The Associated Press State & Local Wire
March 22, 2001, Thursday, BC cycle
Section: State and Regional

Rev. Moon speaks in Detroit as part of national tour

By BREE FOWLER, Associated Press Writer

Detroit - Shouts of Praise God! and Amen! echoed through the Little Rock Baptist Church as people of varying races and religions listened to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon talk about the need for people to come together and purge evil from American society.

The time has come for America to awaken once again, Moon, 81, said through an interpreter. It's time for the country as a whole to create a new movement to build up true parents, true families, a true country and a true world centered on God.

The founder of the Unification Church visited Detroit as part of We Will Stand, a 50-day, 50-state tour. The event drew a large number of area clergy and interested people of different faiths.

Moon started the movement in 1945 after he said Jesus Christ spoke to him.

Many who oppose Moon's ministry say it's contrary to Christian teaching. They say Moon's church promotes him as a new messiah sent by God.

But Wednesday, area clergy dismissed the controversy surrounding Moon and said it's crucial that people of all faiths unite to stop intolerance and hatred.

Rev. Mozie Lee Smith, pastor of the Huggins African Methodist Episcopal Church in Detroit said she's been a follower of Moon's for many years and supports his message.

We are all brothers and sisters, red, yellow, black and white, she said. We're all fighting the same evil that causes our children to kill each other.

Rev. George Stallings, archbishop of Washington, D.C.'s Imani Temple African American Catholic Church, said the man isn't as important as the message. Moreover, he said he likes the fact Moon is controversial because it draws attention to the movement.

It's time to tear down the walls of denomination and race, he said. And link us together and restore our cities.

The Unification Church, based in South Korea, has been reviled by some mainstream religious groups as a cult. It claims 50,000 members in the United States and 3 million across the world.

Victoria Edwards, a high school student from Grosse Pointe Park and a member of the Unification Church, said she liked the message of Moon's speech.

I think it was good to see all of the different kinds of people come together, she said.