The Family And The Unification Church Edited by Gene G. James

The Family: The New Christian Right's Symbol for a Lost Past, The Unification Movement's Hope for a Second Advent - Donald Heinz

A pro-family movement began to emerge in the United States in the middle 1970s. Participants in the movement hope to make the family a dominant theme in the politics of the 1980s. The passing of the Equal Rights Amendment by Congress in 1972, the Supreme Court decision on abortion in 1973, and new federal regulation of private religious schools mobilized diverse interest groups which eventually came together in a pro-family coalition. Strongly associated with these issues, the New Christian Right came to public attention in 1979 and played an active role in the politics of the 1980 election year.

During the same period in which pro-family coalitions were emerging in the United States and the New Christian Right was embracing the family as a major issue, a new religious movement, the Unification Church, which had risen in the Orient, began to receive significant attention in the United States. Particularly well focused in its evangelistic endeavors, in its theological message, and in its distinctive behavioral patterns was a new vision of the family.

This article is primarily an examination of the role and function of the family in the political and social programs of the New Christian Right. A briefer, second section of the article examines the role of the family in Unification theology and practice. Some comparisons are tentatively offered in the conclusion.

The Family: The New Christian Right's Symbol for a Lost Past

The New Christian Right has embraced the family as one of its dominant issues. There may be several reasons for this. The health and welfare of the family, in a time of significant social change and stress, preoccupied so many Americans that the family presented itself as the kind of issue on which a new social movement could ride to visibility and political power, just as the New Left came to political power over Vietnam. It is also possible that leaders of the New Right seized on this moral and social issue of the New Christian Right for their own purposes. The family looked more promising for the mobilization of an active constituency than traditional, conservative economic policies. The New Christian Right was scarcely unaware that Biblical religion and American civil religion also resonated strongly with sentiments concerning the family. The family can also serve as a code word for a return to patriarchy, a recovery of male dominance, a containment of the women's movement, a restriction on female sexual freedom.

While there is significant power of explanation in the above hypotheses, I want to develop in this paper an alternative interpretation of the role the family plays in the rhetoric and programs of the New Christian Right. It is the thesis of this paper that the family presents itself to the New Christian Right (and to segments of the American public) as a means for recovering a lost past and putting America right again. In such an agenda the symbol of the family functions both expressively as a vehicle through which a lost past can once again be experienced and recovered by the participants in the movement and instrumentally as an ideological weapon by which a system which ignores or threatens family values can be subjected to coercive reform.

Arguments for the first half of this thesis, the family as vehicle tor experiencing and recovering a lost past, are developed upon the theory of German sociologist Arnold Galen's study of the fate of such institutions as the family in the modern age and upon the subsequent proposals by Peter Berger and Richard Niihau's regarding mediating structures. Arguments for the second half of this thesis, the family as ideological weapon tor coercive reform movements, build on anthropologist Mary Douglas's analysis of purity, ritual, and symbol and their meaning for individual, society, and cosmos.

Expressing and Recovering a Lost World

Arnold Galen contends that two results of modernity are institutional differentiation and bureaucratic augmentation. From this has come a structural bifurcation of human life into public and private spheres. Amidst social, geographical, and worldview mobility, there has been a steady process of de-institutionalization. According to Galen's theory, however, institutions are as necessary to humans as are instincts to animals. Institutions are the human constructions through which humans find their way and make their meaning in the world. The dilemma of modernity is that men and women find themselves acting in a foreground of growing, multiplying choices against a background of increasingly destabilizing institutions. The public sphere, to be sure, remains heavily institutionalized, but in ways that are abstract, impersonal, bureaucratic, and rationalized. But as humans in modern societies turn elsewhere for meaning and identity, they face a de-institutionalized private sphere. Thus they discover themselves to be homeless in society and in the cosmos. In reaction, they often express themselves in de-modernizing impulses.1

The underlying aspiration of de-modernization, then, is the quest for ways of being at home again in society and modern life. Responding to this dilemma of modernity, to the feeling of homelessness, to the de-institutionahzation of the private sphere, Peter Berger and Richard Niihau's (1977) have proposed the concept of mediating structures, which they define as those institutions standing between the individual's private life and the large institutions of public life. Four such mediating structures are neighborhood, family, church, and voluntary association. Because of its roots in the Enlightenment, American liberalism has been blind to the political functions of mediating structures and has focused its reformism on the individual and on a just public order. If anything, the rights of the individual are defended against mediating structures, e.g., the child against the family, sexual license against neighborhood values. Berger and Niihau's argue that mediating structures are essential for a vital democratic society, that public policy should protect and foster them, and that, wherever possible, public policy should utilize them for the realization of social purposes. If there is merit in these proposals, then the cultivation of the family need not be written off as a naive and impossible, if understandable, attempt to go home again.

Berger and Hansfried Kellner (1977) have argued in particular that marriage and family may be seen as social arrangements which create meaning and lend order to individual existence. The plausibility of one's world depends upon the strength and continuity of significant relationships with others. Marriage and family function pre-eminently to provide this.

Against the background of Galen's theory and the Berger-Niihau's public policy recommendations, the New Christian Right's enchantment and obsession with the family may be examined. It may be assumed that participants in the New Christian Right, and many others who are somewhat attracted to this movement, are suffering the dilemmas of modernity described above. One often hears a longing for another time, a time when Gemeinschaft (community) was not lost to impersonal Gesellschaft (society).

But what distinguishes the New Christian Right from others in the United States who have not moved in this direction? Religious conservatives have never embraced modernity in the same way American liberalism, religious and secular, has. Participants in the New Christian Right are likely to feel the values which they hold to have been rejected and displaced by status elites in government, higher education, and the media. With populism (and many on the left!) they share the aspiration to return control to the neighborhood level and away from centralized bureaucracies. Their grounding in a particular Christian worldview, one convinced of the continuing normative authority and contemporary relevance of the Bible, leads them to accept the family as a God-given institution and to define it in traditional ways.

There is an attempt to recover an ideal, if not an ideal time. Much has been made by demographers and contemporary social critics that the "traditional family" is no longer a dominant empirical reality in modern America. It is therefore suggested that the New Christian Right is naive or totalitarian in holding up that model as normative. Unrecognized in this critique, however, is the appropriate role of ideals, even "impossible ideals," as Christian ethicist Reinhold Niebuhr (1935) has argued. To hold up an image, or a Biblical archetype drawn from the Genesis creation accounts, is to engage in an act of meaning-making and meaning recovery. Embracing ideals and holding them up to public view can function as expressive social action, that is, action which has meaning in and of itself, apart from any instrumental political goals sought or accomplished. To lift up an image of a God-ordained structure is to attempt to re-set society's sights, to recover a divine order of things. The image promises order and norm amidst the chaotic choice of modernity. The image uncovers the roots of a lost past. However the political programs of the New Christian Right turn out, the resonance with the family and the attempt to experience and live in that ideal reality may enable participants to live in what Berger (1969) calls the "plausibility structure" within which the worldview they are affirming is confirmed.

Thus, according to Galen's theory, the longing for community and the cultivation of meaning at a level other than that of mega-structures makes sense against the backdrop of modernity. The choice of the family is also appropriate, given the worldview of conservative Christianity. Even if not worked out theoretically, even if defended only in the satisfying rhetorical language of morality, the focus on the family would seem consistent with the Berger-Niihau's proposals and with the right's own declared goal of getting centralized government off one's back and returning identity and control to the common person. Indeed, the recent White House Conference on the Family argued again and again in its recommendations that the first step to the health of the family was to terminate all the public policies which are inimical to the family. Then the family could begin to become all it could be.

The Berger-Niihau's proposals are much more carefully nuanced than I am detailing here, and the Christian Right may not be willing to embrace the pluralism built into these proposals. The argument here is only that the return to the family, the focusing of political action around that institution, need not be seen only as a crass act of political expediency or a poorly masked return to patriarchy. It could also be an effective response to the current problems of modern American society.

Re-Ordering and Re-Imposing a Lost World

Mary Douglas has developed an elaborate theory of ritual, purity, symbol, and social group which may help interpret the normative role of the family in the ideology and political program of the New Christian Right, especially, if its leaders are understood as attempting coercive reform of American society. A key element in Douglas's analysis is her treatment of purity. To understand purity rules is to understand much about a society. Pollution rituals impose order on experience, support classification and clarification of forms, and reduce dissonance. Such rules are typically socialized at the level of the individual's body. Thus attitudes about the body may arise from society's larger image of itself. The human body becomes a universal symbol system. A certain understanding of the body accompanies certain social structures. Bodily control correlates with social control. Douglas's study of food taboos in Leviticus leads her to conclude that the confounding of a classification system with respect to food threatens to confound the general scheme of the world. Food rules connect to maintaining boundaries and extend not only to society but to the cosmos. Douglas has tried to develop a model which can correlate rules of body purity with social organization and with cosmological structures. Because humans inhabit numerous bodies simultaneously -- physical bodies, social bodies, and bodies of thought -- they naturally seek maximum consonance of experience. Experience has a vertical dimension which cuts across all these levels of structure.

Rituals signify a heightened awareness of these levels of structure and a great sensitivity to the symbolic action which expresses their consonance. As these symbols become institutionalized at various levels of reality, ritual attention to them functions to sustain a general order of existence. According to Clifford Geertz (1935), it is in ritual that "the world as lived and the world as imagined, fused under the agency of a single set of symbolic forms, turn out to be the same world." Ritual expresses and reinforces (socially constructed or divinely ordained) reality."

It is my hypothesis that one role the family plays for the New Christian Right can best be understood in view of Douglas's theory. I am assuming that the family, including the important attempts to define and structure it normatively, functions for the Christian Right analogously to the body in Douglas's theory. Thus the family correlates with social system and cosmology or worldview.

In his "Ninety-Five Theses for the 1980s" Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority, includes twenty-four theses concerning the family. Falwell states that God himself has instituted marriage and that the definition of ideal marriage is the joining of one man to one woman for one lifetime, with the husband as the divinely appointed head of this institution. Children area normal expectation of this union, and they belong to the family not to the state. Condemned as anti-family are the following: government interference in child-rearing, communal living, abortion, homosexuality, polygamy, child abuse, wife abuse, substance abuse, premarital sex, incest, adultery, pornography, no-fault divorce laws, the Equal Rights Amendment, and certain Internal Revenue laws. Falwell asserts that no other institution in human history has proven so successful or satisfactory to humans and that any nation which has ever allowed the family unit to deteriorate has always automatically been marked for destruction.

I am arguing that the New Christian Right sees in the family an image of a lost or neglected universal order. The reason peoples and nations become ripe for destruction when they ignore the family is that they are ignoring the very order of reality, without which no one can continue meaningfully to live. To define the family, to tend its boundaries, to live in its reality is to live the meaning of society and the meaning of life in the cosmos. Such an attempt, such ritual homage to the symbol of the family, cuts vertically across family, society, and cosmos.

It was not theory, however, which turned the attention of the New Christian Right to the family. It was their perception of federal interference in family life and, more important, their view that federal power has been used to delegitimize the normative place of the traditional family and legitimize, support, and even establish alternative lifestyles. Thus, not only modern society but federal power has contributed to the blurring of a fundamental order of reality. The pluralism of modern life has itself also relativized the traditional family and confounded the general scheme of the world. Thus the Christian Right responds to governmental redefinitions and the pressures of modernity.

But there is more involved than saving the family. Perhaps alert boundary tending and coercively imposed traditional definitions can restore divine order to a society moving toward chaos. Thus the family becomes a key element, perhaps the key element, in a political program of coercive reform by a social movement which understands its values to have been abandoned by status elites in government, higher education, and the media. The movement, engaged in a politics of lifestyle, would not, in this analysis, simply be contending over alternative ways of living but over which value system is congruent with universal order. To say this in religious language, fighting for the family is fighting for God, who instituted the family. To go further, fighting for the family is fighting against all those elements in modern society which threaten to hasten the eclipse of God and lead us further toward chaos.

The Chaos of Sexuality

A reordered cosmos needs to be erected in face of the chaos of sexuality. The purity of family life can bring order to this chaos, legitimizing and bounding sexual drives. Attending to issues of sexual purity can be a way of attending to issues of social structure and to meaningful closure in worldview. Apart from the question of the life of the unborn, abortion threatens to abolish sexual taboos, and release sexuality from family structures. Such a deregulated sexuality could destabilize life in community and edge humanity toward chaos.

It was to be expected that the New Christian Right might fasten onto sexual issues. Conservative Christians have always specialized, as it were, in issues of personal morality. An apparent obsession with sexuality may stem partly, as is often charged, from a peculiarly Christian denigration of the body (but both cross-cultural historical studies and the work of Douglas may call this judgment, in its one-sidedness, into question) or from a moralistic attempt to deal with one's own sexuality. I am here arguing, however, that if traditional moral concerns led them to sexuality as an issue worthy of attention, there are deeper, structural reasons for such a choice as well.

The strictures against homosexuality and against the Equal Rights Amendment, however much homophobia and sexism there may be mixed into them, function, in this analysis, as a protest against any blurring of the classification system through which humans bring order to their personal and public lives -- and through which humans are thought to mirror a divine order. To argue as Falwell does that homosexuality is anti-family may be to argue that homo-sexuality floods us with dissonance and muddies society's image of itself. Pledging allegiance to family life and enacting in our own lives the ideal family are rituals by which we sustain, throughout the social system, a general order of existence and fuse the ideal world with the lived world.

There may also be an underlying feeling that an abortion culture may break a chain of meaning in which pregnancy can or must come from sexual activity and that such pregnancy is to be ordered within the bounds of the family. Pregnancy arrives almost as a punishment -- or publicly visible social anomaly -- for those who engage in impure sexual activity, i.e., sexual activity outside the boundaries of family or outside a chain of meaningful causality. An abortion culture encourages us to assume there is no danger in disturbing such boundaries, in acting against such order. We are lured into thinking that chaos does not threaten, that there are no effects at the level of the social system or of the cosmos.

The Chaos of a God-less World

At best God's connection to the modern world is tenuous. No doubt people who respond to the New Christian Right feel this as acutely as others. The family is a primary order through which God is thought to govern the world. To lose the family is to lose the ordering presence of God in the midst of an otherwise chaotic social world. Tending the boundaries and welfare of the family is a ritual through which we restore (and impose) divine order on society and vertically reconnect God to all three levels of human experience: individual, society, and cosmos or worldview.

An abortion culture threatens to disconnect God as the author of human life from sexual activity and procreation. A break in divine causality is introduced by a technological procedure and by individuals whose body/family life no longer mirrors the divine ordering. In the view of the New Christian Right the rituals of sexual activity within family bounds are being denounced. Motherhood and the holy occupation of raising children (socializing them into the truth about the divine ordering of human life).are also denigrated. Abortion, then, becomes a ritual of secularism, which has often been defined as the process through which more and more dimensions of human life are withdrawn from under the interpretive power of religious symbol systems.

The Family: The Unification Movement's Hope for a Second Advent

I have argued above that the New Christian Right's preoccupation with the family may be viewed as a means for recovering a lost past and putting America right again. Embracing the family promises the participants of the New Christian Right an expressive social action which experiences and recovers a lost past and an instrumental political action which attempts to subject to coercive reform a social system which ignores or threatens family values. These efforts occur in a setting in which religious values are being eclipsed by secularism, significant human needs for community go unanswered by a technological, bureaucratic society, and the entire system seems to stand in need of revitalization and new forms of legitimation.

It is beyond the scope of this analysis to examine the Korean roots of Unification theology for possible similarities to the American setting in which the New Christian Right's interest in the family emerged. Because the Unification movement is still alien to American social and political realities and because considerable anti-cultist hysteria has been fanned against the Moonies, there has as yet arisen no resonance between Unification theology and practice and those dimensions of American life to which the New Christian Right has been responding. Nor does it seem likely that any resonance will occur. The salience of the Unification movement's religious and cultural agenda has been experienced only at the individual level, in the lives of those who became devotees of Rev. Moon. This would lead one to expect that the American Moonies will forge their concerns for the family into a unique social ethic, different from that available to the New Christian Right. Of course, there are religious reasons for that as well, which count as heavily as the markedly different access to the American imagination available to the two movements. Although the Unification movement apparently wishes to call itself Christian and has as its significant root a conservative Protestant missionary context, the religious significance of the family for Unification theology is drastically different from its significance for the theology of the New Christian Right, although there may be some deeper similarities that are not immediately obvious. I turn first, then, to the political and social ethical significance of the family for the Unification movement, then to its religious significance.

Political and Social Ethical Significance of the Family

At no time in the foreseeable future will the Unification movement be in a position, as the New Christian Right may be, to engage in attempts at coercive reform. For the New Christian Right, that is the attempt to reimpose a system of values upon status elites which have long since abandoned them, to bring its own order to social chaos. Moonies in the United States have not successfully claimed Christian symbols as their own, and, because of the Korean origins of their movement cannot claim the earlier American past as a birthright denied them by the modern forces of secular humanism.

If instrumental political action around the issue of the family is closed to the Moonies, expressive social action is likely to continue as the dominant posture. In any open society, groups even on the fringe of the social system are always able to speak and behave publicly in ways which express their solidarity with a symbol system which seems true to them. The payoff of expressive social action is the resonance with a larger system of meaning coming back to the individual participants, the strengthening of faith through communal action, the solidifying of identity and boundary within the movement, the ethical satisfaction of affirming publicly one's ideals. Through public celebrations and enactments of the ideal family Moonies create private and public meaning for themselves and lend order to their personal existence, while giving a witness to a public ideal they hope society may some day emulate.

There is an element of coercive reform in such expressive social action, but the coercion is all directed inward. The demands which the Moonie ideal family makes upon the devotees of the movement are enormous: long period of separation even after marriage, strict sexual abstinence before marriage, the arrangement of both partner and time of marriage by Rev. Moon, the theological pressure of living up to being agents of a new creation in one's family life. All impulses to control, all urges to reshape a system, all totalitarian drives must be directed inward, while a soft face is turned toward American society. The internal pressure which builds up inside the devotee must be great, even given the significant satisfaction and self-realization which the movement seems to offer.

In a different and earlier age, the sixteenth century Anabaptists attempted to exert great self-discipline in creating a holy community and also suffered significant external persecution. Out of this came a powerfully meaningful communal and religious life and occasional outbursts of craziness and grandiose efforts at totalitarian new creation. No such outbursts have surfaced among the Moonies, although there may be some personal pathologies among devotees which can be traced to the great pressures for internal control associated with their family ethic. It may be noted that in small communities where the Moonie presence is more apparent, society sometimes projects onto the Moonies totalitarian intents.

Congruent with a self-expressive rather than an instrumental political action, the family ideology of the Unification movement seems to reflect an intentionalist social ethic. Edward Long (1970) discusses intentionalism as one of three ways of implementing ethical decisions, along with institutionalism and operationalism. Central to the intentionalist motif is the attempt to infuse new spiritual zeal and moral earnestness by first developing a high spiritual devotion in a core group, intentionalists generally seek a heroic ethic, a demanding morality, and the satisfaction attending the performance of special duties" (Long, 1970, p. 252).2 The intentionalist cherishes the dedicated group, intense zeal, and unique moral visibility. Such sharply focused vision and action are the best hope for bringing about social change and revitalization, but they are hallowed whether or not they prove instrumental, simply as one's call to holy community by God.

Unification theology emphasizes the God-centered family as the best example of how God works in history. It provides "the four position foundation" (God, husband, wife, child) for the coming Kingdom of God and an ideal society. It is the base for personal regeneration and for social reconstruction. There is an assumed parallel of orders of reality: parents/family/society/nation/world/ Kingdom of God. Out of this ethos of the ideal family is to flow an ever widening social ethic. Indeed, it seems the devotees address the perennial issue of moving from personal to social ethics by imaging the future society as a kind of extended family.

Religious Significance of the Family

For the New Christian Right the family is God's way of ordering creation and the fundamental community into which and within which God calls people and relates to them. These ideas would no doubt be accepted by Unification theology, but there are additional and very significant distinctives. For the Moonies, the family seems to function as an achievement of righteousness necessary for the arrival of the Kingdom of God. The family is also a "plausibility structure" within which Unification doctrines are experienced as persuasive and believable. The family becomes a model demonstration of the reality into which devotees seek to evangelize and socialize prospective converts.

According to Unification theology Jesus' mission failed because the public rejection of his mission, the unrighteous society into which he came, kept him from marrying and inaugurating a perfect family through which the Kingdom of God could arrive. The stringent sexual and family ethic practiced among Moonies seems an attempt to recover that failed momentum and recreate a righteous society in which a new advent of God's presence could arrive.

An interesting analogue may be the first century Essene community at Qumran, about which the Dead Sea Scrolls are so informative. Especially noteworthy is the "Manual of Discipline" of this sectarian, Jewish, messianic movement. Turning aside from mainstream Judaism they committed themselves with holy zeal and eschatological vision to a separatist communal life of intense piety and ethical achievement, hoping thereby to produce a righteous community of a new covenant which would warrant the coming of the Messiah.

The Unification family ethos is a heroic one in which every dimension of sexuality, courtship, marriage, and family life is clothed with the sacred. It is not just that Rev. and Mrs. Moon function as ideal parents who will produce an ideal family which will be the instrument for the arrival of the Kingdom of God (hence the appearance of Rev. Moon is associated with the "second advent"). All devotees are called to participate in the restructuring of family life so that a modeling of God's will can occasion the arrival of the Kingdom. Family life becomes a gift, a task, a special kind of achievement which carries great promise.

For devotees the Unification families are a promise to be fulfilled, a model of a realized theology, and extended for those not yet married, a present gift of community. In these several dimensions the family functions as a powerful plausibility structure (Berger 1969), a social-structural base for religion's reality-constructing and -maintaining tasks. The Moonie family is a basic structure within which Moonie theology is believable, even compelling. Given the family, the theology makes sense. Indeed, theological tenets come to resonate with the experiences the devotees are having in community.

The family not only makes especially plausible the tenets and behavior of the movement. It exerts a powerful pressure for continuing in the movement. To relinquish the theology is to leave behind the most nourishing and meaningful community many of the devotees have ever known. One's world, one's symbolic universe may become implausible outside the family. Apostasy from the theology would be divorce from the family, and vice versa. If one thinks in anthropologist Clifford Geertz's terms of religion as a cultural system, then Moonie theology expressed in Moonie family may be seen, in the words of Geertz's famous definition of religion, as "a system of symbols which act to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic." To abandon the theology requires abandoning a deeply meaningful and resonant religious-cultural system, in which the family serves as the foundation stone.

Finally, the Unification family functions as a paradigm for Moonie reality, a "model home" for inquirers to inspect, a demonstration project for where the movement is going. The potential convert is invited to find in the family empirical verification for the movement's theological beliefs, affirmations, and behavior. A devotee can see and experience as well as believe. "The proof is in the pudding." "What you see is what you get." The family is the base and the behavioral extension of the belief system.

Of course, the movement takes a great risk in opening itself up so obviously for empirical disconfirmation. What it Rev. Moon's children turn out to be less than ideal? What it divorce or delinquency strike the movement's family life? For the time being, it seems that Unification families confirm the faith of most participants, although significant stumbling blocks occasionally arise.


There have been many hypotheses to account for the New Christian Right's fixation on the family as a central issue in its platform. Without minimizing the roles of sexism, political expediency, and conservative morality, I have argued in this paper for an alternative interpretation of the role the family plays in the rhetoric and political action of the New Christian Right. The family functions for expressing, recovering, and imposing a lost past. This hypothesis has built upon the theoretical work of Arnold Galen and Peter Berger in their analysis of modernity and of Mary Douglas in her analysis of rituals of purity, natural symbols, and their correlation with social structure and cosmology. It is also related to the public policy proposals regarding such mediating institutions as the family that have recently been made by Peter Berger and Richard Niihau's.

Modern men and women find themselves homeless in the cosmos, alienated by excessive choices and an overly rationalized public sphere and a de-institutionalized private sphere. Amidst this loss of meaning, identity, and order, the family offers itself as a means through which a lost world can once again be expressed and recovered. But there is more. By ritually attending to the symbol of the family, by tending its boundaries and keeping it pure, we can produce a consonance with all three levels of human experience: individual, society, cosmos or worldview. Thus we not only do not lose the family as a primary institution through which we discover and express meaning. We gain the family as an instrument through which order can be reimposed on a secular society moving ever closer to chaos.

Unification theology arose in an entirely different context from that of the New Christian Right. The focus on the family in the Unification movement is inextricably related to a grand theological trajectory which would seem to have little in common with the visions of the New Christian Right. The Unification family, guided by perfect spiritual parents, will be the instrument through which the Kingdom of God will arrive and the failure of Jesus' ultimate mission will be set right. The family is an achievement of righteousness, a paradigm for God's will in the world, a plausibility structure within which Unification beliefs and practices become especially credible, a demonstration project which offers the proof of the pudding to potential converts.

Because the Unification movement is not indigenous to the United States, has no large following, and produces little resonance with most Americans, the political style available to the Moonies, around the issue of the family, is very different from that available to the New Christian Right. Moonie behavior patterns associated with the family constitute an expressive social action (rather than an instrumental political action), which, however, is very powerful for the devotees themselves. The Unification family ethos seems a good example of an intentionalist ethic, in which the ethical strategy is concentrated on a holy community and on the zealousness of the devotees. Whatever coercive element the family ethos may have is turned inward in stringent demands for moral heroism, not outward in attempts to impose a reordering of society.

The Unification movement's preoccupation with the family may, however, display greater similarities to that of the New Christian Right than are immediately apparent. For both movements the family is a basic paradigm for how God orders reality, makes the divine presence known, and relates to people. For both movements the family is the basic social and theological unit (for the fundamentalists of the New Christian Right a much more basic unit than the Church). For both there is a grand symmetry of family/ society/nation/God.

Perhaps the Unification construction of a righteous family as antidote to the sinfulness which keeps the Kingdom from arriving is parallel to the hope of the New Christian Right that the Christian family will be the means through which God's promise for the American experiment will once again have the chance of coming true. It may be a function of the upward mobility and new access to power of the New Christian Right that it has moved from its intentionalist-evangelistic position earlier in this century to more direct confrontation with the social system. The New Christian Right has moved from a position of social quietism and pessimism which channeled all energies into a special community and an idiosyncratic call from God to a political strategy of recovering and perhaps enforcing an ideal family/society long since abandoned by contemporary status elites. If this operationalist mode (Long, 1967) of mobilizing power to balance power is not altogether successful, there is also a commitment to an institutionalist strategy through which currently neglected religious values will be gradually knit back into the fabric of our public life. If the Unification movement had sufficient political power and access to the American tradition and symbol system, would it attempt to mobilize its theological idealism into social reality through political action rather than ethical modeling?


1 An excellent, brief introduction to Galen's theory is that of James Davison Hunter, "The New Religions: Demodernization and the Protest Against Modernity," in The Social Impact of New Religious Movements, ed. Bryan Wilson, (Barrytown, N.Y.: Unif. Theo. Seminary, distr. Rose of Sharon Press, 1981).

2 An extremely useful review of Douglas's theory is that of Sheldon Isenberg and Dennis Owen, "Bodies, Natural and Contrived: The Work of Mary Douglas," Religious Studies Review 3, no. l (January 1977). In these two paragraphs I am leaning heavily on their summary.


Berger, Peter L. The Sacred Canopy. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1969.

Brigitte Berger, and Hanstned Kellner. The Homeless Mind. New York: Random House, 1973.

and Hanstried Kellner. "Marriage and the Construction of Reality." In Facing Up To Modernity. New York: Basic Books, 1977.

and Richard John Niihau's. To Empower People: The Role of Mediating Structures in Public Policy. Washington, D.C: American Enterprise Institute, 1977.

Douglas, Mary. Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966.

Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology. London: Barrie and Jenkins, 1970.

Falwell, Jerry. Ninety-Five Theses For the 1980s. Moral Majority mailing.

Geertz, Clifford. The Interpretation of Culture. New York: Basic Books, 1973.

Hunter, James Davison. "The New Religions: Demodernization and the Protest Against Modernity. "In The Social Impact of New Religious Movements. Ed. Bryan Wilson. Barrytown, N.Y.: Unif Theo. Seminary, distr. Rose of Sharon Press, 1981.

Isenberg, Sheldon and Dennis Owen. "Bodies, Natural and Contrived: The Work of Mary Douglas," Religious Studies Review 3, no. 1, January 1977.

Niebuhr, Reinhold. An Interpretation of Christian Ethics. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1935.

Long, Edward LeRoy. A Survey of Christian Ethics. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967. 

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