The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the Unification Church known for its mass wedding ceremonies, has died.
Moon died early Monday (Sunday in the United States) at a church-owned hospital near his home in Gapyeong, South Korea, the AP reports. He was 92.
Moon founded the Unification Church in 1954. His teachings were based on the Bible but offered different interpretations than traditional Christianity or Judaism.
The church’s most recognizable practice was the mass wedding ceremony, where hundreds and even thousands of couples exchanged vows. Moon believed that people should take spouses from different countries, in order to bring about a world of peace more quickly.
The church and Moon also faced a fair share of controversy. A number of people accused Moon, a self-proclaimed messiah, of leading a cult and bilking members out of their money. Moon served 13 months in federal prison for tax evasion in the mid-1980s. The church’s teachings have also been viewed as anti-semitic and anti-gay.
The church also built a business empire that includes the Washington Times newspaper, a food company that’s a leading supplier of fish to sushi restaurants in the United States, the only auto plant in North Korea and the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan.
Moon had been turning over control of the church and its various related enterprises to his children in recent years. He last performed a mass wedding — of 45,000 couples at several sites around the world — in 2009.