Anderson's ties with Rev. Moon in question-- Lawmaker denies claims that church controls him

The Mesa Tribune/August 9, 1998
By Dan Nowicki


Religion or 'destructive cult?'
A Moon Political Network?
Liberty and marriage
American Constitution Committee

A state lawmaker quietly has been working to advance the political agenda of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the controversial founder of the Unification Church, a nationally recognized cult expert is charging.

Various documents obtained by The Tribune also, show state Rep. Mark Anderson's legislative activities are closely tied to Moon's agenda. For his part, Anderson concedes his legislative priorities reflect Moon's position on many issues, but he adamantly disputes claims he is acting on behalf of Moon or the Unification Church.

Still, the Mesa Republican's activities are renewing debate at the state Capitol over the line between state business and church business for elected leaders.

Anderson's efforts on behalf of one church-member-supported cause--National Parents Day--got him a bill for $404 from the House of Representatives demanding reimbursement for state supplies and staff time he spent on the project.

"Mark Anderson is a dedicated member (of Moon's Unification Church) who has spent more than half of his life--virtually all of his adult life--as a devoted follower of 'Father' as they call him," said Rick Ross a Phoenix-based cult expert, lecturer and consultant who has been following Anderson's legislative career closely over the past several months.

"I would say he's a hard-core member who has proven himself repeatedly to Father, and now he's about the Father's business in a very trusted position," Ross said. "He is involved in a network that Moon has nurtured and worked to establish for many years."

Anderson, 43, acknowledges he has been active with the Falls Church, Virginia-based American Constitution Committee, a political organization that to the best of his knowledge consists solely of Unification Church members.

Internal committee documents show the group is working to establish a network of U.S. public policy makers and forward six goals from its yearly plan, which include expansion of "True Family Values," Moon's mass-marriage-related "Blessing movement" and Parents Day activities.

Anderson, whose bid for a third legislative term this year is unopposed in Mesa's District 29, is candid about his long-term relationship with his church.

He has been a follower of Moon for 24 years and even ran the church's Phoenix house on West Wiletta Street for about a year during the mid-1980s. Prior to that, he did missionary work for Moon around the country, Anderson said.

In 1982, Moon chose a bride for Anderson and married them along with 2,074 other couples in a gargantuan wedding at Madison Square Garden in New York, he said.

For about seven years, Anderson was an executive director with the American Freedom Coalition, an anti-Communist Cold War group Moon once boasted he started while serving time in federal prison for a 1982 tax-evasion conviction. In his spare time, Anderson sells subscriptions for the Washington Times, a Moon-owned conservative newspaper.

For the past "eight or nine years," he has run a business from his home called Blue Sky Travel and Southwestern Tours, which specializes in discount international airfare arrangements. The agency doesn't advertise because it relies solely on repeat and referral business from a client base that Anderson wouldn't elaborate on.

Anderson declined to answer when asked if he handles Unification Church travel business.

"I don't really ask people what church they go to," he said. "I don't have that problem of differences between religions. I treat all people the same."

Anderson and his wife, Lucia also control a business called Heavenworks Inc., which specializes in "arts and crafts and fresh flower arrangements," according to his most recent financial disclosure statement filed with Secretary of State's Office. Flower businesses have long been associated with the Unification Church, Ross said.

Most recently, the lawmaker has been the driving force behind the local observance of National Parents Day, a new and still obscure holiday created by Congress and President Clinton in 1994. Parents Day, which is the fourth Sunday in July, honors all mothers and fathers, but Unification Church literature indicates the holiday may have special meaning for its members, who consider Moon and his wife to be the "True Parents" of humanity and refer to them as "Father" and "Mother". Anderson, who is mulling a possible run next year for House Republican whip, said allegations that he is a robotic "pawn" awaiting orders from Moon are not only "ridiculous," but bigoted and paranoid as well.

Other state lawmakers aren't so sure. Some privately told The Tribune they heard rumblings about possible Moon connections to Parents Day and made a conscious effort to stay away from it this year. Some also said they found it curious that Anderson managed to get a fellow Unification Church member, Mark Barry, hired as research analyst for the House Block Grants Committee, of which he is chairman.

"I think there are more than one of us who are sometimes suspicious that his religion is part of his agenda, although I don't know that he's the only person that can be said about," said Rep. Carolyn Allen, R-Scottsdale.

Rep. Winifred "Freddy" Hershberger, R-Oro Valley, put it this way: "Mark has got definite moral standards that he feels everybody should have. I don't know if it's religion so much as idealism or philosophy or exactly what it is. I'm sure it perhaps arises out of his religion."

Anderson confirmed that Barry shares his religious affiliation. He said he urged Barry to apply for the job at the Capitol, but added it was the House staff that made the final decision.

Barry was hired prior to the current administration, said James Jayne, House director of operations under Speaker Jeff Groscost, R-Mesa. Generally though, committee chairmen are consulted on the hiring of their research analysts, he said.

"My understanding was Mr. Anderson gave a favorable recommendation on that hire," Jayne said.

Religion or 'destructive cult?'

Ross, 45, who is Jewish and a Republican, said Anderson's constituents in District 29--and his fellow state lawmakers--need to at least be aware of Anderson's myriad connections to the Moon organization.

Anderson, who was first elected in 1994, never has tried to conceal his membership in the 44-year-old Unification Church, or the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, as it is officially known.

One of at least three known Unification Church members now serving in elected state governments around the country, Anderson said his faith has become a target for the intolerance and hateful abuse that previously has been aimed at other groups.

"It's just like the old days with Catholics like Kennedy: 'OK, he's going to be on the phone with the pope. He's going to be telling him what to do. They're going to make everybody a Catholic,'" Anderson said.

But while Anderson maintains that he belongs to a legitimate faith not unlike other Judeo-Christian religions, Ross called the church "one of the most established, classic cults in the United States."

For his part, Anderson also is quick to disparage Ross' reputation, pointing to his two criminal convictions that are more than 20 years old. He says Ross makes an "immoral" living as a professional cult "deprogrammer" who in the past has tried to force people to change their religious beliefs against their will.

"He has an agenda, and it's in his best interest to instill fear in people," Anderson said.

Despite lingering perceptions and "myths" circulating in the United States, the Unification Church is not a cult, Anderson said. The stereotypical "Moonie" --a term some church members now consider pejorative--peddling flowers on the street in a brainwashed state of mind doesn't exist, Anderson said. More often than not, members have families, jobs and mortgages just like anyone else, he said.

"A cult, in my mind, is some kind of secretive organization that maybe has an agenda or they have some kind of thing where they're isolated," said Anderson, alluding to the more than 900 members of the Rev. Jim Jones' People's Temple who committed suicide in Guyana in 1978.

"Our church is sort of the opposite of a cult because people are encouraged to go out and get involved in your community," he said.

Ross, who has established an elaborate Internet Web site that provides detailed information on various cults, sects and [controversial] groups, said he doesn't try to hide or make excuses for mistakes of his youth. He's still recognized as an expert witness by the courts, Ross said, insisting he knows a "destructive cult" when he sees one.

Moon, now 78, has proclaimed himself the messiah, Ross pointed out, and his followers foresee all world religions one day unified under Moon's "Divine Principle," which is the foundation of their religious beliefs. Moon's own speeches suggest he is a theocrat, with no real regard for America's long-revered "separation of church and state," he said.

"Reverend Moon is far beyond a pope or any other type of religious leader. He is the embodiment of the movement," said Ross, who has participated in more than 400 cult interventions. The main difference between Moon and doomed charismatic leaders such as David Koresh of the Branch Davidians and Marshall Applewhite of the "Heaven's Gate" astro-religious cult, Ross said, is that Moon has managed to become a successful businessman and amass a huge fortune that allows him to buy influence.

A Moon Political Network?

Local Parents Day activities aren't the only apparent ties between Anderson and initiatives supported by Moon-related groups such as the American Constitution Committee, which Anderson said he represents in Arizona.

In conjunction with Moon's Washington Times Foundation, a charitable organization connected to the newspaper, The American Constitution Committee co-sponsors "American Leadership Conferences," which focus on family values-related public policy issues.

Anderson said he has asked a number of his fellow lawmakers to attend the all-expenses paid events in Washington, D.C. On at least one occasion, Anderson mailed out a letter about a conference that identified the American Constitution Committee's local headquarters as his home address on West Argon Street in Mesa.

Only one legislator, Rep. Debra Brimhall, R-Snowflake, ever took him up on an American Leadership Conference offer, Anderson said. Senate Majority Whip Gary Richardson, R-Tempe, and Anderson attended together a related Washington Times Foundation conference on religious tolerance in Berlin, he said.

American Constitution Committee president Michael Smith and all 12 regional directors are Unification Church members as far as he knows, Anderson said.

The country's two other Unificationist elected officials--New Mexico State Sen. Mark Boitano and Nevada Assemblyman Pat Hickey--both are active in the group. Dong Moo Joo, president of both the Washington Times Corp. and the Washington Times Foundation, acts as an "advisor" to the committee Anderson said.

Joo is "a very loyal disciple of Reverend Moon," according to Robert Grant, president of the National Parents Day Foundation, which shares office space in the American Constitution Committee's headquarters.

"In the ACC, the people who are the leaders of it, and actually they're the only people in it, are church members, but it doesn't mean that they're being controlled by the church," Anderson said. "If you're asking does Reverend Moon control the ACC, the answer is no."

Moon does influence the organization, Anderson said, "in the same way that Christ would influence the Christian Coalition." The committee, while understaffed and underfunded, does seek to reflect in the political sphere Moon's "world view," which is distinct from Moon's theology, he said.

An April 16th committee memorandum obtained by The Tribune includes "insights and visions" attributed to Joo that encourage members to "activate" 50 "core activists" in each state to help build "an impressive network" of 2,500 people nationwide. Joo suggest members cultivate American Leadership Conference attendees so that they, and even their families, "can work with you on numerous projects" related to Moon-linked organizations such as the Pure Love Alliance, a pro-abstinence group for young people.

Joo also lists a handful of goals from "our yearly plan" that include nationwide expansion of "(American Leadership Conference) True Family Values education," the Moon Blessing marriage movement, Parents Day activities, and "the Washington Times National Weekly Edition foundation."

"When I consider the tremendous opportunity we have and the resources that have been provided to our network, I feel very seriously that we need to understand that this is our last chance to help America reach its full potential for goodness," Joo said in the memo.

A June 6th American Constitution Committee memo from president Smith included a list of "action ideas for states" with two suggestions based on "Anderson model" legislation for covenant marriage and charity-tax-credit laws. Other "action ideas" that parallel Anderson's activities in Arizona include hosting a state Parents Day reception; working to implement federal abstinence block-grant programs; and writing letters to the state's congressional delegation in support of block-grant-related "Fathers Count" legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw, R-Florida.

"We are positing the ideal family as God's historic goal," Joo is quoted as saying in the April 16th memo.

Neither Joo nor Smith returned The Tribune's repeated telephone calls seeking comment. Boitano also did not return several calls, although his secretary said he intended to do so. Hickey could not be reached for comment.

When asked about the memos, Anderson acknowledged he'd seen them, but added that Joo was overstating things a little bit.

"I think (Joo) sees himself as trying to give motivation or vision or something to the organization. In reality, that's not really the practical application of the goals that will happen," he said.

Liberty and marriage

Anderson said the "real goal" of the American Constitution Committee is to "promote anything to help people realize the value of marriage and the value of the family" as an answer to many of society's problems.

Marriage is important to Anderson, whose own wife was picked out for him by Moon. The institution also is important to the Unification Church, which works hard to establish a marriage culture through its "Blessing" mass-wedding events and elsewhere. Members believe they only can fully realize their ability to love unconditionally through marriage. That ability to love is the key to higher planes of the heavenly "spiritual realm" in the afterlife, Anderson explained. Ross characterized Moon being "fixated" on marriage. In recent years, Moon has performed ceremonies blessing Jesus Christ and other key religious in matrimony, Ross said. Moon even posthumously married a dead son to a living bride, he said. Anderson's work as chairman of the House Committee on Block Grants and on behalf of legislation such as the covenant-marriage contract, has reflected a strong belief in marriage.

In fact, Anderson's legislative efforts to boost marriage earned him a fair share of criticism during this year's regular session.

House Bill 2620, Anderson's welfare-to-work ill, originally included a proposed $2 million pilot plan that would instruct women about the benefits, including economic, of marriage and teach them how to pursue "a career track in home management." House critics on both sides of the aisle dubbed it a "how-to-get-a-husband program" and it was stripped from the legislation.

Anderson also caught flak - and the attention of the national news media - for telling a recently divorced constituent to "consider re-visiting the issue of your marriage failure" because she could "perhaps … solve (her) financial troubles by re-marrying." Liz Heron of Mesa had written to District 29 legislators about the issue of state childcare assistance for single mothers attending college.

Anderson later apologized to Heron.

Anderson also was a sponsor of a House covenant-marriage bill that failed early in the session. But when a similar measure moved over from the state Senate, he spoke strongly in favor of the bill on the House floor.

The Senate version ultimately was passed out of the Legislature, and Arizonans soon will be able to tie the knot with the stronger, covenant-marriage license or the old kind. Anderson's record often coincides with Smith's June 6th list of "action ideas," but the similarities beg the chicken-or-egg question: which came first?

For instance, his work is cited as the "model" for the "action ideas" related to covenant marriages and charity tax credits, and his efforts on behalf of abstinence-education and block-grant issues date back years in some cases.

Then there's the "action idea" urging committee leaders to "generate letters and calls to congressional delegation members for the 'Fathers Count' legislation." Anderson wrote letters to Arizona congressmen that appear to closely reflect the instructions, right down to carbon-copy details. The letters were written on state House stationery and dated July 1st .

Anderson also currently is negotiating to bring Charles Ballard of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Responsible Fatherhood and Family Revitalization to the Valley. Those efforts, which included an August 3rd meeting with Phoenix and state officials, seem to gel with an "action idea" to "support a Charles Ballard grass-roots fatherhood project in your community."

Anderson's HB 2620 included $1 million to be used on programs aimed at young fathers, said Patt Nightingale, Phoenix specialty programs coordinator who participated in last week's meeting with the lawmaker.

Anderson stressed there's no "secret" religious motivation behind anything he does at the Capitol. His legislative priorities are hardly unique, and have "nothing to do with an action item from Mike Smith."

"I am the ACC here. I do what I want to do," said Anderson.

Anderson also is unapologetic about the American Constitution Committee, which he said has as much right to voice its opinions and support public policy initiatives as "anti-religious" people do.

"We didn't want to, by default, turn over the country to people who have the opposite values," he said.

American Constitution Committee

"Memorandum" April 16, 1998

"Comments from Mr. (Dong Moon) Joo:"

"Review the six activities which are the goals from our yearly plan. They are:

  1. Expansion of ALC True Family Values education and Blessing movement nationwide.
  2. Expansion of Parents Day activities in every region and state.
  3. Disseminate information about Pure Love Alliance activities in every region and state.
  4. Present the International Coalition for Religious Freedom materials worldwide.
  5. Development of the Washington Times National Weekly Edition foundation in every state.
  6. Continuation and development of USA and community service awards projects."
  • "In Korea, we have a saying, 'Don't start like the head of a dragon and end up like the tail of a snake.' Our (American Leadership Conference) are starting out powerfully like the head of a dragon, but unless we have a carefully thought out action plan and follow-up for each of your states, we may end up like the tail of a harmless snake."
  • "We are posting the ideal family as God's historic goal. We are stating that the messiah came to establish an ideal family, that this still is God's goal, and that we need true parents, and need to become true parents and to get back what was lost. We need to ask our conference participants, now that they understand our paradigm, would they like to make a covenant to become true families and work together with us."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.