Rev. Sun Myung Moon both credited America for saving his life during the Korean War, and maintained a belief that one of the reasons he was spared was to awaken America to its God-given destiny.
“We must fufill the important mission that God has given to America,” he wrote in his autobiography, “As a Global Peace-Loving Citizen.” “The situation [in America] cannot continue as it is now. There needs to be a new Reformation,” he wrote.
“Rev. Moon loved America because it symbolized God’s hope for the whole world … it was a glimpse of what could be possible when all peoples came together, recognizing they are one family under one God,” Neil Salonen, president of University of Bridgeport and former president of the Unification Church of America, said Monday.
“Even though [America] was a work in progress, it had the power to inspire all other nations, he added.
Rev. Moon, who died Monday at age 92, became one of the most endearing — and polarizing figures — in America.
America’s unique birth and destiny under God was an enduring theme of his ministry.
In October 1973, speaking to an audience at Washington's Constitution Hall, Rev. Moon praised the character of the Pilgrims, who risked their lives to pursue religious freedom in the New World.
“It really inspires me to learn about the store of grain in the hold of the Mayflower which [the settlers] would not touch, even though they were starving to death,” he said. “They preserved this grain for planting the next spring. This was truly a supreme example of sacrifice.”
Years later, he wrote in his autobiography that while enduring similar starvation in prison, he forced himself to give away half of his meager rice ration to other inmates, thereby conquering the dispiriting effect of hunger.
After arriving in 1971 with his family, Rev. Moon spent his first five years barnstorming the country with a series of speeches — addressing seven major cities in 1972, followed by separate “Day of Hope” speaking tours in 21 cities in 1973 and 32 cities the following year.
His speeches carried such titles as “God’s hope for America,” and “America and God’s will,” and he urged listeners to rediscover the religious roots of the nation’s forebears. He introduced the ideology of “Godism” — a firm conviction in God’s providential guidance — to counteract the effects of atheism.
In 1976, the Korean evangelist said that the nation’s bicentennial was meant to signal Americans that it was time to fulfill their nation’s divine mission. He held rallies at New York's Yankee Stadium in June, gathering 45,000, and at the Washington Monument in September, where he told 300,000 in attendance: “I not only respect America but truly love this nation. I respect and love her as a great nation, as a godly nation, and as the central nation in God’s Providence. She is now at the threshold of her third century. She must not disappoint God. Today let us pledge to God Almighty that we shall do His will. We shall never let Him down.”
However, Rev. Moon’s warnings and exhortations frequently provoked American audiences — his movement of young people was publicly derided as a cult, his theology was denounced as heretical, and his efforts to combat atheistic communism irritated certain world powers and their allies.
Before long, U.S. critics called for government intervention, leading to investigations of the Unification Church by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service, and a 1978 congressional inquiry led by Rep. Donald Fraser, Minnesota Democrat.
In 1981, Rev. Moon and a church leader were indicted on 13 counts of tax fraud, including not paying $7,300 taxes on $160,000 of church funds kept in a bank account under the church founder’s name. This trial led to a guilty verdict, a federal prison sentence of 18 months, fine of $25,000 and frequent description as an “ex-felon.”
But upon his release in August 1985, at age 65, he was welcomed by a rally and banquet with 1,700 supporters and clergy, including the Rev. Joseph Lowery and the Rev. Jerry Falwell.View Entire Story
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Frank Perley is senior editor for opinion. Joining the newspaper at its inception in 1982, he served as a reporter covering Fairfax County, Va., and Prince George’s County, Md., and as an assistant editor for the national news desk. For the past 18 years, he served on the staff for opinion, where he has written articles, editorials and book reviews. ...
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