Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on May 30, 1976 · Page 109
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 109

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 30, 1976
Page 109
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Page 109 article text (OCR)

tween 2 and 3 million followers in 100 countries, .principally Japan and South Korea, ifs the United States that has really turned out to be a money machine for him. "In 1975," reports Nefi Salonen, 31, president of the American branch of the Unification Church, "we received nearly $12 million in cash at our national headquarters in New York City. But the total collected all over the country was much larger." Moon and his movement have purchased $30 million worth of property in Tarrytown/ N.Y., near the Hudson River, not to mention real estate in more than 100 cities and in every state. Minimum total value is put at $50 million. To acquire his 22-acre Belvedere estate in Tarrytown, Moon plunked down $850,000 in cash. He-also paid $625,000 for a mansion in nearby Irvington, N.Y., where he lives with his fourth wife and their eight children. The cult also owns a 254-acre estate and seminary in Barrytown, N.Y., about 50 miles north of Tarrytown, which is said to be worth $15 million. The seminary is Unofficial world headquarters for the Unification Church, whose spiritual home remains in Seoul, the South Korean capital. Moon also is the proprietor, of two seagoing yachts and a Manhattan town house. His wealth .has helped create a high-powered propaganda machine that would turn a Presidential candidate green, with envy. . . . A numbing regimen According.,to those who have managed to break loose from the cult, it has also created near prison-like conditions for the true believers. Moonies live in homes rented or purchased by the Unification Church. According to Salonen, there are at least six "training" or "residential" centers in each state,-some with just a few members and others with up to 100. Members are ordered to refrain from alcohol and sex. Men and women are separated in the living quarters and even close friendships are discouraged. Former members of the cult insist that they never got more than five .hours of sleep a night. Moonies, they report, are kept busy with a regimen of exercise, group discussion, lectures, songs and prayers, games like tag and, of course, long-stretches of recruiting and peddling in the outside world. Beneath an exterior of cheerfulness, they are often tired, hungry and even numb, . performing their tasks with only the thought that they are "saving the world for God and Moon" to keep them going. The typical Moonie The typical Moon disciple in the U.S. is a man or a woman, average age 23, from a white, upper-middle-class family. Many are college students disenchanted with American life. Most are carried away by the initial workshop experience, and then find that they're /a/me Sheeran in her room at a Moon " seminary. She's one of three daughters of New Jersey Insurance Commissioner lames Sheeran who won't quit the cult. being put through increasingly lengthy training sessions. "We'd get letters every week or so," says Mrs. George Swope of Port Chester, N.Y., referring to the time when her : 19-year-old daughter suddenly dropped out of college after one of the cult's weekends. "She wrote how 'happy 7 she was but that she couldn't come home. And she never did come home either, until we got her out." Her daughter, Winnie, left after six months, but only after being "rescued" by Ted Patrick, 45, the best-known practitioner of "deprogramming"--a rigorous technique of talking it out. Patrick is nicknamed "Black Lightning" by the Moon followers, both for the color of his skin and for his swift appearance in their lives. He claims to have "rescued" more than 1000 members of various cults, all of which, he says, use some sort of "brainwashing." In a recent book called Let Our Children Co, Patrick accuses the Unification group of "brainwashing" methods like those used in the Korean war, "when many of our prisoners were subjected to intensive political indoctrination." Virtually all former Moonies say that they were "programmed" to think and behave in a certain manner. "My daughter said that she and others would be willing to do anything for Moon," says Mrs: Swope, "because he really represents God to those in the cult" "They completely ripped off my mind and my free will," says Denise Peskin, 21 of Plainview, N.Y. "I was a robot for Moon. My mind was empty. It was just a reflector of everything they told me." 'Eyes out of focus' Denise says that she worked in San Francisco selling flowers and recruiting new members on the streets. "We were told to say anything to get money," she reports. "I pushed flowers for 'youth educational guidance' and did very well. I also got 50 recruits.". One of Moon's most ardent foes, Rabbi Maurice Davis of White Plains, N.Y., says he and a group of 900 concerned families have helped at least 95 Moonies out of the cult. "At first," he says, "the kids have their eyes out of focus, with plastic smiles on their faces. There's a total lade of genuine emotion. One boy saw me and actually shriveled into a comer in stark terror. He said the cult had told him I was the Devil. I kept talking to him, trying to get him to think for himself again. He said, 'Moon is fighting for my soul and so are you. How do I know where the truth is?' I told him, 'Moon wants you to stay in his organization. I want you out in the world, free.' When he finally snapped out of it, he broke into tears and said, 'Just tell me one thing--where have I been?' It was frightening." Meanwhile, thousands of Moonies . work unbelievably long hours soliciting funds and peddling candy, peanuts, flowers and the like, on street comers and in parking lots. Former members say they lost all track of time and that Sens. James Buckley and Robert Dole listen while distraught parents whose children have joined Moon's Unification Church ask for a federal investigation of (he cult. they collected no less than $100 a day. Since April, 1973, Moon has had a permanent residency visa from U.S. immigration, even though questions have been raised about his past. He has been accused of holding sex orgies as part of his rites. A spokesman for him in Seoul says: "It is true that Teacher Moon was tried on morals charges, but he was eventually acquitted." 'God loves Nixon' In 1973, during the Watergate crisis, Moon launched a huge campaign in support of President Nixon. He marshaled 1000 Moonies into rallies and marches with signs proclaiming "God Loves Nixon." At a White House meeting, the pudgy cult leader embraced the then President. One of the few public responses to Moon by a prominent politician has come from .Sen. Mark Hatfield (R., Qreg.), who said in 1974, "The appeal to nationalism of any country, as if somehow God has favorites among his creatures, is very, very dangerous, particularly when you mix that with the cultic adulation and devotion of his followers and the implicit, if not the explicit, statement that he [Moon] is the new Christ." Hatfield's warning is' echoed even more strongly by - ex-Moonies who charge, that Moon is really seeking world political power and is assembling an army of young zealots ready, to die for him. PARADE interviewed a former high- ranking member of Moon's cult in the United States who had been in charge of its "political arm" called, the Freedom Leadership Foundation. Alan Tate Wood, 29, now a psychology student at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said that he left Moon's group "because ifs not a church, but a fascist political movement. His group is the most powerful analogue to the Hitler youth that we have at this time." The parents act Last February, more than 300 parents of Moon disciples from 30 states converged on Washington for a meeting arranged by Sen. Robert Dole {R., Kan.). They met with representatives of the Internal Revenue Service, the Labor Department, the Postal Service, immigration authorities and others in hopes of persuading federal officials to investigate the Unification cult. So far, however, there has been little action by the government. An IRS spokesman, Leon Levine, told PARADE that investigation of Moon's group as a tax-exempt organization poses a touchy, perhaps crucial problem: "The law says that churches are tax-exempt. The question is, when does a group qualify as a religion? It's not easy to answer." Meanwhile, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon goes right on holding meetings, making converts, acquiring property · and preparing for his own version of Armageddon.

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