The Words of the Pople Family
Youths attacking church center in Sao Paulo.
Shortly after two large workshops teaching the Divine Principle and VOC to professors and various leaders of society in Brazil, a vicious media attack began on television, radio and newspapers. Almost concurrently, a well-orchestrated series of attacks began on church centers throughout the country, in which at least 14 centers were heavily stoned and at least six buildings burned and five completely destroyed. Center leaders and members were pelted with stones and other objects, and many were jailed or detained by the police. Chased out of their centers, members were welcomed and sheltered by their home church members.
In recent years, Brazil is one of the countries in which our movement has experienced its most remarkable growth. Highly effective training programs (the whole range of workshops from three to 40 days) and a well-organized network of more than 60 centers throughout the country have built up membership to an estimated 500 core members and many more home members. After a recent training session, 64 members were sent out to pioneer new towns, to bring the total number of centers to 124. At the same time, however, unity among the leaders of our movement in Brazil has sometimes been difficult.
A land of diverse cultures and ethnic groups, Brazil has provided many opportunities for the teaching of Divine Principle. However, the same openness (especially in the past six years) has also favored leftist influence in religion, education and society in general. It is logical to assume that as our church grows in such an environment, it would go through a period of persecution.
Our family in Brazil does not know who instigated these attacks. Since the Unification Church was not the only object of recent violence, it could be that the attacks are one aspect of some power struggle within society.
It is felt that preparations for persecution of the Unification Church had been in the making for some time, perhaps with people being planted as members of the church with instructions to engage in drug use or free sex and then denounce our church for encouraging such activities. The recent media attacks make it clear that it is not just the Unification Church, but religion in general, which is under fire. In one story, Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham and Reverend Moon were lumped together as totalitarians. In another, Jim Jones and Jerry Falwell were presented as being similar. Such religious leaders pose ridiculously simple solutions to complex moral problems, asserted one writer.
The spiritual guide of our church in Brazil has been Rev. Hyung Tae Kim, who worked for six years as a missionary in Brazil. Shortly before the violence began, he returned to Korea to arrange some business.
On September 10, various leaders from Japan and the United States, including Mr. Kuboki and Dr. Durst, went to Brazil to offer our members support in confronting the persecution and try to offer the media a reply to the charges. These people went with the attitude that the greater the persecution which comes, the greater the blessing to follow. Our brothers and sisters in Brazil need the unity, support and prayers of our worldwide membership.
The following articles are an attempt to help our members understand the developments in Brazil: an overview of our movement in Brazil and details of recent persecution by Cesar Zaduski, currently president of the Unification Church in Brazil; a report on a recent professors' seminar in Brazil by Shawn Byrne, formerly a Roman Catholic priest in Ireland; excerpts from a News World announcement of the persecution in Brazil; and a testimony by Paul Perry, first missionary to Brazil.
After a week of violence, more than a dozen homes and buildings used by the Unification Church in Brazil are in pieces or in ashes. Church members have been subjected to violent attacks and their very lives threatened.
Factions of the Brazilian media have reported these brutal acts of terrorism with acquiescence and have even helped to incite such violence. With the media acting as inquisitor, the Unification Church has been subjected to barbarism.
The Unification Church is now the frontline target of the leftists, but tomorrow it may be the homes of Catholics and Protestants that will be burned by these anti-religious forces. During its recent defamatory campaign, elements in the Brazilian press have already suggested other religious targets. One newspaper even accused the followers of the world- famous evangelist Billy Graham of being blinded by totalitarianism.
According to reports in the International Herald Tribune and The Washington Post, the violent attacks on the Unification Church were incited by Globo Television's "sensationalized campaign" against the church. Shortly after the conclusion of this series began, our churches were being stoned, sacked and burned in various parts of Brazil. These attacks have all the characteristics of a pre-meditated plot by terrorists, exploiting the emotions of a misinformed public.
We charge that this was part of a systematic, well-orchestrated attack timed to coincide with the nationally-viewed television series "Fantastico." Continued malicious reporting has spawned a climate which fueled further violence. The Unification Church of Brazil holds Globo Television responsible for the damage done to our buildings and our members in Brazil. We are preparing a lawsuit totaling $100 million for damages and libel. We are considering similar actions against other irresponsible media for their outright deceit.
As an additional course of action, the Unification Church demands equal time from Globo Television to take our story to the people. Their presentation was filled with calculated deceit, and we challenge them to give us equal time to tell the Brazilian people who we really are and what we really represent. We believe that the Brazilian people will recognize that the Unification Church is a good movement which exists for the benefit and future well-being of all, Brazil.
In a press conference in Rio de Janeiro yesterday, Ambassador Jose Maria Chaves, permanent representative of the Organization of Ibero-American States at the United Nations, strongly defended the Unification Church and its activities. "Brazil has always been a country of freedom and honor," he said, and he urged Brazilian authorities to protect the Unification Church's activities against unjust attacks.
Dr. Durst evoked the memory of one of Brazil's former presidents, Jucelino Kubistchek, who built the capital of Brasilia into a modern city. "We want to do something like Jucelino Kubistchek. To build a society of peace, love, service and justice in a world of confusion."
Mr. Osami Kuboki, president of the Unification Church of Japan, told reporters, "We have been terribly attacked here in Brazil. We are appealing to the tradition of justice in this country to expose the wrong accusations against us."