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Unification is Moon's message
ANCHORAGE: Religious leader touts family, racial and religious harmony.

By Eric Burkett
Anchorage Daily News

(Published April 13, 2001)

With the help of some surprisingly bawdy stories and a lot of laughs, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon told a large audience Thursday night that faithfulness in marriage is vital if the family is to survive.

Who should be on top, the Korean minister asked through an interpreter. It was not a question the audience appeared to expect, but Moon raised it to illustrate a greater point. Sex and sexuality are parts of God's plan for creating families, the fulfillment of humanity's purpose on Earth.

Strong families built on fidelity as well as chastity before marriage are among the cornerstones to a healthy society, he said. Many of society's broader problems, then, are rooted in the failure of American culture to support one of its key institutions, marriage, Moon says.

Moon is the often controversial 81-year-old leader of the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, better known as the Unification Church. He was in Anchorage on Day 47 of his 50-state, 51-day national tour, titled "We Will Stand."

Speaking to more than 400 people at the Hotel Captain Cook, Moon addressed a purposely multiracial, multidenominational audience. Almost everyone there was an invited guest at the event rather than a member of the church, according to the Rev. Gail Paine, a Unification minister from Anchorage.

Nationally, the tour has been endorsed by leaders from many different denominations and religions. Despite the past controversies surrounding Moon and the Unification Church, most people have preferred to concentrate on Moon's efforts to create a multiracial ecumenical effort described as "family renewal, racial reconciliation, religious harmony."

The evening's agenda included a reconciliation ceremony between white and Native Alaskans. Marty Swanson, who was attacked in the recent paint ball shootings targeted at Native Alaskans, appeared in the program and endorsed the event in a commercial that ran for several days on Anchorage television stations.

In the church's early days, critics accused Unificationists of brainwashing their youthful members. Those accusations have largely dissipated, but the church still has many critics. They weren't in evidence in the ballroom of the Captain Cook, however.

Support for this tour has come from groups as diverse as the Nation of Islam, the Church of God in Christ, and the Rev. Billy McCormack, a founder of the Christian Coalition. Locally, Moon found a great deal of support as well.

The Revs. Elgin Jones and William Green turned up at the Thursday event to welcome the Rev. Moon. Jones is the founder and director of Kids' Kitchen in Anchorage. Green is the pastor at Eagle River Missionary Baptist Church.

The Rev. Michael Jenkins of Chicago, a Unification pastor, read greetings to Moon from a number of Alaska politicians and a proclamation from Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles declaring Thursday to be We Will Stand Day.

Atz Kilcher of Homer performed as part of the evening's opening events. He said he didn't know much about the Unification Church before but was impressed with Moon's ability to bring so many different people together.

"It's changed my perception, or educated me more," he said.

Moon's tour began Feb. 25 in New York and is expected to wrap up Monday in Washington, D.C.

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