Moon visits Sioux Falls to urge focus on family
BY KEVIN DOBBS
The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the controversial 81-year-old Korean
minister who founded the Unification Church, came to Sioux Falls on
Sunday as part of a 50-state tour designed to save the world from
"We have to restore God's love, life and
lineage," Moon shouted while flailing his arms near the close of an
often animated presentation.
Speaking through an interpreter
to an audience of about 400 invited religious leaders and supporters
from across the nation at the Sioux Falls Convention Center, Moon
spoke of soaring divorce rates that have fractured the lives of
children who lack guidance and left an ethically confused society in
He said fidelity and a commitment to lasting
marriages are essential in rebuilding healthy communities. And he
added, while decrying racism and economic disparity, the best way to
spread the message across a country as vast and diverse as the
United States was to join forces with leaders from various faiths,
races and cultures.
Moon's tour began in February in New
York and wound its way through Minnesota and North Dakota before
making South Dakota the 49th stop on the trek. It is scheduled to
wrap up with a conference this week in Washington, D.C.
Along the way, event organizers said Moon has garnered the
support of some 12,000 pastors and religious leaders of myriad
denominations, from pentecostal ministers to the Nation of Islam.
"He's bringing a message of hope," said David Payer, a Des
Moines businessman who came to Sioux Falls to see Moon. "The message
is one of coming together, transcending racial and denominational
barriers for the sake of families."
Moon pleaded for
husbands to be more attentive to their wives, for married couples to
thwart temptation and remain faithful, for parents to prioritize
children over their own interests.
His words were often met
with rounds of applause and cheers of reassurance.
got to bring Mom and Dad back into the family, bring purity back to
our children," said the Rev. James Gavin of Family Federation for
World Peace and Unification in Minneapolis. He has toured with Moon
across the Midwest. "This is about a spiritual movement that will
bring people back to where God wants them to be."
support was uniform for the demonstrative speaker inside the
convention hall, Moon has been roundly criticized over the years for
Moon, who founded the Unification Church in
Korea in 1954, moved to the United States in the early 1970s and
brought with him the organization widely referred to as the
"Moonies." The church is now officially called the Family Federation
for World Peace and Unification.
The church has been
compared to a cult and critics have accused it of brainwashing its
members in the name of building Moon's own financial empire. He
currently oversees an array of businesses in the nation's capital,
including the Washington Times newspaper.
views of morality have long been called excessively rigid and
On Sunday, for instance, he spoke out against
career-minded women and homosexuals, saying childless couples are
among society's greatest weaknesses.
"When I hear young
American wives deliberately try to stay away from having children
because of the burdens, do you think they deserve to go to heaven?
Or someplace else?... Woman is born for the sake of her children and
her husband," he said.
"A wife should submit to her husband,
as she does to the Lord," he added later, referencing the Bible.
"The woman is born for the sake of receiving the seed of life. That
is the purpose."
In opposition to gay and lesbian
lifestyles, his words were more subtle but still potent.
repeatedly emphasizing the importance of bearing children, he said,
"Man alone cannot produce. He needs a wife. ... Lineage is the most
important factor to continuing God's plan."
while acknowledging that Moon has widespread criticism, many
religious leaders in attendance said it was Moon's fundamental
message of strengthening American families that drew them to the
"He is not bringing us down, but calling us up,
asking us to open our eyes and ears, to look at and hear what is
happening," said Bishop Johnson, who oversees a group of
pentecostal churches in Kentucky. "His is an important message that
Reach reporter Kevin Dobbs at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 977-3924.