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April 17, 2001

Rev. Moon urges clergy to tout marriage
By Larry Witham

     The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, culminating a speaking tour of 52 cities in as many days, last night urged clergy here to teach that marriage and family are obligations for every believer.
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     "The divorce rate of around 50 percent is completely obliterating the sanctity of the family," Rev. Moon, 81, said in an address to more than 2,000 people at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.
     At a news conference earlier yesterday, several of the estimated 400 clergy gathered for the event lauded the South Korean religious leader´s efforts to unite the races.
     In his talk last night, Rev. Moon said, "The fact that black people, white people and yellow people married couples is among the most significant factors in accomplishing God´s will.
     But he challenged the ministers to live exemplary lives and be bolder in teaching premarital chastity and marital fidelity.
     "From now on, ministers should be able to preach about adultery from the pulpit," he said. "Don´t be shy."
     He also said Americans´ tendency to avoid having children is a sign of growing selfishness in the culture. "I´m sure that you are not pleased by my statements," he said at several points in the talk.
     The "We Will Stand" speaking tour, which began Feb. 25 in the Bronx, N.Y., has drawn an estimated 100,000 listeners nationwide. Organizers say the crowds including a total of 12,000 supportive clergy at events that met primarily at large city churches.
     An arrangement to convene at Metropolitan Baptist Church in the District fell through, organizers said, but the church choir showed support for the event by performing last night at the hotel ballroom.
     Officials have described the tour as a "substantial interfaith movement," and news reports around the country typically have noted it for drawing support from blacks and Asians in inner cities. The events have emphasized racial reconciliation and traditional sexual morality, the reports said.
     "We´ve come to praise the Lord," said the Rev. Walter Fauntroy, master of ceremonies for last night´s event, which included a trumpet performance by Phil Driscoll. "We stand together to rebuild the family."
     Earlier, several of the clergy explained why they risked the controversy by working closely with Rev. Moon, whose teachings vary from orthodox Christianity on several points.
     "I am in the habit of supporting positive action to deal with serious problems in our country," Mr. Fauntroy said of his ecumenism.
     "For me this is not a doctrinal thing, but it is the working of God´s spirit," said the Rev. Jesse Edwards, a white Pentecostal minister from Philadelphia. "Every problem and solution in America stems from the family."
     At the end of Rev. Moon´s speech, the clergy signed a Declaration of Inter-Dependence to promote faith, moral purity and racial harmony in America. Organizers said they would return to the 50 states to promote church revivals around these issues.
     Best known as founder of the Unification Church in 1954, Rev. Moon more recently established the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification as an interfaith umbrella group.
     In last night´s speech, he said one reason to ease human suffering is to ease God´s grief as well. "I came to realize that God is not sitting in the throne of glory and honor, but is a God of suffering as a result of fall," he said.
     Several younger clergy had joined Rev. Moon on the exhausting travel schedule and remarked at his energy.
     "He´s 81 now, but he doesn´t know it; he thinks he is 18," said the Rev. Michael Jenkins, a Chicago minister and president of the Family Federation.
     Literature for the event says thatthe exhaustive evangelistic effort in every state is aimed "to make a last stand for America," where Rev. Moon held his first speaking tour in 1971.
     His message typically has been about society´s moral breakdown and failure of churches to influence young people, church officials said.
     Rev. Moon speaks today in West Virginia and in Vermont to complete the tour.

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