Unification News for February 1997

Attack on Religious Liberty

The season for religious liberty has once again come. It brings fresh hopes for greater religious acceptance and an end to the previous winter of oppression and persecution. The U.S. State Department's recently published annual report on human rights cited several countries for having committed violations of religious rights. Among others, China was cited for its persecution of Catholics while Germany was cited for having intimidated and harassed the Church of Scientology. The United Nations too has shown increasing concern over the plight of those who suffer because of their religious beliefs. The plague of church burnings in America has been halted. With the demise of the Cult Awareness Network, the American media has lost its agent provocateur for cyclically publishing accounts of those claiming to have spent months with aliens from outer space who did to them what was done to Pierce Brosnan and Sarah Jessica Parker (?) in Mars Attack.

But while religion can begin to bathe in ever-warming suns, religious bigotry takes more than a season of good-will to weed out and toss on the chaff pile. It knows no season and merely suspends activity until like a parasite, it finds its next host. Having returned from Brazil last fall with an exotic tick on board (just below my ever- disappearing navel), I know the concern for all the potential maladies one wee tick can wreak.

For older members of our community in America, the name Steve Hassan resonates with images of a tick. Like all parasites, the tick - or in this case Steve - has no life without the host. Waiting in the grass for a potential host to pass by, he affixes himself, gorges himself, then falls away bloated. And Steve's preferred host is a compliant journalist or a TV hostess. And so this month we want to bring to your attention a recent report published in the Boston Globe. Our purpose in doing so is not to draw more attention than is needed to the tick but to expose the conduct of the host.

Of concern here is the serious misconduct of Boston's pre-eminent daily newspaper. Of even greater concern is what was exposed of the Globe's propagation and perpetuation of a culture of contempt towards the Founder, our Church, and our entire community, by the most senior members of its editorial staff. To expose, protest, and redress this culture of contempt is the purpose for bringing this matter to your attention. It is one thing for the small-minded individual bigots of this world to vent their stuff. It is an entirely different matter when institutions of society - government, academia, religion, the theater, the media - grant license to such bigotry. Events of the past few years alone show us that our society does have troubled souls who need little or no provocation to react angrily and resentfully to their own bitter life experiences and wreak real and tragic harm to others in reprisal. We ourselves have witnessed the bombing of our Church center in France when the government conducted one of its witch hunts. We have seen the destruction of our Church center in Brazil after the media had incited the mob. We have seen the desecration of our most cherished rite - the Blessing - by government agents in the Philippines. Closer to home we have seen church property burned to the ground just a few hours from New York City when associates of groups like the American Family Foundation turned a zoning meeting into a three-ringed circus of malevolence. We have learned of a pregnant mother kicked and stomped in Manhattan while her assailant shouted "Moonie."

It is our obligation to protest when influential newspapers like the Boston Globe betray standards of responsible, fair and objective reportage and repeatedly subject our Church, our Founder, and our community to contempt thereby exposing us to foreseeable risk of harm.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote: "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." Our task then is to do more than merely protest. We must educate with the truth those who are ignorant and afraid and we must strive to dispel reckless stupidity with reason and civility. Please carefully review these materials and responsibly support our endeavors. To restore does not mean to ignore.

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