The Words of Sun Myung Moon For 1990
True Father, with Mr. Peter Kim translating, talks to key religious leaders during a special luncheon
Our gathering was planned by God's Divine Will. I know you have heard of me, but some of you may be meeting me for the first time. I am a person whose life has been opposed every step of the way. I am the loneliest person in the world. I create controversy for the sake of goodness. The more I create controversy, however, the more people see the need for me. My lifelong career has not been for the sake of the Unification Church, the Assembly of the World's Religions, or the nation of Korea, but solely for the sake of the world. My foundation in all fields is powerful and strong enough now to use for the sake of the entire world.
I can conclude that I can be grateful for the persecution I have received. I feel that the Inter Religious Federation for World Peace (IRFWP), whether we like it or not, is the will of God. God knows that if this project fails, there will be great tragedy in the future. So it is no simple matter. If all the religions gather, it is just like grains of sand if there is no cement. I want to play the role of the cement to combine the various grains of sand. In fact, we should each say, "I will play the role of cement for the sake of other grains of sand." Great religious leaders cannot be just sand, but should be the cement. I ask all of you to play the role of cement. I will supply the water and mix it up.
We all have to become true parents on our own. We should all become messiahs. God does not just need one son.
As religious leaders we must make ourselves controversial for the sake of goodness. I have been in prison six times in my life. Whenever this happened I said, "Give me more" because I know God's will would advance through persecution.
When you ride a horse you set the direction. Only God knows the true direction, so we must know God and the spirit world. I am the expert in this area. Mankind needs to prepare to unite with God and the spirit world.
We know that God exists, but why did He create the world? Was it for money, power, or knowledge? No. God created for true love. Why does man exist? For knowledge or money? No, man is born for divine love.
The world is created as God's love partner. The world exists according to a pair system, with all things formed as subjects and objects combined into one. What power combines things to become a pair? Only love power.
As God exists having both male and female characteristics, so man and woman exist. When we marry do we want a wife who is worse than ourself, or children who are worse than us? No, we want them to be better. This desire comes from God. God wants His children to be better than God Himself. If you are to have a spouse who is better than yourself then you must invest more than 100 percent. God does not exist for His own sake but for His love partner, the entire world. True love exists for the sake of others.
God has love, life and lineage. We all need love, life and lineage. If Adam and Eve did not sin, then the marriage place would be where God and man would dwell together. Parents are the unity of the horizontal and vertical. Our original mind resembles God's love, and is our vertical inheritance from God.
Adam and Eve fell to Satan and God's grandchildren were born dead, because of the misuse of love. Today the modern world duplicates the time of the fall.
The greatest commandment is: Give your very best in loving God and in loving your neighbor. But we must go beyond the world's current level of love. You'll see when you go to the spirit world if I am right or wrong. If you invest 100 percent the world will be totally changed. I am investing everything, even more than 100 percent.
What are true parents? True parents sacrifice their lives for others and forget it. If husband and wife invest 100 percent hey become a true couple. Man exists not for the sake of himself but for the sake of woman. Certain religions do not give rough rights to women. Man and woman are born for the sake of divine love, with God as the vertical subject.
What is God's strategy? Why have righteous people suffered? Since God is good He cannot attack. If one son strikes mother son, who will God side with? He who strikes first lost. God reclaims the world by first being struck. If you receive persecution, the entire world will be behind you. If you go with the right teachings, you will prosper. If America strikes me, then eventually America will follow me.
Receiving persecution is the strategy for taking over Satan's property and sovereignty. That is my strategy. Religions, you see, prosper during persecution. I sent missionaries to communist lands years ago. Some of them were killed. Now is the time the communist and the free worlds have to rely on me because I have sacrificed everything.
In conclusion, Satan in your soul tries to tell you to do everything for your own sake. God is telling you to invest for others.
Participants from all the religious traditions reverently gather during the Opening Ceremony
The Second Assembly of the World's Religions was held in San Francisco on August 15-21, 1990. Over 500 religious leaders from over 70 countries and representing all the major, and numerous minority religious traditions gathered under the general theme: "Transmitting our Heritage to Youth and Society."
1990 has been a great year for our True Parents and a very significant year worldwide. The end of 1989 saw the overnight collapse of the communist empire, which Father predicted years ago. It was the year of Father's 70th birthday, following the end of his 43-year course. Father's meeting with President Gorbachev had the greatest cosmic import, even though it wasn't widely publicized -- but then Jacob and Esau's embrace wasn't in the newspapers either, and whatever happened between Abraham and Isaac on Mt. Moriah was not a public event.
What happened in Moscow symbolized the restoration of the true elder brother's birthright, where Father's true position on the worldwide level was recognized. On that foundation, Father initiated the International Federation for World Peace, feeling it was the right time providentially for a new peace initiative centered on God. So, I felt the Assembly of the World's Religions was very blessed to come on the foundation of all these great accomplishments. None of us earned that blessing, but it came from Father's foundation and the merit of the age.
This year's conference brought together many highly significant religious leaders, particularly from the Muslim world. Among those in attendance were: the Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Kuftaro, the Grand Mufti of Syria; Dr. Zabara, the Grand Mufti of Yemen; Dr. Angel Kreiman, Chief Rabbi of Chile and Vice-president of the World Council of Synagogues; His Holiness Acharya Sushil Kumarji Maharaj, Founder of the World Fellowship of Religions and of the International Mahavir Jain Mission; Dr. Shivamurthy Shivacharya Mahaswamiji, leader of the Lingayat Tradition within Hinduism; Dr. Dawud Noibi, Head of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria; Venerable Doboom Tulku, Director of the Cultural Center of His Holiness the Dalai Lama; Rev. Kakujo Miki, Bishop of the Kakurin-ji Temple in Japan; Metropolitan Philaret, the Metropolitan of Minsk and Grodno, and Patriarchal Exarch of all Byelorussia; Dr. Inamullah Khan, the Secretary General of the World Muslim Congress; and many other highly renowned religious leaders.
Assembly of the World's Religions
This year's Assembly started, first of all, with a lot of hard work. One of the greatest religious experiences one can have is the feeling of utter dependence on God -- that we didn't come into being on our own, and we don't ultimately sustain our existence by our own power. That is a feeling one can have with the Assembly, because it is the coordinated effort between God and many individuals with crucial responsibilities. When you direct an Assembly you can't help but feel utterly dependent on God and others.
My own responsibility involved meeting with Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak several times a day to go over daily decisions, and scramble with every amount of energy that I had to keep ahead of the conference schedule. I sometimes came into plenary sessions with about three minute's preparation, having just received the latest updates. There was a lot of effort invested by the staff of the International Religious Foundation (IRF) with the support of the International Cultural Foundation (ICF) staff. I feel part of the blessing that came to us this year was due to the unity of ICF and IRF members. The Messiah comes on the foundation of faith and substance, so when relationships become unified, the blessing can come.
The Welcoming Ceremony opened the Assembly with 12 representatives of the world's religions, each wearing their traditional religious clothing, proceeding into the main hall with lit candles. The participants had brought water samples from the places of origin of their respective religions -- from the birthplace of Confucius, from the Ganges River in India, from the Jordan River in Israel, and many others, including some Il Hwa spring water from Korea. Everyone poured these waters together and mixed them, symbolizing the mixing and unity of the religions at the Assembly. This ceremony brought tears to many people's eyes, including Rev. Kwak, who afterwards gave a full report to Father.
The next major event as Father's Founder's Address entitled, "The Tradition of True Love and Bequeathing that Tradition," which was preceded by Dr. Rubenstein's moving introduction, repenting for the American government's imprisonment of Father.
Over 700 participants packed the hall. Some of us were aware of what Father was going to say, because we had seen copies of the English translation of his speech. When we bring our guests to the Assembly, part of us wants Father to say something that will please our guests the most. But Father gave a strong, straightforward message, proclaiming the age of True Parents and explaining that all religions must become true parent religions. Religions which remain stepchild, adopted child, or even son religions will decline. Established Christianity emphasizes becoming the sons and daughters of God, but Father is emphasizing becoming true parents, in the image of God. A child is always in the position of benefiting from the relationship with the parents, but the parents are always looking to give. Father really challenged the participants.
In his speech, Father inaugurated the Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace. After his speech Dr. Huston Smith came forward to give a presentation on behalf of the Religious Youth Service, and two young people of the Youth Service presented a plaque to Father.
Each morning there were prayer and meditation sessions offered in several religious traditions -- Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Shinto, Jewish, Native American Indian, Zoroastrian and others. While services were held according to the practices of specific traditions, they were completely open to persons of other traditions, so that each participant could choose which to attend on any given morning. There were a total of nearly 40 services offered throughout the course of the Assembly. I went to as many as I could, and they were very uplifting.
All participants made written contributions to the Assembly which were presented in Dialogue Groups. There were 26 Dialogue Groups, each composed of about 15 participants, centering discussions on one of the Assembly's 14 subthemes.
This year we introduced workshops for the first time -- on meditation, calligraphy, overcoming inter-religious conflict, healing, and other topics. Evening entertainment was also varied and high quality -- there was a Hindu dance, a Japanese dance, a classical pianist, and several other fine performances.
One day we dispersed on tours to religious sites in the area, including Grace Cathedral (Episcopalian), the Vedinta Society's center, the Mission Delores (first mission in San Francisco), the Institute for Buddhist Studies, the Mormon Temple, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Graduate Theological Union, and the center for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. In one excursion to a Sikh Gurdwara (temple) approximately 1000 Sikhs gathered with large banners to welcome 50 visiting Assembly participants.
Open and fervent dialogue among the participants contributed greatly to the process of healing and understanding differences
Three days into the conference about 30 of the top religious leaders met with Father. This has been a tradition at past ICUS conferences. Sometimes Father has asked people to sing songs, creating a joyful atmosphere, and sometimes he has spoken very seriously. This meeting started out with Father asking In Jin Nim to sing. Then Father asked Rev. Kwak to give a report on the World Scripture Project. Finally Father started speaking, with Peter Kim translating. He gave his complete heart and soul and vertical self totally and uncompromisingly. It seemed he used the opportunity to be as completely genuine, truthful and heartistic as possible to these highest level religious representatives who came to the Assembly. He spoke for two hours about the special nature of the revelation he had received.
From this meeting one could perhaps feel that Father is desperate to get his message across since there is still so much to accomplish at this time. But I felt, in a much more positive sense, that Father is brimming with confidence from the foundation that he has laid.
There are now three generations of the True Family, the worldwide foundation of our movement, and a very large Blessing coming up in 1991. I think Father is totally confident that God is going to work through this truth. That is what is going to prosper and grow. The now apparently powerful forces in the world that deny or reject that truth will decline. It is like communism. We used to be nervous when Father spoke strongly against communism in his ICUS Founder's Address, but now we see those statements to be truly prophetic. Now Father is very confident that the age of Parentism has arrived and he wants the religions to know that. He wants to be on record as not having failed to communicate this important truth to them. Some religious leaders had struggles with his talk, because it was not a speech saying all religions are equal and we want them all to continue just as they are. It was more a challenge to live for the sake of others and inherit Father's teaching about Parentism into their own religions.
At the Farewell Banquet we were treated to a debut performance of a symphony of five movements with three soloists composed and directed by Kevin Pickard. After the orchestra finished, Rev. Kwak introduced Father to make his farewell remarks. Father spoke about the three criteria of a true religion. He said that religions which have enemies or hold grudges will decline. We are in the last days, and religions will come under judgment by the conscience of every individual. The conscience will supersede and reject religious teachings if the religions aren't living up to what the conscience asks for -- a parental heart and lifestyle. Finally, Father announced the next Assembly in 1993, and said. "I'll see you in 1993 either in Moscow or Beijing." The whole Assembly erupted in big applause at this exciting announcement.
The staff met with True Parents after the Assembly. Father expressed great joy and spoke a few minutes. He criticized the Americans who wanted to try to soften up his speeches to the Assembly participants. Then there was one song after another. Finally Father and Mother started dancing, and everybody began dancing around the room. There was a spiral of happiness and joy on this beautiful evening. No one could have asked for more -- all of us received a great blessing.
Assembly participants carry candles and contribute holy water from the originating places of their religious traditions
On Friday and Sunday afternoons, August 17 and 19, a workshop on Spirituality and the Healing Arts was convened with about 40-45 Assembly participants.
The underlying premise of the workshop was that true healing is brought about by healing the whole person -- body, spirit and mind -- and that healing is really the accomplishment of the first blessing of mind-body unity. It is not an easy goal to accomplish, but essential to strive for.
The session of the workshop began with a healing meditation. Using music in the background, the meditation focused on healing oneself, one's loved ones, and all of humanity. This was followed by a presentation by Reverend Betty Figlure, an interfaith minister and practitioner of Jin Shin-Jilsu, a self-help healing technique originating in Japan. She involved us all in hands-on work, explaining various simple techniques to help in self-healing, techniques one can use any time of the day. Rev. Figlure emphasized that each one of us has the ability to heal oneself and others, and that we should not underestimate how important simple touch is for healing.
Then Dr. Wande Abimbola, former Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria and presently on sabbatical and teaching at Amherst University in the United States, spellbound us with personal stories, explaining his tradition's views on healing and spirituality. A well-renowned author, Dr. Abimbola is also a High Priest in the Yosuba religion, an indigenous traditional African religion which has spread • widely into Central and South America. Yosubans view healing holistically as a part of their way of life and community. The atmosphere was such that we felt we were listening to a wise elder while sitting around a campfire in the bush.
During the second session Mary Wakefield, a Wales and New York based opera singer, shiatsu therapist, and psychic, led us in simple shiatsu stretching exercises which can help release the blocked energies that can cause discomfort or illness. Ms. Wakefield then led us in a "Sounding" healing exercise in which we all vocalized various sounds for various energy centers of the body called chakras. The combined voices of all 40 participants made for some very beautiful, soothing, and at times unusual sound vibrations, teaching us that sound as well as massage can promote healing.
Then James Burton, a healing coordinator in the Sufi Healing Order, led us in a variety of techniques and special Sufi phrases that help in sensing the energy body around every person. We were left with a warm, loving, and healing bond among us.
Jaime and I then demonstrated and explained an ancient Chinese healing art called Chi-Gong, in which we go into a meditative state and allow the universal life energy to flow through our bodies. Automatic movements allow the energy of the body to move according to the body's needs, often leading spontaneously into various Tai Chi, martial arts and yogic positions. Then asking for volunteers, we, while in a meditative state, allowed the energies of the Chi-Gong movements to flow through us to other people for healing.
All in all it was a very enlightening two sessions exposing us all to various modalities of healing body, spirit and mind, and expanding our concepts on what healing is.
Kevin Pickard directs the debut performance of his five-movement symphony
At this very moment, I can see that we have to make use of all world's religions' principles and teachings to make a truly peaceful world....The most important aspect of the Assembly is its ability to initiate a universal organization, the Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace, which has been agreed upon by the majority of the participants and then endorsed by His Holiness the Grand Mufti of Syria, witnessed by all of us during the farewell banquet with reference to Rev. Moon's source of ideas about the Federation which the Mufti said was the most precious found treasure.
The Assembly is a good example and an effective realization of Ecumenism and Inter-religious Dialogue. I have always tried to reconcile the diverse groups in teaching and in persuading, but I see that it is difficult to overcome distrust. We distrust each other because we compete with each other. We compete because we are divided into parties. And we are divided because we distrust each other. This seems to be a vicious circle without any hope of breaking it. This Assembly proves to me that the circle is only arbitrary. It is the result of the attachment in men's hearts: attachment to one's own opinion, attachment to the formalities in life, attachment to habits, etc. I can see that we come to the Assembly without attachments. We are divided into discussion groups to divide our responsibility so as to help each other. We have no trace of competition in our eyes. With brotherly trust, we share our experiences, tackle common problems, and find out common solutions, without betraying in any way each one's faith. In trusting and loving each other, we feel that we accomplish our religious duty better. We promise to each other to bring home the spirit of the Assembly and to share it with others as far and as wide as possible.
Being from the P.R.C., I have a strong atheistic background. However, I am very interested in religions because I am a professor and scholar of Chinese philosophy, including Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. After attending the Assembly, I think I should do something to support its purpose if it is needed. I really appreciate its ideal, although I think the ideal is not easy to realize. World peace, understanding between different religions and traditions, and the harmony of mankind are all worth our effort.
This Assembly brought together members of the Republic of Humanity in the name of love. The deep love was felt by all irrespective of religion, color or any other differentiation. All that existed was our common humanity expressed in the language of Divine Love. The Assembly manifested that latent love in us all and the realization of our Divine Unity dawned upon us all. We leave this Assembly enriched by the understanding that we are one family in the Republic of Divinity -- its effect must surely vibrate in all our countries -- north, south, east and west -- for ages to come. Let us not forget what we have re-inherited here in these past days, and let us forever re-live this experience of our essential unity, our oneness, our divinity.
To see people of all faiths, races, nationalities and persuasions come together as brothers and sisters in a single family gave me great joy and inspiration. I thank you deeply for creating such an opportunity and environment for loving and peaceful communion. May Allah grant that your work continue with ever greater success in the future. I grant you my most peaceful blessings and love.
The AWR witnessed many moments never before seen in history. The blending of sacred waters from lakes, rivers, fountains and oceans around the world was surely the first time in history that such a scene has been witnessed. Cathedral Grove, in Muir Woods Redwood Forest, which had witnessed the founding of the United Nations, now witnessed the prayers of holy men and scholars from around the world, best summarized in our historic San Francisco Declaration. The world premiere of Mr. Pickard's Third Symphony was not only an artistically great moment, but harbored deep religious hopes and significance for many of us, as had Indian dances, Muslim prayers and Buddhist chants, each in their own ways.
I was grateful to participate in discussions and workshops on "Healing", for in them, we witnessed both physical and spiritual healings. Members complaining of headaches, sore shoulders, bent backs, and swollen ankles, received loving treatments and found relief from pain and improvement in their condition before our very eyes. More importantly, we saw healing of old fears, doubts, even antipathies against "traditional enemies" as well as Unificationists. The love that Reverend Moon and his disciples demonstrated in our midst melted the fears and healed the antagonisms of people. The immeasurable value of this healing attitude is already beginning to radiate forth from this Assembly, as we share it with our colleagues and communities, and move towards the indispensable work of the Inter-Religious Foundation for World Peace which was born here. The world's appreciation and respect for the Unification Movement have been substantially enhanced and rightly so, by this historic gathering of wisdom and scholarship, art and love.
The seemingly honest conviction of some of the more important religions' leaders present is that the only way to true peace and harmony on earth is an all-out effort on the part of their respective communities to forgive past and present misunderstandings, to overcome prejudices and work together for our common objective.
The openness of the Grand Mufti of Syria has encouraged me greatly to continue striving for understanding, forgiveness and healing between Christians and Muslims all over the world.
The Assembly has been another boost to my own vision of a coming together of the people of God to love God and one another, to serve God and one another, to celebrate God and one another, individually and collectively.
The Assembly has helped me to understand better the values and richness in religions other than my own. The Assembly helps me to understand that it is not religion that is most important, but the understanding of man. Man, whatever his culture, his language, his race, his religion and the color of his skin, is the same. He has love, fear, hope, and the quest for happiness. It is the circumstances in which he finds himself that make him belong to a certain tradition. If the circumstance changes, the tradition may also change. I have now seen that if religion is properly understood, it can promote the peace of the world.
The Assembly has vividly demonstrated to me that despite strikingly diverse religious and cultural traditions that have for so long impeded the emergence and growth of harmonious relations all over the world, humankind has a tremendous potential to enjoy global unity. This worthwhile experience I have just procured will remain in my memory for a long, long time. To me, there is now re-confirmed hope that the numerous world problems created by humanity can, through this Assembly, be solved permanently by the same human race.
The AWR has strengthened my belief that a sincere endeavor can cleanse "religion" of violence and hatred. The AWR organizers and the person who is instrumental in making this unforgettable event possible deserve laurels. It has left an indelible impression on my mind and I will strive for religious reconciliation and unity.
The most important aspect of this Assembly was its success in bringing together on a common platform a galaxy of world religious leaders of diverse faiths and cultures. It is bound to pave the way for the ushering in of a nonviolent, harmonious socio-political world order.?
I feel as though my eyes have been opened to the variety of different religions giving the same message of love, tolerance, compassion to each other -- the feeling of brotherhood.
Yes, I've learned to accept them, change my thoughts towards them, and not try to change them, their views or opinions.
The positive influence of accepting others will stay with me, I hope. The Assembly brought people from the different corners of the world under one roof and made the idea of universal brotherhood possible, through understanding. We were first persons and then the religious creed was asked.
I loved the intensity of the combination of eager minds and different energies working towards more understanding and peace, trying to work it out in one's own way. Going back from the group discussions after hearing the baring of hearts and honest opinions and asks oneself, "Is that really the way I think? Let me examine my own motives, my own heart, and know myself first." Talking about it helped to weed out my own thoughts and filter them.
The most valuable contribution of this Assembly for me has been the tremendous love that I received from everyone, from all "religions" and persons from other countries. It was a form of tremendous release to see Muslims so open to others and to me as a Christian. I felt God's energy wherever I went. Therefore I feel renewed and energized with love from around the world.
The Assembly opened my eyes to the tremendous possibilities of harmony and cooperation amongst all religions. It gave me hope for the future of mankind. The experience of this Assembly is so pervasive that it will be a permanent foundation of my world embracing faith.
The most important aspect of this Assembly was the great experience of actually feeling the brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God and the motherhood of the world.
I thank Rev. Moon for doing the impossible and helping create this spirit of love and harmony.
Participants in one of the many varied workshops offered at the Assembly
The following are Rev. Kwak's remarks introducing the Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace to religious leaders attending the 1990 Assembly of the World's Religions.
Respected leaders of the world's great religious traditions: I want to welcome you to this, the second Assembly of the World's Religions and to introduce you to the plan for the creation of an Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace.
As you probably know, the motto of the International Religious Foundation is "world peace through religious dialogue and harmony." Also, those of you who attended the first Assembly in 1985 know that Rev. Moon, in his Founder's address, stated his hopes for the Assembly:
I have three hopes for these Assemblies. First, that the world's religious traditions respect each other and at least work to keep in check any inter-religious conflicts and wars.
Second, that the Assembly serves the world by becoming a cooperative community of religions. It will hopefully agree upon and make resolutions calling religious people to practical action, encouraging all people to live by God-centered values, and fostering the development of human minds and spirits. Third, that the Assembly develops into an organization in which the major leadership of all religions participate.
(Rev. Sun Myung Moon, "Founder's Address", 1985 Assembly of the World's Religions, McAffee, NY)
Rev. Moon remains fully committed to this vision, evidenced in what I am about to share.
Recently you may have received a letter announcing the formation of the International Federation for World Peace. This organization, which many of you signed on to as founding members, was established on the belief that we are living at a time of great opportunity for world peace and world culture. The recent events in Eastern Europe indicate in some way the scale of this opportunity. People now speak confidently about the end of the Cold War, the end of communism, the end of historical conflict, even the end of World War III. In some respects we are living at a time similar to the time just after World War II when the United Nations itself was formed. Even Rev. Moon, arguably one of the world's most ardent foes of communist ideology, was welcomed in Moscow by none other than President Gorbachev, and Rev. Moon wants to do everything he can to contribute to the prosperity of the post-communist world. The International Federation for World Peace has been inaugurated in order to mobilize the world's political, economic and cultural leadership in efforts of concrete service for the cause of world peace.
This international organization, however, cannot neglect the spiritual dimension of human existence. To put it simply, we must secure inter-religious peace as the precondition for world peace. Peace is not essentially a political or economic matter, even though these are extremely significant and relevant to the creation of peace. Peace, most essentially, is a spiritual and religious problem. So long as religions are at war or concerned only with themselves, peace will always evade us, despite our best efforts on the political or economic level.
For this reason, Rev. Moon, on the occasion of his Founder's Address, will initiate the founding of an Inter-Religious Federation. It is his fervent hope that you will lend your support to this new organization. This organization will in no way seek to compete with or duplicate the work of other respected peace organizations. Instead we seek to work cooperatively and in a complementary way with others. The unique thrust of IRFWP will be its emphasis on service, in the tradition of the Religious Youth Service; education, drawing on the resources of the New Ecumenical Research Association; and leadership for world peace, in the tradition of the Council for the World's Religions. The IRFWP will also seek to work holistically and cooperatively in concrete plans of action for peace in all regions of the world.
It is significant that this Assembly will give birth to this new organization, IRFWP, for it fulfills the founding vision of the Assembly. Once established, IRFWP will have its own Executive Council, and will promote the highest standards of service, education and leadership for world peace.
Special healing exercises are part of the workshop experience
Like most members, I was so thankful when earlier this year our True Parents received some of the recognition they so long have deserved. Both at their birthday celebration in Korea and later at the World Media Conference in Moscow, Father was clearly acknowledged as the worldwide moral leader that he is.
Therefore, when I learned of Father's expected appearance at this year's Assembly of the World's Religions, I felt deeply that Father must receive his rightful recognition -- here in America!
Before I share the steps I and members of the International Religious Foundation (IRF) took to involve the media in the event, I'd like to share a few of my personal experiences as an American member over the past seventeen years.
As a very young church member in New York City in the early 1970's, I had the special opportunity to work for the Little Angels' performance at the United Nations for the benefit of UNICEF (Dec. 27, 1973). During that evening's gala event, the very prestigious audience comprised of New York's social elite was moved to tears by the innocence and joy of Father's dance troupe of young girls from Korea.
Since this was before controversy had really hit and attached itself to our movement, Father was afforded that night (by a heartfelt standing ovation) the kind of praise and respect that he deserves one thousand times over.
As I stood and watched other Americans appreciate what he had given to them and humanity, I cried tears of joy at the prospects of a glorious future for our Founder. That moment left an indelible mark in my soul. And to this day, the memory of that evening remains as one of my deepest motivations to work for and see the day when our True Parents are really given their just rewards.
One other experience, 15 years after the U.N. event, also had quite an impact on me. In 1988 Father held the 17th International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS) in Los Angeles. That conference, like so many of the world-level events sponsored by our movement, was a beautiful altruistic offering to the hundreds of international scholars and scientists who attended.
My own contacts in Los Angeles from the political, business and religious communities were incredibly impressed with the caliber of the event. They couldn't imagine any other religious leader doing so much for the world of science and with such a deep sense of compassion for humanity as they experienced from Father during that time.
But painfully absent from the event were the media. Disappointment and anger were felt by many of us involved. Once again we had been the victims of a biased press -- this time discrediting the work of our Father by the censorship of omission. I vowed to myself at that time to never let that happen again in a place where I am living and working.
In the spring of this year, Dr. Thomas Walsh, the Executive Director of IRF, asked me if I would help with media relations during the upcoming Assembly that was to be held in San Francisco.
My response was to immediately say yes. Even though I am a member of ACC, not IRF, True Parents are my True Parents, and their coming to the region where I live and work is certainly everyone in the region's responsibility. Not only that, but everything that we do or don't do as a movement affects every other department, organization, and so on. It seems to me that the cooperation and integration of our movement's varied departments and projects is one of the most urgent tasks at hand. Each project that we are separately undertaking is both too precious and too small not to work in such a way that we complement and support each other's activities.
Through past experiences I have learned that in our work with the media we make certain mistakes: 1) We start too late; 2) we don't cultivate real relationships with journalists (it is tough); 3) we don't provide them with enough information about what we are doing and why we are doing it; and 4) we don't use our friends and allies well enough as "John the Baptists" to the press.
As press representative for this AWR Conference, I tried to rectify these things. I think the outcome was successful. Why can I say this? Father himself seemed happy as he read and viewed the various newspaper and television coverage of the conference.
During the five-day event over 45 journalists attended and covered either the Founder's Reception, the Opening Ceremony, the Opening Plenary Session where Father gave his Founder's Address, or the general sessions themselves.
Nationally and internationally, CNN Headline News gave the event excellent coverage, and U.P.I., Associated Press, and National Public Radio all covered the event. ABC, CBS, and the NBC affiliates in San Francisco each covered the conference extensively. Some events had three nights of coverage on TV!
Of course not all of the press accounts were positive or totally to our liking. But, the "fruits" of Father's worldwide ecumenical tree were so self-evident that not even the most cynical journalist could help but be impressed
Some of the newspaper headlines read: "Moon Calls for Worldwide Interfaith Peace Federation" (SF Examiner 8/ 17), "New Phases of the Moon: Unification Church Founder tries Move toward Mainstream" (San Jose Mercury News 8/18), "World Religious Leaders Seek New Faith" (Sacramento Union 8/18), and numerous other accounts.
With the support of Tom Walsh and the IRF staff I was able to implement some of the things I had learned in the past. Let me share a few of the lessons in hopes it may help us all in future media work:
1) Start Early...
I began in April (four months before the conference) to assemble a media data base in the Bay Area. I also began buying the Saturday newspapers statewide in order to "get to know" the religion writers by learning how they wrote and what they wrote about.
2) Provide Them With Enough Information...
We also did something that proved to be quite successful. We had a series of press briefings two weeks before the conference itself. This gave us (the IRF, RYS, and media staff) the opportunity to get our act together. It also got the word out about the upcoming Assembly. And even though not many journalists in fact came to these pre-conference events, it helped us to understand their thinking and served as a kind of dress rehearsal for the actual conference in August.
3) Cultivate Relations With the Press...
Especially for us, dealing with the press can be like "wrestling with the angel at the ford of Jabbok." But a definite lesson can be learned from Father himself on this one. Think how he is winning over his age-old adversaries, communists! His mission has remained unchanged, but he has approached them, from President Gorbachev on down, in good faith and with the best of intentions. He has "loved the sinner" while at the same time not forgetting the "sin."
Journalists typically come from a background that is both cynical and secular. They are suspicious of organized religions' words and deeds (and for good reasons). I have found that we should be open with them, without being compromising. We should be sincere and honest about our motives and our programs, always remembering Jesus' advice about innocence and wisdom.
Prior to and during this conference, I found myself talking regularly to journalists whom I hoped would cover the event. I communicated everything that I could to them, and they became so etched in my own psyche that I could quite naturally pray for them as the event rolled around.
I also created the conference press releases with their attitudes in mind. Knowing that Father was going to announce the formation of the Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace in his Founder's Address, I put it boldly in the press release with references to the conflicts in the Middle East and how such a proposal was the only responsible thing for religious leaders to be engaged in at this time of crisis.
I must say that it is especially painful dealing with the press. However, the Divine Principle gives us excellent guidelines as to how we should relate to and digest such difficulties with a parental heart.
4) Use Our Existing Foundation and Allies...
Two thousand years ago Jesus asked Peter what the "public opinion" about him was. He knew that his own members were not the only ones who could help the general public understand him and his mission.
A distinguished ally who is proud of his or her affiliation with the movement goes a long way in dispelling the destructive myths of the journalist. Past participants of our conferences were included in our meetings with the press prior to the Assembly.
At the AWR event itself, I always made sure members of the Planning Committee and other friends of the Unification movement were available to speak with journalists.
In the final analysis we know that we'll be judged by our fruits. Even though the press has ignored and tarnished our Father's good fruits all too often, one thing they cannot do is to change what they truly are. At this time in our movement's history we have so much to be proud of. We should do everything in our power to remove the bushel that has covered our True Parents' light from the world.
Although our efforts were far from enough, and our results with the media certainly not what True Parents deserved, it was heartening for me to see that even the American press is about to understand our Founder's activities for what they are -- a great hope for mankind.
Once again, I had the privilege of being at another historic event in Father's remarkable life. On the morning of my fortieth birthday I awoke to find front-page stories about his messiahship. Tears came to me at morning service just like they had 17 years before at the United Nations -- and I realized the Kingdom is not far away.