Lifestyle Conversations with Members of the Unification Church - Edited by Richard Quebedeaux
Richard Quebedeaux: I'd like to read a portion of scripture again before I introduce Kurt, who will give a presentation on social action and politics in the Unification movement. I'm reading again from the Phillips translation of the New Testament, which I think a lot of you Unificationists don't know about. It's not really a literal translation but kind of a paraphrase, and then I'm also using my own paraphrasing, (laughter). But essentially it's very good. I'm reading from the Epistle of James, Chapter 2 beginning with verse 14.
Now what use is it, my brothers, for a man to say he "has faith" if his actions do not correspond with it? Could that sort of faith save anyone's soul? If a fellow man or woman has no clothes to wear and nothing to eat, and one of you say, "Good luck to you, I hope you'll keep warm and find enough to eat," and yet give them nothing to meet their physical needs, what on earth is the good of that? Yet that is exactly what a bare faith without a corresponding life is like -- useless and dead. If we only "have faith" man could easily challenge us by saying: "You say that you have faith and I have merely good actions. Well, all you can do is to show me a faith without corresponding actions, but I can show you by my actions that I have faith as well."
To the man who thinks that faith by itself is enough, I feel inclined to say, "So you believe that there is one God? That's fine. So do all the devils in hell, and shudder in tenor!" For, my dear shortsighted man, can't you see far enough to realize that faith without the right action is dead and useless? Think of Abraham, our ancestor. Wasn't it his action which really justified him in God's sight when his faith led him to offer his son Isaac on the altar? Can't you see that his faith and his actions were, so to speak, partners -- that his faith was implemented by his deed? That is what the scripture means when it says:
And Abraham believed God,
And it was reckoned unto him for righteousness;
And he was called the friend of God.
A man is justified before God by what he does as well as by what he believes. Rahab, who was a prostitute and a foreigner, has been quoted as an example of faith, yet surely it was her action that pleased God, when she welcomed Joshua's reconnoitering party and sent them safely back by a different route.
Yes, faith without action is as dead as a body without a soul.
It's interesting that in this passage, the author talks about God being pleased and working through Rehab the prostitute. It's interesting applied to the church and the situation of the gay person, especially the gay minister. It's very difficult for most denominations to understand that possibly God could be working through these people. But I think that if God can work through a prostitute and a Mary Magdalene, who many people look at as an ex-prostitute, then perhaps God is bigger than a lot of us.
With that I'd like to introduce Kurt Johnson. I met Kurt for the first time at Barrytown and we sort of walked around the grounds and he started to say, well I'm sort of a heretic in the movement. I didn't know what a heretic in Unification would be and he started talking and I thought, "This guy is what's going on here, he's really into social action," and then I discovered where he hangs out in New York and what he does, and it sort of blew my mind as it probably will a number of yours, since you may not be aware of what Unification is doing, concretely trying to change the world. I've asked him to talk about social action and also discuss the issue of anticommunism in the movement because, as most of us know, this is the real objection of many of the religious liberals and social activists in this country. They look at the anticommunism of Unification as an attempt to keep the fat cats fat and the poor people poor. Kurt has another idea about that which I hope he will share with us, and I'll give it over to him at this point.
Kurt Johnson: Thank you, Richard. We have a short amount of time to cover a vast and complicated subject. I want to discuss the relationship of social action and political awareness to religious commitment and to the particular teachings of Divine Principle. I want to explore whether there is an approach to social action and a political awareness that could develop uniquely from Divine Principle. Then, I will cite organizations which have been founded by or through the movement to relate to social purposes and describe what each is doing.
Please understand that the contents of this presentation, though aimed at representing the movement, is my own point of view. One thing I have found in the Unification movement is that it has considerable integrity. There is room within it for the development of many platforms and a very pluralistic base for understanding and action. Further, there is considerable dialogue within the movement itself concerning different areas of social action as they develop. No one in the movement has tried to impede any point of view and we have always been encouraged, especially by Rev. Moon, to pursue the development of our thinking. Therefore, much of what I will cover is developing in the dialogue and action of the movement itself.
I have always been surprised when people ask, "Is the Unification Church interested in social action?" What is social action anyway? Obviously, evangelism is a form of social action. But social action tends to mean how a group uses its resources to address particular social ills. Obviously, one could hardly read Divine Principle which has as one of its most important topics the subject of "restoration," without realizing that our point of view must involve tangible action. If we think of the "restoration of the world," we become awfully aware that we must do something -- perhaps even something drastic or revolutionary -- if we are to authenticate restoration. Restoration must be liberating -- it must not only involve man becoming liberated from the various external and internal tyrannies of the world, but pragmatically, how solutions should be approached and executed in the real world of particular political situations and social complexities.
Obviously, you are not going to restore anything unless you are really interested in finding genuineness and wholeness in life. Then, the movement must think about authenticity. The movement must address the meaning of the Incarnation. The movement must continually ask questions like: "What is humanity?" "What is mankind supposed to be like?" "What does it mean to be sons and daughters of God?" "What does it mean to follow Jesus?" "What does it mean for people to serve each other?"
In the long term, the movement wants to achieve the restoration of the whole world. Let us think about it. This is a substantial claim. Historically, we believe that something is going to come of the movement. We think that hundreds of years from now, people will look back and see that with the beginning of this movement and many others and the coalescing of these, something began to improve in the world. We believe history will prove the beginning of a new era, a "quantum leap" that began, roughly speaking, at about this time in history. We must recognize that such an historical event would run counter-current to any other model for restoration which is fundamentally different and has a substantial base in the world. Therefore, such a movement has to understand its relationship to other claims. This is why a part of my topic today inevitably concerns the movement's various approaches to Marxism.
There are certain unique attributes of Divine Principle's understanding of reality, God, and humankind. This has practical consequences. Let me enumerate some of these. First, when you join the Unification Church, you are taking a step out of the secular world. Though our life is not much different from the religious life of other religions, Unificationism accentuates that that stepping out of the world is also stepping back into the world in a different way. The Unification movement is large, economically well-grounded, and is interested in change. When you become a member of the movement, you begin thinking about how to fully mobilize manpower and resources toward a practical goal of restoring the world. Since such a concept is not a guise under which Rev. Moon is trying to do some other "ugly" thing in the world (as much of the media or other detractors have suggested), social action in the movement is a question of how these persons can mobilize their lives to social service. Such work cannot be carried out by spiritual inspiration alone or by public relations gimmicks.
Nor can it be carried out simply within the context of the secular world where such attempts have failed because the structures are restricted by secularity itself.
Since social service to the Moonie is an effort to help find some way out for mankind from what seem to be ever more complex problems and eventual consequences, persons within the church evaluate their lives in terms of how they are contributing to this goal. The interracial or international couple, for example, have a unique opportunity to use their lives to aid in the restoration of unity among people. Social action also comes from the individual lives of the people in the movement who are living within areas of social concern -- particularly now, the inner city. They are trying to find clear inspirations and ways of working within the view of Divine Principle which can bring help to their local communities. They are praying and looking for methods. The organizations and works I will mention later in this talk have grown from individuals' projects.
Within the above context, Unificationists have been able to envision and substantially begin a network of nonprofit organizations. These are run by persons not primarily interested in the fulfillment of their private lives, but who are trying to be unselfish and serving at a high level of freedom and authenticity. Service has to do with reaching out to the genuineness of humanity and human nature. It exists to address the human condition. Service must be unconditional.
The practicalities of service are, of course, on another level. We have found that to achieve success, one must be able to mobilize some essential expertise in three areas: money, manpower, and mission. One must have money and resources to give and utilize; one must have man-hours to give and coordinate; and one must have a vision, a direction, a model and a sense of plan. Then, a deeper understanding of whether a particular methodology of social action actually has developed from Divine Principle emerges.
I want to give you some introduction so I can address that issue. At the level of methodology I think substantial dialogue can be developed between not only Moonies and other Christians but also with the adherents of other world faiths. From this question of how different faiths relate to a model for social restoration, I feel that developments and dialogues through these and other conferences can achieve practical results. Let us begin to look at some models now in a way that can embrace most of the considerations raised so far in this discussion of social action and politics.
If you read Marxist literature, for instance many of the shorter writings of someone like Angela Davis, you see a distinct form of analysis. There is a distinct methodology of exegesis and apologetic from which the Marxist addresses and analyzes a social issue. This is because a Marxist not only has a particular view of how reality is structured, but a Marxist also has a particular view of history. Divine Principle, quite distinct from other writings coming out of Christian history, also has a unique view. It has a view of the ideal, of how reality is structured, and a distinct view of history. Obviously, from Divine Principle, just as from the early articulations of Marxism, a methodology must emerge. I want to point out to you that the Unification movement is now in this germinal stage: its view and particular methodology are only beginning to be articulated.
For instance, within the methodology of Unificationism, the Moonie may think of a problem he wants to solve in the context of the Cain and Abel typology through which Divine Principle illustrates the path of restoration. Abel is the brother through whom God wants to serve mankind (in the symbolic position of Cain) in order to bring both through unity to the ideal relationship that God originally envisioned.
Therefore, if God desires one to be an Abel, how shall one act and how shall one learn from the past? First of all, if Abel is to succeed, Abel must always have more to give than anyone else. People come to the person from whom the most is to be gained. But how can Abel give what he has without creating resentment or jealousy in those he is trying to serve? How can a person truly serve from the position of an unconditionally loving brother or sister? The Moonie must analyze his or her motives and methods to see if they are truly pure. How is one an instrument of God and not just one's own ego? Also, if a person has come with resources, how can he make sure that the resources are not misused? Any social activist who understands the problems of administering resources in the area of socially and culturally deprived situations will understand the predicaments.
Because of training in the Principle, the Moonie may also ask, what kind of action should I take to please the spiritual world so that people there will participate invisibly in restoring a particular problem? How can this invisible world be motivated to work with those to whom by ancestry or personal attributes they are spiritually connected in this historical problem? Then, how should I proceed at the social level to create relationships with people that can bring about a pragmatic unity within a community or neighborhood and achieve some substantial goal? The Moonie will be aware that Divine Principle requires a time period in which satisfaction of the internal purity of motivation will in practical ways emerge to create a spirit for the unity and cooperation desired. The Moonie knows that the external quality emerges from the internal one, as in Jesus' words, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."
Another question which is part of the Divine Principle perspective concerns the relation of Unification social involvement to the work of various churches and faiths. According to the historical analysis of Divine Principle the Unification movement comes in the position of little brother to the big brother, established Christianity. Unification social action or ecumenism must consider how the movement can humbly communicate its vision and hope for unity to the bigger brother. This is another question that relates practically to the Cain and Abel typology. How does Abel speak his inspiration without incurring the anger of Cain? Because persecution is a reality, the Moonie must consider what kind of unconditional service will convince the big brother that together they are to solve major historical problems; that the insights brought by the younger brother combined with the sophistication of the older brother are God's plan to influence history in a new and positive way. The Unificationist, therefore, sincerely analyzes how he can achieve a partnership between his "New Age" religion and traditional Christianity such that together they can move toward restoration -- God's actual goal.
The Moonie will try to analyze, as has the Marxist, the patterns in historical relationships that will finally lead to the goal of a liberated and truly whole mankind. He will look for the individuals and peoples who are in the Abel position today. Who is most truly like the standard of Jesus? He may come to note that Black and white Christianity may represent a key Abel/Cain typology through which God is trying to work. He will note that it is in the Black church that the most pure reflection of Jesus' standard is most often found. The Black church exists at a level where faith and social concern are one. The Black has suffered and forgiven more. White churches are in many cases more self-serving, detached from social concern, and teaching spiritual salvation without regard to the need to liberate the brother. It can be noted that it was Black and white Christians together who brought about the civil rights movement. The Moonie will see that as consistent with the teaching of Rev. Moon: the movement began with Abel and was joined by Cain. The Moonie may analyze current sociology and conclude that the route of restoration for American Christianity will begin from the Black community and spread into and mobilize the white. Then, he will hear Rev. Moon mention this in a speech and feel that his spiritual insights and analysis of Divine Principle have been correct.
Obvious to my comments so far must be the observation that the concept of unity between brothers which is central to Unificationism is a counter-proposal to Marxism since Marxism condones the destruction rather than the restoration of what is in many cases the Cain position. To evaluate the Unification position on Marxism, one must consider the content of the Principle and think about it in relation to the basic claims of Marxism. Our movement is distinctively for something, not just against something. The dialogue about how to approach Marxism is a hot one within the movement itself. This is healthy and good. How have some of the more destructive conceptions of the Unification Church approach to Marxism come about? I am sure that many of them are the result of the misunderstandings and mistakes of the movement and others as well. I am also quite sure that our detractors have tried to spread as much of the "bad" word as they could.
Within the movement you will see a proliferation of tensions between many cultural backgrounds trying to articulate together the Principled counterproposal to Marxism. You will find all kinds of political leanings in the movement, and people trying to find a harmony by centering on Divine Principle and its ideal of the one family of man. One thing is certain: in Rev. Moon's own teaching and speeches there is both criticism of communism for its extreme violation of human rights and criticism of Christianity and the West for selfish usage of resources and other abuses.
The articulation of an approach to social action by the movement is one of the exciting things in which we can ask your participation. We feel this process is occurring through the development of Divine Principle as theology and ideology. The movement is those who ate in it. Its ideas are articulated by those who have become its adherents. Though its formulas are in one sense fixed within the teachings of Rev. Moon, their applications and explanations will be a long historical process.
On the handout, I have listed the kinds of organizations that the movement has nurtured to address political and social questions. Some of these organizations are independent in constituency and structure and should not be confused with the church itself. First I've listed organizations whose primary work is in relation to political awareness.
New World Forum: The New World Forum deals with the ambassadorial and United Nations communities trying to foster a religious view of values and concern for mankind. It is an educational group trying to offer a perspective. It is one of the early groups working in relation to education about communism. It is now, I would say, in some tension with other approaches like that of the Freedom Leadership Foundation.
Freedom Leadership Foundation: It has traditionally taken a very conservative approach to Marxism and has focused on human rights abuses, but it may be growing now in its perspective. The fellow who is in charge there is finishing his master's degree at George Washington University in political science and he has his undergraduate degree in political science from Brown. It will be interesting to watch this group's future development. It has won many awards, principally from groups representing those who have fled from Marxism.
Society for Common Insights: This group has tried a different approach to Marxism, a liberal, more non-reactionary one. It has stressed what we are for, not what we can be against, and tried to build an alternative. It has done conferences on racial and cultural issues. It has a publication series. Some of these books are in the back. It is doing a book now on American foreign policy in South Africa, and it has done a series for the University of Pennsylvania on dialogue between Black and white social scientists. This is an independent foundation founded by members and nonmembers.
Capitol Hill Ministries: This group works in Washington, DC, in relation primarily to the Congress. Its interest is First Amendment tights and also countering the slanderous actions against new religious movements by the deprogramming and anti-religion organizations and lobbies. It is interested in instilling an idea of religious character in politics.
Professors World Peace Academy in Japan: I have been particularly impressed by what this group has done. They are an older group and have done high-level strategic studies on the economic future of Japan and the strategic future of Southeast Asia. These are serious works, well thought out, not at all reactionary in approach. You can order their publications. I think there are about eighteen hundred Ph.D.'s in the Professors World Peace Academy of Japan. It is a large and effective organization, inspired by the church's founder but independent in its actions.
I've listed next the social organizations. Most of these are independently incorporated, nonprofit organizations. Some are completely Unification people, others are mixtures, others authentically non-Unification but substantially funded or helped by the Unification Church.
Project Volunteer: This is a social service entity of the California Unification Church. They have distributed tons of food and are involved in recycling, vocational training, and many other community projects. They are innovative; they deal with networking resources for the benefit of local community needs. They have won many awards and are well accepted in the West Coast community.
National Council for the Church and Social Action: The National Council for the Church and Social Action is an ecumenical group, formed by us and our friends in about eight other denominations. We guard the authenticity and integrity of the organization, and as an ecumenical organization it is growing quickly. We have chapters now in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Norfolk, Jersey City, Denver and Atlanta and eighteen affiliate corporations. This year we surpassed the three million dollar mark in services rendered. We're proud of this organization for two reasons: it's successful and authentically interreligious.
International Relief Friendship Foundation: The International Relief Friendship Foundation is young, only a year old. It is an independent public foundation founded by members and nonmembers. IRFF is now working in twenty-seven countries, and will hopefully grow to others. It works with various organizations through which it can render social service overseas. This year it produced a third of a million dollars in services, at a five to one ratio of money invested. That was a very good start, I think.
New Society Social Programs: New Society is an endemic Harlem project. It's run by Unification people from Harlem and elsewhere who feel that God wants them to help in that particular situation. They are absolutely realistic about what's involved in trying to do restoration in Harlem. Their services are very successful and include food distribution; they are widely recognized.
D.C. Striders Track Club: This program combines a scholarship program for minority students with the opportunity to compete in major athletic programs during the year. The D.C. Striders qualified numerous Third World students for the Olympics in Moscow. The program was initiated by members and non-members and functions as an independent foundation.
World Medical Health Foundation: This is a testimony to Rev. Moon's interest in social work. He's very interested in medical service, specifically the implications of Divine Principle for holistic health, the relationship between acupuncture, chiropractic, shiatsu, traditional medicine, etc. It holds conferences and seminars and will be opening a clinic in the future. It is a private foundation formed by church members.
International Cultural Foundation: The world of the ICF is well known through the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences. It is so well known, and well regarded that I need not further elaborate it here. It should be considered social action in the context that it serves to bring the work of scientists to a consideration of values and the application of scientific knowledge to the betterment of the human community.
Before I go to slides, because I can go through them fairly briefly, I want to emphasize that it has been a distortion of the truth by the media and others who oppose us to list these groups as "front organizations." I can assure you that our detractors will comb the proceedings of this conference for information about these groups so that they can attack them. I ask them now to question their motivations and open their minds to a fairer understanding of the movement and its objectives.
The last consideration I want to address is what is the source of these organizations and their work? There is, of course, the inspiration of the Rev. Moon and the Principle. Inspirations are also flowing now from a large constellation of people who are gifted people. The secret of everything I've talked about today is a lot of gifted people who are seeking answers in prayer and in their personal lives, within the racial and cultural admixtures they represent, as to how as adult human beings drawn to this movement they can find a way to practically achieve the goal of restoration. I want to conclude with some simple observations. We are a young movement in America -- not only young historically but youthful in membership. This is something that must be considered. We're beginning. We're discovering, and we are also making mistakes. That is life -- that is what it is all about. We have to deal with both sides of Rev. Moon -- inspiration on the one hand and practical lite on the other. We win some, we lose some; but there is an overriding surety about the character of the work we ate about. What, then, is our vision for the future? Will social action grow or diminish in the movement? It is simple enough to say that social action will become as big in the movement as there are gifted people to make it big. It is so simple. That is the way the Unification movement is. It is who is in it. It is their vision added to that of the movement's founder. The future of the movement will depend on their energy and what they can build. Where the energy is -- there also will be the result.
(This talk was followed by a slide presentation.)
Richard Quebedeaux: OK, do we have questions about Kurt's lecture?
Andy Smith: What are the eight denominations that are participating in the National Council for the Church and Social Action?
Kurt Johnson: That number may be too low now. There may be many more. On our boards of directors we have Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Catholics, Baptists, AME, AME Zion, Pentecostals of every kind and variety, CME, a member of the United Church of Christ.
Andy Smith: You say those are members of those churches. Are there churches participating or denominations?
Kurt Johnson: No. These are nonprofit corporations that have people participating as individuals. The chairman of our national board is AME. The president of the Harlem board is CME. The president of the Washington board is Baptist. But they are all participating as individuals. Of course, they take flack from some members of their churches. Also, there was a problem in Washington, DC, with the National Council of Churches. But that's been basically resolved by the fact that we're doing good work there. When we got our grant from HUD, the National Council of Churches did not vote against it. They just abstained.
Thomas McGoivan: Let me start by saying that since I've met you, Kurt, I have been absolutely convinced of your sincerity and dedication to this kind of work. But I'd like to get your reaction to this. You would obviously be very offended if there was a front in the church that was out to proselytize and was using a community organization for that purpose. But in my survey of Unificationists, at least ten percent admitted that they joined the church through such a group in California. As far as I can ascertain from talking to them and reading their responses, there wasn't any community activity as such. It was really a front to proselytize. Now I know you said we should ask Dr. Durst about this, but I think it has to be asked to you also. How do you feel about this? Is it a front? And does it injure the work you are doing here?
Kurt Johnson: If Dr. Durst feels that types of community outreach can attract people who can then understand the Principle and join the movement, then I am not in any position to interfere or to infer anything bad about that. That would be his decision. I know that there is substantial service work done through Project Volunteer They have a staff that just does that. I've been there and I've spent time with them. But I also know that Creative Community Project has served as a way to approach people for joining. So in that sense that could be called a front. It depends on how you define a front. I think that there are groups that could be called a front, but ate those any different from groups that other people use to either recruit, do PR or anything else?
Thomas McGowan: How do you feel about it? Wouldn't this injure your work? Is there any friction between you and Dr. Durst?
Kurt Johnson: It bothers me in one sense, but in another sense it doesn't. After all, we are a family. And a family may have this internal diversity and that's fine. The East Coast social action people are seriously interested in the methodology of service. We don't think that the West Coast people are as exclusively interested in that particular target as we are. It's just not where their thinking is. And that is why we are sometimes conservative in our relationship to them. We certainly don't want to become dominated by their paradigm because we feel that our mission is a specialized mission to serve and one which Rev. Moon has given us.
Richard Quebedeaux: I live in Berkeley, and I know the Creative Community Project is not to be judged as a social action organization. It is set up as a model community. Actually it is the camp where people are introduced to Unification ideas, but it is conceived as a group of people who live there as Unificationists in order to show those who come as guests that there can be a community of fellowship and love. It is a recruitment device one hundred percent. It is distinct from Project Volunteer which is primarily a social service agency related to other ecumenical agencies. Project Volunteer has a weekly church service which is usually run by local elderly Black people who have their own revival meetings, and it's not specifically designed to recruit people into the Unification Church. However, I believe that people from the outside who attend Project Volunteer services are invited to evening workshops at the centers and then to Camp K. As far as I know, the Oakland family members are very single-minded in their belief that their primary mission is recruitment and that pervades all their concerns.
How many liberal youth ministers, however, use devices to recruit people who would not otherwise go to church? Youth for Christ often uses a more inclusive name, Campus Life, and Campus Life has social gatherings for evangelistic purposes. The Berkeley Christian Coalition, which is now a radical organization, was started as a front for Campus Crusade with the aim of appearing like radicals in the Marxist movement but opposing the Marxist Third World Liberation Front. (It later became radicalized itself.) It is true that this kind of deceptive intent does not necessarily justify front organizations. But let us be aware that many of our own denominations use them.
Myrtle Langley: I want to reinforce what you're saying. In the history of Christian missions such a debate has been going on since the last century. Take, for example, Uganda where the doctor, Albert Cook (later Sir) was taken out and about by Bishop Tucker as an 'anu of evangelism.' The Church Missionary Society spent a great deal of time debating the issue in its committees. The first missionary medical and educational work were thus undertaken to give credibility to the gospel. The debate concerning the method's justification is still going on.
Stillson Judah: I'm in full agreement with what was stared. The only problem as I see it is that because of the bad press, there has been resentment against the Unification Church. Take, for example, the case that was in the news about a building that was bought in Northern California. It was a very old building and had been a very fine building. So the sale had to go through the city council to determine whether it could be used for educational seminars. The question was asked, "Are you connected with the Unification Church?" And the answer was, that there was no connection with the Unification Church. Yet the buyers were the Creative Community Project. But the distinction which they made then and which they always make is, that they are independent of the Unification Church but affiliated with it. Then all of a sudden when the seminars were given there, and people discovered that this was the Unification Church, there was a big uproar. They say they don't want the church in their community. It's unfortunate that this happens. And I don't know what the answer is.
Kurt Johnson: I don't either. I don't want to minimize the fact that people misuse things when they have a goal they are trying to reach. But I also want to appeal to process and development. We have to carry this baggage -- people's fear of how our organizations are being used by Rev. Moon.
George Exoo: I have had some contact with the Creative Community Project and I will be very specific about it. When I left the Virgin Islands' conference I flew to San Francisco and as a part of my experience in San Francisco and Berkeley went up to Hearst Avenue as a naive newcomer, coming in off the street, just to see what would happen. And it was pretty ugly. I judged it extremely negatively, because it was so much in contrast to everything that I'd experienced in the Virgin Islands. I think that some of what went on, if it were publicized, would be an embarrassment to the Unification Church.
Richard Quebedeaux: Could you explain?
George Exoo: Well, I will give you one very simple example. It reminds me of the things that one business I know of used to do to sell land up at Tahoe. They would invite you to a dinner and then pump you full of the land sale, try to get you to go up and see the land. Only at least the firm knew who was interested and who wasn't, and they didn't put pressure on the people who weren't interested. Finally I told the church members who I was, and I even said that I had been to the Virgin Islands. Then I said that I had a funeral to do in Charleston and I could not go up for the weekend. And a young lady looked at me and said, "You don't have to worry about that funeral, you just call them up and tell them you have something more important to do."
I had a gut feeling about that meeting being a front organization, because there was no mention of the Unification Church. It was only Creative Community Project and it was clear that it was being used as recruitment for Unification Church. They were not upfront about it until I turned to this young lady and said, "Could I see a Unification hymn book?"
You know, I have a singles group in the Unitarian Church in Charleston, and we bring hundreds of people into Gage Hall every two weeks. And is this a front organization for the Unitarian Church? When I sell that to my vestry, I say that this is going to serve these people, and it's going to bring people into the church. And it does. But I don't invite anyone even from that singles group into the Unitarian Church in Charleston, although everybody knows that that organization is sponsored by the Unitarian Church. It meets on Unitarian Church property but that kind of up-frontness just was not there with the Creative Community Project.
Kurt Johnson: Well, I'm no authority on the California situation.
Richard Quebedeaux: I believe that Dr. Durst is arriving today and we can discuss the Northern California church beginning at 6:15 this evening. We only allow fifty minutes for him, but I'm sure that he'll be willing to stay up all night as he always does to talk to any of you as long as you wish.
Diana Muxworthy: I sense that Kurt has been thinking a lot about his projects as long-term counterproposals to Marxism and I want to ask him what he thinks and how he thinks Rev. Moon is thinking about the future of the world. I'm asking this partly because I want to understand why it is that many people in different denominations are seeing you and your group as people who really care. I have also been disturbed by what I perceive to be a narrow view in our church. I would prefer to see our church through action get more involved in positive constructive critiques of Marxism.
Kurt Johnson: Well, besides me, you could talk to other people in my department who are getting direct inspiration in relationship to the Principle. What we're talking about here, of course, is a long, long-term thing, which you have to compare to the history of Marxism. In other words, in understanding Marxism you have to start out with its background. The Feuerbachian idea of liberation is definitely not the type of liberation we want. And Nietzschean liberation is analogous to what Satan said to Adam and Eve in the garden. Both Marx and Nietzsche told us that their prayers for liberation and justice were not answered because there is no God. So the Marxist tells us to stop praying and to take responsibility for restoring the world. They tell man he is the only boss. That's why when a Marxist has that experience, he has a revolutionary insight. He'll give his life, he'll give his energy.
The problem is not that there's no God. The problem is that man has not taken his responsibility in relation to God and man. So we are not to get up off our knees and become atheists. We are to discover our responsibility, within the context of religion. When you talk to a Moonie and you talk to a Marxist, you get the same testimony. What does a Moonie say? "For the first time in my life I understood my responsibility." The church made his responsibility clear.
So, you start with Marx and you get a scientific apologist, Engels. Then you get a political apologist, Lenin. Then you get a cultural apologist, Stalin. And then you get a culture, which is the whole Marxist world and now all of its variations. The same thing ought to happen with the Unification Principle. You have a prophet, and a vision, you start getting people who build social models. Then you finally deal with a political idea of how that can work and finally you get a culture. We're talking about a long haul.
Don Jones: I want to go back to the question of fronts, but I don't want to use the term "front." I think the term is misplaced and pejorative. I suggest that we should be more precise about how all these different groups function in the overall mission. Let me give you two types of organizations. One is the current United Methodist Church type who are antiprosyletizets. They are even embarrassed to suggest that the reason they go to South America and help in liberation movements or support the ERA is to gain new Methodists or even Protestant Christians. They clearly do not intend to do that. They don't mind new members, but that is no longer the goal for most liberal social gospel Methodists. On the other hand, during the mid-nineteenth century the Methodist Church was absolutely clear that, when they built hospitals and schools and they struggled for the freed man, their ultimate goal was the Christianization of the entire world. And that meant de-Catholicization of the Christian world. They knew very well that they wanted more Methodists. They were competing with the Baptists for membership. I would say that the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints is more like the nineteenth century Methodists. Their fundamental task is, in their phrase, the up building of the church, and by the up building of the church, the renewal of the world. Now my guess is that you would see your projects more on the model of the Mormons or the mid-nineteenth century Methodists.
Kurt Johnson: I think I can give you a clear answer. You'd be amazed that there really isn't a clear agenda in Unification activities, because the situation of being a person interested in Divine Principle and whatever is ahead, is always an innovative situation. We're never sure of what that answer is, so we're doing a lot of experimenting. We're caught in the paradox that restoration obviously is not exactly the same as getting people to join the Unification Church.
Don Jones: But don't you think it would be easier if more people were members of the Unification Church?
Kurt Johnson: Yes, this is the paradox. We have to ask ourselves, is there something unique to the Principle which is really essential to achieving restoration? And then we end up thinking, unfortunately yes. Because our experience is that the Principle helps to create a vision that gets things done. But I'm very clear on one thing: I will not violate anyone's integrity to get them to join this church. There are others who might. I won't because that's the way I was taught. For example, chastity means you don't manipulate people. That's the way I was taught. OK, so the way I look at it is this. I'm willing to discover what's out there. I believe Rev. Moon is genuine aside from whether he's a prophet or whatever. I believe that we're serious, but I'm not sure we know what that means. So it's going step by step in this paradox, letting the thing grow and then within that, actually seeing what happens.
Don Jones: As just a little dividend, do you hope that this helps to establish legitimacy? Kurt Johnson: I'm not worried about legitimacy.
Don Jones: I should think that you would want legitimacy because that makes your work easier. You don't have to spend so much time fighting off the dummies.
Kurt Johnson: Yes, that is a practical consideration but to me the issue is clear. Legitimacy is sometimes a fog that people throw up, but restoration is still restoration.
Richard Quebedeaux: I want to comment on this from the evangelical point of view. We Christians would not be here if the first century Christians had not recruited people. Imagine this: Somebody gives you a gift of a million dollars tax free and says, "I have ten more million to give and I want you to recommend people to whom to give it." And what are you going to do? Are you going to tell your friends or are you going to keep it quiet? I think that any person who has experienced something that has changed his or her life is going to want to go out and share it. They are going to hope that people will accept it.
Don Jones: That is why I like the nineteenth century Methodists.
Andy Smith: I want to follow this up in a somewhat different way. I want to contrast the Unification attitude toward anticommunism with what's happening, say, in Latin America and liberation theology. There Christians are affirming Marxist perspectives to a certain extent, because they see Marxists as the ones that are more involved in the action side of it than anyone else. Therefore, they are cooperating with Marxists and bringing about what they see as the restoration. In other words, their visions tend to bring them together, cooperation in terms of action. In fact, in one book I read, the author reported asking clergy and seminarians, "Who do you think is the most Christ-like person you know?" A frequent reply was "Che Guevara, because he is the one who is acting in the most Christ-like way in terms of what he is trying to do." Others in response to this question mentioned Ernesto Cardinal who spent time in Cuba and now is very much involved in an attempt to restore Nicaragua. So I wonder what your perspective is on how the anticommunist ideology fits in with this cooperation in terms of action.
Kurt Johnson: Our understanding of that would be very, very simple. The Marxists definitely, genuinely, are looking for liberation. The problems with that from our point of view are two: One is that in our view of history, Satan uses his knowledge of the Principle to create a model which is close to the Principle but can leave God out. It is in that situation, then, that we see the crucial difference between Christian-Marxism and Unification thought. The Principle insists on theism. And second, with the Principle you do not have to worry about a hidden agenda. This is a worry that I have for Christian Marxists. What is the level of control they have, given where the money will come from, and what about the role of arms, and so on? If you have no alternative as an indigenous liberation group to the terms of the Marxist, then what is your ability to keep your own indigenous control? I feel that a lot of American Christian Marxists are naive because they don't understand that complication. Is that helpful?
Andy Smith: That's helpful, but I'd like to pursue it further at another time.
William Shive: Ate there annual reports on the work done by all these organizations and ate they available to the public?
Kurt Johnson: Yes. I have the annual reports here of International Relief and the National Council if anybody wants to look. I just didn't want to spend the money to run them off.