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Growing Up Moonie, And What Comes Next

Hideo Higashibaba was born into the Unification Church. Its members are commonly known as “Moonies” because of their devotion to the self-proclaimed messiah Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

Hideo left the church in his 20s and has since come out as queer and transgender. He now calls the church a cult, and mined his own story to create a podcast called Growing Up Moonie. He talks with host Lee Hale about why he decided to delve into his painful past, and what he learned from it.

From KUER and PRX. Find more at

Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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