The Words of the Schanker Family

Apocalyptic Cult Methods Explain Bin Laden

Phillip Schanker
November 7, 2001

The following is an official response to the recent USA Today article...

USA Today November 7, 2001 Letter to the Editor,

In the aftermath of September 11th, it is dangerous and destructive to engage in religious stereotyping. In her otherwise thoughtful effort to understand the psychology of terrorism, Patricia Pearson (Apocalyptic Cult Methods Explain bin Laden, Nov. 5, 2001) has included several falsehoods about the Unification Church which must be corrected:

1) Ms. Pearson quotes former Unificationist Steve Hassan as saying he was "indoctrinated... into believing that killing people was for their own good." This is a blatant and malicious misrepresentation. The Unification Movement works in 190 countries for religious and racial reconciliation, and sponsors numerous NGOs and peace organizations. No member has ever been encouraged to take their own or anyone else's life, for we consider both murder and suicide to be a sin.

2) Mr. Hassan was never a "high-ranking member" of the church, though he continues to misrepresent himself as such in books, lectures and other profit-making endeavors.

3) The term "Moonies," according to the New York City Commission on Human Rights, is a "pejorative term that evokes intolerance and hatred of the Unification Church and its beliefs." In a letter dated December 2, 1997, USA Today joined media outlets such as the L. A. Times, The Chicago Sun Times, The Washington Post, Reuters and others in promising that its writers would no longer use the term. Mr. Hassan refuses to respect repeated public requests by our church to cease its use, and deliberately promotes the term and the dehumanized stereotype that it fosters.

4) 99% of American Unificationists live in their own homes, drive to their own jobs each day, and attend church every Sunday like millions of Americans. My own 4 children attend public schools, and are often invited to church with their friends as well as inviting their friends to our church. Mr. Hassan's misleading assertion concerning "social isolation" and "controlling sleep" does not apply in this situation.

Ms. Pearson defines two types of "apocalyptic sects:" one that "engages in a withdrawal from society at large to another world," and the other which is "the warring sect." Neither definition fits the Unification Movement, which has sponsored conferences for legislators, religious and community leaders in all 50 states on "Renewing America's Heritage of Freedom, Faith and Family." Last month Unification founder Reverend Moon hosted 500 interreligious leaders from 100 nations to address global violence and terror and propose peaceful solutions. I invite Ms. Pearson to visit any Unification Family Church in North America, where she will find that we are vastly different from the ugly, stereotypical distortions presented in her opinion piece.

Rev. Phillip Schanker
Vice President for Public Affairs
The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification

NOTE: I am prepared to fax to the appropriate person(s) a copy of the December 2, 1997 letter of then USA Today Editor David Mazzarella, CC'd to Bob Dubill, Hal Ritter and Susan Weiss assuring that no USA Today writer would use the term "moonie." I am expecting your paper to address this and the other issues raised above.

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