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Moon stresses importance of family

Unification Church founder speaks to crowd of 500 at revival service; 40 protest event

of the Journal Sentinel staff
Last Updated: April 4, 2001

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon looked younger than 81 as the global religious leader preached passionately, gestured forcefully, and joked playfully Wednesday night before about 500 people in the Crystal Ballroom of the Hilton Milwaukee City Center.

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon stops here on his 51-city tour. Photo/David Joles
Photo/David Joles
The Rev. Sun Myung Moon stops here on his 51-city tour.

Speaking through an interpreter in his native Korean, Moon stressed to the multiracial audience what has evolved as the central theme in his melding of personal revelation and traditional Christianity - the importance of the family.

"I am absolutely convinced the world God wanted to see after the creation of Adam and Eve, is that - regardless of color - he wanted to see the Kingdom of God on Earth, which is everybody, brothers and sisters, belonging to one gigantic family under God. That's what we have to build, in the last days again."

The crowd - at least half of which was Asian or white, and the rest black - applauded vigorously.

Moon, who founded the Unification Church in 1954 and came to live in the United States in 1971, was the keynote speaker at a revival service that was part of a nationwide "We Will Stand!" tour of interfaith pastors. The efforts' stated goal was to rebuild families, restore communities and renew the nation.

Milwaukee was the 38th city on the 51-city, 50-state tour that has been running all but one day since Feb. 25. Aimed mainly at African-American communities, each revival stop includes preaching by several local and out-of-state pastors from various Christian denominations.

Several of those pastors spoke in Milwaukee on Wednesday, giving support for Moon's goals without criticizing his theology. But about 40 other lay people and pastors who see Moon as a false prophet demonstrated with placards in front of the hotel before the 6 p.m. event began.

Bob Miller of South Milwaukee, who held a sign that read "Moon go back to Korea!," said Moon's teachings were against God's word and Scripture. Others held signs bearing slogans such as "Moon wants your pastor" and "Moon says Satan repented?"

"Reverend Moon claims he is the Messiah, and that's totally contrary to Scripture," said the Rev. Bobbie Minor of Brown Deer, who operates a day care center in his home for women being moved off of welfare.

That claim was contested later in a hotel news conference by other pastors, including the Rev. George Augustus Stallings, archbishop and founder of Emani Temple African-American Catholic Congregation in Washington, D.C., which is not part of the Roman Catholic Church.

"We are convinced that he (Moon) is God's anointed servant, that he is a messiah," said Stallings. "There's nothing wrong with that, he isn't the Messiah," Stallings added as he explained that "messiah" in Hebrew simply means "anointed one."

The Rev. Michael Jenkins, North American president of Moon's Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, noted that Wednesday was the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

People threw stones at King because of his controversial message, Jenkins said, adding, "We do believe that all of the prophets of God have been misunderstood."

Moon's and his theology are indeed controversial. He teaches, among other things, that Jesus appeared him when he was a teen in Korea and asked him to complete the mission that Jesus was unable to finish because the Jewish people did not accept Jesus.

Moon, saying that he and his wife are the "True Parents" - successors to Adam and Eve and free from original sin - preaches that people need to be married to get to heaven and that they need to be blessed in his lineage so that they, too, are free of original sin. Moon at first conducted mass weddings of interracial couples, and later extended that authority to many other ministers.

His church was founded as the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity - condensed to the Unification Church in popular reference.

But partly because other denominations rejected him, he shifted his focus from strictly denominational unity to family unity and formed the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. Calling it the Family Church, he teaches that people can belong to the federation without joining his church.

"Believe me, I have been teaching the words of God throughout my entire life because I came to know God and the spirit world a long time ago, so I am an expert about God and the spirit world," he told the crowd Wednesday.

"Therefore I have to be absolutely honest with any audience I speak to as a religious leader, as a man of God. That is why many people labeled me. Because of my frankness, people called me heretic and this and that . . . But (God's truth) is being revealed.

"God has been patiently waiting for his fallen children to be restored. That's why in the last days, God wishes to see the True Families come out and lay a foundation so that the entire humanity can eventually be restored."

Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on April 5, 2001.

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