The International Coalition for Religious Freedom has announced that more than 20,000 Japanese citizens are expected to rally today at Tokyo's Hibiya Park to "Protect Japanese Human rights and Religious Freedom."
The group says that there have been ongoing human rights violations of Unification Church members who have been confined by "faith-breakers" in an attempt to force them leave the religion.
"Deprogramming is a kind of spiritual rape involving kidnapping, false imprisonment, and a fundamental abuse of the human right to religious freedom," said Mr. Toru Goto, described as an abduction victim who has become an icon of religious persecution. Mr. Goto recently spoke to more than 150 scholars at the annual conference of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) to detail his terrifying experience of kidnap at torture at the hands of religious deprogrammers in Japan. He will be at the rally in Tokyo to show his support for the cause.
The rally is sponsored by the International Coalition for Religious Freedom, the Unification Church, and an association of victims who returned to the Unification church after escaping or being released from confinement.
According to the International Coalition for Religious Freedom, more than 4,000 members of the Unification Church have been subjected to human rights violations over the past 40 years and that between 10 to 20 members are abducted each year in Japan to undergo forced de-conversions. Victims who escape their captors report the use of force, prison-like conditions, and intense pressure to change his or her faith. There have been reports of beatings, starvation, and rape. Approximately 1,300 abductees have returned to the church after their ordeals. As frustration of Japan's inaction mounts, victims have been increasingly speaking out on the abduction issue.
The Unification Church was officially founded by Sun Myung Moon in 1954. His followers have been dubbed "Moonies." Moon moved to America in 1959, where he established his international headquarters.
Moon claims to be a Messiah and has matched up thousands of his followers in mass weddings.
According to Moon, Jesus Christ appeared to him in 1936 and told him that God had chosen him for the mission of establishing the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
Here is a promotional piece about Sun Myung Moon.
Moon turned 90 in February of this year.