They came expecting a solution to neighborhood violence. But a crowd of more than 500 people -- packed shoulder to shoulder in a North Las Vegas church Wednesday night -- instead were told by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon that the sole purpose for their existence was to reproduce. Some walked out.
One woman heckled Moon from the audience. But Moon, the 81-year-old leader of an international religious organization known at various times as either the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, the Unification Church or simply "the Moonies," spoke for more than an hour, weaving an unusual interpretation of Adam and Eve that included much discussion of their "love organs."
Unmarried people, childless people, homosexuals and those who failed to follow Moon's theology, he said, would not be allowed in Heaven.
Moon had been invited to Zion Methodist Church by the Rev. Marion Bennett, a longtime fan of the controversial Moon. Bennett billed the event -- Moon's 46th stop on a 51-city tour -- as a night that would unite various faiths to resolve the recent spate of violence in the neighborhood.
"I like him because he's interested in uniting the whole community," Bennett said.
Moon has been focusing on black communities during his tour and has developed a relationship with Nation of Islam leaders as well as Christians. "He believes in the family, and that's a good message," Bennett said.
Ironically, Moon's own family has been riddled with trouble. One of his sons suffered from years of drug abuse, while another jumped from a Reno hotel room to his death in 1999. Moon's daughter-in-law recently published a book "In the Shadow of the Moons" that alleges a drug-infested, abusive lifestyle behind the scenes in the Moon family.
There are more than 10,000 "core" followers of Moon in the U.S., according to the Rev. Godwin D'Silva, regional director of the Federation. About 25 Las Vegas families actively subscribe to Moon's teachings, which include abstaining from drinking, smoking and premarital sex.
Moon believes he was visited by Jesus on a Korean hillside in the 1950s and that he himself is the new Messiah.