Odyssey of New Religious Movements

A church member, John Biermans, wrote a book on deprogramming and persecutioin of new religious movements.  He received excellent reviews from distinguished people in all walks of life. For example, Rev. Ralph Abernathy who succeeded Martin Luther King Jr. and is President Emeritus of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference wrote: "The book is an important contribution in the study of bigotry towards minority groups in America. The abuse of the Unification Church and other new religions is painfully reminiscent of the black experience." A psychiatrist at the Stanford Medical School, Donald Lunde, wrote: "This book is a much-needed contribution to the literature on ‘cults,’ new religions, and ‘brainwashing.’ It exposes the misleading, biased, and uninformed media coverage of these subjects, particularly with regard to the Unification Church. It also exposes the inaccurate and unscientific testimony and writings of certain mental health professionals whose anti-religion bias seems to have overcome their ability to be objective. Although focusing on the Unification Church, this book presents issues and information of importance to all Americans who value their First Amendment rights." He doesn’t mention her by name, but one of the key witnesses deprogrammers use is Margaret Singer of Berkeley Univ. Of Calif. Who says that cults do brainwash and here is another distinguished psychiatrist saying differently.
And finally, Lowell Streiker a theologian and Director of the Freedom Counseling Center in Burlington , CA. Writes: "While I often disagree with John Bierman’s church, I defend his right to speak his mind and would encourage the serious reader to consider his point of view. The Odyssey of New Religious Movements is significant because it cuts through pernicious myths, misrepresentations and psychologizing, thereby making an important contribution to the debate on such profound issues as freedom of the will and religious liberty."
Biermans begins his book saying that religious bigotry has always existed from the "persecution and enslavement of the Hebrews by Pharaoh to the attacks on religious ‘cults’ of today. Many people would agree that more death, injustice and human misery have been caused by religious bigotry and persecution than any other single cause."
"The most shameful aspect of American history has been the mistreatment of racial and religious minorities, in contrast to the beautiful language of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Harvey Cox, Professor of Divinity at Harvard University, has written that: ‘Despite the elegant rhetoric about the Pilgrim fathers and the smiling exchanges at interfaith banquets, America has not set an exemplary record in the area of religious freedom." He goes on to list incidents of persecution from the mistreatment of Roger Williams, a Baptist, by the Puritans to the "Mormons, Jews, Masons, Jesuits and ordinary Roman Catholics felt the hard edge of harassment and discrimination because of their convictions. A couple of generations ago, Jehovah’s Witnesses were the main target of prejudice. Now we have the ‘cults’ It seems Americans are never really happy unless there is some unfamiliar religious group to abuse."
In every Christian bookstore through out America there is a section on cults and the UC is listed with the Mormons and the Jehovah Witnesses who have been around for over a hundred years and everyone has had knock on their door. Are they to be deprogrammed? Recently, our state of Oregon, elected two senators. One of them was a Mormon. As usual he has a nice family, and is conservative. There are books by former Mormons and JWs at the library. They all say the same. And they are all wrong in seeing them as a danger.
Sontag asked Rev. Moon: "You are often accused of being authoritarian and even dictatorial and militaristic. What would you say about your own sense of authority and how you exercise it? How would you express your own authority in relationship to members?
He answers, "Actually, anybody who really knows the Divine Principle would not take it that way. This is only the external appearance. After just one glance someone might say that I am authoritarian." But he says if you look deeper he is a loving parent and parents love, don’t govern. Sontag asks: "You don’t yourself attack, but the interesting thing is that people reverse this. Outside, people are very fearful because they think the movement will resort to a militaristic posture and that you will command your members to go out with guns. What do you say about condoning force or violence to attain your goals?"
He answers: "It’s been God’s principle never to attack first. God never attacks first. Evil and Satan always take initiative and try to destroy, but the heavenly side has the responsibility to defend itself. I preach our movement as essentially nonviolent and nonmilitaristic. Our movement has the greatest weapon – if you use that word — truth. We also have the greatest target: the human heart." He says "We are conquerors by love, conquerors by truth, but not by violence, not by weapons."

He says that "Communism is trying to take the world by force. But God will take the world by love. We must become the embodiment of this love." He ends by saying that he is not interested in being a political leader but he supports those leaders, such as the President of Korea, in being anti-Communist and for having a strong military: "I have never met President Park ... Yet In principle, I support a strong defense, and an absolute anti-Communist policy."
Sontag traveled all over the world visiting church leaders and members and interviewed Rev. Moon. His book Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church is written by a distinguished scholar and professor in America and he comes up with only a good and idealistic church led by a good man. He asks if there will be any changes in the church. Moon answers that it will always be "centered upon families as the basic unit of heavenly society. The family emphasis is always the same. This means that more blessings in marriage will be given, more children will be born, more families will be created. Then we will become elevated from the present communal type of centers to family-oriented homes. [when this interview was taking place the church was new and most members lived in communes as singles and since then the church has done what he says and the vast majority now live as families in their own homes.] The family will always be the basic unit of happiness and cornerstone of the kingdom of God on earth and thereafter in heaven."
Sontag asks: "But on the practical level" would there be changes like not "living in centers together as they do now" and that the "life-style" will change by "phasing out the mobile fund-raising teams." Moon agrees that will change and the members eventually will live in ideal villages and cities and build businesses. "There will be a settlement. We don’t have that now, but gradually we will be moving into family settlements. We will have our own enterprises and businesses. In the future we will have many, many places where families can be productive, raise their children, and build schools to educate the children. We’ll get bigger.
"I have a plan to establish ideal cities and villages in many places. We will have productive, working communities where our members will support themselves economically. The atmosphere will be different from the outside world. Money will not be the central purpose, but while establishing productive businesses, our members will fulfill their responsibility to God and service to others." He goes on to say in the interview how he has come to America to revive Christian spirit and morality.

Dean Kelley

Dean M. Kelley, Director for Religious and Civil Liberty, the National Council of Churches, New York City, said on September 1986:

"The anticult movement has now professed to narrow its target to 'destructive cults' — a term not known to social-science research in religion—and to characterize its work as simply 'cult awareness education.' Nevertheless , anticultists show no greater insight into, or respect for, the choices young adults make in religion than before. They insist that they are not violating anyone’s religious liberty; they are merely trying to prevent actual harm to unsuspecting and victimized converts. It is certainly not a violation of religious liberty to warn people about the supposed dangers of some or all new religious movements, or to try to persuade those who are their members to depart (so long as force of threat of force is not used), even if the information relied on is faulty or biased (which it often is). That, too, is protected by the First Amendment (with a few narrow exceptions such as slander, libel and defamation). And there may indeed be some 'cults' that are 'destructive,' though it is hard to see how that term applies to the groups about which the anticultists are so exercised, which are generally rather well-meaning, idealistic bands of people trying to do what they think God requires.
"It seems that what really distresses the anticultists is conversion, especially to religious movements that make high demands of their members for commitment of the whole self to a spiritual cause. Apparently a gradual and partial commitment to a mild and conventional faith is permissible, but a sudden conversation to a rigorous and alien life-style with requirements of total allegiance to the faith is. But religious liberty includes the right 'to change (one’s) religion or belief' (Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), and to do so suddenly and totally, whether other like it or not. Cautions of prudence and circumspection are always in order. Everyone should 'look before they leap,' in religion as in other of life’s ventures. But arbitrarily maligning new religions and impugning their motives is not in order—even if protected by the First Amendment—if one makes any claim to respect other people’s religious liberty.
"And applying to new religions a double standard, so that it is thought to be iniquitous for them to do what is permissible for other religions or for other human enterprises, is dishonest and pharisaical. For instance, the Scientologists were criticized for being 'deceptive' and 'underhanded' in buying property in Clearwater, Florida, under an assumed name when that is a standard practice in the real-estate business, followed in the same period in nearby Orlando by the Walt Disney organization in buying up property for the development of Disney World. Giving wholehearted and unswerving loyalty to one’s employer or labor union or lodge or (traditional) religion is thought to be a laudable thing, but giving such loyalty to a new religious movement is seen to be somehow pernicious.
"As John Biermans and the many authors he quotes suggest, much of the hysteria generated by the anticult alarmists is needless. Most of the new religious movements are not deleterious to their members and may indeed improve their life-situations. When they cease to meet their member’ needs and interests, the members move on to other things without the need for personality-damaging outside intervention. If people could learn to respect the religious choices of their (adult) offspring and to retain some perspective and (uncommon) common sense about such matters, religious liberty would be in much better condition than it is today in the United States. This book should help contribute to that end."

One anti-cultist wrote:  "Lying. One of the central tenets of the faith is the Doctrine of Heavenly Deception. Good must deceive evil. The non-moon world is evil. It must be lied to so it can help Moon take over. Then it can become good under Moon’s control. In the Bible, Jacob lied to Isaac. God rewarded Jacob by making him the father of the nation of Israel. Closer to home, you lie to little children about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny until they are old enough to understand, don’t you?"
Sontag asked Rev. Moon: "What the press protests so often is the use of deception by members in fund raising and the use of 'front' organizations by the church. Would the church ever condone this, Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church and what reason would there be to conceal the church’s activities?"

Moon answered that honesty comes first: "I emphasize honesty, purity, and unselfishness as the principal code of our members. Honesty comes first, particularly between god and man. Our Principle teaches that man’s dishonesty brought about the separation between God and man. Even though our members may think they will invite more hostile persecution, I emphasize that they must present themselves as the ambassadors of god and tell people who they are first.

"A member must say that he is a member of the Unification church and that he is the follower of Sun Myung Moon. If he doesn’t have the courage to say it, he is not worthy of me. I tell them it’s wrong not to speak out for fear of bringing greater persecution will bring equally greater blessing.  If they try to shy away from persecution, actually they are missing the whole blessing. Some local leaders may have tried to be expedient, but they didn’t have any bad motivation. I can understand why such things may have happened in the face of persecution, but I do not condone such action.

"The term 'front' organizations. They each have legitimate purposes to serve humanity in various ways. We have the International Cultural Foundation; we have clinics, paramedical teams, businesses. We have the Professors World Peace Academy. Each organization exists because there are necessary projects to fulfill. Each one has its own distinct function. Our movement deals with the reality of the world. Ultimately, we want to serve all human needs. After all, our goal is the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth. We are not shying away from the world. Our movement is a movement of action, not just of meditation.

Gifts of Deceit

The book Gifts of Deceit says that Rev. Moon wants members to kill their parents because only Rev. Moon and his wife are the true parents. This is the same type of ridiculous charges made out of prejudice and bigotry and ignorance that the early Christians had to endure for hundreds of years with the majority Roman population seriously believing that the little group of Christians were a threat to society and were cannibals and did incest in their rituals. : "Killing parents. They might try to destroy Master. There is no choice between the life of a ‘flesh’ father and Moon; Master’s work must go on. Anyway, parents who don’t believe in Moon belong to Satan and must die." My wife, Clara, is the first member to be kidnaped in the UC. Ted Patrick used force with his hired thug to tie her to chair and scream at her. She escaped once and they chased after her. She pleaded with a woman on the street to help, but she didn’t and was dragged back. Then she put in an insane asylum with genuinely crazy people.  Rev. Moon sent Mrs. Nora Spurgin who is presently the president of Women’s Federation for World Peace and has toured parts of the world with President and Mrs. Bush to support the Church’s efforts to Nebraska. For two weeks the Church with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union worked and finally got her freed. Just at that time Rev. Moon came to Nebraska on his Day of Hope tour and talked to her. He asked how she was and then told her she was a "good daughter." When the group took a group picture Rev. Moon asked her to sit in front of him and Mrs. Moon. The picture is on the back of this book. Did Rev. Moon ask her to kill her parents? No. He told her to love them and make unity. Clara was so shaken up and bitter that she didn’t want to ever see them again, but she did as he asked and now we have eight grandchildren for them and they are happy with our family. You have a choice. Either you can believe the lies of books like Gifts of Deceit that teach the preposterous that Unificationist are cold-blooded killers of their own families like the Mafia would do or you can believe books by Rev. Moon and the Church that constantly tell the members to love their parents.
When the Church defends itself it’s critics twist it to show that the Church is offensive, when all they are doing is showing up to defend themselves from such paranoid attacks as the following: "An open society must let totalitarians have their say. If the Nazis are able to march down the street, and the Communists can publish their Daily World, then Moon has the right to tell people God wants him to take over the world. Likewise, others are entitled to criticize what he says. Not so, says Moon."
"He says there should be absolute freedom of religion and Senator Dole should not have held any hearings about a religious group. And Rev. Moon also has the 'right' to defend himself when he is attacked.
"Hundreds from his cult were shipped to Washington to protest Senator Dole’s information meeting on the cult phenomenon. Outside the Senate Office Building, they waved signs proclaiming ‘Senator Dole, this is a witch hunt.’ Inside Neil Salonen took the stand and told the Senators and Congressmen what the Moonies thought about the meeting: ‘This very proceeding itself violates the spirit of the First Amendment and violates the rights of believers which the First Amendment was designed to protect. It will have a chilling effect on the free exercise of those beliefs.'"
Two decades later, Senator Dole would write a letter that the new President of the Unification Church, Dr. James Baughman, read at a speech Mrs. Moon gave in Kansas, his home state, in which he praises her efforts in world peace through one of Rev. Moon’s organizations that critics call "fronts".