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Moon to speak at SeaTac

Tour: 'We Will Stand' event promotes religious harmony, racial reconciliation

03/06/2001

Steve Maynard; The News Tribune

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, will speak in SeaTac Friday as part of a nationwide tour to promote racial reconciliation, religious harmony and renewed families.

The SeaTac event is the 13th stop for the nationwide "We Will Stand!" tour during which Moon will speak in 50 states and the District of Columbia in 51 days.

Moon, 81, is traveling with an entourage of interfaith religious leaders and each event attracts local religious and civic leaders, said Walter Lowe, local spokesman for the Unification Church.

The church now officially goes by the name Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. It is cosponsoring the tour with the American Clergy Leadership Conference, a nationwide organization of an estimated 5,000 Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and other religious leaders.

The theme for the tour is: "Come Together, America: Rebuild the Family, Restore the Community, Renew the Nation and World."

"The purpose of the tour is not theology," said Phillip Schanker, media coordinator for the "We Will Stand!" tour. "We're not standing on Rev. Moon's or anyone else's doctrine. The purpose of the tour is unite the leadership of the faith community beyond race and denomination around the theme of family," Schanker said.

The tour has drawn crowds of 3,500 in The Bronx, New York, and 3,000 in Newark, N.J., Lowe said. Large numbers of African American ministers are taking part, he said, and organizers are planning for as many as 2,500 people in SeaTac. The tour started Feb. 25 in New York and will end April 16 in Washington, D.C.

Friday's program will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Seattle Airport Hilton and Conference Center, 17620 Pacific Highway South, SeaTac. A reception will be from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 206-527-0959 or log on to www.wewillstand.org.

The Unification Church, founded by Moon in Seoul in 1954, has about 45,000 members in the United States, including 500 in the Seattle-Tacoma area. The church holds weekly services in Ballard and has sponsored a small service in Korean in Tacoma. Worldwide, the Unification Church claims from 3 million to 4 million members in 190 countries.

In 1984, Moon was convicted of federal tax evasion and served a year in a U.S. prison. His imprisonment brought Moon support from other religious leaders, who believed he was victimized by government intrusion into religion.

Moon's last public speaking appearance in the Puget Sound area took place in September 1995 in Seattle. In a message at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel, Moon said he had overcome persecution and claimed he was resolving many of the world's political and moral problems. He also referred to himself as the Messiah.

Moon's Unification Church is known for its mass wedding ceremonies. In the 1970s, when Moon came to the United States from Korea, his followers were known then for aggressively recruiting new members. Critics called church members "Moonies" and some branded the movement a cult.

In the past decade, Moon has focused less on building a denomination and more on programs revolving around the theme of families.

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* Staff writer Steve Maynard covers religion, ethics and values. Reach him at 253-597-8647 or steve.maynard@mail.tribnet.com.

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