Proceedings of the Virgin Islands' Seminar on Unification Theology -- Darrol Bryant, General Editor - April 1, 1980
I would like to make a few points and then use most of this time to answer questions. The points that I'd like to make concern the ideological consistency of the activity of Rev. Moon. It may seem like he's trying to move in all directions at the same time. I think that's true, but in fact, there are things we haven't initiated yet that we would like to initiate. This is ideologically consistent with Rev. Moon's view that we are seeking to establish the foundation for the kingdom of heaven on earth. As such, we feel the values which we find through our relationship with God should and must be expressed in all of our activities. And so, it's our desire not to limit our activities, but quite the opposite -- to break new ground, to move in all directions. Now the question is whether or not this is done in a way that is consistent with God's direction and with man's responsibility for the fulfillment of our portion of responsibility.
Sometimes I think that people react against the fact that our movement seems to be moving so fast and that we seem to be organizing all kinds of human endeavor. I think that the movement can appear to be threatening at times if you don't understand the heart with which we do it and the internal guidelines by which we operate. Just as our evangelistic philosophy is one of really exposing people to our ideas, entering into dialogue with them, trying to win their support without coercion or conversion by the sword, so also all of our other activities proceed in the same way. We don't have some theory as Lenin had that we'll become a large group and then be able to impose our vision or our will on others. That's not our idea of what the kingdom of heaven would be like for ourselves or for anyone else.
We simply want to demonstrate what we believe to be a better way of doing things. Sometimes we have to start out from way down in the cellar. Things we do are not automatically better than what anybody else might do. But we always believe that if the philosophical base is really pure and if the determination is really there, we'll be able to bring about the result because we think that is an expression of God's ideal for life on the earth.
It's impossible to think that we'll be able to do everything in Rev. Moon's lifetime. And so he conceives of his mission as being primarily that of teacher or prophet. He gives us new insight into the way in which our life should relate to God, and he inspires us to take responsibility to express that according to our own natural abilities. The first and primary thrust of his activity has always been the evangelistic work of the Unification Church, the teaching of the divine principle. Virtually everything else you see is in support of that or is an expression of that. Sometimes people see activities the church members are carrying out now as representing some kind of new thinking compared to what we did ten years ago. I don't think that's true. I think we had many of the ideas ten years ago -- I know, I was present in discussions -- but it's a question of having a big enough foundation to be able to sustain those ideas. That doesn't mean that the church doesn't grow and develop. It just means that these are not fundamentally new ideas, even though the manner of expression may be.
In every country where Rev. Moon has sent missionaries, they have tried by all means to teach the divine principle and to stimulate a conversion experience in the people. Converts become part of what we would consider the spiritual foundation, or the Unification Church foundation, of that country. And from that base, the church itself exists. In some cases that stage hasn't yet been accomplished. We have missionaries in over 120 different nations. In some nations the movement is large enough that many members no longer devote themselves personally to evangelistic activity. It may not be their particular area of contribution; they may not be gifted in that way.
However, in the very beginning, gifted or not, virtually everyone devotes himself or herself to evangelistic activity because that is considered the key to providing the kind of energy, the kind of inspiration, that will be necessary to spur on and develop all other projects, all other activities.
Probably a second, and almost automatic, outgrowth of the evangelistic work of the Unification Church is the concern of the church members about the ideology of communism. So in every country where our church has enough members, where the immediate details of church activities are not consuming all their energies, the first thing they would normally take up as a second effort would be some kind of movement to oppose communism. From our teaching, I think you can understand why we consider communism not a political system nor an economic system, but really a secular religion. Someone referred earlier to the "God that Failed," and in reality that's how we see it. We see communism as something which has captured, and we believe tragically betrayed, the idealism of people throughout the world. We feel it is an attempt to organize the kingdom of heaven on earth without God. Since we think it's philosophically deficient, we don't believe that it's a possible alternative. We think communism is simply a tragedy. And yet, not enough is being done.
Since we consider communism primarily an ideological problem, our response has been ideological. We don't participate in para-military activity or so-called "activist" work. Because of our beliefs, we confine ourselves to educational activity, to an ideological response. We have formed various educational organizations. The one in the United States is known as the Freedom Leadership Foundation. These organizations have sought to generate some kind of a coalition of activity. There are many, many people who share our views about communism who don't share many or even any of our other views. Rather than limit ourselves to the activities that we ourselves could carry out as the Unification Church, we formed an organization, the Freedom Leadership Foundation, to provide a middle ground. It's a single-purpose organization; it's formed for the purpose of being able to work together with others who share something in common. Many people have been able to work with FLF who would not want to identify with our church, or perhaps with any church. We don't consider the foundation a front group. We don't consider that in any way deceptive. It's very, very clear. If you pick up The Rising Tide, the biweekly newspaper of the Freedom Leadership Foundation, the founder of the organization. Rev. Moon is listed under the credits. The president is me. The purpose of the organization is to oppose communism and that is exactly stated. We've never changed that. So anyone who has ever affiliated with FLF has never found himself in the position of by implication supporting Rev. Moon or the church unless he specifically desired to do that. We try to be extremely careful about that, perhaps even more careful than might be necessary in some cases. That's why the charge of "front groups" is sometimes painful to me. We are active; we do a lot. But we make other organizations for the sake of other people, not for the sake of ourselves, but because we want to get certain things done.
Freedom Leadership Foundation and its affiliates in other countries have distributed a great deal of material. In the early 1970's there were an incredible number of speakers running around the country -- people like Bernadette Devlin and other communists -- who were getting their expenses paid by student unions and getting themselves nice fat speakers' fees to simply spew out their point of view and then leave. Now that's their prerogative, I suppose. However, through the Freedom Leadership Foundation, we formed an effort to turn that into a more responsible format. We simply challenged them to use a debate format. We asked if they were willing to be accountable for their views in the presence of someone who's going to get up right after them and pick apart their argument. It's interesting to note that in more than half the challenges we issued, the whole event was cancelled because they really didn't want a debate format. In other cases I think we converted what could have been a very lopsided, damaging and destructive event into something far more constructive from the audience's point of view and from our point of view, though perhaps not from the original speaker's point of view. In making this effort, however, we very seldom could find someone willing to pay even our expenses. So it really took a commitment to challenge the ideas derived from the Marxist philosophy. That has been the work of the Freedom Leadership Foundation.
We don't consider it political work. It's ideological work. Despite many things that you may have read, the Unification Church has not backed political candidates; Rev. Moon has not backed political candidates. There have been many overtures to us to do that, more in Korea than in the United States, but we have avoided that. Rev. Moon is trying to appeal to all people. Thus, to side with one faction or another, even though it might be a gain in the short run, would ultimately lose a great deal.
Members of the Unification Church are free individuals. Some of them come out of very political backgrounds; they have been presidents of Young Republicans or Young Democrats or something like that. And there has been criticism if they have maintained any of their political involvements. I would say that because of the tremendous scrutiny that every central member of the Unification Church is under, they've actually almost had to forfeit what would be their normal, individual right to participate in the political process. If they haven't, their actions have been attributed to Rev. Moon because of the view that everything anyone of us does is the result of a direct instruction from Rev. Moon. I doubt that view is present in this audience, but that is what we're faced with publicly. It isn't true. So not political work, but ideological work against communism has been the central concern of the group as a whole.
Third, not necessarily in importance but historically, has been the development of the International Cultural Foundation. The purpose of the International Cultural Foundation is to foster an exchange dialogue and to work toward unification. The Science Conference is the most well-known of its projects. Also, the International Leadership Seminars have brought students from Europe and Japan to the United States, where they visit Harvard and Washington, DC, as well as study the divine principle and other ideas. Participants in ILS do not go on to become members of our church in any large number. In a few cases they do join, but in most cases they simply become people who share part of our vision.
It's not our view that everyone will become a member of the Unification Church, or even that everyone should. It's our view that if people accept or are influenced by ten percent or fifty percent of our ideas, we have accomplished a great deal. If they happen to agree with eighty or ninety percent, they may become a member, but if not, at least we work together for certain things.
One of the most frustrating things to me is the division within the religious community and the hesitancy to work together for common goals. To me the basic problem in America is the tremendous spread of anti-religious forces. I travelled with Rev. Moon to every state in America in the early 1970's. And then last year, in 1978, I went again, through the program called Frontier '78. At that time, it was obvious to me that corruption, which you can almost measure in, for example, the number of pornographic bookstores, has spread. The spread of certain kinds of moral corruption is not debatable to me. Why can't all churches unite together to work against that? Why not?
The answer comes back, "Because we don't want to lend credibility to this or that movement, or we don't want to be accused of blurring the issue." I don't really think that's a valid response, because while we're being separate from one another, there grow forces around us which eventually can spell our destruction. We, the Unification Church, are concerned about moral questions; we're concerned about the issue of communism. That's why we try as hard as we can to work together with others -- for the simple reason that by working together we might get something done. Furthermore, by working together on our common concerns, we develop a new foundation together from which to have a different perspective on things.
In cultural activity, Rev. Moon has supported groups like the New York City Symphony Orchestra, eventually taking it over when it simply had no other viable way to survive. The members of the New York City Symphony Orchestra are not members of the Unification Church. It is a symphony orchestra with a long history, and it continues to exist because of Rev. Moon's support. Other cultural projects as well provide a way to build bridges between people.
You are familiar with some of our other activities, but eventually people come back to the question, "Why are you involved in so many businesses?" First of all, I don't know that we are involved in so many businesses. But to the extent that we are, there would be two reasons. Number one is very simple -- to support the work of our movement. Any organization needs to generate some source of support. When I first joined the church, it was basically a part-time church. Everybody had a job somewhere, and they donated as much as they could to print a little bit of literature, etc. The work went very slowly.
As we have been able to open up some sort of local business in an area which can support the activities, members have been freed to do evangelistic work. To a certain extent, we have been able to economize by doing that, setting up food co-ops which benefit not only our own organization, but also others who participate. It's part of our view of the way in which society will eventually organize itself.
Secondly, we have a clear view of what business ethics should be, and so we're trying to set a certain standard in the conduct of business. People who deal with our organizations aren't cheated and aren't negotiated out of a profitable existence. Instead, we try to stimulate the areas where we think we can make a contribution. The only thing we really have to offer -- we're not really experts in any of the areas in which we're operating -- is the fact that we're willing to work very hard. And hard work is an extremely precious commodity because that's exactly what most people are not willing to do. And so, the reason our businesses often not only prosper but in fact generate criticism from their competitors is that other people don't want to be challenged. It's a problem of American business in general, for example, in dealing with the Japanese competition. When people who are really committed to an objective work very hard, they accomplish their goal.
Furthermore, we think our businesses have been able to make a healthy contribution in other areas. The businesses that members of the church or the church itself have sought to generate are those which are related to our ethical and moral goals. Rev. Moon feels strongly that, in a world which is dealing with the problem of food supply, the sea holds the same importance in our food situation now that the land held perhaps a hundred years ago. In America we really haven't eaten a lot of seafood. The fishing industry is at least fifty years behind the times. So the government is trying to stimulate the development of the American fishing industry.
Fishing is not only symbolic of evangelism, but is also good character training for the individual as well as tapping an important source of food which will have to be developed. We feel that a major commitment there is a contribution on a wider level. Fishing is not just a business to make a little bit of money.
We have also gotten into the building of boats, and we have several shipyards in operation. One of them is in Bayou Le Batre, Alabama, a small town about half an hour south of Mobile. People there know each other; they have intermarried. It's quite a closed group. And there was a great deal of upset when our members first went down to set up an organization, even though it was not a church organization. There was no particular intention to do church activity. It's not the kind of place to which we would send missionaries at this time. It's a little Catholic enclave in the middle of a very, very Baptist South. NBC did a big deal about the business there. A group who were worried that we would brainwash their children, etc. organized a group called Concerned Citizens of the South.
It's very interesting. Eventually it came out that the funding for the Concerned Citizens of the South was from the primary competitor in shipbuilding. And when that became more clear, a lot of tempers cooled down. NBC did a little survey for a documentary a year and a half later, asking, "Now, a year and a half later, what has been the result?" The result was that our members had bought homes in the area, they buy groceries at the local store, they provide jobs not just for our own members but for many others as well. Our business has been a tremendously positive economic force in the area. People found living on the block with a Moonie was not threatening or dangerous. In reality, it isn't so much different from living on the block with a Mormon, a Hindu, a Baptist or anybody else. Religious choice is important, and it may actually be a difference ultimately, but it doesn't interfere with the fundamental unity we find as human beings who want to have good communities. We have to send our children to school someplace, so we're interested in good schools etc. I think that perhaps from the experience of Bayou Le Batre, our future involvement in small communities throughout the country will not be as stormy or difficult as before.
I really don't know all of your questions. I guess I'm trying to anticipate some of them. I will leave it to you to ask the particular ones you have. All I can say is that the members of the Unification Church, starting from Rev. Moon himself, are not seeking to make money personally. And so whatever they do, either as individuals, as the organizations they form, or ultimately as the church itself, is for the purpose of advancing the cause which you already know. If you know us, you know that that is exactly true.
Rev. Moon is accused of having a great deal of money and living a very extravagant lifestyle. I feel this is a very unfair criticism. We know his history; we know the difficulties he overcame in order to build the organization that he has. We feel that he should operate in a way that can command the respect of the people he deals with. He's the leader of an immense international organization. And, more fundamentally, he is our spiritual leader. Thus, his lifestyle compared to others in a similar position is simple and unassuming.
I guess the fact that he lives on an estate in Tarrytown implies that he just spends his time playing tennis and being served breakfast in bed. Those who know him know that that's not the case. He's an early riser, he's a hard-driving individual. I don't think there are any of us who have ever felt that we could keep up with him. I travelled with him for six months when I was five years younger than I am now, and it almost killed me. He's a really driven man because of the vision that he has. Since the members know that, you don't find that kind of criticism coming from members, or even ex-members of the church. Those criticisms usually come from people who have never been involved with the organization.
I think his lifestyle is appropriate. We wish we could bring more to him as a token of gratitude for the things that he's been able to bring to us.
Several years ago, we formed a group called the World Relief Friendship Foundation. Through that an enormous amount of money has been donated by members and by Unification Churches in different countries which has been channeled into aid to Pakistan and other places. I don't know a great deal about it, but it is an effort which was generated primarily because of a few individuals who appealed to Rev. Moon about their concept of the way in which they would like to serve. The ideas come from God. We think all good ideas come from God. Rev. Moon has many ideas, and his members also have many ideas, and through that kind of give and take we really hope to branch out in every different direction.
There was an announcement yesterday asking if you have an idea for a project that would appeal to one of the existing organizations or an idea for an organization that seems consistent with our goals. This is really the time to voice it and the group of people to be talking to. We're trying to connect on any level which could serve God's purpose. That's the main point I would like to make.
Neil Salonen: Any questions would be good. Frank Flinn in the back.
Frank Flinn: Neil, I'm going to speak from the viewpoint of many critics of the Unification Church. A lot of people have an impression that these more financially oriented things such as shipbuilding down in Louisiana and the fishing stuff up there in New England are really a way to get out of paying taxes. They are an escape hatch for taxes. Could you explain the financial structure of those two things?
Also, a comment. It seems that in our time if you wind up being successful in terms of material goods and wealth you can't be religious. That's an interesting thought -- that success is a sign that you're a fake religion. I'd like that notion to be discussed.
Neil Salonen: Success, religion and taxes? (Laughter) First of all regarding taxes: that's a really low blow. All of our businesses are organized as businesses. They enjoy no tax advantage over any other business. Then the secondary argument is, yes, but you have members working there and members don't pay income tax. That's also not true. If they receive a salary, they pay income tax. They must. Then the next thing is, well, they may pay income tax and the business must pay tax but it's unfair because they donate back all their money into the business. That's also not true. They may donate their money to other church activities, which is their prerogative. How is that different from a Catholic nun working at a reduced salary to teach in a Catholic school because that's what she wants to do? But we have no special advantage. I really mean it. The only advantage we have is that our members get in there and they're willing to get their hands dirty. Not only willing, but starting from Rev. Moon himself, hard work is the nature of our movement. You saw the picture of us fishing; it looks very nice, people standing in the mud with the fishing nets. But just a few moments after a picture everybody's up to their waists and covered with mud. It's an exciting experience, but there are a lot of people that don't want to do those things these days and many of us didn't want to do those things either (Laughter) but we feel it's almost like Marxian alienation. I feel like after you do it you really feel liberated from the feeling of whether you want to do those things or not. And so it becomes the feeling of church members that we can do anything. We can do anything. But some things we do better than other things.
As much as anything, success seems to me to be a by-product of determination. Rev. Moon may be the example of two things, faith and determination. Even when the situation seems hopeless, the fact is that if you keep at it long enough everybody else just gives up. That has often been the way in which our members have been able to succeed under very, very difficult circumstances.
Second, success and religion. Well, I think that success should be a sign -- success including financial prosperity -- of a good religion. It's not the only sign, and I know that because of man's fallen nature, financial and material prosperity can be corrupting; that's something we have to constantly watch for within ourselves, within our movement and within everybody else's movement. But the fact is that just because that's a pitfall doesn't mean that we should avoid it. In fact, if we don't try to express our ideas in the material world, then our religion is going to forever be other-worldly, and I don't think that's right.
I had a talk with Wallace B. Muhammad when I was in Chicago. He has been very friendly and very helpful. The Nation of Islam at one point had had the religious organization itself doing all their businesses and it was terrible. They finally, with much success, separated out their religious activities and their business activity, and that's how Rev. Moon has organized it. He has devoted his attention as an individual to different areas. The members who take up a religious responsibility devote themselves to that; those who take up a business responsibility devote themselves to that. These are separate areas. Also, I think that the fact that material prosperity is a pitfall is a sign that it is an important area to deal with.
Participant: I have two questions. One concerns the social program of the church. I've been very interested in this aspect of the church since I have been working with the group in the San Francisco Bay Area concerning Project Volunteer. I think this has been a very important project. It started in Berkeley and they've had a very large food program there. They've been working in some of the depressed areas in Oakland trying to help the people help themselves. Not only do they do some of the work themselves, but they help other people do the job that they want to do in order to make the communities better. I was also impressed when I was in Washington, DC, with the type of program that they had there. This was just preceding the Washington Monument celebration. However, there is one question I would like to ask. Is this something that we are going to see more of in the future, or is this something that is happening in just a few places?
The second question I would like to ask concerns something that I read several years ago. I think it was in one of the training manuals. It said there that the actual MFT (mobile fundraising teams) would all be finished in about three years, that businesses were going to be established by the church, and that these would be taking the place of the MFT's. Now I think that period of time has just about passed and I haven't heard that there has been any change in your practice. I wondered if the fundraising teams are now considered something that is going to be permanent, or will businesses be developed so that eventually the church will be supported by the businesses?
Neil Salonen: Regarding social programs, something like Project Volunteer which was begun in the San Francisco Bay Area has done a great deal and made a great contribution. It's a local effort and it has spread. Now under the name of Project Volunteer they do similar things in Los Angeles, for example. English muffins, Adidas sneakers, multiple vitamins and a number of other things have been distributed all over the place. Large quantities are received. One thing we do have is the ability to distribute things, even more so now through the home-church program where members actually become familiar with different sections of a certain city. It is a distribution mechanism which can work very well at times.
In Japan, we had a paramedical team, doctors and nurses, who joined the church and donated some of their time to giving free medical care. They have either finished or almost finished the construction of a hospital, or maybe more than one at this point. Local groups have always tried to do something: blood programs, tutoring programs and things like that. I feel that sometimes the fact that our movement is so new is not taken into account. We're being compared to organizations or institutions which are hundreds of years old in their commitment to social responsibility. We're still at the level, or just past the level, of struggling to survive. But the kinds of members that join the Unification Church are people who either went into the Peace Corps or Vista or were very idealistic about what they wanted to do, and became convinced that just feeding a few more people wasn't going to do it. They came to believe that the essential poverty of our society was a spiritual poverty and that that's where the main work has to be done. This social concern of the members must have its expression; and as the group becomes bigger, it will. To some extent we've already seen some signs of this emerging. If we were having this meeting ten years ago. I wouldn't have been able to point to anything at all. I would have just said we have that intention. Now some of that intention has been realized and a great deal more will be realized. I think that if we were to convene again even a year from now, we would find that there would be a lot more activities going on.
So far, social involvement has been largely the responsibility of each local group. There is a lot more autonomy among the local state churches than may be apparent. The leader of the state church is appointed centrally by the national headquarters, but their activities, their finances, their facilities, are -- even though we may try to help them from time to time -- pretty much whatever they are able to create. Our tendency has been to take many of our best evangelical members and send them as the overseas missionaries to other countries. So that too affects what we are able to do socially at the present time.
Regarding MFT and the training manual itself. I've often been confronted with quotes from the training manual. I once had someone tell me that it was actually the same one used in North Korean prison camps during the war. I know you weren't implying any of that, but I just want to say that the church has no official training manual. From time to time at certain stages of our movement, those people who have been in direct association with Rev. Moon -- people like Mr. Ken Sudo who is a Japanese teacher, or Rev. Kwak who is with us today or Young Whi Kim who is president of the church in Korea have from time to time been commissioned to run a training program. In doing this they may develop their own material. Because we have no rule on orthodoxy, that material, while it has a lot of inspirational value, may have a number of things which are not necessarily consistent with what the church believes. Later on it is weeded out. The training manual that I'm sometimes being confronted with is a print of Mr. Sudo's lectures in 1975. They were given and were used for about eight or nine months. They haven't been used since. The church never did issue it as a book; it was notes from his office, and it's not in existence now.
It's also true that until now we've received a great deal of support from public solicitation by the MFT. But it has a second purpose of equal value to the raising of funds -- it is a good training experience for the members who are apart of it. In this respect it's similar to the IOWC, International One World Crusade. Witnessing activities, going on the circuit and travelling around are mind-expanding, exciting and instructive. Such work enables you to focus on something. Sometimes I've heard Rev. Moon say that even when we don't need money, the MFT would be a good training experience. And I've also heard many of our members say that some of the deepest spiritual experiences which they have had with God occurred while they were on the MFT. However, the MFT has a certain limitation. One problem is that it's very difficult to monitor the activities of each and every member out on the street from a national headquarters. And that's one of the biggest disadvantages. So we do look forward to the time, which is happening now, when more and more of our support will come from the donation of members, from what we call the home members who don't live in the centers. Maybe 10 years ago everybody lived in the center. Now lots and lots of people are fully dedicated in heart or partly dedicated in heart and contribute and support the church. They come to activities but they don't necessarily live in the very core. So I think that's another important source of support. The businesses that the church owns and operates might also fall in this category.
Rev. Moon has never said that MFT would disappear in three years. Someone mentioned yesterday, that Billy Graham predicted that the second coming would occur in 1952, or something like that. I'm sure he felt it; I'm sure he meant it. But it's difficult for anybody in any movement to date the future. We're talking about the need for billions and billions of dollars. Sometimes people say we have too much money for a church. And I say we don't have enough money for a church. I wish we had billions of dollars, because I feel that Rev. Moon could accomplish so much if we did have that kind of resources.
William Shive: Mine is a lifestyle question. One of the basic differences between the Unification Church and the way it operates, and Christianity and the way Jesus operated involves this identification with materialistic kinds of things. Jesus' lifestyle was one of no place to lay his head. That's a long way from the philosophy of being a corporate head and living the lifestyle of other corporate heads. How do you see that difference between what Jesus set as a lifestyle and the methods of the early church and the lifestyle methods of the Unification Church?
Neil Salonen: I think that Rev. Moon went through a period in the 1950's which must have been every bit as difficult as anything Jesus experienced in his ministry up until the time he was crucified. It's our belief that Jesus would have eventually taken his movement to Rome, that he would have been recognized and that he would have been elevated in the eyes of the people and in the eyes of the world. We hope that the prophecy of the lord of glory will be realized and that the idea of the kingdom of heaven on earth will be realized. We don't think that money or material goods are evil, or that we're not supposed to deal with them. We think that they're supposed to be subordinate to spiritual values. As the Bible says, it's the love of money, not money, but the love of money that is a root of evil, and that's true.
The followers of Jesus, the pope, for example (but I'm not meaning to criticize him since he's the object of a lot of criticism), lives in castles and has jewels, robes and many things. Bishops or the heads of many other religious and Christian organizations must have somehow reconciled this question within their denominations because we don't find Christians worldwide living like Jesus did. Now the reason that we don't (it may be partly because of the love of money), is because we don't believe that you can be effective beyond a certain point on that level. We think it's important in everyone's spiritual life to go through a stage like that, a stage of purification in which you give up everything, and then the things that you adopt back you adopt for the purpose of fulfilling the cause. We believe that is the case with Rev. Moon.
We teach, and I think we practice, at least as much as we can, following the example of Rev. Moon, that we should have things for a purpose, not for their own sake. So if you need a place to meet people, then you should have a hotel like the Hotel New Yorker. It's not a palatial thing; it's a residence for our members, as well as a place where we have conferences. As much as possible when our friends visit New York we let them stay there without charge just as a form of hospitality. Everything is to be used for God's purposes. I don't think that we're materialistic in the pejorative sense of the word, but we certainly are not denying the importance of material things in bringing the kingdom into the world now.
Participant: I have a comment and perhaps a suggestion, though I'm not sure how seriously I intend it. But it is one of the things that causes concern in my area, and it's what I hear from people who know next to nothing about the church, people whose only exposure to the church is through fundraising. Of course there are many other groups who are doing this too, and I know for a fact that the Unification Church has been accused of fundraising when in fact it has been some other group. I have a very close friend who came back from a trip and told me that the Moonies were soliciting money in the New Orleans airport, when in fact it was the Hare Krishna people. Moreover, as one of the theological conferences at the seminary brought out, this is part of the theology itself. And as you mentioned, it is good in the spiritual training of individuals to get out and see people. Nevertheless, something which might be done which would combine getting the members out among the people and improving your PR is (when you do get to the point where your finances are not dependent in any way on fundraising) to go out and give people a flower. You'll shock people in a good way if you just walk up and say, "We don't want any money; we're just giving this to you." And the difference between Unification people and other groups will become very clear on the street.
Neil Salonen: I was just recently with an evangelical team in Denver and in Denver they formed a group called UNICAP -- Unification Community Action Program. They got day-old donuts donated by a bakery and then went out in the morning rush hour and just gave them away to people. And strange as it may seem, our director there, Mike Beard, became fairly well-known in that section of Denver because they gave away free donuts. They had been doing a lot of other things for a long time which didn't attract the same kind of attention. I think you're right and I hope we can do it.
Participant: I hate to belabor the obvious, but until it's settled I'm going to keep raising it. The people with whom I've spent enough time to explain both the theology of your fundraising and the practicality of it eventually come around to understanding the legitimacy and perhaps the value of doing it when it's clear that this is for the Unification Church. But as long as there are any of your members going around who are not acknowledging the tie, then whatever understanding I can communicate is undermined. Now I understand your problem, but I've just got to keep on making this point.
Neil Salonen: Well, you are absolutely right. Actually in two speeches that I heard, Rev. Moon asked everyone to wear a sign half as big as their chest saying "Moonie" on it. We used to react negatively to the term Moonie. Now we've just given in (Laughter) and use it. Then he told another group to write the word "Moonie" upside down on their foreheads so that people would have to turn upside down to see it. That's (Laughter) his way of saying it. Every time I have ever approached him about any kind of a case which involves either deliberate or accidental deception, he has thundered against it. Deception is not his nature, nor is it of our church in Korea where we began. And it's not meant to be the practice of the members here.
Nonetheless, I do acknowledge that it is a problem. Sometimes the reason it's a problem is that you find young people who are extremely zealous when they first join the church and they rationalize and justify doing a lot of things they shouldn't. I don't think you find that as they sustain their membership in the church they continue doing those kinds of things. I think we have a lot of work to do for which we need a lot of help. This has been a weak area. It hasn't been a policy weakness, but it has been a question of being able to carry it out.
One thing I was going to say is that everybody is being very nice with their questions. But this is the time that it's not necessary to be nice. I would rather have you say to me whatever you're thinking so that I have a chance to answer. Really, you couldn't begin to approach the things that have been said to me by other people. I had one lady come to me after a talk I gave at a meeting chaired by Congressman Pete McCloskey, a meeting he had set up so that I could respond to questions from constituents. I felt I had done a pretty good job and had satisfied a lot of people. That made some of the critics pretty angry because they don't want the hostility to subside; they don't want the questions to be resolved. A lady came up to me afterwards and she was trembling as she said, "You're just a filthy piece of slime, that's what you are." I feel, after that, there's really nothing anybody can say to me that hasn't already been said. I just wish people would say it now rather than at the bar (Laughter), or privately someplace later, since now is the time it could be answered. Now here it comes. (Laughter)
Participant: The statement I am going to make is a minor addition to what's just been said on MFT stuff. It's still definitely within the nice category because I'd formulated it before you asked for anything else. You've got a problem of harassment. Now you're much less aggressive and negative than many of the other movements are -- like the American Labor Party for example. They really almost attack you. That is something I've never had happen from the Moonies. Now just some exceptionally minor points. When you're collecting on the street, it seems to me that what you should do is stand in one place and let the flow of pedestrian traffic move by you. This is totally minor, but it makes a huge psychological difference. If the people you're asking move by you, don't go with them, don't follow them in the same direction. You should either move in the opposite direction or stay in a specific place and let them move by. This makes your presence much less threatening. This is a minor point, but I think it has a real psychological importance. Otherwise you invade their space, and that upsets people.
Neil Salonen: Thank you.
Participant: I'm particularly concerned about your ideological consistency as it relates to the question of communism. I think it would be interesting to have a whole conference like this on that particular issue, because I think it gets to the heart of some issues that have been raised peripherally during this conference. I think that by seeing your theology as an ideology, then your critique of ideology becomes an ideology itself. I think that you pointed out that there is an ideological position that comes from Unification theology in its approach to communism. Now it seems to me that your approach to communism is the same kind of approach that many people take to you.
Let me spell that out a little bit more. Marxism, you pointed out, is not an economic theory but is primarily an ideology, or as you see it, a world view. That is one of the things that Marxism is. But it is also an economic theory; it's also a philosophy of history; it's also a theory of knowledge; it's also a revolutionary practice; it's also a social theory. It seems to me that arguing that it is primarily an ideology makes it difficult to accept it on other levels and therefore to work with it. Your highly ideological approach is, in some sense, contrary to your own basic understanding of Unification theology and its commitment to dialogue. Again, let me say that it seems to me that approaching it in the way that you do -- rejecting it as an ideology -- is just the same as what many traditional Christians do in relation to Unification theology. They would say that your theology is heresy, or that you believe that Moon is God, and they won't go beyond that. So in saying that communism is an ideology, a world view, it seems to me that you do the same kind of thing to Marxism.
Neil Salonen: Well, if we're guilty of that, that's not really what we intend to be doing. I think -- as someone mentioned the other day we have invited Marxists to the Science Conference -- we are willing to have debates and dialogues with Marxists. A number of our cultural programs have attempted to go on tour in the Soviet Union. Now maybe our manner of expression is not in step with our actual planning and thinking. Perhaps it's like racist attitudes which may be so deeply ingrained they have to be confronted directly before you can smoke them out. Our commitment is to dialogue from a position of strength; it is not to compromise. However, perhaps our rhetoric isn't consistent with that. In that case, I think that the problem is the way we express ourselves. I watch myself make mistakes and I think I am somewhat sensitive to the area. And I've heard other members who don't think about those things too much make statements like, "We wish we could just do away with the communists." That's not really what we want to do.
What we want to do is respond to the flaws in society that they are rightly pointing out without falling into the pitfalls that they would lead us to. And we want to do that by hammering out a common vision and a common philosophy and a common ideology. So your point is very well taken. But just to reassure you, I think that actually the movement has taken steps towards dialogue. We really are concerned about dialogue and resolving the Cain and Abel relationship with the communist block rather than ignoring it.
David Simpson: Since you've asked us to be hard on you. I'll be happy to do that. I do it not because I want to jab but because I feel it's our role to raise these questions for your benefit. I think Bill Shive's question earlier about what appears to be Rev. Moon's lifestyle and the lifestyle of Jesus is at the bottom of a concern that I and other people certainly have. I don't think that your response would stand up to those who are social activists in their orientation. I don't believe that it's accurate to say that if Jesus had lived he would have come into a position of power and glory in any materialistic sense. Let me ask a series of questions and you can either answer them individually or give a general response to these issues.
First, many church-related organizations that are involved in so-called controversial things are constantly called on the carpet by the public, particularly since Watergate. I think financial accountability is a great concern for some people. We need to constantly make public our audits and to tell our constituency exactly where every penny goes that we raise from whatever source. If I were to make a one hundred dollar contribution to the Unification Church, could somebody tell me in some very specific and concrete way, either in percentages or in actual amounts, exactly where that money would go and what it would do? Is there a way in which there could be public financial disclosure of how the Unification Church spends annually the twelve or twenty million or whatever it is that is collected through MFT?
My second question concerns Rev. Moon's salary or annual income. Are questions relating to the personal financing of the core of the Unification Church appropriate to be voiced publicly? If so, how can they be answered?
Another concern that I have is social action. I've spoken with a number of people privately. What I'm interested in is not so much what you think, but I want to know what you do. I was excited about the session this morning because I got the impression that we were going to really talk about what kinds of service programs the Unification Church has engaged itself in. You mentioned them in passing. In your major presentation according to the notes that I took, you concentrated on the teaching of the Divine Principle, a program to oppose communism, purchasing the New York Symphony and a variety of other related things, but only in passing did you speak about service programs. Some of us think that that is the bottom line of the church, since Jesus' first words were that he had come to preach good news to the poor. I also think that it is very hard to justify the amassing of either personal wealth or corporate wealth in the name of any kind of religious belief, at least as far as I understand the gospel. We could quote forever the phrases like it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, etc., etc. and that is the very nature of my concern. Do you have any general response to that or are there specific responses that could be made?
Neil Salonen: I don't have any specific responses to all the questions you just asked, but I think I can give you fairly specific responses to most of them right here from the microphone. Obviously we disagree on what Jesus would have done at a later stage in his ministry.
Originally, when Rev. Moon was first planning to speak in Carnegie Hall in, I believe it was 1973, I didn't release much information. The reason I didn't was because our church was too small. My whole reason was not that we were doing anything secret but that I really didn't want people to know how small we were. That's no longer true.
Regarding financial accountability to the public, it is true that every organization is financially accountable to the public. I think that means to the representative of the public, the government. As you can well imagine, we've had IRS agents climbing through our offices and up and down our file cabinets for several years now. I think that given Senator Dole and his desire to find some way to hang something on the Unification Church and Congressman Fraser and his effort to do the same, if there had been some problem like that it certainly would have come to light. There isn't anything left that hasn't been subpoenaed. The fact that we've made our records available, as we legally must, to the government, is the fulfillment of our responsibility on this point. Publishing statements at a press conference is a PR gesture. It's a PR gesture and it's something that we are not doing at this point. Maybe at a later time it might seem to have some value.
Our financial statements are audited by a CPA firm, Elmer Fox, Westheimer and Company. They're in the public domain; we've had to give them under deposition. They're available but we don't release them. If somebody really wants one they have to root around and they can get it and they do. I think that is an area where we have met our accountability responsibility. We've accounted to the government. If someone does ask where a $100 contribution goes, we do and have provided percentage breakdowns as far as the income of the church goes. We say what the income is and we say percentage-wise where it goes. Other than that we don't bare all the little details of the financial transactions.
Rev. Moon receives no income or salary from the Unification Church. When he's acting on behalf of the church, traveling, or living in this country, his expenses are paid; however he receives no private income. What he does outside of this country and what he does privately -- his household expenses, for example -- are not paid for by the church. The facility he lives in is owned by the church; it's not owned by him. He lives there but we don't charge him rent, nor do we charge rent to anyone else who lives in any of our facilities.
There are no salaried members of the church. All of us, including Rev. Moon, myself, and everyone who devotes their full energies to the church, lives under a missionary system. Under the missionary system, our expenses are taken care of, including whatever miscellaneous money we might need. We have a ruling from the IRS that it's not income. It's not subject to income tax, because it's not in fact income.
I think you're right that it would be wrong to amass wealth, either personally or as an organization. I didn't mean to imply that we've done that in any way. We spend money as fast as it comes in, because it's committed before we get it. In fact we only go to raise money to fulfill commitments that we've already made. Rev. Moon's philosophy of fundraising is to sign a mortgage or make an obligation and then we know what we have to raise. So we don't have large cash reserves.
The properties that we have bought that you may be familiar with are not income properties, investment properties, or speculation properties. They're all essentially white-elephants that we can get at a reasonably good price and which we think are uniquely useful for our purposes. The former New Yorker Hotel was vacant for seven years. They tried to make it into a hospital. It was a disaster. We took it over. Now it's a semi-disaster (Laughter). We've improved a lot of it and we plan to improve all of it. We do it with our own effort, as best we can, and it's useful to us. It suddenly became valuable because New York City decided to build their convention center nearby. We had offers, even from the people who sold it to us, to buy it back at three times what we had paid for it. Frankly, from a business point of view that would have been a good thing to do. We probably should have done it, but that's not Rev. Moon's nature. Each thing we own we develop a certain kind of loyalty to. So every little piece of ground we own, every little thing we own, we keep and that's it. It's a finished decision. So even if it has book value, it doesn't have any real value because we don't sell property. We buy it and we use it for certain purposes. So we haven't amassed wealth. I think I may have left that unclear and I'm glad you pointed that out, because I didn't want to leave that impression that we have a lot of wealth.
We have expended a great deal of money, and it's committed. Actually our commitments are staggering, and we live in faith that we'll be able to meet them.
Regarding the activities of the church, I guess it's always a question as to whether organizations like the NCCSA should be reported on by someone like me or not. I think I've given you a brief overview; and the advantage of the session is that in response to direct questions people who are directly involved like Kurt Johnson could give a good answer. I think that would be fine. There's far too much to discuss for a simple presentation like this. But if I left you with the basic impression that at this stage of our movement our fundamental activity and commitment is to evangelism, that is true. And I think I haven't wanted to overemphasize all these other projects even though I think they're hopeful. I think they're growing and I think they're significant. But I don't think they represent, percentage-wise, a large commitment of the church's activities or resources yet. I think that's everything you asked. If any of you have specific comments along these same lines that you would like a written response to, I'd be glad to give that too. We do make a certain amount of financial information public; we just don't happen to make our audited statement public.
Participant: This is a very general question. It is one that has come up for me a number of times in my own thinking and in talking with other people about the church. Would you say that the polity of the church is democratic or monarchical? I know that you are notable for your advocacy of democracy, but when one looks at the actual self-government of the church, does one see democracy in action, or does one see monarchy and hierarchy in action?
Neil Salonen: That's an excellent question. We are not organized, strictly speaking, according to a democratic principle. We're organized like a family. Rev. Moon always uses the example of the human body or the human family. If I carry that analogy a little bit further I would say that when someone first joins the church, he's not in a position to understand the traditions of the church. New people don't have a very big investment in it and therefore, although they may have and express very strong opinions, it's understandable that they wouldn't necessarily have a lot of weight.
At some point, you become what we would call a middle member of the church. This phase is not defined strictly, but once people are committed, they've made a big investment and so their opinion has a lot more weight.
Finally, things operate among the senior members fairly democratically. People with an equal stake in things sit down and try to come to consensus; or whoever is responsible will poll the people involved and see what they think.
But strictly speaking, we're organized according to some kind of hierarchy. The leaders of each state church are appointed by the national organization. If a member doesn't like his local leader, for some reason, he might transfer to another branch or another activity. We're living in a world with imperfect people. So we find ways to work with people that we like more than others. We conceive of it as a family relationship.
On a day-to-day basis, I think people are always looking to find an internal Abel, a person through whom God is speaking. We are hierarchical, but it's not a rigid hierarchy. For example, if I need advice on something, I would like to talk to Rev. Moon. But if I can't, there are several senior figures, like Rev. Kwak, or Mr. Kim, or many others, whom I would easily consult for advice and try to find God speaking through them. They wouldn't enforce their opinion on me. I know what I'm responsible for and what I'm not. But just to tear off on my own and do everything independently would be inconsistent with the principle. I'd try to make a decision consistent with God's direction. I don't know if that's really answering your question. I'm trying to tell you how we decide things.
Participant: It's speaking to it all right, but it does seem to me that there is a fundamental contradiction between the fact that you present yourselves as in some way the first fruits of the kingdom (at least that is what you aspire to be) and yet, on the other hand, you say that the kingdom is supposed to appear as a democratic system. I find that contradictory.
Neil Salonen: Maybe you've gotten the wrong impression. Originally, in our theory of history, the monarchy centering on Charlemagne should have become the foundation for the time of the second advent, or the United Kingdom centering on David. However, since that didn't happen, we believe the providence of democracy is to level down the structures which are not centered upon God in order to erect a new kingdom, a new kingdom which we think will be based in family order; nota kingdom of force and power but a kingdom of love and harmony.
Democracy is an exciting concept because of the values that it champions: the integrity of the individual, and so on. However, those values can also be affirmed in a familial, socialist system. I think certain decisions should be made democratically, and certain decisions should be made by a parent figure and so on. Democracy in practice is sometimes a rather negative system. There is the problem of people not trusting each other enough to allow anybody much of a say about how something's done. But if we can find ways to transcend the human condition of lack of trust, then the form becomes less important.
Participant: As I look at the Old Testament prophets I see them primarily doing internal criticism. That is, they say what's wrong with their own nation, Israel. Though there are judgments against other nations, they seem to be quite secondary. The emphasis is on the social gospels: the need for justice for the poor in our own nation of Israel. The impression I get from the movies that we were shown and from much of Unification ideology is that the worst enemy is communism. In the lectures somewhere the anti-christ is identified with communism. Thus the real enemy is always portrayed as "out there." I'm sure we have communist influence in this country, but fundamentally, communism strikes people of the United States as something foreign. My question then is how you talk about Rev. Moon as a prophet when the "enemy" is conceived differently from that of the Old Testament prophets?
Neil Salonen: Even on the level of America, I don't think communism is something foreign. I think it has been a mistake to identify communism with Russia or China or Vietnam, and actually that's not the question at all. We're talking about an idea which is very influential in the United States and which has to be dealt with. Theories of education, a lot of behavioral psychology and other things have arisen which overemphasize one aspect of the truth, and they are sometimes supported by Marxist theories or derived from some kind of a Marxist base. This is dangerous. So that's I guess the consistency of our view. I thought you were going to ask, why Rev. Moon doesn't go back and clean up the situation in Korea rather than coming here. The answer is that America influences the world while Korea influences the Korean peninsula. We have a worldwide problem, so really we think that, like Abraham, he's called out of one country to come to the world.
I'd just like to say that I've appreciated the chance to answer questions. I hope I haven't missed your questions; I haven't meant to. I'd be very happy for you to pursue them with me if you think I didn't fully answer them. I really want to answer questions as best I can. If you don't like my answer, I don't know if I can do anything about it, but at least I was able to give you my answers and I appreciated the chance to do that.