Korean prophet-evangelist Sun Myung Moon wants very much to capture the attention—and affection—of the American people. Since his arrival in the United States in late 1971 to promote his Unification Church and its doctrine of a latter-day messiah, the 57-year-old Moon has spoken in scores of cities and staged several media-oriented extravaganzas, including a much-publicized rally last month at the foot of the Washington Monument in the nation’s capital.

Attendance at these rallies has fallen short of expectations, however, and much of the attention and news coverage Moon covets has turned out to be negative. Reporters, government investigators, religious leaders, and irate parents of “Moonies” have been delving deeply into his background and beliefs as well as the current dealings of the Unification Church. Serious questions have been raised, and a number of them are still unanswered, partly because Moon and his aides don’t want to talk about them.

The Moonies tried hard at the Washington rally to drown the controversy in a million-dollar media splash. Their noisy celebration was designed to show off Moon as a kindly spiritual benefactor. The rally attracted about 50,000 people, according to an estimate of the National Park Service. The chief Moon spokesman, Unification Church of America president Neil A. Salonen, told the crowd there were 200,000 present as the evening program began, however.

Moon’s message, scheduled just prior to a fireworks spectacular, lasted only thirty-seven minutes, including the consecutive translation by his aide, Bo Hi Pak. Listeners vigorously applauded and waved small flags eleven times during the speech after the interpreter finished key paragraphs.

In the address Moon positioned his church as ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: