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March 10, 2001

The Rev. Moon to speak on religious harmony, race, family

By Charlotte Graham
Clarion-Ledger Staff Writer

The controversial founder of the Unification Church is coming to Jackson next week.

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon will be in Jackson on Saturday to promote religious harmony, racial reconciliation and family renewal. The visit is stop No. 21 of a 50-state tour called "We Will Stand!"

Moon will speak at the Jackson Hilton & Convention Center, 1001 E. County Line Road at 4:30 p.m. The event is free.

"We are expecting people from across the state, as well as from some of the surrounding states," says the Rev. Jean Baptiste Kasongo of Stone Mountain, Ga., the organization's vice regional director. "The tour encourages people of all faiths to unite to rebuild the family, restore the community and renew the nation."

The tour involves local and national clergy from a variety of faiths.

Among those scheduled to visit the state, along with Moon and his wife, Hak Ja Han, are the Revs. Jesse Edwards of Philadelphia, Pa., T. L. Barrett and Hycel Taylor of Chicago, Donald Olson of Hawaii and Wiley Drake of Buena Park, Calif.

Local clergy supporting the tour are Archbishop Amzie Cotton, pastor of Greater True Vine Full Gospel Church in Jackson, and Bishop Roberta Porter, pastor of Wings of Faith Church of Deliverance Inc. in Jackson.

Don Malin, executive director of Watchman Fellowship Inc. of Jackson, a cult-awareness organization, cautions Mississippi clergy and laity.

"I'm concerned that he is going to manipulate all of the attention he's getting to gain credibility in the Christian community," says Malin. "The Bible teaches us to be aware of wolves in sheep's clothing. We are to run from them, stay away!"

Malin says Moon wants people to believe he is a Christian, but he's not. "He doesn't say it openly, but if you check out his Web site and other literature they have, you can see that he claims to be the Messiah. "In no way does Rev. Moon teach Christian doctrine."

Cotton says Malin is wrong. "I fought against Rev. Moon for 15 years, basically because of what I've heard others say about him. I decided to go and hear what he had to say and I discovered that he is saying some of the same things God has given me.

"He is trying to unite us as a people to God. He wants us to work together to build racial reconciliation and stronger families and communities."

Porter says she supports Moon and his efforts because "what he's doing is good for America. He is working hard to keep our families together, and the beautiful thing about it all is that he is doing it in the name of the Lord."

Moon, 81, a Korean evangelist, first arrived in the United States in 1971, promoting the church he had founded.

The Holy Spirit Association for Unification of World Christianity has been in Jackson since 1974. There is a small group of followers in Jackson and other sections of the state.

Often called "Moonies," nationwide followers were objects of fear and ridicule by many who considered the church a cult. Today the church, officially known as the "Family Federation for World Peace and Unification," is working in 190 countries, with about 50,000 members in the United States.

The group owns The Washington Times, one of three church-owned newspapers in the country. The others are the Christian Science Monitor and the Deseret News, owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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