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Local & State News

Published Tuesday, March 13, 2001, in the San Jose Mercury News

Rev. Moon delivers message in Oakland

Family values was the main theme of the 81-year-old Unification Church leader at his first Bay Area appearance in five years.

BY MATTHAI CHAKKO KURUVILA
Mercury News

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon made his first Bay Area appearance in five years Monday night in Oakland, where the controversial minister made calls for racial and religious harmony as well as for a restoration of family values.

Speaking to a crowd of about 1,500 at the Oakland Convention Center, the 81-year-old Moon spoke often about the themes of love and family. With many audience members visibly moved by his presence, Moon called upon listeners to place family as a priority.

Moon, who spoke in Korean with a translator, proclaimed that couples who have children are a true family. ``You must produce children in God's eyes to produce a family,'' Moon said.

Moon, who said God intended men and women to be together as heterosexual pairs, denounced the Bay Area's sizable gay community saying that in the region ``there are many who do not accept the pair system for human beings.''

The visit is the outgrowth of the Million Family March in October, at which Moon, the leader of the Unification Church, and Louis Farrakhan, the controversial leader of the Nation of Islam, called for a day of ``atonement, reconciliation and responsibility.''

Moon's visit to the Bay Area invokes nearly identical themes, but it comes at a time when the Unification Church is increasingly aligning itself with other religious groups. Along with members of the Nation of Islam, Monday night's rally attracted a bevy of local ministers, particularly those in black churches.

``I think a lot of religions have generated a lot of controversy,'' said the Rev. Jesse Edwards, who is touring with Moon's group in his role with the Pentecostals of Philadelphia. ``What we're getting together for is to make a stand regardless of controversy.''

Edwards and the other organizers of the tour believe that racism and the disintegration of traditional two-parent families have contributed to a moral decline in the country. The group also believes that families headed by gay parents are immoral.

Edwards said the group's call for racial reconciliation was not undermined by its association with Farrakhan, who has long been criticized for his statements against Jews.

Farrakhan has described Jews as being ``bloodsuckers'' and as having organized the slave trade.

``We don't care about our doctrinal differences,'' Edwards said. ``The one thing that we agree on is rebuilding families.''

The Rev. Connie Crawford Bansa, pastor of the Church of the Living God, said that Moon and Farrakhan have been unfairly portrayed in the media at the expense of the greater mission of the group's tour.

``What's important is that this is a gathering of many faiths,'' said Bansa, who believes that she, like Moon, is a prophet of God. ``It's about bringing together the Muslims, the Jews, and . . . that we must join together and be one in the spirit of God and restructure this whole nation's moral structure and bring the family together.''


Mercury News wire services contributed to this report. Contact Matthai Chakko Kuruvila at mkuruvila@sjmercury.com or (510) 790-7316.

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