Unification Sermons and Talks

by Reverends Seshachari

The Persecution and Prosecution of Reverend Moon

by Candadai Seshachari

This book review of Inquisition is reprinted, with permission, from Weber Studies: An Interdisciplinary Humanities Journal, Fall 92 (Weber State University, Ogden, Utah). Dr. Seshachari is the Interim Dean, College of Arts and Humanities at Weber State University.

Imagine this scenario: A hard-hitting, highly respected journalist, the only reporter ever to have won both the Pulitzer Prize and the Peabody Award, sees an irresistible opportunity to do a woof-and-warp expose on an alien church. The leader of this church has been tried for federal tax evasion and duly sentenced to 18 months in jail. This church has been publicly ridiculed and openly attacked in the American press. U.S. Senator Robert Dole and Congressman Donald Frazer have vociferously accused the church of brainwashing religious-minded Americans with lies and blasphemies.

The reporter hires himself on the staff of a newspaper that is owned by the much-aligned church to "get an inside track on one of the most controversial religious organizations in the United States." In time, he earns the trust of its leaders, secures access to its inner echelons of power, and gains access to confidential records. The stage is now unabashedly set for an explosive account that could conceivably blow the church off the American soil!

Now the players: the church, the Unification Church; the leader, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon; the newspaper, The Washington Times; the would-be exposer, the redoubtable Carlton Sherwood. Sherwood had hoped to undermine the Unification Church by mining the very stuff of "juicy sex scandals." He thought he would surely confront in Moon "a Jim Bakker or Jimmy Swaggart clone running loose."

Clean slate

Result of investigation? "Zero." And what about all the grizzly stories of kidnapped kids who were forced to disavow their parents and religions? "In a word: bunk," to quote Carlton Sherwood again. What Sherwood found instead was a church that was puritanical to its core, a church that did not suffer even ordinary moral lapses by its members one that was simple, straightforward, and amazingly charitable. He uncovered a horrifying story of government's hate and intolerance toward everyday, ordinary Americans who had chosen to exercise their religious freedom by following the tenets of the Reverend Moon.

Sherwood's investigation showed that the CIA, FBI, INS, SEC, FTC, and a host of other federal agencies including a dozen senate, state, and congressional committees had single-mindedly hounded Moon and his Church. It was tantamount to nothing short of a government-backed inquisition. Sherwood's discovery and abhorrence at what he found are best stated in his own words:

"The Unification Church, its leaders and followers were and continue to be the victims of the worst kind of religious prejudice and racial bigotry this country has witnessed in over a century. Moreover, virtually every institution we as Americans hold sacred the Congress, the courts, law enforcement agencies, the press, even the U.S. Constitution itself was prostituted in a malicious, oftentimes brutal manner, as part of a determined effort to wipe out this small but expanding religious movement."

Inquisition is a thoroughly researched story of the persecution and prosecution of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. The charge against Moon was that he had used nearly $8,000 of church money for his everyday use, something that mainstream churches have historically done. Sherwood details how certain members of the jury were "Mooney" haters and how some others were manipulated. He narrates other grueling tales of iniquities and injustices that were heaped on the Reverend Moon in the name of law and justice. But the significance of the book lies elsewhere.

Telling indictment

Inquisition is a telling indictment of the racial intolerance and religious bigotry that, like some bloody scourge, defiles the national American character. Our national history is often told in terms of blood and violence that are directly related to intolerance and bigotry. From Anne Hutchinson to Joseph Smith, Jr., to Sun Myung Moon to the nine Buddhist monks who were recently slaughtered in Arizona, we hear episodes in our history of the persecution of those whose beliefs are different from ours. The Quakers and Shakers and the Hare Krisnas are self-effacing symbols of our national urge to brutalize those who are not part of the mainstream. Of course, all of this began with the early Puritans those who fled persecution in turn became ruthless persecutors themselves. Also, Native Americans have paid a heavy price, to the point of becoming exterminated, for the mere fact that they were and are different. Religiously and racially.

The Reverend Sun Myung Moon paid the price for being different on both scores in spite of all the guarantees enshrined in the First Amendment. Perhaps what makes Inquisition more than worthwhile reading is that it brings to the fore the idea that there is something in our national character that makes us recoil at wanton, arbitrary, and mindless violence and hate. We celebrate the life and achievements of Martin Luther King, Jr., precisely because he exposed our everyday hatreds and pettinesses. We revere Lincoln because he made us confront our racism.

The Los Angeles racial riots are a testimony to our intolerance of color and race as much as their aftermath is a challenge to our ability to live together. In some basic ways, American society is a fragile society where the best is held in tension with the worst, and the sublime is held in check by the profane. And there is always hope witness the unending barrage of laws guaranteeing fairness and equality that roll out of our legislatures the hope that our idealism will be the harbinger of a better America that is racially and religiously more tolerant.

That hope is at the heart of Carlton Sherwood's Inquisition. It is also at the heart of the price that the Reverend Sun Myung Moon has paid.


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