Church-backed school before planners

West Hawaii Today/September 6, 2002
By Bobby Command

A controversial plan to establish a boarding high school in North Kona financed by the Unification Church will be unveiled today before the county Planning Commission.

The commission meets at 9 a.m. today at the Ohana Keauhou Beach Resort to discuss this and other matters before the public.

Plans by Pacific Rim Education Foundation call for a 30 - acre campus site near the Puukala subdivision, about a mile north of Kona Palisades. The school would service about 200 students, mostly from emerging Pacific island nations.

A number of Kona residents have expressed concerns the building of the school will be funded by the Unification Church, which is led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

The Unification movement is described by its followers as family centered and seeking world peace, but critics, many of them mainstream Christian organizations, call the religion a cult because of its involvement in mass weddings, supposed brainwashing recruitment and members' belief that Moon is the Messiah.

Last month, the non - denominational Waikoloa Community Church did not renew a contract with its pastor, Sam Masilamoney, for his involvement in the development of the school.

The president of PREF, Joe Tulley, said last month that the facility will not be religious school, but a secular private school that will stress moral values. Tulley added there will be space reserved for about 30 to 40 students from Hawaii.

The concern by the Waikoloa church came after a flurry of letters to the editor in West Hawaii Today about the involvement of the Unification Church and its leader, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, in the financing of the school.

The school plans to recruit students from various Pacific Island nations, including the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, Western Samoa, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

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