40 Years in America

Prolongation of the American Providence 1977Ė1985

Based On The Success Of Washington Monument, Rev. Moon expected that the American movement would increase its membership to 30,000 by the end of 1978 and become self-sufficient. This would have enabled him to pursue objectives elsewhere. In particular, he wanted a strong and diversified U.S. movement to spearhead a "march on Moscow" by 1981. In reality, these goals proved to be exceedingly elusive and the "Moscow Rally" did not materialize, at least according to schedule. Rev. Moon found that it still was necessary to focus his attention and expend movement resources on projects in America. This was a source of frustration, especially when his efforts and expenditures were unappreciated or viewed with suspicion. The churchís enemies also did not relax their efforts for long. Kidnappings and "deprogrammings" continued, sometimes sanctioned by court order, and opponents attempted to block most of the movementís initiatives.

After 1977, the church found itself increasingly on the defensive, caught up in government investigations and legal battles. In 1984, Rev. Moonís sentiment that he "may have to be jailed in America" was realized as he spent thirteen months at a Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut on charges of "tax evasion." At the same time, the prosecution of Rev. Moon, more than any other single factor, gained the church a significant amount of grassroots support.

The prolongation of the providence in America, continued opposition and even the incarceration of Rev. Moon should not obscure the movementís accomplishments during this period. Between 1977-85, it developed new methods of outreach, created a powerful student movement on American campuses, sponsored conferences for literally thousands of academics and religious leaders, launched far-flung economic ventures, established a major daily newspaper in the nationís capital, won a succession of legal victories that vindicated the churchís rights as a bona fide religion, put an end to the "deprogramming" movement, and developed a significant network of prominent supporters. With a far more solid infrastructure in place, the movement was better situated to take on challenges after 1985 than it had been earlier.

Witnessing Efforts

The American movementís primary mandate between 1977-85 was to increase its membership. As already noted, Rev. Moon believed that the church needed to have 30,000 members by the end of 1978 in order to have a significant impact in the United States. In 1983, on the eve of a "total mobilization" of members for evangelism, Rev. Moon upped that figure to 60,000. Neither of these goals were close to being achieved in terms of gaining core membership. There were a number of reasons for this. Obviously, a major factor was the general climate of negativity toward the church. A 1977 Gallup poll, for example, reported that Sun Myung Moon "elicited one of the most overwhelmingly negative responses ever reported by a major poll" and that "in the more than twenty years the Gallup poll has been asking Americans to rate various people, only Nikita Khruschev and Fidel Castro have received more negative ratings."

Negativity toward the Unification Church was part of a more generalized negativity toward new religious movements that was greatly stimulated by the murder/mass-suicides of Peopleís Temple devotees at Jonestown, Guyana in late 1978. In addition, young people were less idealistic in the early 1980s than they had been a decade earlier. Rather than religious seekership, middle-class youth looked to pursue career paths and high-paying jobs. Apart from these external factors, the church lacked a stable and consistently followed witnessing method. The goals were consistent -- 30,000 members overall and each member bringing one new member every month (1-1-1). However, specific strategies for achieving these goals continually changed. There was constant rotation of leadership and changes in direction. Emergency "mobilizations" disrupted local efforts and in many instances, the church went in all directions at once.

For example, immediately following the Washington Monument rally, Rev. Moon announced plans for a "gigantic training program" in June 1978. State members relocated during the previous campaign were instructed to return, and new state leaders were appointed with the direction to hold monthly "festival- like" programs, to have a "roving evangelist," to create a brass band, to start at least one CARP chapter, and to continue community cleaning modeled after the "America the Beautiful" project. At the same time, he discussed a videotape production of the Divine Principle and the idea of printing Divine Principle extracts as newspaper advertisements, and re-assigned state Itinerary Workers (IWs). He also directed the revival of the International One World Crusade (IOWC) in America, said they should sponsor programs featuring outstanding church speakers, reinstated Barrytown Training, instructed the states to carry out 3 and 7-day workshops, and asked Mr. Sudo to set up Barrytown evangelical teams.

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