Unification News For February 1996


British Church is Scapegoat

According to the Roman historian, Tacitus, it was Nero who began in earnest the persecution of Christians in 64 AD. In an effort to hide his own role in starting the fire which had destroyed much of Rome, Nero tried to pin it on the Christians. And so Nero introduced to the Western world the ominous political ploy of blaming a small and politically vulnerable religious community for society's woes. Due to the violent and hideous massacre of Christians which Nero subsequently embarked on, the Roman citizenry began to feel sorry for the unfortunate Christians. The historian, Tacitus, wrote that the Romans came to realize that the Christians "were being massacred not for the public good but to satisfy one man's mania." The persecution of Christians however only increased. To justify the recurring pogroms which extended through the reigns of the Emperors Marcus Aurelius, Decius, and Diocletian, various legal grounds were adduced, among them, that Christians were cannibals, atheists, and alternatively, that they were incestuous. As Aristotle noted: At his best man is the noblest of all animals; separated from justice he is the worst.

In describing how Christians were made the scapegoats in ancient Rome for every malady or ill-fortune, Tertullian, the first Christian author to write in Latin, wrote in his Apology: "if the River Tiber reaches the walls, if the River Nile does not rise to the fields, if the sky does not move or the earth does, if there is famine, if there is plague, the cry is at once: "The Christians to the lion!" What, all of them to one lion?' Thus, at least since ancient Rome we can trace the insidious tactic of exploiting others for political advantage or ulterior self-centered gain. And the lion still roars.

In late December of 1995, the political career of the British Home Secretary, Michael Howard, was by all accounts floundering and about to wreck upon the rocks. But wait! Upon the horizon neared the Reverend Moon on his international tour. Let's create some waves and blow some hot air and be spared from the rocks. And thus going against judicial precedents in almost the exact same situation and with all the courage and integrity of Nero, Howard publicly declared that the Reverend Moon would not be permitted to enter Howard's Britain because he believed this visit from a world-wide religious leader would not be "conducive to the public good." A British High Court ruled that the Home Secretary had acted unlawfully when deciding to ban Reverend Moon by failing to follow rules of procedural fairness. Unashamed, Secretary Howard remained defiant and his office continued to announce that the decision to exclude Reverend Moon "still stands." And so the Home Secretary roared and brought disgrace to his Cabinet, his Government, and to his people.

On January 29, 1996, a bomb was detonated outside the national headquarters of the Unification Church in France. Fortunately, no one was harmed although the front structure of the church was destroyed. While no one has yet claimed responsibility for this attack, it is apparent that recent public attacks on new religious communities in the media and in government circles has created a climate which led to this attack. Fear and alarm is being intentionally inflamed throughout Europe by self-described "cult-watching organizations" through the exploitation of the aberrant activities of Aum Shinri Kyo and the Solar Temple. But when governments, like those of Britain and France react to the irrational clamoring of those small, though vocal, groups of hate-mongers and political opportunists and proceed to engage in state-sponsored religious persecution universally accepted principles of justice are trod underfoot. History reminds us that hatred and bigotry have an insatiable lion's appetite.

The worst and most current incident of state-sponsored persecution of the Unification community is in full swing in the Philippines. On January 23, 1996, the Unification community in conjunction with eminent members of Philippine society, conducted a Blessing ceremony of over 1, 000 couples. As is customary, many of these couples were international and a large number were comprised of Korean men and Filipino women. These couples dedicated themselves to uphold the purity, dignity, and honor of this sacred event and to endeavor to embody the ideals promoted by the Blessing. Moreover, the Korean/Filipino couples pledged to be emissaries of peace and harmony between their respective nations with full knowledge that past relations between their peoples had generated pain and bitterness. However, into the arena of this holy Blessing ceremony stepped the Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, Leandro Verceles. In an attempt to buttress a political career that has begun to come apart due to a cacophony of allegations about financial improprieties, the Commissioner publicly stated that the Blessing ceremony was nothing but a front to export Filipino women to the Korea where they would be "forced to become housemaids and prostitutes." To add fuel to this defamation the Commissioner made additional accusations that the Blessing ceremony violated Filipino marriage laws, that it violated laws prohibiting the purchasing of mail-order brides and laws prohibiting the deceptive recruitment of women for illicit purposes!! (Recall the Roman efforts to fabricate legal justifications for their persecution of the early Christians.) Without a shred of corroborating evidence, Mr. Verceles made these false accusations and ignited a wild-fire within the ranks of the tabloid press. It has not gone unnoticed that a certain contradiction exists between the agenda of the Commissioner and his son, a Congressman, who has sought to sponsor legislation that would give legal sanction to the importation and distribution of pornography in the Philippines.

The true intentions of the Commissioner are most poignantly demonstrated in his decision to send three female agents from his department to conduct surveillance of this event to the extent that these agents became Blessing participants. Immediately after the Blessing these agents returned to their offices leaving their three blessed partners in limbo. This intentional desecration of a religious rite stands alone as the most egregious single violation of the Blessing ceremony by a national government. It ranks in my mind along side the protest in Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York by radical homosexual activists affiliated with Act-Up. Perhaps the most opprobrious element to this assault was when some of the Act-Up radicals received the consecrated Holy Eucharist and then threw it on the ground in protest. In dispatching three of his agents to infiltrate the Blessing ceremony to the extent to which they did, Commissioner Verceles has disgraced his government and violated the sensibilities of all religious people.

The most revealing information to emerge within the last few days has been provided by the Philippine Ambassador in Korea, Ambassador Ernesto Gidya. Mr. Verceles has persistently relied upon a report which he claims he received from the Embassy in Seoul to support his defamatory statements about the Blessing ceremony. However in an interview with a reporter from The Segye Times on February 9, Ambassador Ernesto Gidya said: "Among the Filipinas who participated in the International Holy Blessing, I have never sent a report to my country saying that there were any prostitutes." He continued: "We have surveyed more than 100 Filipinas now living in Korea after having participated in the International Holy Blessing and as a result we find that they are living in Unification Churches in various areas of Korea adjusting themselves to Korean culture by studying the Korean language and customs." In light of the Ambassador's statements, one can only wonder for how long the Filipino government will continue to require Commissioner Verceles' services. Unificationists ought to be prayerful and concerned about the perils posed to our community overseas. The open letter from Dr. Hendricks to President Ramos of the Philippines and the report from the Church in France published in this edition of UNEWS should therefore be read with great concern by us all.

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