40 Years in America
Creating the Elder Son Nation
Between 1959 and 1999, America changed dramatically. In the late 1940s, Christians in America were bold enough to embark upon a project to unite all Christians in the world -- the World Council of Churches. Through the fifties, however, the country moved from Dwight D. Eisenhower's encouragement to "worship at the church of your choice" to Will Herzog's portrait of America as Protestant, Catholic, Jew. By the early seventies, a similar portrait would have had to add Mormon, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and New Age Believer. Among the last category would he counted hundreds, perhaps thousands, of groups. Few of them survived to the millennium. Among. the survivors, none has influenced America more than Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his Unification Church.
To appreciate Reverend Moon's work in America, one must grasp the story of the emergence of the church in Korea and Japan. From that vantage point we observe the unbelievable emergence of a religious leader from a poverty-stricken church in Asia to the forefront in America. The roots are to be found in the sacrificial love of simple and humble Korean and Japanese church members. Leaving behind his nascent church in Korea and Japan, Reverend Moon moved to America in 1971 with an immigrant's idealism as to the Christian spirit he would encounter here. What he actually encountered was something far different.
In the early 1970s, American pride, dignity and vision were in a depressed state. Youth rebellion, campus shutdowns, anti-government demonstrations and flag-burnings were everyday fare. The ideal of America was an object of derision on the part of those who opposed the war in Vietnam and the Nixon presidency.
Who could have imagined, in 1974, that Ronald Reagan would ascend to a hugely successful presidency in 1980, or that the Moral Majority would arise? Who could have foreseen the extent to which family values would become an American ideal, that pride in America would be reinstated, or that communism would collapse? And who was the instigator of these changes? It was Reverend Moon who spoke boldly in every state of America in the early seventies, calling Americans to recognize their destiny as a nation created ha God. He called Americans to stand up against dnigs and family breakdown. He warned Americans that they had to overcome communism on the spiritual and ideological level. It was Reverend Moon who created the God Bless America celebrations in New York and Washington, D.C., in 1976 -- the only God-centered observance of our bicentennial.
America accepted Reverend Moon's message and many Americans acted upon it; many were already thinking the same way, to be sure. But America as a whole rejected the messenger. The New York District Attorney's office pushed the Justice Department, against all evidence, to charge Reverend Moon with tax evasion. The media heaped abuse upon him and his trial turned into a sideshow. The resulting imprisonment in Danbury Prison is a stain on our nation's history. But Reverend Moon never changed in his love for this country. And Americans did take action. They accepted the message even as they rejected the messenger. This nation is the great nation it is today through their efforts.
On Reverend Moon_s speaking tours, the problems of family breakdown, America_s destiny and the danger of communism were only part of his teaching. He was speaking ultimately to the world and to history. The crucial word Reverend Moon brought had to do with the Second Coming of Christ. He declared that the return of Christ is as a physical man and that more important than his identity is what he comes to do. That messianic mission most essentially is to separate humankind from the original sin through the blessing of marriage, and thus to end every degree of estrangement. Reverend Moon called humankind to recreate itself as one true family, having one love, one life and one lineage.
This vision of a world of true love is what motivated the young people whose photos you see and whose testimonies are recorded here. And it was these young people who fulfilled Reverend Moon_s work in America. It is they who embody the spirit and destiny of what Reverend Moon calls the Elder Son Nation. The Elder Son Nation is the first-born child of God, as befits this last, best Christian nation. The elder son is gifted to decisively influence the sibling nations of the world community. But most importantly, the elder son is, or must be, the one who is closest to the parents.
These young people in America believed in and dedicated their lives to God. They have stood as the representatives of this land and carry the mantle of Elder Sonship. Read their all-too-human testimonies with this in mind. They are not foreigners; they are not aliens. They are not zombies or media playthings. They are not those things at all. They are Americans. They are a lot like you.
I commend to you Dr. Michael Mickler's concise account of the story of Reverend Moon and his church in America. He has done a great job balancing piety and objectivity comprehensive scale and attention to detail of critical events. Together with Michael Inglis' vision and editing and Jonathan Gullery's graphic design, this work will surely stand as a landmark in the history of the Unification Church and of religion in the late 20th-Century America.
Dr. Tyler O. Hendricks
Family Federation for World Peace and Unification
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