Unification Church

COMMENTARY: My Parents Arranged my Marriage, and I'm Cool with That

Glenn Haider and Judilee King during a gala in Columbus, Ohio, in December 2013. Photo courtesy of Judilee King/ via RNS

Editor’s note: Judilee King, 22, and Glenn Haider, 23, both grew up in the Unification Church, which is perhaps best known for its arranged marriages and mass wedding ceremonies. The couple will be married at a mass religious wedding in South Korea on Feb. 12. Judilee, who grew up in Nova Scotia, plans to enroll in college in the fall. Glenn, who grew up in New Jersey, is a student at Montclair State University.

Glenn Haider and I first met on Facebook. I was attending community college in Seattle and he was in New Jersey, and while we had a lot of mutual friends through our church, we had never met. His status updates kept popping up on my news feed and one day, mostly out of boredom, I decided to chat him up to see what he was like.

We hit it off and started talking more. Eventually he asked for my number and we started texting. I thought of it as a friendship. We kept talking for a couple of weeks, until it got to a point where I was wondering if he was thinking I wanted something more than a friendship.

Unification Church Founder Sun Myung Moon Dies at 92

(Date unknown) RNS photo by Chris Sheridan

Gesturing enthusiastically, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon delivers a sermon. (Date unknown) RNS photo by Chris Sheridan

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, revered as a messiah within his Unification Church but regarded by many others as a vain and enigmatic man who blessed mass weddings, built a sprawling business empire and presided over a personality cult, died on Monday in South Korea. He was 92.

Moon had been in intensive care at a Seoul hospital since Aug. 7, according to his church. The cause of death was complications from pneumonia, including kidney failure.

Moon was born in 1920 in what is now North Korea, and rose from a home in which five siblings starved to death to become an ambitious man who harbored a lifelong hatred of communism, craved respect from the rich and powerful and professed a divine mandate to restore a fallen world. 

Does Love Last Longer in Arranged Marriages?

Wedding photo, MNStudio / Shutterstock.com

Wedding photo, MNStudio / Shutterstock.com

Elke Thompson’s high-school friends think she’s nuts, she said. But in the Unification Church, arranged marriages are the norm. The Rev. Sun Myung Moonteaches that romantic love leads to sexual promiscuity, mismatched couples and dysfunctional societies. 

Several religions practice arranged marriages. Hindu and Jewish matchmakers abound, for instance. But rarely does it rise to the level of dogma. Unificationists believe that marriages arranged through the church and blessed by Moon are “sinless” and foster the kingdom of God on earth, one happy family at a time. 

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