A History of the Unification Church in Canada: 1965-1991

by Franco Famularo

Part II - Attempts at Centralization: 1974-88

If the period beginning with the first Unification missionary efforts in Canada until 1974 was a pioneer phase, the era from the end of 1974 until 1988 was characterized by an increased centralization of the Unification Church in Canada. By the end of 1974 the community had grown to approximately twenty-five active members who lived communally in the church centers. Additionally, there were a dozen associate members. The pattern of activities was simple: approach people on the street, at the college campus, at public meetings, and invite them to attend the lecture series at the center. Until 1974 relatively few Canadians had ever heard of Rev. Moon and the Unification Church.

During the period from 1974 until 1988 Rev. Moon and the Unification Church entered the public spotlight in a manner never imagined by members of the Unification Church. From mid-1973 onwards Rev. Moon made the United States his principal residence and thus the focus of world-wide Unification Church activities was just south of the Canadian border. Between 1972 and 1976 the main thrust of Unification activities were Rev. Moon's public speaking tours of the United States. Several tours were conducted; seven major cities in 1972, a twenty-one city tour in late 1973 and early 1974; a thirty-two city tour between February and April 1974; and an eight-city tour in late 1974 which included a major speech to a capacity crowd at New York City's Madison Square Garden. After speaking in Japan and throughout Korea during the first part of 1975 Rev. Moon held two rallies commemorating America's Bicentennial at New York's Yankee Stadium and at the Monument grounds in Washington D.C. in 1976. The speech at the Washington Monument, according to some estimates, attracted 300,000 people.

The speaking tours as well as the growth of membership in the United States attracted much publicity in the news media. News reports were generally not very favorable. One allegation that appeared repeatedly in the print and electronic media was that the Unification Church used deceptive recruiting practices and separated young people from their families. The press also reported that Rev. Moon and his followers, "the Moonies", as they came to be known through the mass media, were using brainwashing techniques to keep people in their group. The Unification Church was also branded as a "cult" and the issue of whether it was a religion or not was put into question.

Between 1974 and 1988 countless articles about the Unification Church appeared in the press worldwide, but especially in the United States. As is evident today, American news travels everywhere and it spreads most easily into Canada. Since most of Canada's population resides within one hundred miles of the United States border, it is common for Canadians to follow news reports originating in the American media. As Rev. Moon gained considerable negative publicity in the United States, the view Canadians acquired about the Unification Church undoubtedly affected the development of the Unification Church in Canada.

Escalating negative publicity necessitated enhanced group solidarity and might have also caused a more centralized group to emerge in Canada. Other factors that led to increased centralization were Rev. Moon's direct and indirect involvement with each national church through holding regular meetings of the international leadership, as well as the distinct personalities of the individual national leaders. During the 1974-88 period the Unification Church in Canada was led by; Robert Duffy, Martin and Marion Porter, and Paul and Christel Werner. Each leadership period brought an escalating wealth of experience to the Canadian church which contributed to its changing character. Duffy's term as national leader will be treated as the first of three phases in the centralized period.

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