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Membership and the Matching and Blessing for Second Generation Unificationists

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The second generation of the Unification Church, a New Religious Movement of the late twentieth century, must decide whether to be members under different circumstances than those facing the first

The second generation of the Unification Church, a New Religious Movement of the late twentieth century, must decide whether to be members under different circumstances than those facing the first generation. As Dr. James Grace studied in his 1985 book, Sex and Marriage in the Unification Movement: A Sociological Study, the Church's practice of arranged marriage directly contributed to the first generation's participation. I interview six "second gen" and their parents about their relationship to the Church and its marriage practices. By comparing the second gen interviews to Dr. Grace's results, I discover that the same centripetal factors that encouraged first generation participation can both encourage and discourage involvement among the second generation. Though a small sample, the six second gens' personal histories also suggest new trends in the evolving Church, like a rebellion against the stringent expectations of sexual and romantic abstinence and the continuing appeal of arranged marriage for atheist or less involved members. For such a small and fledgling movement the retention of members is essential to perpetuation, as is inheritance by the second generation of the Church's leadership. Understanding how the second generation may be retained or repelled allows us to understand the ways that the Unification Church is still a critique and rejection of American religion and romantic culture.

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  • 2014-05