The Words of the Lee Family
Rev. Jae Sook Lee at Belvedere
I am grateful that I can share my deepest experiences with you today, especially concerning the ongoing events of Father's work with the religions in Korea. First, I will give some facts about the historical background of religions in Korea.
We can find almost all the religions of the world in Korea and, on top of that, there are a few unique Korean traditional religions such as the Won Bul Gyo Buddhist sect, Dae Chon Gyo, and Chun Doism. Buddhism in Korea prospered and enjoyed the position of a national religion over the last one thousand years. Therefore, it tended to persecute other religions. For the last five hundred years, however, Confucianism has been exerting an immeasurable amount of influence on politics and culture there. Then, after World War II, there was no particular religion any longer that was considered the national religion and all kinds of religions have enjoyed the right to practice their beliefs in Korea. The Korean constitution, just like the American constitution, guarantees the separation of church and state.
About sixty percent-24 million -- of the entire Korean population is religious. Two million are Catholic; about eight million are Protestant; and 12 million are Buddhists. Perhaps one to two million are Confucianists. However, just as someone in America may say he is a Catholic or a Protestant though he doesn't attend regular Sunday service, likewise in Korea, almost everybody considers himself a Confucianist, even though they don't have any firm belief. Islam has been introduced in Korea, but is still a minor religious group.
While Korea was under Japanese domination for 40 years, the Japanese government didn't allow anyone to be a Christian, so many Christian young people and leaders went out of Korea to study in foreign countries and later return. That's the reason why the Christian movement in Korea has the most well educated and experienced leadership. Furthermore, the first president of Korea after Korea's independence in 1947, Syngman Rhee, was a Christian, and therefore the Christian movement has been the major influence in Korea for the last 40 or 50 years.
The man who received the revelation from Jesus is in the middle; at the far right is the leader of the entire group of clergy
The Association of Religions in Korea was established 23 years ago and has been chaired by various famous Korean religious leaders for the last 13 years. The Catholic and Protestant movements in Korea didn't join the Association as organizations, but instead, ministers and priests are working with it as individuals. Christianity has over 80 different sects in Korea so it is impossible for one denomination or sect to represent the entire Christian movement there. Also, many Christians don't want to sit down or work together with people of other religions because Christian theology teaches against the worship of idols, and some religious groups working with the Association have a belief contrary to that.
The Unification Church was accepted by the Association only 18 years ago, and even then, members of several religious groups raised great opposition. But something happened as this year began, and leaders in the Association came to Father three times and asked him to develop it and give his leadership for its future. Father, however, declined because he never takes any position other than that of the founder of the Unification Church. Then they said, "What about you, Rev. Lee? You have served as vice-president of the Association in the past, and you have been representing the Unification Church." At that time, I was studying English at our Seminary (UTS), but because of this request, I returned to Korea.
One particular religion in the Association of Religions, called Won Bul Gyo or Won Buddhism, had already prepared their representative to become the president, so I had to face some competition. When the board of trustees of the Association of Religions met to elect their president, all the other religions except this Buddhist sect chose me. However, even after their decision to elect me, there were still several groups which were concerned about how a Unification Church representative would lead the Association. They had more influence and a bigger membership than the Unification Church in Korea. They were worried, too, that members of the Association might receive retribution because of the opposition which the Unification Church received in Korea in the past from all religions, especially other Christians. Also, some of the groups suspected that the Unification Church might manipulate the Association for the sake of its own development.
Because of these concerns, I made three statements when I gave my remarks as the newly-elected president. First, I promised that under my leadership, the Association of Religions would benefit all the religious groups which were participating in its work. I also promised that I would personally do my best for the sake of the Association. I additionally declared that all the religions in Korea should work together for the sake of Korea's future, specifically, the unification of North and South Korea.
After I was elected president, our movement donated money to build the Center for the Association of Religions in Korea. This building contains office space as well as a conference room with a 300-chair capacity. In reality, even though the other religious groups have more money, assets and property all over Korea than the Unification Church, when it comes to working for the Association -- which is not just for their own sake -- they never contribute their money. When we came up with money to establish the head office, they all felt sorry before Father.
Because of the large capacity of that conference room, the "Fortieth Anniversary of Korean Independence Symposium" was held there. Last April a symposium called "The Present Status of Religions in Korea" was also held in that auditorium. As you all have heard, there is a movement like a hurricane for democracy and freedom going on in Korea, and last May a symposium on religion and politics was held there. Since Father established the Citizens' Federation for the Unification of the Fatherland last year, people are showing more interest in the unification of Korea. Because of that, we had a symposium called "The Unification of Korea and the Role of Religion." Thus the Association of Religions, under Father's guidance through myself, is focusing on the present issues taking place in Korea by studying, researching, gathering opinions, and serving the Korean religious communities. Since I became president of the Association of Religions, leaders of religious societies have come to thank me and the Unification Church for leading the Association so well.
However, some of the members of the Association still did not understand what the Unification Church is all about, so I arranged to show them some of the things that Father is doing. They had heard that the Unification Church had a lot of money but they never knew how it was being used. When they saw Tong-Il, for example, they came to realize that the Unification movement is producing top-of-the-line technology in Korea and they were shocked!
Protestant leader presents his gift to Father
Then Father invited 30 of those leaders, representing 10 major religions, to come to America and see the Unification projects there. They saw many things on the West Coast; then in Washington DC, they saw the offices of The Washington Times and The World and I, and later, they saw our church projects and properties in New York. Through their tour of Father's projects in Korea and America, they began to realize that Father is exerting his opinion and influence and devoting himself for the sake of the entire world -- not even just for the sake of religion.
In New York they stayed in-the New Yorker Hotel. When they heard that the New Yorker-has 2,000 rooms, some of them said, "This hotel New Yorker is twice as big as the biggest hotel in Korea!" That is the Lotte Hotel, which has 38 stories and 1,000 rooms.
While they were staying in New York, Dr. Durst shared with them about many more of the activities and projects of the Unification Church in America. A representative from the International Religious Foundation (IRF) also shared about the projects of IRF. Then they visited UTS and Belvedere. They were amazed by the beauty of Belvedere and the scenery around that area. They all said that the Belvedere property is much prettier than the Blue House in Korea where the Korean president dwells. They learned that Father has secured land in that area to establish the Unification University. Then they came to East Garden where they had been invited by True Parents for a banquet.
I was concerned that some of the leaders would wonder why Father, a religious leader himself, would live in such a big mansion and luxurious property. However, after the banquet at East Garden was over, they clearly felt how significant the work is that Father has been doing for the sake of the world, so the size of the house and area where Father lives was not a concern to them.
Not only were they welcomed by Father and Mother, but also by Kook Jin Nim and the other True Children and their spouses, who all treated them really warmly. They enjoyed the Korean banquet, which was prepared under True Mother's supervision, and were entertained by the East Garden performing arts team. They felt grateful to receive such gracious hospitality from Father's entire family.
After entertainment, Father spoke to them. Rather unusually, Father started by asking these religious leaders if they had any questions. The first question concerned why Father came to America to work instead of staying in Korea. Father answered that he wanted to work for the sake of the world-wide dispensation and he knew that America was a better place to do this. The second question came from a prominent Buddhist monk in Korea who said, "We have learned a lot about you and what you are doing here, but what is your goal for the future in general?" That was the question Father was waiting for! Father's special field at this moment is the topic of true love. We all know that Father is the essence and embodiment of true love, so whenever he talks to people, that true love naturally flows. When the guests all started feeling it, they were not only inspired but they also realized that Father has been practicing this true love all his life. Because of his enthusiasm and power, Father couldn't just sit in the chair, so he stood up and gave a talk lasting about 40 minutes. After Father's speech, the religious leaders expressed their feeling that Rev. Moon's power, passion, and enthusiasm are the very reasons that he can be a world-level leader.
After Father's speech, the leader of the group gave his remarks. As a Confucianist, all his life he had respected one particular famous Confucian scholar in Korean history called Yul Go Lee. Yul Go Lee was his great hero, but after seeing Father and listening to his speech, he admitted, "I feel Rev. Moon is greater than Yul Go Lee!" He knew that Father came to America 15 years ago and went through tremendous persecution from the religious community and that Father was even in prison in Danbury. He couldn't stop saying that the foundation that Father has established in this country is a miracle, and that God must be behind Rev. Moon, following him all the way through.
After the speech, Father walked for a while outside with this man and held his hand. After strolling for a brief moment, this man confessed that when he held Father's hand, he felt that although Father is an ordinary man who has flesh and a body, he has accomplished so much. When he compared his own life to Father's, he felt he hadn't done anything -- that his life was like a zero compared to Father's life.
Buddhist monk strolls with Father
After this man's remarks, each leader presented his gift to True Parents. The value of the gifts was much more than their monetary worth. Before coming to America, they had thought for a long time about what would be a proper gift.
They even consulted me about what kind of gift would be appropriate for Rev. Moon. A couple of Buddhist sect leaders brought their oldest, most valuable, original scrolls to Father as a gift. One particular religious leader brought a drawing that he had done himself with Chinese calligraphy that read "All religions will be united at the end." Since they believe that the Unification Church has a lot of money, they thought Father must have all the necessities. They felt they must find something really unique and precious and valuable.
All these gifts were symbols of the dedication of their minds and hearts to True Parents. When they came to America, they had to carry all these gifts around for one week while traveling to Los Angeles, Washington DC, and New York -- they had to pay much indemnity! This was the first time that religious leaders came to visit Father here as the official representatives of their own religious group or community. Thus, their gifts were very significant because they were given on behalf of each leader's entire religious group. Remembering the past terrible persecution from every religious group in Korea, I couldn't stop trembling, and the tears flowed from my eyes when all these religious leaders came forward and offered their precious gifts to Father and testified to Father's leadership.
The next day, on June 28, there was another banquet held at the 43rd Street National Headquarters, during which the religious leaders expressed their feelings since being invited to America by Father. Before the official program started, a Buddhist monk said he wanted to sing a song. He said he felt that Father was a "son for the world," and he sang the famous Italian aria, "0 Sole Mio." Another Buddhist leader said, "If the purpose of all religions is to save mankind, then Rev. Moon is truly the great front-runner who is doing that holy task." Many also praised True Mother, saying that she is the essence of beauty and elegance. One expressed his deep feeling that since Rev. Moon is the foremost campaigner against communism for the sake of a peaceful world, all the religious organizations in Korea must unite and follow in his footsteps.
Even the leader representing Won Bul Go Buddhism said that Rev. Moon is truly a great man! He praised Father for coming to America and reviving the spirit of Christianity and working to solve racial problems. He also said that just as the United Nations was established for the sake of the world, Unification Church has been establishing the foundation for all religions in the world to unite. These leaders actually have been trying to establish a movement called "United Religions." Since seeing what Father has been doing, they felt that there is no way they can compare their work with his. They begged Father and the Unification Church to take the responsibility to lead the United Religions movement.
Then the leader of Chul Le Go, a Buddhist sect which originated in Japan, offered to sing a song which he had composed to describe his state of heart after seeing Father.
He is now 86 years old and the only reason he came to America was because he wanted to see Father with his own eyes. His song went something like this: "After the ocean there is a mountain, and after the mountain there is another ocean, but wherever my Lord is I will go. My love is my Lord; I will go even to the end of the earth, overcoming waves or hurricanes and enduring any kind of thorny path; I will ultimately go and meet my Lord."
One Protestant leader shared his feeling that the relationship between other Christian groups in Korea and the Unification Church was supposed to be a close one, like brothers and sisters. How- ever in the last 30 or 40 years, established Christian churches have persecuted the Unification Church. As the representative of the Korean Protestant movement, he truly repented in front of the Unification Church. At East Garden, when Father told them he had heard other Christian ministers pray, "Please God, take Rev. Moon's life away," this minister said he finally understood what kind of pain and agony Father had had to deal with. He felt really ashamed and repentful. He vowed, "After I return to Korea, I will do my best to bring unity and harmony between the Unification Church and other Christian groups in Korea. Once that takes place, the Unification Church will enjoy a quantum leap in prosperity."
In Korea, there is a religion called Chun Do Gyo, which actually combines Christianity, Buddhism, and Confucianism together. In their theology, they divide history into the world before heaven and the world after heaven. They prophesy that this decadent and decayed world, which is the world before heaven, will soon perish and a new world of peace and prosperity will begin. After coming to America, the Chun Doism leader realized that Father has been fulfilling that very thing which they have been seeking for the last 50 years. He expressed his sincere feeling that Rev. Moon has done enough for the sake of America, so America should let him return to Korea to work for the sake of the unification of Korea!
The last speaker was the Buddhist monk who had spoken at East Garden and walked outside with Father. He said, first of all, he was truly grateful that Rev. Moon had invited them to America. He added that according to the Chun Doism book of prophecy, the new world of prosperity will begin from this very year, 1988! He also said that this book prophesies that Korea and America will have to work together to bring peace and prosperity for the world. After he came to America, he too realized that Rev. Moon is the very person who is accomplishing that task.
Then another man gave me a piece of paper. Interestingly, although he is not a Christian, about three years ago Jesus Christ appeared and spoke to him. He had written down a portion of the direction that he received from Jesus Christ and brought it all the way from Korea to show to Father. The revelation said, "The fire judgment is over and the Kingdom of Heaven has been established on earth. Therefore, I, Jesus Christ, am going back to my Father, God. As you receive God's direction, please work with all those people who believe in me and are willing to receive the coming Kingdom of Heaven. If people don't believe your words about the instructions you are receiving from God, ask them if they remember the flood judgment of Noah's time. This time is like the time of the flood judgment. The coming new world will follow God's will." The leader said that even though he is not a Christian, he understands that Father has the mission to fulfill the unfinished task of Jesus Christ.
All of these religious leaders received a tremendous amount of inspiration. As they returned to Korea, their conclusion was that it had been a wise decision to elect me, the Unification Church representative, to be the president of the Association of Religions. More than that, they entirely surrendered themselves in front of Father.
The 20th century is considered to be the ecumenical century. In 1948, 10 Christian leaders who were concerned about the fighting among denominations got together and formed the World Council of Churches. Then Pope John XXIII initiated a Catholic policy to bring unity in Christianity, saying that Protestants are not heretics, but actually are their brothers. The living God has been working with these Protestants and Catholics, and now finally through the Unification Church the goal of unity of all religions can be attained.
In 1966, Father established the Supra-Denominational Organization among Christians in Korea and in 1975 initiated the IRF movement in Barrytown. As we have seen, he has created the World Religions Conference, the Religious Youth Seminar, the God Conferences, and various other projects and conferences. I have a firm belief that because of Father's foundation and because God has been working through the Unification Church, these religious leaders from Korea could now come to Father.
In my experience, I have seen no other country where people have such tremendous passion and enthusiasm for religious beliefs as in Korea. Elsewhere in the world, religions are declining, but in Korea all the religions are prospering and exerting a lot of influence. It is said that Korean Christianity is the representative of entire worldwide Christianity, so the unity of Korean Christian leaders with Father is really significant.
Now that these Korean religious leaders have come to America and made these pledges to cooperate with True Parents, it is natural and it will become evident that all religious leaders will eventually accept and serve True Parents in the future. This is truly the time for ecumenism!
We are now entering Canaan, where we have to establish our foundation. The Israelites left Egypt after 430 years of slavery there. In the same way, Unification Church must return to Korea after 43 years since Korea's independence. The 43rd year is this particular year of 1988. We can find great providential significance in the fact that this year, representatives of the entire religious community in Korea came forward and accepted True Father's leadership.
This is True Father's victory. What we are doing is good; therefore, whatever we try to do is always opposed by the evil world. In human history, victors became losers the next time, and this kind of cycle has repeated itself. Then what is the absolute, complete victory? This victory should be one in which victor and loser both are pleased and happy.
When the Korean religious leaders accepted Father and responded to him as they did, he was so happy! At the same time, they themselves were just as excited, inspired, happy, and pleased. No matter how much confrontation and fighting and difficulty we may face right now, because of True Parents' true love, the eternal victory will be ours.
There is another victory: When these Korean religious leaders came to America they not only saw what True Parents were doing, but also saw what you, the fruit of True Parents, are doing here. They were totally inspired and truly moved by your sincerity and hard work. I hope that we can celebrate and be happy that through the hard work of all the brothers and sisters in the world, this kind of victory could be harvested. Thank you very much.