The Rev. Moon to speak in Columbia
By RODDIE BURRIS Staff Writer
The 81-year-old Moon, who founded the church about 50 years ago, is expected to espouse a message of racial and denominational unity, with an emphasis on rebuilding families.
"This will basically be a revival here in Columbia that will address racial disharmony, family breakdown and the destruction of the moral fiber of this country," Keith McCarthy said.
McCarthy is a member of the American Clergy Leadership Conference, the interracial, interdenominational group that is co-sponsoring Moon's visit.
The Unification Church says its mission is to unify Christians worldwide. Its principles are based on revelations Moon says he received on Easter morning 1936, when he says Jesus appeared to him. Moon has called himself the Messiah.
Columbia will be the 47th stop on a 50-state tour of the United States..
About 120 ministers of 17 denominations are affiliated with Moon's national tour.
"All the ministers don't share Rev. Moon's religious philosophy," said Shelley Watanabe, an event spokesman, "but we feel that if religious leaders will let down the walls of denominational difference and share resources, society will be better."
The tour has received a mixed reception so far.
"We support any effort of unity and family," said Minister Earl Muhammad, a representative of the Nation of Islam's Minister Louis Farrakhan, who supports the tour. "The aim is to break down the walls of racism, and South Carolina is, in my opinion, one of the most racist states in the United States."
Muhammad said only a thin, doctrinal line divides Christianity and Islam.
Rev. Lloyd Norris, pastor emeritus and founder of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Baptist Church in Columbia, is also a supporter and an interfaith believer.
"I have an ecumenical edge that enables me to relate with people of other faiths and religions that many of my Baptist colleagues don't share," Norris said. "But the world is moving in a direction where interfaith religion is almost going to be required."
But others don't agree with Moon or his church.
"It's too controversial," said Carlisle Driggers, executive director of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
"We simply would not agree with his teachings. The approach, the theology, our understanding of the way God works, it's different."
Driggers said his organization is in favor of strong families and is not against racial harmony.
Moon's tour will end in Washington, D.C., April 16.