Unification News for May 1996
On-line Interview: The UC on the Web
by Damian Anderson-Montgomery Village, MD
A reader of the Unification Home Page on the World Wide Web, a student in Alabama, sent me some questions and my answers ended up being a discussion on the history of the Unification Home Page and its use in evangelism on the Internet.
Dear Mr. Damian: My name is Jenise Jacques and I am a senior at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. I am currently working on my senior seminar project about religious groups on the Internet. I was looking through the Internet and found your Home Page. I am using the Unification Church as one of my examples and would greatly appreciate any information I could get from you on the following points. I am not having much luck finding the kind of information I am looking for and the Internet is my sole source of information.
I hope that this is not too much to ask. Quite, frankly I am little bit overwhelmed by this project, but I am doing my best at trying to keep my sanity. Where are you located by the way?
I live in Montgomery Village, Maryland, and currently work in Washington DC, close by. As a software development consultant in the computer industry, my place of work frequently changes.
Here are some of the things that I am trying to find in order to complete my seminar:
1. How many people access this page (domestic and worldwide) and your Home Page?
I do not have recent statistics, but the most recent show about 780 items downloaded per day, on average.
You can look at recent statistics at: http://www.cais.com/unification/stats.html
My server currently is not providing me with statistical information, so I don't know the figures for the last two months.
2. Has the Internet been a successful tool in advertising and recruitment? When people e-mail you or contact you for information, how do you respond or do you respond?
I believe that it has been very successful in making people aware of the church, and has given a worldwide audience the ability to research the church for themselves, unassisted.
Depending on their level of interest, I usually ask them whether they would like to be on my mailing lists, which are listed in my signature. If they want to visit a church, I attempt to put them in touch with someone near them. I have had information requests from every continent. People on my mailing lists read Unification Church literature on a daily basis as a result of this Internet ministry. Many more have said that they read my posts on the Usenet newsgroups daily, and that they enjoy them. I usually answer any legitimate question from the Internet. In the beginning, there were a lot of people sending me abusive mail, but that has largely stopped. I had more staying power than my detractors.
Questions from my audience give me an idea of what people are interested in, so that helps me. The Internet allows me to be something like a talk show host, with a 24 hour a day audience, in every time zone. And the cost for being on the air is truly minimal, compared to any other form of mass communication.
As the lightning strikes from the East to the West, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. The Internet is perfectly suited to spread God's word in these chaotic tribulation times.
3. Is there a way to track people once they have contacted you or tapped into the Internet?
You can know the network address of the server they are coming in from, and with the right software, I could probably capture even e- mail addresses. However, I prefer that people contact me on their own. I have quite enough to do as it is. One beautiful thing about the Web is that people can study about something anonymously, which can be an asset.
4. When did the Unification Church decide to go on the Internet?
This is my personal ministry, not an official project of the Unification Church. However, when it became known within the church, church elders were pleased and encouraged by it. They did not know about the technology or understand it until I set up the Unification Home Page. I am an expert in this field. This was a ministry uniquely suited to my talents and situation. From those to whom much is given, much is expected. I began the home page on March 1, 1995, after a couple of months of thinking and praying about it. I have been evangelizing on the Internet in other ways since 1993, before anyone else I knew of had any knowledge or interest in it.
Do you think that the Internet and this widespread coverage of the Unification Church has had a great influence on people and have your numbers risen significantly because of it?
I only have direct knowledge of about the 110 people on my mailing list who read my mailings daily. My Usenet posts may well have a very much larger audience, but I have no way to track that. Then, the Home Page is getting quite a lot of traffic too. In addition, several people have been taking the feed of my daily articles and putting them on bulletin boards in various parts of the world. I know of at least two of those. Others say that they print out this material daily and read it with their friends. A representative of a group of religious education teachers in Germany asked me for every file on my web server so that they could put it on their BBS. I sent them much of what I had in English and German. Some of it was unfinished, so I did not send it.
Also, I know of people in various places who have contacted the church as a result of this ministry. I know of only one person in Idaho who has actually joined the church. Many more have begun studying its teachings. My philosophy is to sow seeds wherever they fall, and then from the fertile soil, fruit will grow. I certainly have the capability to reach millions of people through this medium, if people care to read what I write. A rising tide raises all boats. What the world needs most at this time is a clear sense of God's will for our age, and the power to fulfill it. The Unification Church teachings are strongly altruistic, transcending the denominationalism of past traditions, attempting to bring diverse groups into unity and harmony with God at the center through elevating the spiritual standard of everyone, and through intermarriage between racial, religious and ethnic groups. We need to establish a worldwide family ideal. That is the Kingdom of God.
It is difficult to assess the impact of what I am posting on the Net, but it must be a positive impact, in my view. Our numbers have not increased significantly to date, to my knowledge, as a direct result of it. However, I see my role as providing mass education to the public with regard to authentic expression of religion and the desire to serve God. Much of the discourse which passes for religion on the
Internet is merely bickering over inconsequential things under the guise of religion. I maintain respect for my audience and my questioners, no matter how abusive they become, and that does happen.
5. Do you follow-up on people that request info. and by what means do you go about doing this?
I follow up with e-mail, or a response on Usenet if that is how they contacted me, or put them in touch with someone else. My audience is worldwide, so I cannot physically attend to everyone. I was interviewed over the phone last year by a newspaper reporter in Montreal for my postings of Rev. Moon's teachings in French on the French speaking newsgroups.
6. How many people have accessed you page and other Unification Church's pages since its inception?
Since I started the Unification Home Page on March 1, 1995, my estimate is that 500 items per day on average have been downloaded. So, in one year, perhaps 180,000 items have been downloaded. I have no way of translating that into a number of people. Maybe in the ballpark of 30,000 people. For some reason, I have an unusually large amount of traffic from people in large corporations and universities in Japan, though I only have a few items in Japanese. If you look at the access statistics on my web page, you will see that my audience is from almost every country on the globe.
7. Do you keep records on people who tap into the Unification Church pages and your personal one? If so, what kind of records do you keep?
I kept e-mail from people who contacted me, but then I wiped out my hard disk by accident and lost much of it. I keep a running FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section on my web page which consists of my answers to many people's questions and comments.
8. Besides the e-mail address, how can people gather more information and further explore the Unification Church?
They can go to the Unification Home Page on the World Wide Web at:
They can contact a church in the USA through one of the churches listed in:
In other countries, I have contacts all over the world and can put people in touch with local churches upon request. Soon, there are to be Web pages for churches representing every major language group in Europe. I currently have web pages in 9 languages.
To sign up for my mailing lists:
Send "subscribe unification-texts your name" to firstname.lastname@example.org Send "subscribe world-scripture your name" to email@example.com
I send out one or two items of Rev. Moon's teachings on the unification-texts mailing list daily. Then I send out one article from the World Scripture daily on the world-scripture mailing list. These are both send-only lists. Both of these lists are cross posted to the Usenet newsgroup alt.religion.unification and some other newsgroups. I frequently respond to e-mail and if people have good questions, as you do, I post my response publicly, with the name removed, like Dear Abby. If the question was on a public forum, I make the response public too.
9. Is there any other existing forum that the Unification Church advertises on that reaches as many people as the Internet?
Not that I know of. We have newspapers which have global reach, but they are secular newspapers. Our network of churches worldwide reaches virtually every country on the globe, but the Internet can reach places that are restricted to human travel due to totalitarian governments, or whatever reason. Also, these web pages are the work of about a dozen people at most. It is a very efficient use of manpower. Rev. and Mrs. Moon have conducted several worldwide speaking tours in the recent years reaching a worldwide audience and the highest levels of society. In a recent tour of South America, Rev. Moon met with 8 heads of state on his tour. We also have many international organizations which reach significant leaders, who then in turn can influence their countries.
10. Are there any restrictions placed on what you can and cannot put on the Home Pages. If so, what are some of them?
There are some restrictions regarding sensitive diplomatic negotiations that we are undertaking in various trouble spots in the world, such as North Korea, but those are self-imposed.
11. How do you personally feel about the Internet and its effectiveness in portraying the Unification Church as well as the number of people who joined as a result of it?
I think that my ministry on the Internet has brought many people to know about the Unification Church who previously knew nothing or very little about it. That is especially gratifying to me and I am proud of it. Even my detractors in many cases have come to respect me because of the way I responded to their hostile questions and accusations. More than that, before, most publicly available information about the Unification Church cast us in a very negative light, as some kind of cult or fringe group. Now, if you do an Internet search for "Unification Church" or "Sun Myung Moon", you will get a great deal of information originating from the Unification Church itself rather than its detractors.
People need to know that the Unification Church is a world wide movement of intelligent men and women and their children who are dedicated to an unusual degree to the creation of God's Kingdom on the Earth, and to the elimination of ignorance, disease, hunger, poverty, and exploitation worldwide, and to the liberation of God from worrying about saving His children, to enjoying His life with us.
The day is surely coming when we can all say that God has wiped the tears from their eyes and the dwelling of God is now with men and women. It will take place with God's power, but with our own hands!
In case you did not know, Unificationists believe that Rev. Moon and his wife fulfill the biblical prophecy of the second coming of Christ. The true role of Christ is as the True Parents of all mankind, as the male and female representatives of God on Earth. Now is the time for the vanquishing of evil on the Earth and the establishment of God's reign on Earth, forever. Through God's representatives, the True Parents, all mankind will be unified as one family, with God as the head and heart. We can be adopted into their family through the Blessing in marriage. Rev. and Mrs. Moon will officiate over the wedding of 3.6 million couples in Washington DC and broadcast worldwide by satellite in November 1997.
I am sorry about the many questions and would be grateful for any information you could give me because I am not having much luck in retrieving it in other places. I thank you for your time and look forward to hearing from you.
Hey, I LOVE to talk, in case you hadn't guessed.
Sincerely, Jenise L. Jacques
Sincerely, Damian Anderson +1-301-921-0082 Home firstname.lastname@example.org DamianAndr@aol.com Unification Home Page http://www.cais.com/unification - Web pages in English, French, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, ... and more, 13 languages and counting. See daily articles on alt.religion.unification, or to receive by e- mail, Send "subscribe unification-texts your name" to email@example.com Send "subscribe world-scripture your name" to firstname.lastname@example.org
PS. Note that since this article was written, there was another confirmed entrant to the Unification family as a result of this Unificationist Internet ministry, a professor in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and two more former members, through this ministry, came back to the church, one in Hawaii, the other in Australia.
Also, since this article was written, I was hired at the Systems and Advanced Technology Group at America Online. I am working on applications of artificial intelligence, telecommuting from my home in Maryland.
If you go to my web page, you will see that it contains information in 13 languages, and it has received the Magellan 4 Star Award for excellence. The next addition may be Hebrew. I also want to write web pages in Russian, Arabic, so that through the Internet, we can reach all the corners of the world, where we can teach 5 billion people using this mass medium that God has raised up for our use to proclaim the message of True Parents.
You may also be interested in the book "God on the Internet" by Mark A. Kellner, IDG Books Worldwide, Foster City, CA, 1996. It contains a two page section on the Unification Home Page.
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