The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA.)
March 19, 2001, Monday METRO EDITION
SECTION: News; Pg. 9-B;S

Chief of Moonies stops in Jackson on U.S. tour

JACKSON, Miss. - The Rev. Sun Myung Moon brought his message of racial unification and mixed marriage to the Bible Belt, where he found himself on the defensive before a large crowd.

I have been the object of scrutiny for years, said the 81-year-old leader of the Unification Church, whose followers are often referred to as Moonies.

I carry no animosity. Jesus Christ forgave his tormentors. Some of the more than 700 people in the Jackson audience Saturday said they were uncomfortable when the Korean evangelist spoke of the love organs of men and women while praising fidelity and rejecting illicit sex and divorce.

I love much of what the Rev. Moon says about dismantling the forces of bigotry and hate, said John Hancock, pastor of Calvary Apostolic Church in McComb, who brought friends and family to hear Moon. But that does not convince me of the validity of his religious beliefs.

Moon, on a national speaking tour, said he wants America to get back to family values and attempt racial reconciliation.

A farmer's son, Moon was born in what is now North Korea in 1920. He founded the Unification Church in 1954.

Moon's ideal theme is to unify all races and nationalities by mixed marriages. In 1982, Moon married 2,075 couples at a mass wedding in New York's Madison Square Garden.

For whatever theologic faults he has, the man has a tremendous persona, Hancock said.