An Oriental Moon is rising in the Occidental sky.

It’s the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, a Korean evangelist who has been gaining national attention through his pro-Nixon rallies and blitzing the United States with four-day “Day of Hope” conferences to spread his one-world, one-religion faith.

Moon heads the Unification Church (formally the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity). He is beginning another lecture circuit of thirty-two cities this month, and full-page ads in major newspapers herald his coming.

On the surface of his growing movement (he claims two million followers and members worldwide, 10,000 in the United States), the message is obey Puritan morals, fight Communism, unite behind the nation’s President, and believe Bible fundamentals. But those drawn to hotel ballroom banquets and Day of Hope sermons—and those who seriously inquire about membership—find a strange, unorthodox theology and austere regimentation suggestive of the militaristic Children of God sect.

A few Unification Church beliefs and practices:

• Moon is a modern-day John the Baptist preparing the way for the “third Adam”—the “Lord of the Advent.” Some followers are convinced Moon himself is that Christ.

• Communication with the dead is practiced. Moon has sat in several séances, including one in 1964 with Arthur Ford, the late Bishop James Pike’s favorite medium. Ford predicted great things for Moon.

• Marriage is essential to salvation because the coming Christ will marry and the union will typify the perfect family relationship. On the other hand, divorce is recognized, and Unification Church couples may find church discipline so stringent that their marriages do not survive. Those that do survive are “resolemnized” through a Unification rite. “Couples who married before they joined the church will want to do this,” said Neil A. Salonen, 28, a one-time Cornell student and business manager of a Washington, D. C., psychiatric hospital who is now president of the American wing of Moon’s church.

• The Holy Spirit is the “feminine” element of the Trinity and bears a special affinity with Eve. The coming Christ (who will have been born in Korea by 1980) is the male element of the Trinity; the perfect union of male and female elements of the Godhead will occur when the Messiah marries. (Those who accept Moon as the Christ believe that his second marriage—his first wife left him after ten years—fulfills this.)

• Jesus of Nazareth accomplished man’s spiritual salvation. But since Jesus was crucified before he could marry, he (the second Adam) couldn’t finish man’s physical salvation, thus regaining what the first Adam and Eve lost in the garden Fall.

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Moon must approve each marriage within the church. Matrimony-minded members submit up to five names of possible partners, and leaders pair “candidates” for Moon’s final nod. He personally performs all weddings—en masse.

The number has been increasing according to a progression with special symbolism. The last mass wedding involved 793 couples (the church publishes 777 as the figure because of that number’s significance, however) in Seoul, Korea, in 1970. U. S. president Salonen says the next group wedding will be soon, probably in America.

Most Unification Church members are in their 20s and 30s. Many live in the church’s centers scattered in about 120 U. S. cities. Members devote much time to fund-raising. They are often on the streets from dawn to dusk hawking anything from peanuts to flowers for “donations.”

Teaching and doctrine are based on Moon’s 536-page Divine Principles, which, he says, came to him through revelation and meditation over the years. The black-covered volume assumes the authority that The Book of Mormon and Science and Health do in the Mormon and Christian Science faiths.

When a young mother (who recently quit the sect) and her husband joined the church in the Midwest, they were told to split up, she said. The husband (still a member) was sent to a church commune in the Pacific Northwest. Their children were placed in a church-operated nursery and taught that Mr. and Mrs. Moon were now their true parents, the ex-member told a reporter.

Insiders also confirmed that the heads of the Omaha, Nebraska, and Boise, Idaho, centers are husband and wife, but that they have lived separately for seven years—since they first joined the church.

Church officials contend that there is too much emphasis on sex today. Consequently, all newlyweds must abstain from relations for forty days. While Salonen denies that families are forcibly split up, he acknowledges that all couples married before joining the church must undergo a period of separation and “live as sister and brother,” often for six months or more.

Young members appear completely sold on the church, and gladly share their possessions, living frugally (a former member said $60 every two weeks was the total food allowance for fifteen persons in a Midwestern commune). They speak of a personal relationship to Jesus Christ. Many attend various institutional churches on Sunday, seeing this as a way of spreading Moon’s teachings of religious unity and the belief that America has a special role in saving the world.

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The latter belief stems from Moon’s assertion that the United States, under the divinely ordained leadership of President Nixon, can bring other nations to God—if the United States itself repents of moral wrong. Unification Church followers gathered at the December White House Christmas-tree lighting ceremony to back Nixon, and on the day of the National Prayer Breakfast (see February 15 issue, page 52), 1,000 rallied in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House. Moon himself somehow got into the by-invitation-only breakfast, causing a stir among members of the sponsoring committee. Meanwhile, 2,000 Japanese followers demonstrated at the U. S. embassy in Tokyo in support of Nixon.

Although Moon has been drawing crowds of only 300 to 500 at Day of Hope crusades in major cities, he hopes for a bigger response on the upcoming junket, which will take him to all states. (During Moon’s recent visit to Berkeley, members of the Christian World Liberation Front handed out leaflets labeling him a false prophet and leader of “his own messianic personality cult.” Most of the Christian groups on the University of California campus jointly sponsored a full-page anti-Moon ad in the campus daily. As word spreads, Moon may increasingly find himself the target of such counter moves by Christians on his future forays.)

An aide was asked at the Los Angeles conference last month (Moon himself has granted no interviews since the beginning of the circuit in New York) why Moon spends so much time in the United States when only a small fraction of his membership is here. “So much of the world’s power and strength is in America,” she said. “The United States has the ability to serve other countries and unify them.”

The Moon family lives in a thirty-five-room stone mansion near Barry-town, New York—when Moon and his attractive wife aren’t on tour. And an interviewer was left with the impression that America’s affluence rather than influence may have something to do with the Unification Church’s concentration of efforts here. The sect owns an $800,000 training center in Tarry-town, New York, owns 225 acres near Barrytown, and leases national headquarters in Washington, D. C. The Freedom Leadership Foundation, a related organization set up to “capture positive values of society” and combat Communism, is also located there. There are about 120 communal centers around the country, a number of them palatial residences in expensive neighborhoods.

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A sore point with Moonites is the widely circulated statement that Moon is worth $15 million. This is untrue, they say: he personally owns very little. But church-related business assets may approach that figure—a tea company, titanium production, pharmaceuticals, air rifles, retreat ranches, and the New World Home Cleaning Service, among others.

Moon was born to Christian parents in Korea in 1920. He and his businesses thrived—as did his religion—after he was released from Communist imprisonment during the Korean War (see October 12, 1973, issue, page 67). He founded the church twenty years ago after he was ousted by Presbyterians, in part for his involvement in Pentecostal activities.

Moon and his chief associates deny that he teaches that he is the Korean Christ, or “third Adam.” But in timing and characteristics the new saviour described in Moon’s Divine Principles bears a striking similarity to the 54-year-old evangelist.

Is Moon that Christ? “It is entirely possible God could ordain him to that function,” replied Salonen when pressed. “It will be for God and history to say.”

African Evangelicals: Contextualizing Theology

The drive for a “Black Theology” is partly a reaction to racism, particularly in the United States and South Africa, commented Dr. Byang H. Kato, general secretary of the Association of Evangelicals of Africa and Madagascar (AEAM). He was speaking at an Evangelical African Theological Consultation held at Igbaja Seminary, Nigeria, in late January. Representing four theological seminaries and several Bible colleges and institutions, delegates to the consultation went on to reject the concept of an African theology but called for research to contextualize biblical theology in Africa.

Nationalistic pressures to revert to traditional religions and to syncretize the Christian faith were referred to in papers by Dr. John A. Laoye of the Department of Religion at Ife University and Dr. Emmanuel A. Dahunsi of the Baptist Seminary in Ogbomosho, both in Nigeria. Delegates were reminded of developments in neighboring Chad Republic, where Christians in some areas are being forced to undergo pagan initiation rites in the cause of national patriotism. “It will become increasingly difficult for evangelicals as liberal theology gains strength, appealing to a sense of tradition and patriotism,” warned Kato. “We must be African Christians, but we must not depart from the verities of Scripture, as understood by evangelicals.”

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The consultation was one of a series (so far others have been held in Ivory Coast and Kenya) in preparation for presenting an evangelical African viewpoint on theology at the International Congress on World Evangelization.

A committee was also selected to pursue recognition and accreditation of evangelical theological schools.


‘The Exorcist’: Just Acting

For a junior high school student newly turned 15, it was quite a birthday present: the award as best supporting actress for her role as the demon-possessed child in the controversial movie The Exorcist, her first film appearance. The honor was bestowed on Linda Blair by the Foreign Press Association in its annual Golden Globe awards presentation in Hollywood in January. (Part of the controversy over the film concerns Miss Blair’s age. Some critics, citing the obscenities and other scenes, charge the producers with corrupting the morals of a minor.)

On her way back home to Westport, Connecticut, a young man on the plane recognized Miss Blair, handed her a Christian tract, and asked her to read it. A few days later in an interview in her Westport home with CHRISTIANITY TODAY editorial associate Cheryl Forbes, Miss Blair said she could remember only vaguely that the tract was an appeal to turn to God. But she went on to express her own religious beliefs and her views about her part in the movie.

Meanwhile, Linda’s mother, Elaine Blair, briefed Miss Forbes on the family’s religious background. Mrs. Blair said she was raised in a “strict” Methodist home (her mother is an ardent supporter of evangelists Kathryn Kuhlman and Billy Graham), the children were baptized in a Presbyterian church, and the family’s membership is now in the Saugatuck Congregational Church outside Westport, a United Church of Christ congregation.

The following are edited excerpts of the interview:

Question. Linda, how were you selected for “The Exorcist”?

Answer. My agent contacted the casting director, who sent me to William Blatty, author of the novel, and Bill Friedkin, the film’s director. I read the original novel, auditioned, and got the part.

Q. What did you think of the book?

A. I liked it. It didn’t scare me. But I did wonder how they were going to film certain things.

Q. What about you, Mrs. Blair?

A. All the parents of those being auditioned were required to read the book. I thought it was a strong book, though some of the language surprised me. I just accepted the story as that of a sick child. After the director explained how the film would be made, I knew Linda wouldn’t be exploited.

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Q. What kind of orientation did you receive, Linda?

A. None, other than to read the book.

Q. What about the priests on the set?

A. They were present to make sure the demon possession was done realistically. They didn’t advise or counsel me, as some reports stated.

Q. Before you accepted the job did you discuss it with your minister?

A. No. And since the film has been released there’s been no reaction on his part or on the part of the congregation.

Q. “Newsweek” stated that you are active in your church.

A. That’s not exactly true. I attend confirmation class on Tuesday evenings. It started in September and will end at Easter. We don’t attend church regularly because my horse shows take me out of town on weekends so much.

Q. What exactly are your beliefs about God and Christianity, then?

A. I believe God is real and that I can talk to him. I do talk to him, and I believe he hears and answers my prayers. And I believe Jesus was God’s son and that he died and was resurrected. Some of my friends think it’s a little strange that I believe that. Maybe that’s what makes me a little bit different. Most of the kids at school think Christianity is a myth. But this is one area where I’m one-minded and won’t take someone else’s opinion.

Q. Why do you think God sent his son to earth?

A. Well, he came to earth to help people because it was kind of going bad. He wanted to tell people that God is real. He came to heal, to help the poor, to try to change sinners. And then God let his son die so people could see [the love] and the good they [were rejecting].

Q. Do you read the Bible?

A. I want to, but haven’t started to yet. I got a booklet from confirmation class telling how to read the Bible, and when I was little I had a Bible story book that I read over and over again.

Q. “Newsweek” said you didn’t believe in demons. Is that true?

A. No. I do believe in demons, but I’m not sure that I believe in the devil. Maybe I do, but I’m not sure that he would be the one to possess a person.

Q. Did your role in “The Exorcist” affect you or your beliefs in any way?

A. No, except that I never had any thoughts about the devil before; now I know a little more. As for me personally, I’m no different from before. My friends can see that.

Q. Do you think the film might be harmful, especially to young people?

A. That all depends on the person maybe, but I don’t think it is—unless the person already has a mental problem. I liked the movie a lot. When I look at movies I’m watching people who are acting. Kids who see The Exorcist for the most part see it as a movie, [not as something real], so they come out a lot better than adults. I’ve heard rumors about people who can’t sleep afterward, but I’ve never met any.

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Q. What about the reports of terrified teen-agers who come out of the theater believing they are possessed? Some are hospitalized.

A. I hadn’t heard about them.

Exorcism In The Pulpit

The Exorcist continued to attract long waiting lines outside theaters across America last month. It was also attracting wide pulpit interest.

For the most part clergy advice seems to be, “It’s a bad show; stay away.” But for different reasons. Among other things, theological liberals are upset that the film assumes the reality of supernatural evil beings. (The Christian Century objected because evil “is not an entity that occupies space.”) Evangelicals dislike the spoken obscenities and other aspects.

Evangelist Billy Graham calls the movie “a sort of spiritual pornography” that panders to man’s superstition and his fascination with the supernatural. He’s worried about the psychological fallout it may cause, but he concedes the film may have some value if it serves to warn anyone “thoughtlessly involved in satanic phenomena” or if it leads someone to a confrontation with Christ.

In the Chicago suburb of Oakbrook, Pastor Arthur De Kruyter of the 2,200-member independent evangelical Christ Church joined 42,000 others who saw the movie one week, then advertised he would preach on it. An overflow crowd heard him pan it (“there’s nothing entertaining or educational about it”). He decried the inability to handle evil and guilt as portrayed in the film, and he pointed to biblical Christianity as the authoritative answer. The sermon got him feature coverage in the Chicago Tribune and an invitation to speak at a local high school. A repeat of the sermon three weeks later drew another large audience.

In Minneapolis the show is the talk of the town—and of his church’s high school group, says Pastor H. Bruce Chapman of the First Evangelical Free Church. Although he hasn’t seen the movie, he’s opposed to it (“I don’t have to experience evil to preach about evil”). Relatedly, he is concerned about a school board plan to introduce a course on the occult to junior high school pupils. The course, he says, comes complete with ouija boards (in the film a ouija board provides the initial contact between the girl and the demon), witches as guest speakers, and séances for the students. Chapman is spearheading opposition to the proposed course.

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In spot checks no pastor reported that people had come seeking counsel after seeing the film. (Some psychiatrists predict there will be an upsurge in the number of persons who believe they are demon possessed.) However, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, California, reports fifty new converts in its congregation of 10,000 as a result of leaflets passed out among crowds after the show is over.

The novel and screenplay, both written by William Peter Blatty, are based on a 1949 case involving a 14-year-old Maryland boy (see February 1 issue, page 16, and February 15 issue, page 48). The story of that exorcism was initially broken by Washington Star-News reporter Jeremiah O’Leary, who lived a few blocks from the boy in the District of Columbia suburbs. O’Leary, a Catholic, withheld the boy’s name then, and he refuses to tell it now. (The subject is today a married man with three children, still lives in the area, and reportedly has no memories of the period when he was undergoing exorcism.) Several of the Catholic priests involved in the original exorcism are known to both O’Leary and Newsweek religion writer Kenneth Woodward (also a Catholic), but both decline to name them (Woodward resisted pressure from his editors to do so in his recent cover story on exorcism), mainly out of respect for the priests’ right to privacy and their clerical vows not to discuss the incident.


South Korea: Punishing The Preachers

Church-state relations in South Korea took a turn for the worse last month when six Protestant clergymen were sentenced to long prison terms for allegedly criticizing the nation’s constitution. The constitution, imposed by martial law in 1972, makes President Park Chung Hee a virtual dictator. To stem mounting protests, Park suspended certain freedoms guaranteed under the old constitution, and he warned in January that political dissent would be dealt with severely (see February 1 issue, page 40).

Four of the clerics were sentenced by a special court martial panel to fifteen years in prison. They are Methodists Kim Nyung Nak of the ecumenical Urban-Industrial Mission and Presbyterian evangelists Kim Chin Hong, Lee Hae Hak, and Lee Kyu Sang. Two Presbyterians received ten-year terms: Im Myung Jin, also of the ecumenical mission, and Park Yoon Soo, evangelist at Seoul’s Changhyun Presbyterian Church. It remains to be seen whether the action sparks a national protest movement within the churches.

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Land Of The Free

Civil and political freedoms are denied 1.6 billion people in sixty-four nations and nine dependencies—43 per cent of the world’s population, according to a survey by Freedom House in New York City. In the most repressive countries, religious freedom is also severely curtailed, and in some nations, clergymen who speak up for freedom are in recrimination deprived of it altogether.

The annual survey named the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China as the most repressive nations. Countries were rated on a score of one to seven in each of two freedom categories, civil and political. The “freest” countries got the lowest score; the Soviet Union scored 6–6, and China 7–7. The United States, “much of Western Europe,” Canada, Argentina, Australia, Botswania, Dominican Republic, India, Israel, Lebanon, Malaysia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), Trinidad, and Venezuela were all rated 1-1.

But South Africa and Rhodesia intensified their “police state apparatus to maintain a rigid caste society” last year, said Freedom House, assigning 4–5 and 6–5 scores respectively. And, it said, Chile was “almost destroyed” by former president Salvadore Allende, though that did not justify the “severity” of the military coup and its “repressive aftermath.”

In all, only 44 of the 155 nations surveyed were rated free, while another 43 were listed as “partly free.”

In many of those countries experiencing repression and lack of freedoms, commented a Religious News Service columnist, churches—sometimes in the nation, other times outside—helped the fight against repression. For example, Protestant, Catholic, and Buddhist leaders in South Korea have been publicly protesting government repression. In the Philippines, the Catholic Church has reportedly become a center of resistance to President Ferdinand Marcos’s one-man martial-law rule (the Philippines got a 5–5 score from Freedom House.)

Meanwhile, a United Methodist Church executive who recently visited Cuba described that nation as a “controlled” but “not unfree” society. L. M. McCoy, executive secretary of the church’s Latin America division, said Cubans participate in government at many levels. They take part in setting salaries and discussing “mistakes and changes” in the revolution since 1959, he said, adding that while the Church as such does not participate in the Cuban “historical process,” individual Christians do—“for the betterment of the social conditions.” Cuba today is far from being a perfect society, he acknowledged, describing it instead as “a revolution in creation.”

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The Pows: Faith Tested

When American military prisoners began returning from North Vietnamese prisons one year ago, they brought with them tales of torture, poor food, and inadequate medical attention. Many of them also brought back stories of newfound faith in God, secret Morse code exchanges of half-remembered Bible verses, and clandestine church services. Despite difficult family and social readjustments over the past year, most of the new believers have apparently experienced a strengthening of faith.

“If anything, I find my faith growing, and I try never to take it for granted,” said Navy captain Eugene “Red” McDaniel, shot down in 1967 and a prisoner for more than seventy months—during thirty-five of which he was listed as missing in action (MIA). While a prisoner he served as one of several unofficial chaplains to the other prisoners. Telling his story to church, high school, and civic-club audiences, he recounts lost years of suffering with no medical treatment for his injuries (crushed vertebrae and compound fractures). That he walked out in “nearly perfect health” is a miracle attributable only to God, he tells audiences. McDaniel’s story was featured recently on “Religious America,” a prime-time TV series over the Public Broadcasting network. Now that he’s home, he says, he still makes a conscious effort “never to forget those hard times and what Christ meant to me.”

His thoughts are echoed by other former POWs, including another named McDaniel (not a relative). Air Force major Norman A. McDaniel told Decision magazine recently that Christ was in his Vietnamese cell. “The concept I had of Christ in that prison is the same that I have today,” he said. “He is a comforter, he is a friend, he is a saviour.”

For Navy commander Howard E. Rutledge, now based in San Diego, the past year has been an opportunity to acquaint himself with the Christ he found in Hanoi (see April 13, 1973, issue, page 49). Shot down in 1965 and a prisoner for “seven years, two months, fifteen days, and I forget how many hours,” he scoffs at suggestions that the POWs’ ardor for their newfound faith might wane. “I’m pretty sure that won’t be the case. We’ve been changed.”

Rutledge is one of the more visible ex-POWs. A book and a film, both entitled In the Presence of Mine Enemies, have made him a much-in-demand speaker.

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But the activity and exuberance shown by former POWs shouldn’t fool anyone, says former astronaut Colonel James B. Irwin. “There are still difficulties and readjustments for them.” Irwin’s Colorado-based evangelistic association, High Flight, sponsored counseling retreats for POWs and MIA families last summer (see August 31, 1973, issue, page 41). All of the former prisoners attending the retreats (there were nearly fifty) came back from captivity with “a deeper relationship with God,” Irwin confirmed. Nevertheless, counselors found many problems, chief among them being the returned prisoners’ need to forge new relationships with their families. “They must renegotiate their roles as husbands and fathers,” said Irwin. And it’s here that the Church can help, he pointed out.

The main effort of both churches and individual Christians should be to show concern without being pushy, said High Flight’s vice-president, L. H. “Rocky” Forshey. One thing the retreats showed was that few “took the time to understand” the POW-MIA problems. “We’ve got to help them without overpowering them,” said Forshey. The best approach, he explained, is to express concern and willingness to help the individual or family involved “and then leave the rest up to them.”

A San Diego-based military POW study center has detected difficulties in family readjustments but no discernible trend. Within seven months of their release, however, fifty of the 300-plus Air Force POWs either had become divorced or were in the final stages of doing so. (The center points out that some divorces were granted before the release and that others were the result of pre-captivity marital troubles.)

MIA families face special problems, say High Flight officials. Resentment—sometimes deeply hidden—at those POWs who returned, plus guilt feelings among some POWs because they survived when others didn’t, were among the problems that surfaced at the High Flight retreats. MIA families have been “hanging in limbo for a long time,” and they deserve a better accounting than they’ve had, says Rutledge. Privately, he doubts that any American military prisoners remain in North Viet Nam. (More than 1,200 are unaccounted for.) The families “need our compassion, help, and prayers,” Rutledge added. Red McDaniel pointed to the support given his family by his Baptist church in Virginia Beach, Virginia, as an example of how churches can help MIA families. For one thing, he said, the church made sure his three children were included in all activities.

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For many of the returned POWs, the year has meant a return to active duty. Many are in colleges and universities upgrading their education for further military service (none is known to have resigned to enter a theological school). Red McDanield is back flying Navy fighters but has a semi-official status with High Flight, which calls on him for speaking engagements. Rutledge is pursuing a graduate course in human behavior prior to taking a shore command. Among other ex-POWs recounting spiritual experiences, Air Force colonel J. Robinson Risner, an Assemblies of God member and one of the senior spiritual leaders in the camps, was recently promoted to general. He, too, has written a book based on his experiences.

All things considered, the faith that emerged from the “Hanoi Hilton” and other prison camps seems to be an enduring one.



In protest against the World Council of Churches’ financial support of African liberationists or so-called freedom fighters, the Church of England parish of Shipley withheld $23 from its diocesan quota. The congregation asked that the money be sent instead to a mission working behind the Iron Curtain. In light of an official view that Christians persecuted in Bulgaria are not helped by protests from outside, and that their trust is in God, Shipley’s vicar Brandon Jackson marvels: “The oppressed in South Africa need outside help; those in Eastern Europe trust in God.”

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