UTS Grad Runs Internet Evangelism
Damian Anderson graduated from UTS in 1984. He currently resides in
Montgomery Village, Maryland, and works in Washington DC as a software
development consultant in the computer industry. Damian maintains a page
on the worldwide web, a computer network which allows instant, global communication.
The Unification Home Page contains information in 13 languages and has
received the Magellan 4 Star Award for excellence. In the early days of
the home page, Damian received a lot of persecution but when he used a
mail filter to bounce the hate mail back to its senders, the flood slowed
to a trickle!
Damian completes all his postings after morning prayer and before waking his children and going off to work. He is very aware of which postings are downloaded by computer users and adjusts accordingly. “If I send out 20 pages of speeches every day, it’s unlikely that even the most devout person is going to find time to read them. So, just now, I send out one or two page sections of the Divine Principle, Tribal Messiah book and Father’s life. Then, I send out one section of World Scripture in an endless loop. However, I feel very good about the lengthy answers I give to people’s questions and feel they are well received.”
Damian reports that at least nine “internet contacts” will be attending next year’s Blessing ceremony. Also, he was recently given the opportunity to report directly to Reverend and Mrs. Moon after the Alaska workshop. “On the flight from Kodiak to Anchorage, I sat in front of True Parents and then turned around to talk to them about it. Father was pleased....Then, in Father’s house in Anchorage, with 8 UTS grads....sitting around the table, I spoke to Father some more about it, and mentioned that I was thinking of developing a talk-radio ministry. his reaction was, “Just thinking?”, with a big grin.”
Earlier this year, Damian was interviewed by a student who was interested in the impact of this “internet evangelism.” The following excerpts are taken from this interview which Damian made available to The Cornerstone.
When did the Unification Church decide to go on the Internet?
This is my personal ministry, not an official project of the Unification Church. However, when it became known within the church, church elders were pleased and encouraged by it. They did not know about the technology or understand it until I set up the Unification Home Page. I began the home page on March 1, 1995, after a couple of months of thinking and praying about it. I have been evangelizing on the Internet in other ways since 1993, before anyone else I knew of had any knowledge or interest in it.
How many people have accessed your page and other Unification Church
pages since its inception?
Since I started the Unification Home Page on March 1, 1995, my estimate is that 500 items per day on average have been downloaded. So, in one year, perhaps 180,000 items have been downloaded. I have no way of translating that into a number of people. Maybe in the ballpark of 30,000 people. For some reason, I have an unusually large amount of traffic from people in large corporations and universities in Japan, though I only have a few items in Japanese. If you look at the access statistics on my web page, you will see that my audience is from almost every country on the globe.
Has the Internet been a successful tool in advertising and recruitment?
When people e-mail you or contact you for information, how do you respond or do you respond? I believe that it has been very successful in making people aware of the church, and has given a worldwide audience the ability to research the church for themselves, unassisted. Depending on their level of interest, I usually ask them whether they would like to be on my mailing lists, which are listed in my signature. If they want to visit a church, I attempt to put them in touch with someone near them. I have had information requests from every continent. People on my mailing lists read Unification Church literature on a daily basis as a result of this Internet ministry. Many more have said that they read my posts on the Usenet news groups daily, and that they enjoy them. I usually answer any legitimate question from the Internet. In the beginning, there were a lot of people sending me abusive mail, but that has largely stopped. I had more staying power than my detractors. Questions from my audience give me an idea of what people are interested in, so that helps me. The Internet allows me to be something like a talk show host, with a 24 hour a day audience, in every time zone. And the cost for being on the air is truly minimal, compared to any other form of mass communication.
Do you think that the Internet and this widespread coverage of the
Unification Church has had a great influence on people and have your numbers
risen significantly because of it?
I only have direct knowledge of about the 110 people on my mailing list who read my mailings daily. My Usenet posts may well have a very much larger audience, but I have no way to track that. Then, the Home Page is getting quite a lot of traffic too. In addition, several people have been taking the feed of my daily articles and putting them on bulletin boards in various parts of the world. I know of at least two of those. Others say that they print out this material daily and read it with their friends. A representative of a group of religious education teachers in Germany asked me for every file on my web server so that they could put it on their BBS. I sent them much of what I had in English and German. Some of it was unfinished, so I did not send it. Also, I know of people in various places who have contacted the church as a result of this ministry. I know of only one person in Idaho who has actually joined the church. Many more have begun studying its teachings. My philosophy is to sow seeds wherever they fall, and then from the fertile soil, fruit will grow. I certainly have the capability to reach millions of people through this medium, if people care to read what I write. A rising tide raises all boats. What the world needs most at this time is a clear sense of God’s will for our age, and the power to fulfill it. It is difficult to assess the impact of what I am posting on the Net, but it must be a positive impact, in my view. Our numbers have not increased significantly to date, to my knowledge, as a direct result of it. However, I see my role as providing mass education to the public with regard to an authentic expression of religion and the desire to serve God.
You can find the Unification Home Page on the World Wide Web at: http://www.cais.net/unification