OAKLAND -- A controversial religious leader
who was once accused of running a cult is expected to
draw 1,000 to 1,500 people to an interdenominational,
family values revival Monday.
The "We Will Stand! 2001 Banquet and Revival,"
featuring the Rev. Sun Myung Moon -- a self-described
prophet and messiah -- as the main speaker, is set to
begin at 6 p.m. Monday at the Oakland Convention Center.
It will be attended by an interracial group of
ministers, activist Mary Ann "Mother" Wright, Nation of
Islam leader Keith Muhammad, and a number of pastors
from local Church of God in Christ and Missionary
Baptist churches, said spokesman Bento Leal.
Oakland is one stop on a 50-state revival tour,
sponsored by the American Clergy Leadership Conference.
The tour is intended to unite the faith community to
"stand against the moral decline of America," organizers
said, and to promote racial reconciliation and religious
Moon has been controversial for his religious
operations in this country for more than 30 years.
In 1972, Moon follo-wers set up a headquarters in
each of the 48 contiguous states. In the intervening
years, Moon's movement has faced accusations of
brainwashing, and attempts at deprogramming by angry
parents that sparked suits and counter-suits.
Moon's movement is also known for its mass weddings,
and arranged marriages between followers who may never
have met each other.
Leal, the son of an East Bay Teamster, was among
those deprogrammed who then later returned to the group.
"That caused some trouble with the family for a while
and they still don't like the church, but they love my
wife and three kids," he said.
According to newspaper files, Leal sued his parents
to protest the deprogramming attempt.
Some members of the local faith community are
supportive of Moon's event while others are skeptical.
"If the Lord allows, I will be there," said Wright,
know for her local efforts to feed the poor. "... they
are just trying to bring all the ministers together.
That's all I know about it."
Leal said the group notified at least 1,000 churches
in the East Bay of the visit. But a spokesperson for
Allen Temple Baptist Church, the largest church in
Oakland, said they were unaware of the revival and their
pastor, the Rev. Dr. J. Alfred Smith, would not be
Moon's tour has generated support from some
nationally known religious leaders, especially strong
conservatives. Rev. Jerry Falwell was among the speakers
at the national inauguration of the tour in New York
City. The tour has been described as the next step to
support family values following the Million Family
March. Moon's Family Federation for World Peace was a
major co-sponsor of that march. Now the Nation of Islam
is supporting the "We Will Stand" tour.
The fact that Baptists, Church of God in Christ
clergy, Pentecostals and representatives of the Nation
of Islam are participating in a joint venture with Moon
is a remarkable triumph of shared vision over specific
religious differences, religious experts say. The
official teaching of Moon's Unification Church includes
ideas that would surprise most Christians and Moslems.
According to the church's official website --
www.unification.org -- Moon and his wife, Hak Ja
Han, are "the first couple to have the complete blessing
of God and to bring forth children with no original
sin." Official church teaching gives Moon's wife the
official title "Bride of the Messiah."
According to the website, in 1992, Moon declared that
he and his wife are the "true parents of all humanity."
Through the years, detractors have claimed that
Moon's followers would solicit on behalf of known
charities and then turn the money over to Moon. In 1978,
Project Volunteer, an East Bay food charity run by the
Unification Church, was expelled from the charitable
food distribution network of Northern California for
allegedly giving up to one-half of the food it collected
to Moon's followers before distributing the rest to
Moon served time for federal income tax evasion in
1981. When he was released from prison, Falwell called
for his pardon.
His supporters believe Moon is controversial in part
because he is a successful international business man as
well as a religious leader. However, his detractors say
it is not always clear where the business ends and the
religion begins. His American assets have included
newspapers and significant New York real estate.
Tickets to the revival, which includes a dinner, are
$20. Reservations can be made by calling Roberta Burson