Do the Moonies still exist? That is the reaction of most [French people when the name is mentioned. Indeed, they still exist. But nowadays we only rarely see the smiling Moonies approach young people on street comers, or going door to door selling New Hope. Yet last summer, mostly non-French-speaking Asian Moonies, posted in twos at numerous places in Paris, approached young people, some French, but mostly foreigners, to invite them to "an international student gathering," getting their names and addresses and selling them tickets. These Moonies are from the International CARP Convention of Moon college campus group members, presided over by Moon's eldest son and French Moonie officials such as Pierre Ceyrac, deputy to the European Parliament and a member of the French National Front party.
Although recruitment continues during such conferences, especially aimed at young American backpackers, gains do not seem to compensate for departures. There is some growth through births: the "blessed couples" from the mass marriages since 1982, allowed to get together beginning in the third year of marriage, are procreating rapidly. These children, supposedly free from original sin, also have "true" parents in Mr. and Mrs. Moon. Sterile couples can look forward to being given the child of another couple, as a "love gift." The goal of a Moonie couple is to have as many children as possible "for our father." Born perfect, these children do not have to undergo the same testing as their parents and can, in turn, very early on, produce more "blessed children."
In France, the Moonies live in small communities of 2, 3, or 4 families to an apartment. Their incomes are pooled, as are household tasks, which frees women for missionary tasks and other work.
In France, as throughout the world, family and public preoccupations have evolved somewhat: 15 to 18 years ago, what struck one were the clear "conversions," the sudden total personality changes, the facial expressions, the radical breaks with everything that to that point had constituted the life of the young person, his major interest, and the like, and young people going off with the group, often after only an introductory weekend. It was a question of "brainwashing," of intensive group conditioning, in fact, of a manipulation simple enough where emotions and desires^×for peer recognition, to be freed from the uncertainties of life, anxieties, parents^×were more important than reason. And one asked whether such manipulation was legitimate, legal, and above all, moral, or was it reversible, and how. These questions continue to be asked; the phenomenon has been well-studied, especially in the U.S. The older members no longer have that certain look and style of the early days, but want to appear "normal." They are between 35 and45. Mosthavejobs, some in the group's businesses. Others are missionaries, donating all their time, even if they have family obligations.
Quite apart from the danger of the Moon organization's continuing infiltration of the economic and political life of many countries, there are concerns regarding the children. They are not mistreated; rather, they are well cared for. But they are entirely conditioned from birth to consider Moon their true father, and to be absolutely obedient. Problems inherent in the child's situation are exaggerated when one parent leaves the group. If the father leaves, the mother, usually of a different nationality, goes back home, making it difficult for the father to exercise visitation rights and maintain ties. Moreover, after years in Moon's service, without a diploma, trade, or profession, he has difficulty finding a job and paying the support money demanded of him, much less paying for visits to his children.
Grandparents, even if they are resigned to the decision of their child to join the group^×he is an adult and supposedly "free" to choose^×are tom anew after the arrival of grandchildren. Grandparents suffer if they see the children only occasionally, and still more if they never see them at all. They may well have visitation rights, but such rights are difficult to enforce. And none of them is able easily to have a visit, for varying periods, of 3, 4, or 5 little ones whom they barely know and who, in some cases, do not even speak French. These are personal problems, to be sure, but in the final analysis isn't that what personal dignity and values are all about? So these children are brought into the world by Moon's wishes to serve his purposes, not for their own blossoming and access to full human dignity through freedom.
The principal Moon business in France is the Christian Bernard jewelry and watch ateliers, which are an important source of revenue, not only because of sales, mostly to the rest of Europe, the U.S., and Japan^×but because the Moonies among the employees turn back the major part of their salaries to the organization.
From Seoul comes the announcement that the marriage of 50,000 Moonie couples has been canceled. The Moon organization did not say why, but it's probably lack of money, and above all, a lack of marriage candidates.