Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Published 3/28/2001

Protesters, local clergy absent from Moon event
By Paula Glover

Wyoming Tribune-Eagle CHEYENNE - Local ministers and protesters were both conspicuous by their absence at a carefully choreographed presentation by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon Monday evening. Although the initial announcement of Moon's appearance as part of a 50-state tour called "Stand Together America" generated controversy locally, the seats in a Little America banquet hall were primarily filled with Moon's followers and a few local curiosity-seekers. The Rev. Vic Walters was one of two local clergy on hand for the evening. Elder C.J. Brown, a Cheyenne city councilman and associate pastor of New Kingdom Church of God in Christ, was listed on promotional materials as one of the event's supporters. Brown said he came because he was invited and to hear Moon's message of unity. "I'm here to learn," he said. Walter, pastor of the Evangelical Free Church, came away from the almost-three-hour, highly amplified lecture with the decision that he had learned enough. "Moon's message should be offensive to any orthodox Christian individual who knows his theology," Walter said. He said he went because he was curious and had never heard Moon in person. He added that he had expected a general talk on family values, not the extended lesson in Moon's theology that was presented. "It was rank heresy," Walters concluded. But Moon captivated much of the audience with a combination of humor, thunderous declarations and repeated phrases like "life, love and lineage." Moon's spoken English is difficult to understand, so a translator was used, with the translation frequently overlapping Moon's declarations. But occasionally Moon used repeated English phrases to make a point. His message to support families and against racism was well-received. John Kambutu, a professor of educational studies at the Casper College center for the University of Wyoming, spoke in favor of Moon's views against racism. During his talk, Moon detailed his anti-racism views, using examples of polar bears, brown bears and black bears as representatives of the different races. He said the bears developed different colors as a reaction to the environment and were not made that way by God. Gail Ridgely, president of Wind River Community College, told the crowd that American Indians need more equality in the Equality State. But he did not directly address any of Moon's views. Although there were no protesters, two Cheyenne Police officers were on hand at the beginning of the talk, and security people provided by Moon stood along the perimeters of the room throughout the talk. John Redmond of Arvada, Colo., brought his family to Cheyenne for the talk. "Our society's social problems can be traced back to the breakdown of the family," the 20-year member of the Unification Church said. "And it is best solved by a connection to a religious entity." Redmond attributed Moon's controversy to a distrust of foreigners. Moon himself joked about brainwashing and being controversial but then linked it with a belief that anyone speaking the truth will be persecuted. "He is saying challenging things, but in America a lot of people don't know what he thinks or believes," Redmond said. "But I think he provides a way of making the races work together to restore the family."