Scandal: Lawyers building hundreds of cases on testimonies given under duress
Fourth part of an opinion letter to the court concerning the request for a dissolution order against the Family Federation (formerly the Unification Church), written 12th December 2023 by Rev. Haruhisa Nakagawa (中川晴久), Pastor of Christian Church of the Lord’s Sheep (主の羊クリスチャン教会), Executive Secretary of Tokyo Christian Theological Institute, President of Japan Christian Theological Institute. He conducted an undercover investigation of the Unification Church in 2012.
Translated from Japanese. Original article.
6. Those who quit naturally and the real perpetrators
When I say “format”, I don’t just mean the process of going from abduction and confinement to filing a lawsuit as a “victim”. In fact, there is a clear difference between “defectors” who were abducted and confined and then left the organization, and “natural defectors”. I feel like some kind of thought pattern (format) has been injected into the consciousness of those who were forced to quit.
There are many who quit the Unification Church and are now found in Christian communities. More than 30 years ago, when I first visited a large Protestant church with about 150 people, there were three former Unification Church members there, whose names I can still recall. People gain depth of thought through experience, and some make a decision to leave the organization, while others stay. In any case, various experiences provide lessons in life, and through them, each person describes him- or herself in various colors, saying, “I live this way now.” Those who have been through it all, have their own story to tell.
However, persons who abandoned their faith due to abduction and confinement, suddenly become “victims of the Unification Church”. They completely deny the Unification Church and advocate the position of the Zenkoku Benren (National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales). So, when someone says, “We should stand with the victims,” I can’t help but pause at the word “victim”. Can we accept the testimony of people who were forcibly detained for a long period of time, subjected to ideological reeducation, with their hands and feet tied, forced to be incapacitated, and threatened that they would not be released unless they renounce their faith?
It seems that some other force is at work. Some who were abducted and locked up, committed suicide, some were raped, or had their back broken when trying to escape. Many also suffer from PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder). However, persons who abandoned their faith this way, became witnesses for the Zenkoku Benren (National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales) as “victims of the Unification Church”. Even under such circumstances, the issue of abduction and confinement has not been taken into consideration by society. Those involved in abduction and confinement have been left unchecked to incite the public opinion and even move politicians and governments.
7. About donations
Large donations have become an issue, but the feelings of those who donate vary from person to person. I myself have donated much of my income to the Christian church. However, it was given to God through the church, and I do not feel the need to demand a return from a church I left in the past. At that time, the people of that church were like family, as brothers and sisters. It is rather normal to give your own earned income to your family.
If a believer like me is told by God, “I have taken your heartfelt thought seriously,” then I am satisfied and grateful. Believers are happier when their extra money is used for God’s work rather than for a life in luxury. Therefore, although the Unification Church is different from other churches in doctrine and everything else, I can understand its spirit.
However, let’s say that a former believer who lost faith after being abducted and locked up, claimed under the guidance of the perpetrators behind the confinement, that the donations made in faith when he was an active believer, actually were made against his will. I wonder if there will ever be a society where such a claim is accepted?
In the face of the events that have occurred due to the government’s dissolution request, I – as a religious person and believer – cannot help but cling to the court with a feeling that we’re in a critical time, wondering what will happen in the future if the court, which is the last bastion of religious freedom, does not protect the existence of a religion.
8. Final remarks
I don’t think the Unification Church is an organization without any problems. I think it became a social issue in the past because such a reality actually existed. However, as far as I have investigated undercover, the people who gather there, are people who are full of enthusiasm to improve society. In addition, especially since 2009, there has been a visible improvement in the number of lawsuits and claims. I think it’s problematic that there has been no evaluation of this.
Basically, we Christians all don’t like the Unification Church. Even at times like this, we feel emotionally, “Let it collapse!” However, as a religious person who has observed the Unification Church for more than 25 years, I have to testify fairly.
A request for dissolution has been made, and they are really at a complete loss. I do not think, however, that they are such a bad religious organization that they should be dissolved, because for 14 years now they have already made improvements and reforms and have kept themselves within the framework of a religion for that long.
Although their doctrine is completely different from my church, I can understand that they have important values that they want to protect. And, as they have been striving for improvement since 2009, I also believe that if they continue their activities while demonstrating their true worth, they will be able to contribute to the universal values of humanity.
Featured image above: The Alternative of Williamsburg 1775. Satire; Virginian loyalists being forced to sign either the Association or the Resolutions drawn up by the Williamsburg Convention in Aug. 1774. A number of Liberty Men with large clubs are grouped round two casks on the top of which is a plank serving as a table; on this is the paper which the reluctant loyalists are being forced to sign. Illustration: The Trustees of the British Museum / Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image. Cropped
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