Moonies is a derogatory term for members of the Unification Church, based on the name of church founder Sun Myung Moon. It is considered a disparagement by most church members, but has nevertheless been used by them and others on occasion without any negative connotations.


Rather than calling members of the church "Unification Church members" or "Unificationists," news articles in the 70s used names emphasizing the members' relationship to Moon as a charismatic leader - often characterized as a cult of personality - such as "Moon-children" or "Moonite," and later "Moonie."

Sun Myung Moon himself used the word quite a few times. In several speeches he made light of the word "moonies," encouraging members to graduate in three stages from "Moonies" to "Sunnies" and then to "Kingies:" "Those who oppose us call us Moonies but we call ourselves Sunnies and the spirit world will tell you that you are Kingies. He also sometimes referred to members as "moonies" in a straightforward manner.

Response by members

In the early 1980s Unificationists took a public stance against the word, asking major media organizations to stop referring to them as "Moonies," stating that the term was intended as a demeaning and pejorative slur. In an official press release from the American Unification Church headquarters in the early 1980s, "Moonie" was described, in comparison to earlier pejorative references such as "Moonite," as "even more derogatory and diminutive."

In August 1994 the Unification News, the official monthly newspaper of the church, published an article saying in part:

One can only wonder how long Unificationists must bide their time before their sincere petitions regarding the offensive use of the term "Moonie" will finally be acknowledged. I consider twenty years to be enough. Any short-term anesthesia has long since worn off and it really hurts to be so persistently abused. Unification Church members have been derided as "Moonies," then mobbed and beaten. In New York City, a seven-months pregnant woman was beaten and sent to the hospital as a result of irrational hatred of "Moonies." Church missionaries have been murdered in the course of their public church duties because they were "Moonies." Members have been abducted, imprisoned, assaulted and abused. In many instances the perpetrators were not charged by the authorities or even admonished by society because their victims were only "Moonies.

Unification Church member Gary Fleisher wrote, "Calling us 'Moonies' is just a technique of making it easy to hate us, because Moonies aren't human. It is easy to hate and persecute robots. The word Moonie has the same purpose as nigger, kike, spik, mick, or Polak. It is to make a group of enemies, that it is acceptable to hate and misuse.

The Religion Style Book, published by the Religion Newswriters Association, says that the word "Moonie" is, "A derogatory term for a member of the Unification Church. Journalists should not use it except in direct quotes.

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