Unification's Moon Offers Social Message: 'Time for America to awaken,' he tells SLC crowd

The Salt Lake Tribune/March 11, 2001
By Peggy Fletcher Stack

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon has joined forces with dozens of Christian clergy to save the world -- and especially the United States -- from moral decay.

"I have transcended race, idealogy and national boundaries to pursue a movement for one world under God," Moon told more than 700 people gathered at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City on Saturday night.

"The time has come for America to awaken once again," he said in a prepared speech he has repeated in cities across the nation. "It is time for the country as a whole to create a new movement to build true parents, true families, a true country and a true world centered on God."

Moon is touring the country, the guest of mostly black churches, pitching social rather than theological unity.

The Unification Church is "moving into the mainstream," said the Rev. David Carlson, associate professor of world religion at the Unification Theological Seminary, in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune. Carlson is traveling with Moon.

Utah's only Unification congregation has nine families and the church's total U.S. membership is between 1,500 and 3,000 members, Carlson said.

Rather than seek new members, Carlson said, the church is building political and spiritual alliances. "This is a prophetic message for America at this time," he said.

Though there were Catholics, Baptists, Buddhists and Muslims among the Hilton dinner crowd, it was clear that much of the message was directed at members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The evening's master of ceremonies, the Rev. Michael Jenkins, president of Moon's Family Federation for World Peace and Unification USA, praised the LDS Church for supporting "family values."

"We stand together against divorce and the breakdown of the family," Jenkins said.

"All world religions began with great suffering," he said, comparing Moon's imprisonment by North Korean communists to the persecution of LDS founder Joseph Smith, who was "a martyr."

StephenJohn Covey pitched his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families and the Goodman Family, a Mormon singing group, provided several musical numbers.

Utah state Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, said he had attended a leadership meeting in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Unification Church. "It was like [LDS] General Conference for politicians," said Stephensen in his introduction of Moon. "It inspired us."

Stephensen said that although Moon is not a member of the LDS Church, he is "a true latter-day saint." He then quoted the LDS Church's 13th article of faith, which says that members seek "anything virtuous, lovely, or . . . praiseworthy" and said that Moon wants the same things.

A short video outlined the details of Moon's life from "hearing the call from God" on a Korean mountaintop at age 16 to his work in the United States during the last two decades to presiding over mass wedding ceremonies in New York City's Madison Square Garden.

As the video ended, Moon strolled confidently to the podium and began speaking rapidly in Korean. "Utah is well-known as the home of the Mormons," said the energetic 81-year old. "But how many of you believe in God? Do you want to meet God?"

Moon then launched into a 50-minute discussion of the Garden of Eden, occasionally breaking into English to give his hoarse translator, Peter Kim, a chance to catch up.

With animated voice inflections, tongue clicking, scowls and even spitting for emphasis, he posed question after question to the audience, asking for an enthusiastic "yes" or "no."

"Why do women need men? Is it for money? Power? What?" he demanded. "Because we all need human love!" he bellowed. "No matter how famous you may be, you are only half a human being."

Because of Adam and Eve's "fall" from God's presence and Jesus's crucifixion, which they believe was not part of God's plan, followers of Moon believe he is a "third Adam," sent to restore God's kingdom on Earth. They view Moon and his wife as the world's "True Parents."

For now, though, preaching Unification theology is secondary to Moon's mission to solve the family, moral, youth and racial problems plaguing this nation.

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