ASAN, South Korea — Some 7,200 South Korean and foreign couples exchanged or reaffirmed marriage vows Sunday in the Unification Church's second mass wedding this year.
Church founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a self-proclaimed messiah, offered blessings for the participating couples gathered at Sun Moon University, the school he founded in Asan, south of Seoul."I pronounce marriage for the blessed beautiful women and handsome men standing before God, the Lord, the world, and myself," said the 90-year-old Moon.
The couples exchanged vows and held hands to pray during the one-hour spectacle, which was broadcast live online and through satellite television to 194 countries, church officials said.
Critics say the mass weddings prove the church brainwashes its followers. Followers routinely let Moon pick their spouses on the belief that he has divine insight and many meet their future spouses for the first time at the mass weddings.
Moon, who says he was 15 when Jesus Christ called upon him to carry out his unfinished work, has courted controversy and criticism since founding the Unification Church in Seoul in 1954.
He held his first mass wedding in the early 1960s, arranging the marriages of 24 couples himself and renewing the vows of 12 married couples.