Saturday, March 3, 2001
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Rev. Moon visits North Philadelphia

by Ron Goldwyn , Daily News Staff Writer
Daily News Staff Writer

 The Rev. Sun Myung Moon's speaking style - in Korean, at length, with odd theories about race and color - has drawn millions of followers worldwide who consider him a messiah.

Last night Moon, in a rare local appearance, dispensed his own brand of Christianity for two hours at a nearly full Pentecostal church in North Philadelphia. He handed out gold watches to witnessing clergy, but performed no marriages.

Moon, 81, is on a 50-state tour called "We Will Stand America." He last appeared in Philadelphia in 1995, just after marrying 30,000 couples in a stadium in his native Korea.

He spoke several times of his "persecution" by the U.S. government, which jailed him 18 months in the mid-1980s for tax evasion. He tied the government's campaign to his theme that the United States is in moral decay.

His words were translated by an aide at an adjoining pulpit at Christian Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, 22nd and Clearfield streets. At times, Moon read long passages of a speech he delivered 13 months ago, while the translator rapidly read the English version printed in last night's program.

But Moon rambled repeatedly, smiling and pounding the lectern, raising his voice to a shout.

"By opposing Rev. Moon, what has America gotten? . . .Because they didn't receive the truth of Rev. Moon, that is why America has declined in many ways," the translator said.

"The truth I am sharing with you tonight is the ultimate truth, directly from God.. . .

"The only way Christianity can prosper today is to accept the message from Rev. Moon."

The audience of 700 to 800 was diverse, with whites, blacks, Asian-Americans, a few Hispanics, and dozens of Moon followers from out of town.

"The real beauty comes from your inner self, not just your skin color," Moon said, it "is nothing to be proud of, it is natural color."

To explain why "some Caucasians have blue eyes," he told how polar bears are always scanning the ocean, "that is why their eyes become blue."

Asians, he said, have hard lives working the soil. "Their skin color gradually became ground color, brown, yellow," he said, rubbing his face.

Black people, he said, rested in the shade in the tropics but "they still had to deal with the sun, so they became black to protect themselves.

Bishop R. T. Jones Jr., Christian Tabernacle's pastor, preached briefly and sat near Moon, but later made it clear his church wasn't a sponsor.

Jones said he was approached by "a mutual acquaintance in New York" and agreed to offer the church. He didn't charge rent but said Moon donated "a nice amount."

Jones said he agreed with some of Moon's ideas about family values, morality and racial healing, but "theologically, we have some differences."

The American Leadership Conference, one of many organizations Moon operates, sponsored an afternoon forum on faith-based initiatives. Moon didn't take part.

Speakers included former Mayor W. Wilson Goode, now a Baptist minister. Goode says he disagrees with Moon but welcomes a chance to talk about religious-based community programs.

Adding more acceptance to Moon's visit were proclamations from Gov. Ridge and Mayor Street.

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