The Sushi Company That Has Roots In A New-Age Religion

The fact that so many companies across the world have religious roots may come as a surprise to many people. While most of us aren't aware of this, it's very common. It's not unusual to hear business owners claim that their religion isn't just an important part of their lives but also part of their work ethic and company culture. Are these claims simply businesses trying to sell products or are they legitimate? And does the religious connection necessarily mean anything about the quality of products or services offered?

Domino's founder, Tom Monaghan made it a goal to help the Catholic Church, including funding a cathedral in Nicaragua. Interstate Batteries Chairman Norm Miller created an ad to promote God's love, and Fashion brand Forever 21 put Bible verses on their packaging, plus released a controversial range of t-shirts with Christian slogans. Owner, Mrs. Chang said, "God told her she should open a store and that she would be successful." (via Business Insider). The Italian restaurant chain, Buca Di Peppo, holds a ritual blessing the opening of each new location. And it appears that the a major supplier to sushi restaurants is linked to a church helmed by a mysterious Reverend.

What came first the business or the religion?

Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who died in 2012, hailed from South Korea and founded the Unification Church in 1954. The church has thousands of members in various countries. Moon claimed that Jesus appeared to him when he was 16 years old and many of his followers believe he is the second coming of Christ. He called himself the "Father of the Universe" and his followers were strictly obedient to his every word. When he moved to the US in the 1970s, his followers sold flowers and candy which earned him some jail time once the IRS caught up with him. (via Cornell University)

Jump forward to the 1980s when five of his followers arrived in the United States and started a small seafood company. That company — the True World Group — is now one of the biggest suppliers to sushi restaurants in the United States. The company is a commercial juggernaut that powers the seafood business run by Moon followers. It has dozens of distribution centers, including ones in Los Angeles and San Francisco, constructs fleets of boats, and feeds the majority of the country's 9,000 sushi restaurants. (via the New York Times)

Does supporting business mean supporting religion?

The current president of True World Group, Robert Bleu, says that they never "stopped serving his [Rev. Sun Moon] vision". The Unification Church has survived plenty of controversy over the years and ticks many of the boxes that distinguish it as a cult (via Got Questions). However, in 2006, the Rev. Phillip Schanker, a Unification Church vice president, said that True World Group was only founded by members of the church and wasn't legally associated with the seafood business.

True World Foods describes itself as "quite simply, a trusted source for the finest quality of fresh and frozen seafood available on the market today" and its website mentions nothing about the Unification Church. And while they may be keeping the seafood business and religion separate on the surface, the truth is that all employees who are members of the church are also expected to support it and Moon's original vision. However, as Schanker said in 2006, "[the] Marriott supports the Mormon Church but no one who checks into a Marriott Hotel thinks they are dealing with Mormonism." (via the Chicago Tribune)