craft.

Rev. Moon also founded numerous international, interfaith service groups, such as the International Relief Friendship Foundation, Religious Youth Service and Service for Peace, and sponsored thousands of conferences on world peace, family and interfaith issues. National leaders including former Presidents Gerald R. Ford and George H.W. Bush addressed some of these conferences.

“My peace plan starts from the level of the individual,” Rev. Moon once said. “First we must find peace with God, then peace with our fellow man, and finally we can secure world peace.”

His belief in the divine significance of marriage was the rationale behind the Unification Church’s most famous events — the mass public “blessings” for both newlyweds (including church members whom Rev. Moon matched together) and married couples of all religions renewing their vows.

“What is the blessing? It is to possess God’s love, God’s son or daughter, and then all the universe,” Rev. Moon explained at a 1975 matching ceremony.

Early years

Rev. Moon was born Jan. 6, 1920, in Sangsa Ri village in Pyongan province, now part of North Korea. His family members were poor farmers who joined the Presbyterian Church when he was 10. Rev. Moon embraced his conversion deeply and often lamented about the world of perpetual suffering he saw in Japanese-occupied Korea.

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