The Words of the Buhla Family
In the winter of 1984-1985, video- tapes of the Principle and literature sets were sent out to 300,000 clergymen all across America. Included in the packets were response cards which the ministers were asked to fill out and return to:
Rev. Sun Myung Moon
P.O. Box 1254
Out of 300,000 tape sets sent out, about ten thousand responses have come back so far. These comments have been collected and evaluated by the video project staff.
Fourteen percent of the responses were filed as "very positive." Many of these were strong affirmations of Father's ideas and vision for the world. Several ministers said that they had written President Reagan to plea for Father's release; one even requested of the President that he be allowed to replace Father in Danbury for the duration of Father's incarceration. Some commented on the great need for Father's leadership in the world today. Some ministers sent small donations.
In other positive responses, several ministers sent long, heartfelt sermons trying to comfort Father, reminding him that many righteous people in the Bible suffered and were persecuted for their faith. Some said they differed with Father theologically but were united with him in his quest for religious freedom. Several asked Father for his help in some of their own church projects. Fifteen percent of the ministers requested tapes for their fellow clergymen, and some requested video cassette recorders.
About 35 percent of the responses were negative, or were understood as such. A considerable number of Christian ministers sent tracts on their own faith, hoping to convert Father. A large percentage of ministers asked that their name be taken off the mailing list immediately, and some sent scathing messages. Many returned the tapes unopened. Some sent back the boxes containing mutilated, burned, or erased tapes. Some of the tapes were returned having been recorded over with movies in foreign languages, sports newscasts, and the like. A few ministers sent hard-core pornography, strange books, or other paraphernalia.
Twenty-five percent of the ministers who responded said they would like to comment later after reviewing the material.
The following are excerpts from some of the positive responses. These and others can be seen as truly historical treasures the fruit of forty years of Father's blood, sweat, and tears shed to unite Christianity.
I am in agreement with most of the Unification Principle. It is consistent with most of my convictions. There is not enough theological difference between us to hinder my working with the Unification Church. I am presently working in conjunction with your church and expect to continue. God bless you; I "know" you are called by God for just such a time as this.
I have received your recent letter and material forwarded during your present incarceration in Connecticut. I was most happy to receive your communication. I want you to know that I am in harmony and agreement with the concepts of the Unification Church relative to the building of the "Kingdom of God." The tapes and various seminars proved to be invaluable. I was very much inspired as I listened intently, for this is really the first time I have heard a ministry explained in detail so parallel to my very own teachings, which center upon the awareness of Christ in us! I personally understand why you are locked up by the "system." We certainly appreciate your attitude while you are there, for in prison you are demonstrating that you are "free indeed," which is a monumental step.
...Rev. Moon, I truly support your stand. I highly respect your position, and I am ready to come together in cooperation with you to create a God- centered consciousness in the pursuit of our goals. Kindly advise me, Rev. Moon, as to how we can connect with your group to share insights, including the communication you have with African countries. In particular, please outline how we can work together in getting the "Unification Church" and the "Body of Christ" to come together to focus upon our mutual concerns.
My prayers and those of our congregation are lifted on behalf of you often. We know your deliverance will come -- and soon. Our Lord must surely be shaping you for an even greater ministry. Your tolerance is commendable.
Your local church has been a source of help to us -- know that we care deeply about you. American Baptists care; I care personally.
This is not the first time I have read a letter from a minister in prison. The New Testament has a number of them, which I treasure very much. Their author is a man by the name of Paul. Martin Luther King's famous letter from a Birmingham jail changed the minds of Christians about what a controversial, dynamic, persecuted black church could do about injustice and protecting civil liberty. Maybe the Lord allowed you to go to prison unjustly so that you could be an effective witness to religious freedom. If your report of the trial is true, you surely got shafted.
Brother Moon, let me encourage you to continue what you are doing in this situation. You are stating the issues quite clearly as you understand them. God has used you in a surprising way since you came to the United States. I am sure your mailing has made you friends. Count me as a new friend. If I have been a bit critical, please understand that your best friends tell the truth in love.
I wish to thank you for your strong efforts in helping us understand how you see God working in our midst. There have been many rumors and a lot of bad press surrounding your church group and I suspect that the real heart of your beliefs and motivations remains largely unknown in this country. You have been gracious enough to reach out with this box-load of information, and that speaks well of your intent to help us gain this knowledge. I'm very unhappy with the tendency of many people to not hear you folks out. That's not at all representative of the Lord Jesus, whose heart's desire is that we always express love toward one another. I grow and learn from the dialogue I experience with different groups, even if I disagree with them.
I am appreciative of you and your ministry, Rev. Moon -- there is an abundance of truth in the "Principle" and "Unification Theology." I know many Unification members and I find them to be truly Christian. I am privileged to be an associate member of your church.
Your letter was received, and its contents were noted with care. You have my prayers, always, for your deliverance. God is watching over you. All things work together for good to them that trust in His Holy Word. Be strong and courageous. Time will teach the world who you are.
Thanks for the tapes and books; I enjoy reading them. You are more in line with what Jesus taught when he was on earth than any person I have known about. You are carrying out the things that Jesus taught. Someday I trust I can meet you in person. My congregation is praying that you can be completely delivered, and that you can stay in good health and carry on to the Glory of God. I would be delighted to have you work with us in the great work of Jesus Christ, and to work together with you in this worldwide program that God has put on your heart. It is the exact thing that Jesus wanted and died for: one world, one people---no boundaries between them.
Even though we have never met, it has been my privilege to be a visitor at the seminary in Barrytown, New York, and to attend the conference on Unification theology this summer in Athens, Greece. On both occasions, I have been impressed by the sincerity, hospitality, and dedication of members of the Unification Church. While I do not accept Unification theology (to the extent that it is even formulated yet), I count myself among those who are disturbed over your imprisonment. There is little question that the decision against you has set a foreboding precedent for religious liberty; and that is a judgment I have shared widely with others.
Over the past few years, at conferences and in adult education classes at a college and in local churches, I have presented the teachings of the Principle as an alternative vision of the Kingdom of God in America. The vision is an alternative to what H. Richard Niebuhr called "the coming kingdom" to be realized by vigorous social action. It seems to me that the Unification Church, in its several branches, is experimenting with a variety of means for bringing about the Kingdom of God -- much as did the proponents of the "social gospel" in the early twentieth century. In most of the settings in which I have presented these ideals, however, I have found that the depth of hostility toward the church is in direct proportion to the shallowness of understanding about the church's current teachings and practices. Perhaps the latest mailing of information will increase both the knowledge of and tolerance for, Unificationism.
In fact, this letter is sent primarily as a note of gratitude for your generous gift of videotapes and books explaining the teachings of the Unification Church. The materials were sent to one of my colleagues. He knows of my interest in Unification theology and so sent them on to me. These instructional aids could have not come at a more opportune moment. I will begin a new full-credit course for undergraduates in April which includes a section on the Unification Church. The students will be reading Outline of the Principle Level 4, and the videotape lectures will be an extremely helpful means of clarifying the reading. With thanks and hope for a speedy end to your imprisonment-
I enjoyed the tapes on the "Fall of Man." And I also read your book, God's Warning to the World I am hoping the Lord will permit me to meet you in person. I feel that we must work together. I am not organized with any large denomination. In 1968 the Lord led me out of the large denominations because He had shown me much of what you teach. We at the True Church of God are just a small group. So I am looking forward to the time when the Lord will bless us in working with you.
I do believe that the Lord sent you to America to warn this country. God never brings destruction upon any land without sending a true prophet to warn its citizens; as He sent Jonah to the city of Nineveh, so has He sent you to America. So I am praying for your release from prison. In the meantime I will be doing what I can.
At the present time, my church has established a non-profit organization known as the Willing Workers Inc., which helps the needy and the disadvantaged. I want to be in close contact with you, so please feel free to write and inform me about what I may do to help in your release.
You are doing a good work, just as the early Christians did. The enemy is trying to hinder your work by bringing false charges against you, as the Pharisees and Roman authorities did to the early church. Rev. Moon, God is going to deliver you out of the hand of the prince of this world.
P.S. Our church is praying for you and your work.
I feel honored to receive a letter from you -- especially a prison letter -- for it reflects the heart of a man I desire for a friend and to be a friend to, Rev. Moon, I am praying for your release, and the Lord is going to do it.
I have worked with members of the Unification Church in the San Francisco area for some time now, and find them to be persons of love and compassion. I have enjoyed and still do enjoy our relationship. I say this so you may know that there are those who see the value of your ministry to America and the world.
I would be remiss if I did not use this opportunity to express gratitude for the substantial financial support the Unification Church has given to councils for church and social action all over this country. Thank you.
One cannot express in words all the feelings of love and genuine compassion that people share with one with another in times of struggle, like these times. Yet I want you to know that our prayers are for you and your lovely family. The prayer we pray is that God will continue to bless and keep you, and that you may be ever strengthened for the ministry of your call.
All I have written is simply to say thank you; thank God for you.
Two of our church members have already borrowed the tapes to show at home. They found them very interesting. If we can obtain a video cassette recorder, we may show them to our men's, women's, and youth groups. Thank you.
My dear Brother, I don't hold anything against you for being in jail. You stood up for God. I have been in jail; I kept praying to God and finally I was released....
I'm going to fast and pray for you, my dear brother. I read that letter and I felt the spirit of the Lord on me. You are all right. We have to work together for God; it doesn't matter what church we belong to. Amen!
You can keep writing to me; I am your friend. I know you are a good preacher -- God tells me you are. I stand by you in prayer, Brother. But you write to me; I would like to hear from you.... I'm just a poor old man in God.... Anything you want to write to me is okay; I like the words. Now if you don't mind I will pray for you.
Dear God, as I get down on my knees for my dear friend, I look to heaven above, for the sake of my brother Sun Myung Moon. Please God, bless him, keep Your big hand on him so he can withstand the wiles of Satan. Let him know I love him and his family... In Jesus' name, be with him all the way in his calling, dear God. I ask You in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Thank you kindly for the videotapes and booklets. May you rest assured I shall listen to them and use them. Words cannot describe how upsetting the situation of Rev. Moon is to God-fearing people. I certainly will support you in all your endeavors by whatever I can do, if you let me know. On the other hand, I'm not surprised. Moses, Aaron, Ezekiel, Jacob, Jesus, Saul, Peter, Paul, and Nehemiah were all great people of their time, as was Bar Kochva and Rabbi Akiba. I can go on and on. They were all persecuted innocently by people who never understood the greatness of God Almighty. Rev. Moon is not the first one, and Rabbi Hillel was not the last one. We all have to be prepared spiritually, emotionally, and physically for unknown situations, but as experience shows, the oil has always toppled the water. As the Bible is the word of God, I am sure I will pass over and Rev. Moon will continue to be the servant of God in the years to come. If I can do anything to support Rev. Moon I certainly will not hesitate one second. My best wishes to you, and you may count on my support anytime.
I feel some kinship toward you as an individual, as you're both a Korean and a minister. It was while I was in Korea (1954-1955) that the Lord finally cornered me and let me know His will for me to serve Him. Besides that, there was a time during the early years of the church that I formerly pastored when the church put its money in the bank under my name. So, except by the grace of God, I could have been you.
The tapes are true and wonderful. I have played them to my congregation. The entire church is praying for you, and we feel that you are not guilty.
I am a young pastor who continuously seeks more knowledge about the church and the ever-touching word of God. Thank you so kindly; I have enjoyed the literature and the videotapes you have sent me. We have used one of your films in our Bible training class as a teaching aid. The materials are great, and our congregation truly enjoyed the teachings and examples given. The enlightenment of this material is very encouraging and uplifting to the soul and mind. Many of my friends have received this same material and are very impressed. This is an excellent teaching program. May God continue to bless you and your ministry team.
Since the last time I wrote you, I have contacted several people about attending meetings in Houston, Atlanta, and Washington, and I plan to continue to tell others to see and hear for themselves just what the Moonies are all about. The April issue of Time magazine has an article on the Moonies, and of course, they only gave negative information.
Thank God, I was the first one here to say that it was nothing but a bunch of lies. That is why it is so important for others to go and see for themselves. I can now speak boldly to anyone that they should go and see what the Moonies are doing.
It is my desire to come and visit you. As I stated before, I would like you to come and speak in Memphis when you are released. Before you went to prison, if I saw a story in a magazine, I wouldn't give it much thought. But after reading the article in Time magazine, I am more convinced than ever that the Lord has you in prison to awaken the leaders of the Christian world.
A few days ago I met some of your wonderful people and was invited to attend a breakfast meeting. It was there that I really learned what Rev. Moon stood for. I want you to know that as of this moment I am your friend and I believe you and I like everything you stand for. We are both looking in the very same direction. I am trying to do everything I can to promote the kind of program that you have, and I am very sorry that I did not meet you earlier. But as of this day I am going to do all that is within my power to help promote you and your wonderful soul-saving program. I listened to the tapes today, and I liked what I heard. And I like the work your wonderful people here are doing. I love them. I am an old man with much experience in life, and I am happy that I had the opportunity to meet a minister like you who is trying to do God's will for all humanity. I am praying for you, and if there is anything that you want me to do for you, just let me know. Today, you have a real friend.