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Moon brings message to N.O.

Church head talks on race, sexuality

03/27/01

By Bruce Nolan
Staff writer/The Times-Picayune

It was billed as an evening to break down barriers between races and religions, and much of the talk was aimed in that direction. But the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification church, also led an occasionally bewildered audience Monday night through a Bible study that explored elements of his theology with more references to male and female sexual anatomy than are usually found in lectures about the Garden of

Eden.

The occasion was Moon's one-day journey through New Orleans, the latest stop on the last half of his breakneck 50-city "We Will Stand" tour that had him in Mobile, Ala., Saturday night and will take him to Cheyenne, Wyo., today.

Local clergy, including state Rep. Leonard Lucas, D-New Orleans, promoted the evening as an effort "to bring the body of Christ together," Lucas said.

Speaking through an interpreter, Moon, 81, told the audience his study of the Bible convinced him that differences in skin color were merely superficial and that the human family is the engine that will reform the world with love.

Neither sentiment is unusual, but the audience fell uncomfortably silent, broken only by a few nervous twitters, when several times Moon explained his evidence for the divine plan for families in graphic terms centered on male and female sex organs.

In Unification belief, Adam and Eve sinned and were expelled from Eden before they could rear a God-centered family, and Jesus Christ did not complete his work on earth, as most Christians believe, because he did not marry and establish an archetypal family.

Moon, who has called himself the "third Adam," believes that his mission is to preach the pre-eminence of the family in order to bring

the kingdom of God to earth.

Sex outside the family, or homosexual sex, "go against the ideal of God's creation," he said. Even more: "Women who have the ability to have children and avoid having children deliberately are bound to hell," he said.

Moreover, the sin that drove Adam and Eve out of Eden was a sexual sin between Lucifer and Eve, an encounter that, in Moon's description, began with descriptions of sexual stirrings that seemed to make many in the audience uncomfortable.

Moon also preached themes of global reconciliation and humanity as the family of God, provoking applause from

the audience as it found itself on more familiar terrain.

Unification church members spread their invitations all over the city, but the fact that the audience was largely African- American is evidence that racial reconciliation is still needed in New Orleans, said Clopha Deshotel, an administrator at the University of Bridgeport, in Bridgeport, Conn., a school in which the Unification church has made a sizable financial investment.

"Look, I heard the same things about Rev. Moon everybody else has, and believe me, if I didn't think he was a man of God, I'd be the first to denounce him," Lucas said. He said he

learned about Moon and his movement's agenda for reconciliation at a Unification conference in Washington, D.C.

The promise of an evening centered on such talk was enough to bring the Rev. Hadley Edwards and several members of his Bethany United Methodist Church to the ballroom.

"There's so much division in the world, the church needs to stand up for unity and be a stabilizing force," he said before the speech.

Before he began, Moon asked the audience's indulgence if he should wander off-point, an acknowledgment of his age.

"I don't think anyone has come here and given such a shocking or strange talk" he said.

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