Articles From the July 1994 Unification News


Sacrificing Bridgeport University on the Altar of Hatred

by Peter Ross

This was submitted to the Connecticut Post in response to a one-sided and egregious attack on the Church in an Op-Ed by Ken Dixon.

On April 14, 1994, the Connecticut Post published an op-ed piece by Ken Dixon under the offensive headline: MOM WARNS OF MOONIE PERVERSIONS. The mom in question was Ms. Cynthia Lilley of California who spoke of how she had used "media exposure" (specifically, NBC's Today show) to "rescue" her daughter (read: to subject her daughter to a crude and crass process called "faithbreaking") from "the cult" (specifically, the Unification Church).

However, Ms. Lilley's veracity is undermined by the facts of this unfortunate affair: 1) her daughter, Cathryn, never joined the Unification Church, although she had been studying its teachings; 2) as indicated by Cathryn's own affidavit, Ms. Lilley had threatened to forcibly terminate her daughter's association with the Church upon the advice of associates of the Cult Awareness Network; 3) Cathryn left the Church in New York entirely of her own accord. (This was so despite the efforts of Ms. Lilley and her wealthy and politically powerful friends to force Unification Church officials to send Cathryn back to California against her will or face the specter of a negative attack on the Church via a nationally broadcast NBC program). Only after Ms. Lilley turned Cathryn over to Steve Hassan did Cathryn finally terminate her association with the Unification Church.

Ken Dixon's account failed to mention that Ms. Lilley had been invited to speak at a dinner program hosted at the Congregation Rodeph Sholom on April 18. Other featured speakers were Michael Stratton, legal counsel for what is known as the Coalition of Concerned Citizens, and Ruth Steinkraus Cohen, Life Trustee of the University of Bridgeport. In their respective capacities, both Mr. Stratton and Ms. Cohen have been hostile opponents of the Professor's World Peace Academy's support for UB. Why would such a gathering be dined and wined at Congregation Rodeph Sholom?

The purpose of the Coalition is to end UB's involvement with the Professor's World Peace Academy, an international community of academics inspired by the vision of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. It is a matter of public record that the Coalition is supported by organizations whose representatives have perpetuated the most nefarious myths about the Unification community throughout the past twenty years. They are: the Cult Awareness Network (Cynthia Kisser), the International Cult Education Program (Marcia Rudin), and the American Family Foundation (Herbert Rosedale).

The theories and allegations disseminated by AFF, CAN, and ICEP have been discredited and repudiated by the American Psychological Association, the American Sociological Association, the National Council of Churches, the American Baptist Churches in the USA, Americans United For Separation of Church and State, among others. Their activities have led to the prosecution and imprisonment of some of their associates for crimes committed in pursuit of their objectives. Their agenda was succinctly dismissed by Dr. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute of American Religion, in a paper presented before the American Academy of Religion in Washington, DC, in November of 1993, in which he stated: "Just as we would not call upon the Ku Klux Klan to offer expert testimony on African-Americans or the American Nazi Party to speak about Jews, so we should cease calling upon so-called "cult" experts, who have as their agenda the destruction of non conventional religions, to provide testimony and information about religious groups. "Cults" exist only in the same realm as "niggers" and "kikes," a realm of non-being. In my world, cults do not exist. Hence, anyone who purports to be a cult expert, is an expert about nothing at all."

Carol Giambalvo and Patrick Ryan are professional faithbreakers and were shown on the Today show counseling and advising Ms. Lilley about how to sever Cathryn's tenuous relationship with the Unification Church. They are both associates of CAN and frequently speak at CAN conferences. Steve Hassan is a long-time associate of CAN and retains a particular hostility towards the Unification Church as an apostate member. He himself was a victim of one of these faithbreaking sessions. Hassan was invited by NBC to participate in the Today show's contrived attack on the Church, with all expenses paid. He had come to NBC's studios in New York from Minneapolis where he had been a featured speaker at CAN's national conference! Ms. Lilley had also been a featured speaker at the same conference! Is it any wonder that Cathryn stated in her affidavit of September 14, that "none of my decisions or actions have merited the severity of [Ms. Lilley's] efforts to interfere with my faith."

The feeding frenzy engaged in by these organizations, in conjunction with the Coalition, against the PWPA's involvement with UB has been conducted in newspaper stories, through radio and television, in the courts and in more discreet forums like that of the dinner program hosted at the Congregation Rodeph Sholom. This particular event is a vignette into the intercourse between those organizations and individuals intent on grinding the same ax.

It is disturbing to all who value religious liberty that AFF, CAN, ICEP have sought legitimacy and credibility from the American public by claiming affiliation with well-respected educational and philanthropic organizations, such as, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, and the UJA Federation. This raises a serious question: do the AJC, the ADL and the UJA endorse the hate- mongering and illegal activities of CAN, AFF, and ICEP? If not, I invite them to go on public record and say so. (I have previously written to the AJC about this matter but I have received no response). Should I, at best, anticipate an acknowledgment that while they disavow the tactics and activities of AFF, CAN and ICEP, they nevertheless agree with the "truths spoken" by Rosedale, Kisser, Rudin, Stratton, and Cohen, et al.?

In an op-ed piece entitled "On Black Anti-Semitism" (New York Times, 01/11/94) A. M. Rosenthal wrote of what he perceived to be an alarming increase in anti-Semitism in the reaction within the Afro-American community to the gutter utterances of Khalid Mohammed. Rosenthal was particularly concerned that current leaders within the black community have either actively incited anti-Semitism, or alternatively through silence, passively condoned it. This, he wrote, "puts at stake the moral credibility of black struggle against racism."

Based upon Mr. Rosenthal's criteria, the appearance of any endorsement of AFF, CAN, ICEP, and the Coalition, tends to compromise the moral credibility of the AJC, the ADL, and the UJA in fighting anti- Semitism.

When the University of Bridgeport faced imminent closure it was only the leadership of the PWPA who were courageous and bold enough to attempt to save the school. Was a modicum of appreciation and encouragement out of the question? The Coalition's outcry under the thin guise of legalisms has been nothing more than a 1990's version of "guess who's moving into the neighborhood." Moreover, it raises serious questions about the identity of those who would sacrifice a university on the altar of their hatred of the Unification community.

The people of Bridgeport and the State of Connecticut should demand full disclosure from the Coalition of Concerned Citizens as to their true "concerns." As for Ken Dixon, shame on you for your perverted journalism!


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