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Saturday, April 07, 2001

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Friday, April 06, 2001

National ‘family values’ tour to bring the Rev. Moon to city

By CATHERINE CARUSO, Telegraph Staff

NASHUA – The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the controversial religious leader, is coming to the city Saturday for one of the final stops of a six-week national tour to promote “family values.”

The event will take place from 2:30 to 6 p.m. at the Marriott Hotel in Nashua, with doors opening at 1 p.m.

Moon founded the Unification Church, also known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, in Korea in the 1950s.

New Hampshire’s Unification congregation only has about 60 members, said local member Richard Buessing. Massachusetts is home to a much larger following.

This will be the first time Moon has spoken in New Hampshire since the 1970s, Buessing said. Moon stopped in Boston early last month as part of the national tour.

The 81-year-old Moon has said this will probably be his last tour in the United States.

Moon and his church have been criticized by other Christian churches for promoting Moon as a Messianic figure. Others have accused the Unification Church of cult-like practices, including brainwashing and exploitation.

Moon made headlines in the 1980s when he was convicted of income tax evasion in the United States and served about two-thirds of an 18-month sentence.

This event, titled “Stand Together: A Celebration of Faith and Family,” is being promoted by the church as an interdenominational effort. Clergy from several other Christian groups, who have worked with Moon on past interfaith projects, are traveling with the tour.

Buessing said Moon’s focus has always been on transcending differences.

He said the attention surrounding Moon, positive or negative, is helpful if “over time, people do eventually realize the good that (he does).”

Moon’s teachings regarding “family values” have been controversial, particularly those that prescribe arranged marriages and a submissive role for women in marriages.

The Unification Church teaches that humans inherited their selfish natures from Satan. Followers believe their families, formed through marriages arranged by Moon, are the first of a new line of humans who are descendants of God and will usher in a new era of peace.

But Buessing said family and moral issues are a matter of universal interest, even when people don’t agree on the details.

“He (Moon) brings together people who don’t ordinarily come together,” Buessing said.

Tickets to the event are free. Information and reservations are available by calling 437-7474.

Catherine Caruso can be reached at 594-6573.

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