1. Interview at North Texas State University (Summer 1985)
2. Deconstructing Extremism in 21st Century America (c. 2014)
3. Interview with Walter Evans in the Texas Metroplex (1985)
4. Moonstruck: A memoir of my life in a cult – Allen Tate Wood with Jack Vitek (1979)
5. Defectors inside story: How the nickel and dime Moonies rake in $219 million
Allen Tate Wood, author, lecturer and consultant on the cult phenomenon, interviewed at North Texas State University in the summer of 1985.
Hello I’m Tom Waldren and with me today I have Allen Tate Wood, former chief political officer and former state leader of the Unification Church, commonly known as the Moonies. He has been working to inform the public about the dangers of destructive cults since 1975. Some of the public has probably forgotten about Sun Myung Moon. Could you give us a little bit of background and explain some of his…
Allen Tate Wood: Sure, Sun Myung Moon, as far as I was instructed when I was in the Unification Church was born in 1920 in North Korea. The formal public history of the Unification Church states that he founded the Unification Church in Seoul, South Korea in 1954. In 1957, they sent missionaries to Japan, in , they sent the first missionaries to the United States and then on to Europe. What else would you like to know?
Tom Waldren: Well, now what was his secret? How did he gain so many followers? What did he do to…
ATW: Well, I would say that the basis of his power is two things: deception and service. I think that people today are deceived into joining the Unification Church – this is the rank and file members who join as people who are serious, people who believe that they have had a serious religious experience or that they have met God. But in fact they are inducted into a situation which is taking control of them. But in addition to the rank and file member who joins essentially in good faith, you have many, many fellow-travelers, or people that Mr Moon is wooing. He is trying to gain influence over them, and he woos them with service.
TW: Such as?
ATW: So, politicians for instance. Mr Moon will provide services to a politician, or he will provide backing to a candidate, or one of his front groups will provide money to a political candidate to help him carry out his campaign.
TW: Which he himself gets through donations.
ATW: Yes, the Unification Church raises money through a whole host of organizations but its principal fundraising activity in the United States is done by young converts who are on the streets 16 hours a day selling peanuts, flowers, candy, whatever. That money goes to the Unification Church headquarters and is spent on a wide variety of Unification Church projects.
TW: He claims to derive some of his ideas, his ideology, from Christianity. On the other hand he also claims he is the messiah. Now that is kind of a contradiction. How did you deal with that at the time when you were approached?
ATW: Well, of course when I was approached I wasn’t told that Mr Moon was the messiah. When I was approached I was told that I was going to be meeting some people who were involved in a religious commune, that their philosophy was essentially Christian, or Christian based. It was only after a certain amount of time that I found out they believed that Mr Moon was the messiah. Of course their teaching explains and justifies this and says that it is completely coherent and congruent with the bible. But if one goes deeply into the Unification Church you find out that in fact it is anti-Christian. It repudiates the essential tenets of Christianity.
TW: OK. Now when you discovered that there was contradiction in there, how long had you been in the cult itself?
ATW: Hmm… Well, I think that you begin imbibing contradictions as you go in, and the longer you’re in, the deeper the contradictions are. So for instance when I first me the Unification Church I was told that Mr Moon was a virgin at the age of 40 when he married his present wife. After I’d been in the church for a year or so I found out that actually there had been an earlier wife. After I’d been in for two years I found out now that there had been an earlier wife than that, and in fact in 1970 in Japan, I met Mr Moon’s eldest son, [Sung Jin Moon] who at that stage was 24 years old. So he was born in 1946. So Mr Moon was not a pure virgin in 1960 when he married his present wife. Yet when I joined the Unification Church, that was part of the doctrine. We were taught that he was a pure virgin until the age of 40, and that was part of the basis upon which I made my commitment to the church.
TW: This type of cult was common, and is actually still is around, where young people go and in a matter of hours or days they totally condemn their past life, and they become brainwashed, or however you want to put it, into another way of thinking. How much of this was true in the Moonies?
ATW: Well I think when I joined the Unification Church back in 1969 it was not very sophisticated in this country. There were perhaps 120 members spread out over seven different centers. It was very decentralized. But from the time I joined in May of ’69 until when I left in November of ’73 there was a complete transformation of the movement. It stopped being a little sort of heterogenous group and became a mass movement with one centralized training method and with very specific goals and targets. Recruiting goals, fundraising goals, political objectives, all these things became centralized. Moon came to the United States in 1971 and he had a program, he had a plan of attack, a campaign. So one of the things I would say about the Unification Church and similar destructive cult groups is that when they’re small their recruiting capacity is not very strong—so the people that they bring in are marginal. The larger the organization becomes, and the more sophisticated it becomes in its recruiting and training methods, the wider the door is for people to come in. So again, one of the things I would say about people who join such organizations is; on the one hand they join because of their individual personal psychology, that’s one of the factors that drives them in, but for me, the most powerful and overriding factor that drives people into these organizations is the psycho-technology that exists within the organization. Specifically the skill of the recruiter and trainer, and also the behavioral regime which is operating at the cult training centers. And this is an environment which is designed to pierce, to penetrate, and ultimately to overthrow the individual conscience.
TW: Was this training center type approach, was that Moon, or was that something that grew out of everybody?
ATW: I’d say it’s both. I’d say it comes out of Moon, out of his experience, out of his understanding of the world, out of his understanding of his own life. It also grows out of the teaching, which is essentially dualistic. It gives you a psychology with an adversary. For instance those of us who are inside a cult group, we are the chosen people, we are the special people, we are the remnant of God. We are the ones that God has placed his trust and faith in. Anybody who is outside of our group who is critical, they are the adversaries and they are the enemy. So Moon, like other demagogues and dictators before him, has become very adept at identifying an external enemy. For Hitler it was the Jews and the communists. For Mr Moon, it’s the communists and/or anybody who is opposed to his movement. Once you have that adversary setup then it’s much easier to control and manipulate people.
TW: So he’s saying basically that everything that is not Moon’s philosophy is wrong.
ATW: Not necessarily wrong per se. It might be OK, and it might be something that’s preparing for his philosophy. But if you’re a member of a group and you’re on the outside and you’re critical of the Unification Church, then by definition it is satanic. So for the young cult member the impact of that kind of thinking is ‘Here I am, a young Moonie, I needn’t think seriously about anybody who criticizes our movement, because I know by definition that anybody that criticizes our movement is satanically motivated, or comes from the communists.’
TW: Didn’t that strike you as a little bit illogical at the time?
ATW: Well you have to understand that when I went in to this organization, I swallowed it’s teaching whole. I took that teaching into myself, and that teaching became for me the grid with which I judged my understanding of the world and also my own personal experiences.
TW: So you in essence completely wiped out your past way of thinking?
ATW: Or I incorporated it into and under the aegis of the Unification Church’s teaching, the Divine Principle, so it became, for me, absolute knowledge, absolute truth, it became my guide. So for instance if I am interacting with somebody on the outside world, let’s say my parents or some authority, a minister, a psychologist, a lawyer, whenever they say anything contradicting the Moonie teaching, inside myself I could be saying, ‘Ah they don’t know the truth. They haven’t met the Master yet. They haven’t been initiated into the Divine Principle therefore their opinions really are not authoritative.’ So the young cult member in a sense is very inflated, is very prideful. He or she is very puffed up with the sense that they are in contact with absolute knowledge.
TW: The absolute knowledge is, as you defined it, it seems to me to be more of a sort of agreed upon ignorance really.
ATW: I think that is a lovely way of phrasing it. It is.
TW: Do you feel that way now?
ATW: Yes, I think that when one goes inside the cult group one is initiated into its rituals, its teaching, its experience, its language, its world-view and that becomes fixed and absolute. Anything which serves that image or that picture, or those goals is defined as good. By definition anything is critical of it, is satanic and wrong. So the person who goes into that system has entered a kind of never-never land in which they don’t have access to alternative sources of information. You know this notion that we have in the United States, in our political system, of the loyal opposition. Inside totalist social systems, destructive cults, you do not have any concept of a loyal opposition. There is total unity. It’s monolithic. Anybody who is opposed to the established picture of things is ejected. They are ostracized. They are thrown out. You can disagree for a while, but if you persist then you will be thrown out.
ATW: Oh, yes, very easily. Cut. You’re out.
TW: Getting back to when we were talking about Moon being the messiah, and you are not being made aware of that until later on. You talked in a lecture of an inner circle, or a protection from knowledge.
ATW: That’s right.
TW: Can you explain how that works.
ATW: Sure. I think that the Unification Church, and other totalist social systems, wind up participating in this mystique of this inner circle. Or this mystique of the, what I like to think of as the gnostic character of the organization. That word gnostic comes from the Greek word gnosis, which means knowledge. And if you study the history of the Christian church you find that, in the period of early Christianity, there were many gnostic heresies. These splinter groups off of Christianity felt that they had special revelation. That God had spoken to them specially. They had a special connection to the truth. And the idea that is most apparent in gnostic groups is this idea that you can’t be saved, you can’t get to heaven, you can’t realize the purpose of your life unless you in contact with that special secret revelation. That idea is very prominent inside the Unification Church. Also this idea of the inner circle is manifest in the Unification Church in the sense that when you hit the borders of the Unification Church, you hit one level of understanding and knowledge. If you join the church and you go in for another year, you hit another level. If you are in for two or three years you hit another level.
TW: Are they different, these levels?
ATW: It depends on you. It is like the skins [or layers] of an onion. It goes all the way and you get into the center and there is nothing inside. It is vacuous. It is empty. So an example of that would be, for me, meeting the Moonies and hearing on the surface of things that Moon was a pure virgin at the age of 40. That’s one story. After a year I hear he had an earlier wife. That’s another story. After sixteen months I hear that he’s actually had three wives. That is another story. So in effect the cult member who enters this system never really knows what the truth is. He or she always has the sense that the truth is just one level deeper into the organization. As I go deeper in, as I mount up the hierarchy, little bits of truth are dribbled down to me as a reward for performance and obedience. So in the end I’ll get in closer and closer to the circle and I’ll be hearing all kinds of dirty laundry, or facts about the organization that are unsavory. But in so far as I am participating in the mystique of the organization, I now hear that knowledge or that information as divine truth.
TW: When do you reach absolute knowledge? I was under the impression that when you join the cult, you all of a sudden were getting revelations.
ATW: Yes, you are in contact with the truth, but you find out that actually there’s more. There are hidden teachings.
TW: So it is not absolute.
ATW: No, it is not. And your point here is wonderful, because it’s leading to a kind of transformation of terms. What happens at the first as you’re told you’re going to be initiated into the absolute truth. Further down the track all the terms change, and what you find out is, is that absolute truth is not knowledge. Absolute truth is total obedience. And that that is the path to the truth and understanding. So the highest knowledge is total obedience, with a suspension of the critical faculties, with the suspension of the imagination, with a suspension of the independent functions of the conscience. So one of the men who was a Unification Church trainer and leader up at Barrytown, at the Unification Church Seminary, at a place where they had 120 day training sessions from about ’75 to ’77, he said in a speech to 120 trainees, he said many of you imagine that you can follow Master, that you can understand him, that you can follow him if you understand him. And what this guy said is, those of you who think in this way, Master cannot use you. Master wants the ones who are willing to follow even when they don’t understand it.
TW: But still have absolute knowledge. [laughs]
ATW: There is a contradiction there.
TW: Right, OK
ATW: The real disciple is the one who can follow even when he has no understanding.
TW: How did you feel about that? The whole hierarchy, the whole circles, it just seems to me to be a mass of contradictions. Why, if you have absolutely knowledge, absolute truth, did Moon put so much control over the individuals?
ATW: Well one of the things that the teaching embodies is this idea that the problem with the world has been man’s disobedience to God. And he uses a lot of Old Testament references to buttress that. He says now the project of God’s dispensation at this time in history is to re-establish obedience. And the Unification Church is at the center of that dispensation, and our job is to find people who will begin to follow Mr Moon no matter what he does. Because throughout history men have been disobedient to God. Now at this time of restoration, men have to demonstrate total, absolute, obedience to God’s representative, Mr Moon. And there are lots of stories from the Old Testament that he uses to buttress that—the story of Abraham and Isaac, the story of Noah and his sons. He also uses the New Testament to buttress this idea. But in the space of an interview, I don’t think I can make it plain to you. I think that really what is necessary is a lecture like the other night. The talk in which there is a systematic explanation—number one, of the variables that constitute a totalist social system, and number two, an exposition of the variables that are at play inside the training session. Those variables, all working together, produce a situation in which somebody leaves the world that you and I inhabit now, in which we believe in things like shooting from the hip, honesty, basic integrity, and you enter that magical world where the end justifies the means; where you have become one of the elect. You are not just a normal human being, but now you’re one of the chosen people, and you’re not just a servant of mankind, but you are one of the architects of history. And as such you have the right to lie, to cheat, to steal, to deceive, in order to accomplish the sacred mission.
TW: When was that clear? When did it become clear that that is what it came down to? I take it that’s what happened when you finally got into the inner circle. You realized this.
ATW: Yes, I began to accept the idea that it was our job to follow Mr Moon no matter where he went. In effect, since he was the messiah, he could not make a mistake.
TW: But then as you’re following, you see all the mistakes he’s making and the contradictions.
ATW: Yes, but you understand that what he’s doing is correct. And the story I would give to illustrate that is the story of Esau and Jacob. And this is the way Mr Moon explained to us how it was alright for us to deceive people either in recruiting or fundraising, and what Moon says is, take Esau and Jacob, the twin brothers in the Old Testament. Esau is the elder brother and Jacob is the younger brother. Esau’s out in the fields doing something. He comes home into the kitchen. There’s Jacob fixing some food. Esau says, ‘I’m hungry, give me some food’. Jacob says, ‘No I won’t’. Esau says, ‘Come on, I’m very hungry. Please give me some food’. Jacob says, ‘No’. Esau says, ‘Come on, give me some food’. Jacob says, ‘I’ll give it to you if you give me your birthright’. Esau, thinking it’s a joke, says, ‘Go ahead, you can have my birthright’. Later Jacob, the younger brother, puts lamb’s wool on his arms. He takes a special dish of food. He approaches his half-blind father, Isaac, and says, ‘Father, here I am, Esau your first son, please bless me’. Isaac says, ‘You don’t sound like Esau. You sound like Jacob.’ Then he touches Jacob’s arms which have lamb’s wool on them, and Esau was a hairy man. Isaac says, ‘Well, you must be Esau because you’ve got these hairy arms’. Then Isaac blesses Jacob. Jacob is very important in Old Testament history. He’s very important for Christians also. Jews pray, ‘God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob’. Out of Jacob come the twelve tribes of Israel, and ultimately Moses, King David, and Jesus. Who is Jacob? He’s a man who lied to his father and stole from his brother. Mr Moon says, I, inside the Unification Church, am the universal Jacob. Everyone who stands inside the church with me is Jacob. What’s our relationship to the outside world? They are Esau. What is our job in relationship to Esau?
TW: To deceive?
ATW: To steal the birthright from him. Every single person inside the Unification Church exists on a different moral level than anybody on the outside. People on the inside have the right to cheat and to steal. Mr Moon says, in one of his speeches, ‘God lies’.
TW: We’ve covered several of your seven aspects of your morphology of a cult. Could you go over some of the others with us?
ATW: Sure. Briefly, I use these seven points in order to provide a fresh audience with a grid to help them ask and answer for themselves the question, ‘Am I in the presence of a destructive cult? Am I in the presence of a totalist social system, or some kind of social organization that’s interested in getting a hold of people through the use of unethical influence.’ Very briefly the seven points are you have an absolute leader. This is talking about a religious cult. You would have an absolute leader who’s in direct contact with God. The cult members believe he’s on a 24 hour hotline to God. The next aspect is that he brings with him, or her, an absolute teaching. It’s not an improvement on an existing scripture, it’s the absolute truth itself, it is the final revelation from God. Then you have, what’s common to most organizations, you have a hierarchical social structure. In your destructive cult, the thing that is significant is that, in terms of the continuum from loose to rigid, in the destructive cult the hierarchy is extremely rigid. It’s very, very powerful. The fourth point is you have this adversary psychology. The cult group sees itself at war with a very powerful enemy, a ubiquitous enemy—the communists, the Jews, whoever. That tends to produce tremendous cohesion inside the group. The leader is warning everyone to purify themselves, training them to prepare themselves for the great battles, and he’s also pointing out the ever present enemy who’s attacking. The fifth point, is the ends justify the means philosophy of operation. You know, ‘where we’re going is so good that individual human beings may need to be broken or crushed on the way to getting there’. The Nazis exemplified that kind of philosophy. Our idea is more important than actual human beings. You know, so if Tom Waldren gets in our way, we may have to brush him aside, and in the end he’ll thank us for that, and history will thank us too, because his suffering will pave the way towards the kingdom of heaven, or you know, this bold new future we’re going to.
TW: Apart from deception, and some of the other under-the-table activities he might have had, what would be another way that he would brush people aside? How would he dispose of people that he didn’t…?
ATW: Well, people might devote themselves to the movement, say for 10 or 12 years. At the end of 10 or 12 years they might be burned out. They might be physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted. They would then be told to leave.
TW: Burned out?
ATW: Yes, burned out, no energy left, lethargy, just, deficient, just wiped out, and such a person would be told to leave the center. You know, ‘we can’t use you now, in order to be a part of the church you have to be active and contributing’.
TW: Did you ask to leave?
ATW: I left of my own free will, at the end of four and a half years.
TW: Did you encounter any hostility in that?
ATW: Yes, I was told not to leave. I talked with Mr Moon’s personal secretary, Colonel Bo Hi Pak, who is still at Moon’s right hand today, and Colonel Pak said to me ‘Don’t leave, Master loves you, he’s forgiven you…’
TW: For your desire to leave?
ATW: Well, it was for my sins, but it wasn’t clear what my sins were. He’d forgiven me, even though I hadn’t confessed. I was invited to go on a vacation at Moon’s estate up in New York State on the Hudson River, and Colonel Pak said at the end of your vacation and rest and relaxation, Master would like you to be retrained, to go through a 100 day training program. Then he would like to give you a position of greater power and authority.
TW: This would be a 100 day re-brainwashing or something of that sort.
ATW: Well, a very powerful training session and people coming out of those training sessions didn’t have much personal life left.
TW: So you known people who have gone through that type of session?
ATW: Yes, yes. But I didn’t, in fact. I abstained.
TW: What were some of your responsibilities as a leader?
ATW: Well, when I was the chief political officer of the Unification Church, when I was the president of the Freedom Leadership Foundation, I helped another man, a guy named Charles Stephens, set up a lobby organization for the Moonies. And it was called the ‘American Youth for a Just Peace,’ and we used it, or we hid behind its umbrella, and through it carried out partisan political campaigns in Washington, DC. We lobbied congressman and senators. I met with the South Vietnamese ambassador. Ultimately I was invited on a trip, a VIP trip, to Asia to go South Vietnam and to Cambodia. I also went to Japan and to South Korea. In South Korea I met Mr Moon for the first time. And there I met him on the grounds of the Unification Church gun factory.
TW: They have a gun factory, a literal gun factory?
ATW: Yes. They have a co-production agreement with Colt Industries and they make M16s, M60 machine guns, grenade launchers…
TW: For what purpose?
ATW: I think an English court established that they were producing arms for sale on the world market.
TW: So they would sell to anybody without reservation?
ATW: I think so. That’s my opinion. I know they sold to the Korean government.
TW: The North or South?
ATW: To the South. South Korea. But I held many responsibilities while I was in the Unification Church. I was a chief lecturer, the workshop director for the Unification Church in the state of Maryland. But during the time I was in Washington, I was the head of the political arm of the church, and carrying out these partisan lobbying campaigns. I met with people who were in the Nixon White House. I met with Dolph Droge and Sven Kramer, who were Nixon’s two chief advisors on Vietnam. I met with Jeb Stuart Magruder and Chuck Colson, two of the principals in the Watergate scandal, and they gave us money. The Nixon White House gave money to a Moon political front in order for it to carry out its campaigns. And when the money was given to us, it was given to us by Magruder, who placed in our hands a cashier’s check for $3000, and he said this money comes from quote “friends of the President”.
TW: And that was given to?
ATW: To the ‘American Youth for a Just Peace’. Given to me and Charles Stephens in order to carry out the political programs of the Unification Church. But that was peanuts, I mean that was just, you know a kind of Mom and Pop affair in the kitchen. I mean right now, the Unification Church today is sponsoring a conference in Washington, DC. It’s being sponsored by one of it’s arms which is called ‘CAUSA’ which is an anti-communist educational outfit and lobby group. CAUSA today is right now at this moment sponsoring a conference in Washington to which congressman from all over the United States are invited, and I think many, many congressman are attending this conference. This conference is being co-hosted by the White House. So the congressman who go to this conference, run by the Unification Church, are then going over for one of their sessions to the White House where they are being briefed by Pat Buchanan. So, at the moment, you have the Reagan White House and Unification Church together engaging in political education of American leaders. This, to me, is a striking fact.
TW: Now why are they so involved in the politics?
ATW: Because the ultimate goal of the Unification Church is to take control of the United States government.
TW: Oh, I see. So they want to take over politically, and from there branch off and incorporate some of their religious ideology.
ATW: Well, that’s up for grabs. I think that the religious ideology is a fence, or an umbrella behind which their political objectives are working. But you can think of the Unification Church as a multi-national corporation, or a multi-national political party—highly organized, highly disciplined. It has very clear concrete objectives. Mr Moon says at a certain point the Unification Church will take control of the United States government, and at that point, democracy will cease existing. As Mr Moon says, ‘democracy is not the heavenly way’.
TW: Why doesn’t he form a political party and try the democratic route?
ATW: He doesn’t need to form a political party because he’s operating through the Republican party right now. You know, in other words Moon gives money to Republican candidates. He has a huge media empire, he’s publishing newspapers in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, DC. He owns and publishes the essentially Republican newspaper in Washington, DC. It’s called the Washington Times. Republican journalists, Republican columnists, conservative thinkers, journalists and publicists use the Washington Times as a forum for the promulgation of their ideas.
TW: What percentage of the Republican congress, or Republican party do you think is involved with…
ATW: I think many people are involved without understanding they’re involved. The Unification Church operates through something like 250 front groups. Media groups, political groups, entertainment groups, athletic groups… it doesn’t tell you who or what it is when it comes up to you and tries to get a hold of you. Now one of the things that makes the seduction effective is disguise.
TW: Now, when you say seduction, say if they’re going through an athletic group, how are they going to take control through athletics?
ATW: Well, I’d be hard put to it right now to give you a clear definition of that, but they operate though a track club called the DC Striders, which does a lot of work with inner-city youth. They have operated on and off through Jhoon Rhee’s Karate Schools, or the teaching of Tae-Kwon Do. There are Tae-Kwon Do studios all over the United States. The original Tae-Kwon Do studios were founded by Jhoon Rhee, who teaches Tae-Kwon Do to congressman and senators in Washington. Jhoon Rhee is a member of the Unification Church.
TW: But now if you go down and take Tae-Kwon Do classes, the attempt isn’t going to be made to indoctrinate you into the…
ATW: No, you’re going to be taught real good Tae-Kwon Do. And you’re going to think, ‘boy that Jhoon Rhee is a really good Tae-Kwon Do teacher’.
TW: Well how is that destructive?
ATW: I don’t think it’s destructive at all.
TW: Let’s go back to where we were talking about somebody trying to get into the cult aspect. What would be the steps, or how would you be indoctrinated? If somebody approaches you, where does it go from there?
ATW: Someone will try to make friends with you. They will try to establish a reciprocal relationship with you, a trust relationship. That may go on for several weeks or a month. At a certain point you’ll be invited to dinner. Let’s say if you’re a student on campus, say a freshman, you’d be invited to dinner to go to a campus community house where cult members all live together. And if I was recruiting you, I would have been learning things about you before I invited you. Where you’re from, what your background is, what your interests are, what you love. I’d try to find out what you’re afraid of too. When you come for dinner, you’re not coming to a cold audience. You’re not coming into a sort of cold environment. Every single person there is a cult recruiter, some of them are students, some are professionals, but they are the first link in the recruiting and indoctrinating arm, and they have been rehearsing and practicing welcoming people like you to dinner. You come to dinner and it turns out that a lot of people there have things in common with you. You have a really good time at dinner, have great food, there are men and women there…
TW: Excuse me, are they briefed on you before you walk in, so you’re totally unsuspecting.
ATW: Oh yes, they’re briefed on you. That’s right.
TW: So they know you take Tae-Kwon Do lessons and you’re going in there and they’re gonna say, ‘Oh I do the same thing!’ and they’re friends.
ATW: That’s right. Or ‘you’re interested in psychology’ or ‘you’re interested in television journalism’ or whatever. Somebody in there also is studying it, and you tune in to them, and they really listen to you. They do what in counseling is called very powerful primary affective empathy. They reflect to you your own emotional mood. They listen to you very deeply, much more deeply than most people listen to you. More deeply than your girlfriend, or your brother, or your parents. They’re practiced at it; that’s their job. You come away from that dinner, a little bit on air. Feeling like, there’s something special about those people. I had a really good time there. I just felt so positive. You might come to dinner two or three more times. The next stage is, you’re invited to a workshop by your friend Allen who you’ve met on campus. And Allen says, ‘Well we own about 2 or 300 acres of land out in the country in East Texas and we’ve got a big old Texas farmhouse and were having a workshop out there this weekend. Students are coming from TWU, from Austin, and from a couple of other places. There’ll be about 30 or 40 of us out there, plus some staff members from out community. And Tom, we’d love for you to come. It’ll be a chance to get away, there’s a lake out there, we can take hikes, and also we’ll present our philosophy to you.’ You get out there and you have entered our world, our environment, and the purpose of that environment is to overthrow you. To overthrow the critical faculties of your mind. To get you to suspend the use of your conscience. To take control of your imagination and ultimately to harness your emotions to our movement’s objectives, and to our movements leader. So, when I invite you to come for the weekend workshop, I don’t say, ‘Hey Tom, come on out for the weekend, we want to brainwash you and turn you into a slave, and take control of your life and use you for the next seven years then cast you aside when you’re burned out. No, we don’t say that because it’s just not a good pitch.
TW: Very subtle seduction.
ATW: Yeah, come because I’m your friend and you like me, and you like the people you met at dinner. We’re gonna present our philosophy and our philosophy’s wonderful. We have a lot of hope, we’re very positive. Our group is engaged in all kinds of projects all over the country and all over the world—and we’d like to share our hope with you.
TW: When would the prospective candidate first become aware that this was the Moonies, that this was a religious cult?
ATW: Well, they may never be aware. My wife was never aware. She said after ten days with the Moonies, ‘Thank God you lied to me in the beginning. If you hadn’t lied to me in the beginning I never would have joined.’ I worked with a boy in 1978 who was a freshman at Yale, and he had come out of the Moonies, and he had been in it for 30 days, he’d been in a Unification Church training center in Northern California for 30 days and he’d never heard the name Sun Myung Moon. He’d never heard reference to the Moonies. He was in the organization. He didn’t even know what the name of the organization was. He was told it was the Creative Community Project. But the environment of the cult training center is designed to overthrow you, to overwhelm you and the variables that are operating there are this control. It’s control of communication, control of movement, control of language. Ultimately the attempt to control your thinking. So if you want to conceptualize that goes on in a training session you can think of it very simply like this—on the one hand is the presentation of the group’s teaching, its ideology. They’re slowly filtering that into you over a period of three days. In addition to that, you have the behavioral regime. The psychological manipulation; the emotional manipulation; the controls; the piercing and penetrating of your defenses; the subterfuge and the deception which is used to get you to give us information about you so that we can use that very information to pull you closer to us. At the very end, you’ve had a lot of powerful emotional experiences. You’ve felt really drawn to this group. You’ve felt like there’s something really positive happening here. We then want to connect up the result of the psychological control and manipulation with our ideology to make you believe that your powerful experiences are the result of the truth of our teaching.
TW: So, in essence it’s a breakdown.
ATW: That’s right.
TW: And then?
ATW: And then it’s the merging of the teaching with these powerful emotional experiences and in the end we tell you, what’s happened to you Tom is, you haven’t just had a good time, but when you were crying yesterday and you were feeling kind of ecstatic, and then when you were just crying with grief this morning, you were meeting God. God himself is speaking to you through our teaching, through its truth. And at the very end, we give you this existential experience of God himself, and also the devil. And that’s very hard to get around. And we say, throughout the course of the weekend Tom, part of you has been drawn to us. Part of you has felt that this is wonderful, something good is happening here. Another part of you has thought, ‘Hey, wait a second, what’s going on here? This is kind of dinky? This is kind of weird. Why are these people so happy? Why are they so positive?’ We then tell you, that critical part of you is a devil. That is Satan trying to break your connection to us. So you are now at the center of the stage of world history and God himself is calling you to join with him in his work of restoration. To fight the satanic history, to fight communism, to stand for God, truth, the family, justice, peace—you know all these good things. And all you have to do, is just stay for another three days. We have another three day workshop where we are going to go more deeply into the teaching. And what we do is we go more deeply into manipulating and controlling you, into manufacturing these experiences which are now convincing you that you are in the hands of God.
TW: So there’s an answer for everything.
ATW: There’s an answer for everything, and we could produce the same experiences with a totally different teaching. The teaching is not the critical thing. The critical thing is the environmental, the emotional, the psychological, the human control that we exert over you through a whole series of steps which are designed to destroy your own self-control. To destroy your autonomy, and to make you feel you have fallen into the hands on an absolute power that is totally competent to manage you and to decide for you who and what you should be and what you should do.
TW: There was widespread fear when this became known that this was going on, this type of brainwashing thing, I think mainly from the parents. Did you ever encounter parents coming after their kids?
ATW: Not when I was in the Unification Church, well once or twice. But afterwards, Yeah, I met many, many parents whose children had joined the Unification Church or similar organizations. And their situation is a very difficult one. It’s very difficult to bring aid to people who have joined totalist social systems. In the first place they don’t believe in dialog. And in the second place the teaching of the groups explicitly states that anybody that disagrees with the group is satanic. So the young person inside the group is effectively trapped inside. They don’t have access to alternative information; they don’t have access to alternative authorities who could help them understand what has happened to them. They’re like flies in amber.
Note: This transcript has been slightly edited to improve readability.
His biography includes:
▪ President of the Freedom Leadership Foundation (political arm of the U.C. in the ’60s and ’70s)
▪ Co-Chairman of the American Youth for a Just Peace (a partisan political lobby group)
▪ American youth delegate to the fourth World Anti-Communist League Conference in Kyoto, Japan in 1970
▪ Speech writer and personal aid to Osami Kuboki (President of the Japanese Unification Church) during the World Anti-Communist League Conference in 1970 in Kyoto
▪ Board member of the Youth Committee for Peace and Democracy in the Middle East
▪ Anti-Communist lecturer for the first National Unification Church Training program. Political indoctrination of new recruits.
▪ One World Crusade Commander for the State of Maryland.
▪ Workshop director and chief lecturer for the Unification Church in Maryland. Indoctrination and training of new recruits.
▪ Co-ordinator of the “Lorton Project”. One of the U.C.’s first ventures into fraudulent fundraising in the U.S.
▪ Center leader for Upper Marlboro branch of the Unification Church.
Allen Tate Wood on the Unification Church. Interviewed Summer 1985.
These are the videos relating to the above transcript:
North Texas State University, part 1
Deconstructing Extremism in 21st Century America
Allen Tate Wood
The article which follows has grown out of many sources. The chief of these include a thirty-five year history of public speaking and education on the psychology of the cult phenomenon; my four and half years as a follower and then leader in the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon; my friendship with, and dialogue with, many former cult members including former members of the Hare Krishna movement ISKON, The Way International, The Church of Scientology as well as the Moon organization. Among the academics who have guided me in my research and writing I include Dr. Margaret Singer, Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, Dr. Stanley Milgram and Dr. Silvan Tomkins.
When I began my work as a public speaker, my initial talks were mainly focused on my experiences in the Unification Church (The Moonies) between 1969 and 1973. As it has turned out the initial grid I used to explain the Moon organization to myself and my audiences has proved useful as a template to think about extremism in general…whether it be social, political or religious.
It is my hope that this article may be useful to individuals and families who have been adversely affected by destructive cult groups, to academics and journalists working to shed light on the structure and function of “high demand groups.” I look on this short article as a work in progress and I welcome all feedback and reflections on what you find here.
Allen Tate Wood
What follows is a phenomenological morphology of extremist religion which, as it turns out, has proved useful in thinking about extremism in general. Here I am referring to psychological extremism in dysfunctional families, social groups, religious organizations, the military and corporate structures.
1. ABSOLUTE LEADER
This leader is not like other leaders. This leader is not simply a good person. This leader is not simply an intelligent or well-educated person. This leader is not like your local pastor, rabbi, priest or imam. This leader is not simply the shepherd of a flock who is well endowed with compassion, sympathy and intelligence. This leader is not simply a role model of ethical and moral behavior. This leader, in the minds of the faithful, is seen as absolute and infallible. This leader is not just seen as God’s representative on earth but as God on earth. This leader is seen as the center of human history. This leader is seen as the fulfillment of the religious aspirations of all the peoples of the world. This leader is beyond challenge, question or reproach. Think of Stalin in Russia, Hitler in Germany, Mao Tse Tung in China or the Pope in Medieval Europe.
2. ABSOLUTE TEACHING
This leader brings with him or her an absolute teaching. This teaching is not an interpretation of the Bible or some other existing scripture like the Koran or the Bhagavad Gita or one of the many Buddhist texts. This teaching is, viewed by the faithful as, the final word from God. It is seen as the fulfillment of all the promises of all the scriptures in the world. It is seen not simply as moral exhortation and encouragement but rather as the inexorable formula for creating Heaven on Earth. It offers itself as the solution to the problem of evil. It supersedes and fulfills all previous scripture and religious doctrine. It, like the leader who brings it, is beyond question or debate. This teaching renders all inquiry, speculation and debate meaningless. This teaching sees its purpose fulfilled in the blind obedience of its initiates. For the successfully indoctrinated recruit the repudiation of the conscience, the rejection of the critical faculties and the colonization of the imagination are understood as an experience of God. In the political and social realms dialectical materialism and historical materialism became the absolute teachings for both China and Russia during their embrace of Communism. Men and women ensnared in these absolutist teachings repudiate the dictates of their own consciences. They celebrate their captivity as they rehearse and practice the repudiation of their consciences, the rejection of their capacity for independent thought and their magical embrace of their imaginary savior.
3. HIERARCHICAL SOCIAL STRUCTURE
The structure of these high demand groups is not new. We see it in the history of Japan up to and including World War II, in medieval Europe in which kings ruled by “divine right”. If you violated your relationship with the monarch or his representatives you lost your right to exist. In the 20th century in Germany under Adolph Hitler the NAZI party instituted an un-paralleled hierarchical social structure in which children betrayed their parents to the NAZI party leaders when they heard their parents criticizing Hitler or the Party. We also see this form of rigid social structure in Communist China under Mao Tse Tung and in Soviet Russia under Lenin and Stalin. We see it in terrorist and criminal organizations and in the military and in large corporations. In these organizations obedience replaces all other notions of ethics and morality. The non-disclosure agreement and the loyalty oath become the sign, symbol and sacrament of these social behemoths.
4. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE ADVERSARY
The psychology of the adversary is the foundation and the war cry of extremist organizations. “We are the real people…we are the true people…we are the children of God…. We are the city on the hill.” “All who stand against us stand with Satan, the devil.” When one examines the history of great demagogues and dictators, one finds them as masters of the use of adversary psychology. They become adept at identifying and defining an enemy. The destruction and annihilation of this enemy then becomes the sacred task of the minions under the sway of the great leader. The world seen through these doctrinal eyes is black and white….good and evil. There is no longer any need to engage in research or inquiry…. There is no legitimate authority outside of the leader’s domain. In the brave new world of religious and political extremism obedience to authority is the final fulfillment of moral endeavor. One need no longer engage in moral or intellectual inquiry. Obedience is seen as the highest form of knowledge. Imagination, research and learning are vilified, ostracized and ultimately crushed. Often extremist religious groups are unequivocal in their promises of a final battle between good and evil, an Armageddon in which the faithful will defeat, destroy and annihilate the forces of darkness. The absolute leader uses the identified enemy as a focal point for the projection of all the fear, anxiety, anger, shattered dreams and lost hopes of the masses.
5. THE ENDS JUSTIFY THE MEANS AS A MODUS OPERANDI
Where we are going is so good that whatever means we use to get there will be justified. Where are we going? To the Kingdom of Heaven, to the classless society, to a place without disease, famine or crime, to a place where the lion and the lamb lie down together, to a place where families remain whole, to a place where all men are honorable and all women are chaste……but before we get there we may have to lie, cheat, steal and murder along the way…..but it is OK because where we are going is going to be so good when we get there that all the suffering that we have caused or inflicted or endured will seem as nothing. In the name of a glorious future we will unleash hell on an unsuspecting present… See “Cain and Abel, Esau and Jacob” as part of the Unification Church’s rational for “Heavenly Deception.” Sun Myung Moon, the messiah of the Unification Church, uses Jacob who stole the birthright from his brother Esau and became the founder of the nation of Israel, as the paradigm for his (Moon’s) path in the world. He said over and over again, “I am the universal Jacob. All those who stand with me stand in the position of Jacob. What is our job. It is to steal the birthright from Esau. Who is Esau? Esau is everyone outside our group: all individuals, groups, churches, religions and nations.” Here religious language and religious metaphor are used to justify what I like to describe as moral and political titanism. This is the kind of psychological superiority which grants exemption from any notions of compassion, mercy and honesty. A cursory examination of the history of the Unification Church sees Moon’s word made flesh in: charities fraud, currency and banking fraud, violation of immigration and naturalization law, collusion with Latin American dictators, arms manufacture and sales worldwide – all this in the name of creating heaven on earth.
6. CRISIS PSYCHOLOGY
Extremist organizations tirelessly work to rigidly control all information coming in. The leader and his or her doctrine provide the grid for judging what is acceptable information and what is not. This information control may include blocking all radio, tv, internet and newspapers. This places the leader and his cohorts in the position of precipitating a crisis whenever they wish… Witness Jim Jones People’s Temple Mass exodus to Guyana followed by the mass suicide/execution of 900 of his followers. This also brings to mind the mass suicide of 39 followers of the Heaven’s Gate movement in the late 90’s in California. The last one hundred years of world history has provided numerous examples of leaders manipulating and controlling information in order to win the allegiance and support of entire populations for going to war. Witness Vietnam, Iraq and most recently Libya. In their path to hegemony demagogues and dictators attack the free press, undermine government institutions which might place a check on their power and do all they can to silence and eliminate any criticism. In the United States we see crisis psychology used by the intelligence agencies and the military as moral justification for overthrowing nations. Witness our role in overthrowing the democratically elected governments in Iran and Chile and our role in training the military and police agencies in authoritarian regimes in Latin America. In the name of fighting Godless Communism we have supported regimes which routinely use torture.
7. THE INNER CIRCLE
The maintenance of secrecy is a sine qua non of modern life. Whether it is the military, government or corporate entities secrecy is highly valued and aggressively fought for. Criminal organizations routinely murder those who violate the workings of their inner circles. Government whistle blowers are branded as traitors and often sentenced to prison. Secrets maintained by religious extremists are keeping pace. Think of the Roman Catholic Church hiding the sex abuse of children by priests world-wide. Think of the Jehovah’s Witnesses doing the same thing. Think of the Unification Church advertising its leader and messiah Sun Myung Moon as a pure virgin until he was 40 years old. In fact, he had been married at least once before he was 40 and had had numerous children out of wedlock. In extremist religious organizations the guarding of secrets is seen as an honor and a sacred duty not to be undertaken lightly. The dark histories of extremist organizations are often hidden from the rank and file members. The initiation into these histories is seen as a kind of rite of passage. The more dirt you carry, and cover for, the more you are trusted. The more of the dark history you protect the closer you come to the “great leader”. It turns out that the road to Heaven is paved with treachery and deceit.
Psychological extremism is visible and manifest in a wide spectrum of human social systems from individuals and families to clubs, gangs and churches to police forces, intelligence agencies, the military and political organizations, not to mention destructive cult groups. Much of the future history of mankind will revolve around our response to extremism in its many forms. Will we allow it to shape and control our perceptions of ourselves and our world or will we find a way to see it for what it is a psychological deformation which opens the door to a history of cruelty, a history of man’s continuing inhumanity to man. For me the outstanding fact of extremist organizations is their ability to control behavior and thought by controlling language. A return to balance and health for the victims of thought reform will include an in-depth exposition of the techniques which were used to capture them as well as a return to the world in which language is metaphorical and suggestive rather than absolute and fixed.
Thought Reform and The Psychology of Totalism by Robert Jay Lifton (1961) Norton and Co. New York
Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View by Stanley Milgram (1974) London: Tavistock Publications.
Combatting Cult Mind Control by Steve Hassan (1988) Inner Traditions International, Limited LINK to PDF
Allen Tate Wood answers Walter Evans’ questions about the Unification Church (now rebranded as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification) and Mr. Moon’s plans to subjugate clergy, politicians and academics to further his aims at grabbing power.
Walter Evans: We’re talking with Allen Wood who lives in the metroplex now. He was once a member of the Unification Church; in fact a very high-ranking member. He has now defected and is lecturing on the cult movement around the country. Allen what were you, what was your level in the Unification Church? What was your position?
Allen Tate Wood: Well I had many levels. I had about eleven titles altogether.
W.E.: At one time?
A.W.: No, during my 4 ½ years inside the Unification Church I successively held different posts. But the highest position I held was president of the Freedom Leadership Foundation, which is the political arm of the church, and it is the ancestor of CAUSA, which is the political arm today. But I was also a state leader, I was the One World Crusade commander for the state of Maryland, and I was the chief lecturer and workshop director for the Moonies for the state of Maryland, which meant I was primarily in charge of recruiting new members and training them and preparing them for service inside the church.
W.E.: But after 4 ½ years you left all this behind, that was when?
A.W.: That was in November of 1973
W.E.: Why? Why after 4 ½ years and achieving such a high level, did you get out?
A.W.: I left because I realized over the course of the spring and summer of 1973 that number one, Mr Moon was not the Messiah; number two, that his teaching was not the truth; and number three, that the reasons for which I had joined the Unification Church, my personal reasons, were not being served by remaining a member of it.
W.E.: What were those reasons?
A.W.: Those reasons were that I desired to give my life to God. I desired to lead a life of service to my fellow man. I desired to do something useful with my life that would be of concrete benefit to other human beings. And I found, starting in about August of 1973, and finally resulting in leaving, that I was not serving God; I was not serving mankind; I was not helping anyone by being a member of the Unification Church. In fact, my membership served to aid and strengthen the organization, and I was in effect an arm of the organization reaching out into the world, grabbing other people, pulling them into the organization so they also could be used as vehicles to gain power for the church. So there was no real interest in the actual spiritual life of members, their actual material lives, the conditions of their lives were not really of interest to the church leadership. What was of interest to the church leadership was methods and techniques for gaining power; for penetrating social institutions; for taking control of powerful individuals and bringing them either into the church or into alignment with it, so they could help it in its thrust for power.
W.E.: Well except for the Rajneeshees [now Osho] in Oregon we really haven’t heard much of the cult movement lately. Does that mean that the problem is subsiding?
A.W.: No I don’t think it’s subsiding. I think that the cult phenomenon is something that is in a sense built into the fabric of human existence. John Calvin once said that the mind of man is an idol factory. That’s something my grandmother used to like to say a lot—and I think it’s true. I think that men worship all the time. Whether they’re worshiping God in fact, or worshiping an idol is another question. For me, the cult phenomenon, as it’s manifested in groups like the Moonies, the Hare Krishnas, Scientology, the Way International, and a whole host of other groups, is like an error that men in every generation make. And the 20th century of course is filled with such errors. And of course the largest error of this kind is the Nazi movement in Germany. It’s the most impactful error of this kind that we see. But I think that groups like the Moonies, and if you take Jim Jones, for example, and the People’s Temple, it’s essentially the same phenomenon—psychologically, politically, emotionally and religiously.
W.E.: The courts seem to be coming down on the cults to some extent—not the cults, the anti-cultists. I’m thinking of Ted Patrick who’s had his problems for quite a long time and most recently was given a prison sentence, wasn’t he?
A.W.: I’m really unfamiliar with Ted Patrick’s current history, but I know the laws of the land are upheld by the courts in cases, for instance where there’s kidnapping involving cult members—and I would support that. Although I would strongly sympathize with the rationale of parents or relatives who have lost family members to a cult. But I think that the critical issue here is not simply the first amendment protection of religious freedoms, but also lets remember the 14th amendment which is ‘the prohibition against involuntary servitude’. And it’s the contention of people like myself and also mental health professionals who have studied the cult phenomenon, that often membership is not voluntary. In effect it has been extracted from the individual under duress through entrapment. So many of your young cult members, let’s say between the ages of 18 and 25, have been systematically entrapped into joining through the application of a sophisticated and powerful psychological technology. And family members who wind up getting into extreme situations in order to bring help to their family members may not be doing the best thing, and I understand that, and I think it’s lamentable that they get in such extreme situations. But the fact is that their loved one has fallen into an extreme situation. If you can imagine yourself, your son who is 19 years old, let’s imagine, you finding out that he’s down at the University of Texas and Austin and you find out that he’s joined the Nazi party, and he’s actively recruiting people into the Nazi party. You might fall into an extreme response. Now I as a consultant on the cult phenomenon would not recommend that you take any extreme action. I say that the first thing you could do is educate yourself about what has happened to your son and the steps he has gone through to arrive at where he is. And then perhaps you may take some kind of action.
W.E.: I mentioned that the courts have come down on some of the anti-cultists such as Ted Patrick, but on the other hand the courts came down on your one time leader, Reverend Sun Myung Moon. He has just recently come out of prison for serving a sentence for tax fraud. I though it was interesting that a lot of American church people, particularly Evangelicals, came down on the side of Reverend Moon, insofar as the freedom of religion issue was concerned.
A.W.: Yes. Well, I have to side myself with Reverend Moon also, because I believe in freedom of religion, and especially I believe in freedom of belief. The only limit I would apply to religious freedom is this one. And that is, if your religion grants you the right to violate my civil rights, then I think the government has the right to restrict your religious activity. Not your belief, you can believe the moon is made of cream cheese of that Sun Myung Moon is the messiah, or if you chant something 5000 times a day it will bring you into heaven. I’m happy for you to believe that. But as a citizen of the United States, and as someone who accepts our constitutional system, I think that there has to be a limit on religious freedom. And that limit I would say again is a limit on activity. If your religious belief allows you to violate my civil rights, or to violate the immigration laws, or banking and currency laws, or charities fraud laws, then I think you, like anyone else, religious or not, who violates those laws should be subjected to scrutiny by the courts and perhaps prosecution.
W.E.: But do you think that the government was wrong in coming down on Reverend Moon and sending him off to the slammer?
A.W.: No, I don’t. I say I come down on his side because I agree with religious freedom. I think he has the right to believe whatever he wants to, and I believe his church members have the right to believe whatever they want to. But, when Mr Moon violates the laws of the land, he should be prosecuted, just as you and I should. Or he should be subjected to the courts and to the legal system. He was, he was found guilty, and he was sent to prison. And I think that he got the fruit of his action.
W.E.: All right, there are some activities going on in the Unification Church here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area that I know you were particularly interested in and concerned about.
W.E.: We are talking with Allen Wood, a former official of the Unification Church who defected from the Church back in 1973, and for some time has been lecturing around the world on the cult movement. Allen, for some time the Unification Church, as I understand it, has been trying to, in a sense, co-opt other churches, and move into those churches, and try to spread their influence in that way. Tell me exactly how you feel this is working.
A.W.: Well, I think that it will go along the line of least resistance. From the time that I was in the church back in the early 70’s, we were interested in penetrating the religious world, the political world and the economic world. And Moon said that all three were very important. Our efforts to win the allegiance of clerics, or priests, or ministers, or rabbis centered around a very concrete strategy which was simply, find out what the minister’s interest is, find out what his need is, find out where he’s at, and then attend him with that very thing that he needs. Serve him. If what he needs is parishioners, then go out and witness in his area and bring parishioners to his church. If he needs money, find some way to give him money so that he can use it for whatever his projects are. Essentially serve him, until he recognizes in you his most powerful ally. When he recognizes that, and really comes to see you as his friend, and his helper, and his strength and support, at that point he becomes dependent on you. And then you stand in the position of beginning to be able to maneuver him, or to manipulate him. Some church members, ultimately the Moonies feel, will wind up joining the Unification Church… But that’s not necessary for them. They simply want to bring them into alignment and to use their funds, their resources, their manpower, to win the allegiance of such clerics, and this is part of Moon’s global strategy or national strategy to gain power in the religious world. That’s his activity in the religious world and that’s going on right now in the United States…
W.E.: In the Dallas/Fort Worth area to any extent?
A.W.: I believe it’s going on here, but I don’t have concrete knowledge of it. I know that it’s going on nationally in general. And you can see this in that the Unification Church does things like it has ministers conferences, so it has junkets where it will invite 100 or 200 or 500 ministers to go off to the Caribbean for five days; all expenses paid; lectures will be given there; great food, great accommodation; sun and fun and religious talk. And the ministers then go back into their areas, their homes, where their parishes are or their congregations, and they have been loved, in effect, by the Unification Church. They have been served by the Unification Church. And that’s what the Moonies want to do. They want to get organizations into a position of debt to them—and then begin controlling them. The same strategy the Moonies use in the political arena—exactly the same. It is the analogous strategy in the political arena.
W.E.: And specifically, what’s happening in the political arena?
A.W.: Well, back in 1970 Moon told me that the job of the political arm of the church in the United States, the Freedom Leadership Foundation…
W.E.: That’s the Foundation that you headed?
A.W.: That’s right. And its descendant today, its most active wing today, is called CAUSA. And it parades itself as a Christian anti-communist organization which is educating Americans about the dangers of communism. And through it, Moon supposed that he would be able to win the allegiance of the political right, the Republicans, the police forces, the intelligence services, the military, and ultimately the world of the media. So today, CAUSA.
W.E.: Which stands for what?
A.W.: Which stands for… I can’t remember exactly, it’s a long thing—it’s the ‘Confederation of American something Democracies’ … [Confederación de Asociaciones para la Unidad de las Sociedades Americanas. It was adopted as the name of CAUSA International in 1980. Causa is the Latin for cause. An unofficial interpretation is approximately ‘Con Amor y Unidad Salvaremos las Américas.’] and it means non-communist governments in Latin America. And they do things like holding workshops throughout the country and throughout the southwest and they will invite ministers, journalists, students and professors to come to these workshops. And they’ll bring in people from the administration to give talks, from Reagan’s administration.
W.E.: They will?
A.W.: Yes. Then they will also bring in their Moonie operatives to give talks or they’ll try to find somebody who’s position they are aligned with and they will bring that person in to talk, and it’s a two-pronged effort. In one sense it’s an effort to win allegiance in Washington in a political right, and also, it’s an attempt to influence policy and political movement in Latin America, and it’s like approaching Washington by two angles—by serving Washington’s objectives in Central America, they win the allegiance of the President and the administration. And by actively serving right wing causes in Latin America they win friendships in Latin America and hence trade concessions, they… privileges in terms of investing in Latin American countries. So for instance Bo Hi Pak who is Moon’s right-hand man is friends with most of the leaders of the Latin American countries that could be classified as right wing.
W.E.: Well, I’m a little amazed. If all this is going on, the Unification Church has had such a monumental amount of bad press, I’m surprised that anyone in the clergy, or academia, or politics would touch anything they had to do with, with a ten-foot pole.
A.W.: Walter, you and me both. I’m surprised also, but I think the fact is that if people are naive no matter how much they know, or how learned they are, if they are approached by a Unification Church delegation, which is practiced in seduction, whether it be seduction of somebody in the media or seduction of somebody who is a Nobel prize winner, I think that the individual who is the target of seduction is really under duress and is at a disadvantage, because he’s not practiced at defending against seduction. Whereas the Moonie delegation is practiced at seduction. So it’s an unequal situation. So for example someone like Eugene Wigner, who’s a Nobel prize winner in physics, and is one of the inventors of the hydrogen bomb, when he was approached by a Moonie delegation, he in effect was seduced by them.
W.E.: Did he know who they were?
A.W.: Well, ultimately he came to realize that they were members of the Unification Church and that they were the minions of Sun Myung Moon, but what he saw was bright, intelligent, smiling faces, well groomed, well dressed, asking him to be the head of an international science conference. And to receive an honorarium, and to give a speech, and to invite his distinguished colleagues from around the world to come and talk about physics. What could be wrong with that? Well, the only thing that could be wrong with that, is the fact that that activity would be used as an image and a symbol in the service of the Unification Church. That’s what’s wrong with it. There’s nothing wrong with physicists getting together. But the fact that his action, his legitimate activity as a scientist is being co-opted by the Unification Church and used by it in its attempt to gain power and legitimacy and authority, and ultimately to gain, in its own language, hegemony. That’s what’s wrong with this.
W.E.: Well, who in the Reagan administration has been so seduced? Name names if you will.
A.W.: Well, I’m not sure if I can do that specifically. I can talk about people who have received money from the Unification Church, so for instance this man Dolan, who is the, I think, the executive director of NCPAC [The National Conservative Political Action Committee].
W.E.: Terry Dolan?
A.W.: That’s right, Terry Dolan has stated that he is happy to receive $500,000 a year from the Unification Church to help him carry out their political programs, specifically re-electing Republican incumbents or helping elect Republican candidates who are going out for the first time. That money comes from the Unification Church and he does not apologize for it. He’s happy to receive it.
W.E.: Their money is just as good as anybody else’s.
A.W.: Of course. It buys just as much as anybody else’s. But my point would be, is that money is often raised by the slave labor of people that have been entrapped, by people who do not have the right to strike, by people often who are foreign nationals living in this country under false pretenses. They are engaged in charities fraud, raising money essentially for the operation of church, what are meant to be philanthropic operations, and in effect that money goes into the church coffers and is sent out to NCPAC, to carry out partisan political programs. So I object to that. I think that’s a violation of the political freedoms of the young Moonies who are members of the organization, and it’s a violation of the charities fraud laws, and it’s a violation also of the separation of church and state. And I think that responsible politicians should not take money that is raised in that fashion.
W.E.: Allen, one of the facets of the Unification Church that some people are aware of, and some are not, is the relatively new newspaper in the nation’s capital called The Washington Times. Now this newspaper has a lot of heavy hitters on it—some very reputable editors, some very reputable reporters and columnists. Is this bad?
A.W.: Well, I think it depends on your perspective. I’m sure for them it’s nice because they’re working, and they’re earning money and they’re paying their bills. If you look at it from the standpoint of someone like myself, you see The Washington Times as part of Moon’s global strategy to win influence and ultimately to gain power. He has stated publicly many times to his members that his objective is to take control of the United States government, and he says that when that happens it will no longer be a democracy. In his own words he said it would be an ‘automatic theocracy,’ and I think that a good example of such a government would be the government of Iran, in which religious law has become political law and it is absolute, and any deviation is punishable with extreme measures. So in effect, Moon envisions a political system in which there is no such thing as the loyal opposition, which is a cherished notion in American political tradition. So I see The Washington Times as part and parcel of Moon’s whole strategy, whether it’s winning the allegiance of a minister or winning the allegiance of a senator or a congressman, Moon is advancing his cause through The Washington Times by setting it up as the official organ of the Republican party. The official newspaper, the official media outlet of the responsible right wing. And he has been largely successful in doing that because he has won the allegiance and he has gathered Republican and right wing, if you will, or conservative columnists, and they’ve come under his banner. They’re working for his newspaper and they experience themselves as being essentially free in their activity as journalists. But the fact is, day by day, minute by minute, they are adding to Moon’s legitimacy. They are adding to his political clout, to his economic clout…
W.E.: Well, we are almost out of time, but, well, where is the Unification Church going? Do you think it stands in any way likely to achieve its goals?
A.W.: Well, I think we can make an analogy and say that in a sense, it’s a joke. The Unification Church is a joke the way that the Nazi party was a joke in 1929. It was very big, very powerful but it was essentially a joke in polite circles in Munich or Berlin. I think the same thing is true today of the Unification Church and I think that powerful people in government and on the political right make the mistake of accepting the service of the Unification Church, imagining that it will never stand in a position to dictate. But history is filled with examples where such things have happened. So I think that it is something that needs to be watched, monitored and scrutinized
W.E.: And taken seriously?
A.W.: And taken very seriously both on a political and national level, but also in terms of the individual psychological suffering that it causes to individuals and to families. And this is a real issue.
W.E.: Allen we’re out of time. I appreciate you spending time with us.
A.W.: Thanks for having me, Walter, it’s great to be here.
“Park Chung-hee [President of South Korea 1963-1979], gave orders to create a new Christian influence that would weaken progressive Christians who fought against his dictatorship.*” Moon’s Unification Church was one of the groups – from that time politics was key to the existence of the UC and the survival of Moon himself, in both Korea and the US.
*Korea Herald, November 2, 2016 by Ku Yae-rin, student of international relations, Kyung Hee University, Seoul.
Moonstruck: A memoir of my life in a cult
– Allen Tate Wood with Jack Vitek
“Essential reading for anyone tempted to join Mr. Moon’s cult, and for the parents of those who have. Mr. Wood’s account of his experience is intelligent, honest—and harrowing.”
Moira Hodgson Co-author of Quintet: Five American Dance Companies
“A Modern day Pilgrim’s Progress with an extended stay among the Moonies, Wood’s self-examination charts a way through a dark night of the soul in which many are still stranded.”
Henry Marshall Ph.D. Dept. of Psychology, Texas Southern University
MoonStruck: a descent into religious fascism, November 4, 2000
The author, Allen Tate Wood, exposes the global political ambitions of Sun Myung Moon. Allen, as political leader of the Moonies in North America in 1970, went on a V.I.P. tour of Asia including Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia. In Japan he met and worked with Japanese leaders of the Unification Church, including Ryoichi Sasakawa and Osami Kuboki and with many of the key figures in the World Anti Communist League from Europe, the U.S., Asia and Latin America. In Korea he had a series of private audiences with Mr. Moon during which he was instructed on “Moon’s plan of attack in America”. In Vietnam he met with President Thieu. In Cambodia he met with General Lon Nol, the leader of Cambodia. On returning to America Allen was invited to join the Nixon White House staff as a “youth consultant”. MoonStruck provides a cogent exposition of Moon’s global political strategy as well as a moving first hand account of an idealistic young man who followed Moon into the abyss of religious fascism.
MoonStruck is an autobiographical tour de force.
Clear narrative of a Cult Experience, January 6, 2006
This is a enjoyable, relatable, detailed version of one young man’s spiritual journey that led him into the folds of the Unification Church (More commonly known as the Moonies) for over 4 years, his disillusionment and his eventual defection. It’s written in a personal, accessible style that allows you a close up view of his thought processes every step of the way. It is also a bird’s eye view of the first major ground swell of the Unification Church in the US in the late 60s/early 70s.
Allen Tate Wood was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1947. He received his B.A. in psychology from Livingston College of Rutgers University. While in the Unification Church he was senior political officer of the Freedom Leadership Foundation, the political arm of the church. He was also the One World Crusade Commander for the State of Maryland—the senior church official in the state.
Since August, 1978, Allen Tate Wood has been working as a counselor for parents and children with cult-related problems. He has, as a deprogrammer, directly or indirectly assisted over three dozen people in leaving the church.
Aside from the names of prominent public figures and of those members of the Unification Church who are known to the public, names of all others have been changed to protect their privacy. The name of Won-Pil Kim has been corrected.
Moon may have once been the center of his United Family members’ sex lives in quite another sense, according to an unpublished paper written by Yun Ho Ye at Princeton Seminary in 1959. This Korean minister cites evidence that when Moon founded his Tong-Il Kyo sect, as it is called in Korea [HSA-UWC or Unification Church], he and his followers practiced a sort of messianic pansexuality, though in secrecy. Moon was initiated into the free-love cult by a woman, aged fifty, in 1946, Deuk-eun Chong, whom he then regarded as his divine mother: Chong later confessed this after having a revelation, according to Ye, who cites published sources. According to Ye, when witnesses revealed his cult’s secret promiscuity, Moon was imprisoned on the grounds that it was destructive to the family and injurious to public morals. Imprisoned in Pyongyang [in 1946], Moon met Il-duk Kim and his wife, who also believed in promiscuity. Moon continued to dogmatize promiscuity with Chong after he was released, Ye says, and he was arrested and imprisoned again, this time in Heungnam [in 1948]. Ye quotes from the purported confession of an early Moon follower who said that when Moon was forty “the present world will be ended through the Third World War,” though the end might be postponed six years if Moon’s goals were not realized by then, which would have been approximately 1960. “By that time,” according to the confession, “Moon becomes the Divine Father of 210 women; that is, he must have sexual relations with 70 virgins, 70 widows and 70 men’s wives. The 210 women will develop to 144,000 spiritual people. These people will be saved from the war.” …
Allen met the Unification Church in Berkeley in May 1969.
National headquarters was at 1611 Upshur Street, N.W., a big, funny old house with a double-pointed roof in a nice upper-middle-class black neighborhood with lots of big, shady maple trees. The building had once been the Libyan embassy. I was shown to a small room among the many on the second floor. There I would sleep on the blue close-cropped rug, because everyone in the Unified Family slept on the floor except Miss Kim, who did not either because she was a saint or because she was older or because she was rather frail.
I had arrived during the dinner hour, and after I had brought my stuff to the room I joined the group of twenty-five or thirty seated at the two long cafeteria-style tables down in the linoleum-floored basement. Miss Kim sat at the end of one table and I was seated next to her. I was somewhat awed by Miss Kim. I knew her from the photograph that appeared on the back of the early editions of the Divine Principle, which she had translated. That picture showed a Korean maiden of about thirty-two in Oriental dress. She had an oval face, even features, lovely dark eyes and a mouth full and yet disciplined.
Now I saw her some eighteen years later and she was still pretty. Her hair was still long and jet black and she wore it pinned up. What her movements and posture now showed especially, and what the portrait had not been able to convey entirely, was how feminine and graceful she was.
I don’t remember what I ate that first meal, but I do remember Miss Kim’s quiet, gentle exploration of my personality. She asked me many questions about myself, but never in a rude stand-and-deliver manner that I might have expected from someone who so obviously held the respect of everyone in the room. She asked about the trip and observed that I must be exhausted, wanted to know about my education, my religious background, my hopes for the future, about my family and where I was from.
“Princeton,” I answered.
“I thought that was a university.” Her English was precise, pronounced delicately.
“It is. It is also a nice town. Many people are confused by that.”
“It is not so far from here?”
“No, not at all.”
“Will you visit your parents?”
“Yes, of course. We are a close family. I have not seen them for four months.”
“You have not seen them since you joined us?”
“Have you written them?”
“What do they say?”
“They don’t really seem to understand. But this has been a rather confusing time for us. They will.”
“They may not. I would not be surprised, Allen, if they never do. Most of us here are not old like me, but young. Many times families are the enemies of religious experience. Jesus said: ‘For I am come to set man at variance against his father. A man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.’ Be prepared for the worst. Your family will oppose you in this. They will try to take you from us.”
This was not the first time nor the last time I would hear such sentiments. I had heard them many times already at Berkeley. We had been a young group, nearly all in our way dropouts, some of us deeply hurt, even maimed by the conflict with our society, and tales of ferocious fights with parents were commonplace…
I well remember the day a long-faced Neil Salonen came to me and said he was going away for a while and asked would I like, would I be able, to run the FLF while he was gone.
“Gee, I guess so,” I answered, as befitted an organizational ingenue. I had been ill for four days and was lying on the living-room floor in my sleeping bag. I was weak.
Neil said he would write Moon in Korea that I would be running the political arm of the church while he was gone. I understood that this was a temporary arrangement and that at some indefinite time Salonen would be returning. …
So at the tender age of twenty-two I found myself at the head of the most important organization within the Unified Family. I was the second-highest-ranking member, after Kirby Smith—third really, if I counted Miss Kim, who was fading at this time. After over a decade of missionary work, she was clearly growing weary. For me, it wasn’t like being sent to the United Nations, but neither was heading the FLF, as I was to discover, exactly like being in the student government or the absolute bush leagues.
With Foster Long and Marshall Miller to advise me, I quickly learned the art of being a paper tiger with a real roar. Marshall’s eyes would glaze over whenever the ideological stuff was discussed, but he would perk up for the practical applications. He had considerable contacts, including some top-level hookups in the Nixon administration. It was through him that I met two of Nixon’s top aides on Vietnam, Dolph Droge and Sven Kramer.
In May 1970, Marshall and I formed a lobby, which we registered as the American Youth for a Just Peace. Its members were the members of the Unified Family. One of our professed goals was to defeat the Cooper-Church and the McGovern-Hatfield amendments, which were aiming, especially in the wake of the Cambodian invasion of March 1970, to cut off funding for the Vietnam war.
That legislation also proposed a cutoff of military aid to Israel, and for that reason we were able to form a coalition with another group, a Jewish one called the Youth Committee for Peace and Democracy in the Middle East, or the YCPDME, pronounced Yicpidimee. I remember some huddles with some young Jews and a bald professor from American University in which we discussed world affairs over coffee and bagels. Yicpidimee was even more of a paper organization than our AYJP, and so we loaned them some FLF names for their board and some of our other members across the country so they also could appear to be a large national organization.
That spring some of our people, wearing red FLF arm-bands, held a teach-in at American U. with Yicpidimee, and it ended up with a lot of near fights with the Arab students. Except for that, our coalition never came to anything, for the simple reason that the young Jews were hot on one issue only, Israel, and would not take a hawk stance on Vietnam.
After that the American Youth for a Just Peace stood absolutely alone. We were virtually the only pro-war lobby in Washington. Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that our link with the Nixon administration strengthened. Word came through Marshall Miller that even higher aides wanted to see us. During this time I went over to the Executive Office Building, whose long polished marble floors and hushed hallways reminded me of nothing so much as a high-school building during summer vacation, to meet Jeb Stuart Magruder and Charles Colson, whom I remember most vividly of the two. He was a frog-like man with a squashed nose and strange eyebrows that went around the sides of his face.
“Why don’t you boys come on inside?” Colson asked, clearly meaning that we should work directly for the White House. We declined.
One day about this time Marshall showed me a cashier’s check for several thousand dollars.
“This is from Colson,” he said. “It’s not from the President. It’s from ‘friends of the President.’ Remember that. Or else our source could quickly dry up.”
We used the money to open an office down in the Washington business district, at 13th and H Streets, N.W. We rented a suite on the top floor of a nice solid Washington high-rise built after the turn of the century. Marshall and I each had a paneled private office; our two secretaries sat together in another room. We also paid ourselves little salaries —I think mine was $85 a week—which was enough for me to buy a suit or two and take people out to lunch occasionally. …
Col. Bo Hi Pak, who was a former South Korean military attache. This was back in 1963 or 1964, after Pak had formed a close relationship with Moon in Korea, and when he was back in Washington as a sort of cultural emissary, as the head of the Korean and Cultural Freedom Foundation. Pak now did things like arrange a year-long United States tour for a Korean children’s dance group, the Little Angels, and he knew all the ropes in Washington. In his long career there he seemed to have been photographed shaking hands with every Washington celebrity, from President Eisenhower on down (none of whom had the slightest inkling he was to become the emissary of a new messiah).
Certainly Pak—a tall, slender, polite man with an erect military bearing, who wore a black Chesterfield overcoat with a white silk scarf—was a familiar figure over on Upshur Street. Yet there was still an enmity between Col. Pak and Miss Kim, apparently stemming from the time when Reverend Moon had considered installing him in Miss Kim’s position. At times it seemed that the Reverend Moon resented having a female Saint Paul. At any rate, Pak’s and Kim’s animosity was well cloaked now, especially by Pak, who was perfectly capable of such deceptions as pretending he knew less English than he did when it suited him. …
Chairman Wood and Chairman Miller sat in their offices and every two weeks put out a little tabloid newsletter, four pages when folded, which we mailed out to members of Congress, schools, libraries, organizations, embassies and whomever else was not likely to throw it away. We gleaned our information on Southeast Asia from the daily press, from the U.S. Information Agency, from the Vietnamese and Cambodian embassies—which is to say we had nothing new. Our twist—and here I was learning the art of propagandizing in a classic situation—was that we had a consistent theoretical position. Essentially we were just putting a slant on the news that everyone knew.
As we said in one issue of the paper, which was printed by photo offset in blue with photographs: “AYJP is a private nonpartisan organization comprised of students and young people committed not only to peace, but to a just peace, to peace with freedom, to a peace which will not reward aggression and thereby foster future wars.” On the back we asked for contributions and volunteer workers, and offered to send more information. (We were building up a mailing list of several thousand.) In a box at the bottom we noted that the paper was “published by the Freedom Leadership Foundation. It seeks to promote understanding of the nature of communism, to stimulate discussion of problems in America, and to serve as an exchange of information between local chapters.”
The Unified Family brought in some of its seventy-five foot-sloggers from all over the country and put them to work for the AYJP. Mainly their job was to look like good American youths and go canvass members of Congress. Congress would think a pro-war groundswell was undulating across the country. This was the stuff, action—no babble about Cain and Abel and Satan—which energized Marshall in manic bursts of speed.
Also in keeping with our aims as a classic front organization, we took out full-page ads in the Washington Post and in the Washington Star, stating our position and asking for contributions. The ads were good publicity, and this alone was worth the price, which hovered around $2,500 a shot. However, with the hundreds of little checks that trickled into the office after each ad—we took out three or four over a period of two months—we cleared about eight thousand dollars in all.
Marshall was a splendid teacher. He was also good at keeping our foot soldiers amused. One wonderful character he dug up to lecture for us was Willie Gee, who had been President Diem’s guerrilla warfare expert. Willie would drive over to Upshur Street in a fast sports car accompanied by a fierce dog and a flashy girl. He wore a sort of black jump suit and reflector-type sunglasses which he never took off, except now and then to rub his eyes, which were bloodshot and somehow disappointingly small. (What did we expect? Tiger eyes?)
Willie would tell us what it was like to fight the VC and what it was really like in Red China. He was of medium height, somewhere between forty and fifty years old and powerfully built, with a great bullish neck. He was a karate expert, of course, and when he talked, shoveling out the anticommunist fodder for us to chew over, he was fond of making death gestures. He loved to gouge, punch, strangle and chop the air in front of him, and we could vividly imagine the fate of his victims, crumpling to the ground with shattered faces, broken backs, and paralyzed limbs.
Willie was pure macho and apparently completely worldly, though possibly it was an ascetic streak that made him refuse all food after four p.m. Otherwise, he said, he would not sleep well. Unlike Marshall and Foster Long and some others, he was not embarrassed by our religiosity. Either that or he was far more diplomatic than they.
“I once tried to make up a religion of my own,” he told us once. “Your religion is the closest I have ever found to that one. That is because you believe in God and you are against the communists.”
Marshall had a big house in upstate New York, and several of us—I, Foster Long, Willie Gee and others—would go up with him for philosophic anticommunist weekends. There we swam in the lake just down the slope from the house, which was full of family knickknacks. Often we cooked outside, roasting weenies as the sun set over the rolling hills. Foster would tell us, for instance, about how after he stopped being a Red he had helped refugees escape from behind the Iron Curtain. …
Foster did not, like Marshall, know the ins and outs of fronting, nor did he have Marshall’s links with the administration. But he did have splendid diplomatic contacts from his years advising Dodd, who was on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Those contacts, coupled with our hard pro-war labors, our cozying up to the Nixon administration which was then Vietnamizing the war, brought us a most delightful invitation. In mid-July the South Vietnamese ambassador invited me, Marshall and other members of the FLF, about a dozen in all, to a fifteen-day, all expense-paid VIP tour of South Vietnam. We were going on a junket!
In late August 1970 we went to Dulles Airport, got interviewed by a pretty Oriental-American television reporter, and boarded a Northwest Orient Boeing 747 for Seattle, Tokyo and Hong Kong, where we laid over. Marshall had brought two of his people from the United Student Alliance, and the FLF group included our secretaries, Becky and Elizabeth; Neil Salonen, back from Denver for this; Cecil Meecham; and Miles Taylor. Kirby Smith, because of some strange quirk, or pique, chose not to come.
Marshall’s boys turned out to be ever so different from us. They were cigar-smoking whore-hoppers and they knew how to conduct themselves on a junket. By Hong Kong they were already waist deep in the brothels. Our people were deeply upset by their behavior, fearing Satan would seize this enterprise. I asked Marshall to tell them to cool it, which they did. God’s work could not go on in such an atmosphere.
We were greeted at the Saigon Airport by young people, male and female, from the South Vietnamese Department of the Interior, and they also appeared to have their expectations of junkets. I clearly got the idea that the girls were provided for our sexual pleasure and that they were puzzled when we didn’t take advantage of them. After all, they must have wondered, were these really Americans who got off the plane and then failed to ask first, where are your women, and second, where are your raw materials?
After our picture was taken under the welcome banner, we were taken to our hotel by a bus led by a military jeep with a wailing siren. The hotel was a luxurious French colonial leftover, with a restaurant on the roof. Saigon was a shock: noisier than New York City, full of buzzing motorbikes and seething with pedestrians, lots of them pretty prostitutes in slit skirts. We were treated right away to lots of soft drinks and snacks, and diplomacy, I was to discover, involved a lot of eating. We were served sweets; honey-smothered pastry with nuts, much like baklava; meats, including chicken, in what appeared to be seaweed; and lots of rice and soy sauce. In a way it was fortunate that I got a wrenching bowel upset, despite my care not to drink the water: otherwise I might have gained even more weight than I did.
The next day three of the five big daily newspapers attacked us as lackeys of Agnew, which seemed to me proof that Thieu’s regime was still a democracy. I felt that such freedom of the press would not have been permitted in the United States during World War II, when America, the very guardian of liberty, shackled the press.
We began a round of visits to leaders—leaders of all kinds: opposition leaders, labor leaders, student leaders—all the while shadowed by a Vietnamese colonel (sometimes, but not always, the same man). The attitude of all of these people was strange. They seemed to see us and yet not see us. I began to realize that they didn’t really expect us to understand. They believed the situation was really too complicated for them to be able to explain it to us. Even if you said you understood, they knew you didn’t. They would nod politely, always they were deferential and gentle about it, but you could see that they didn’t believe you.
I was relieved when we headed out for four or five days upcountry. We did official things, like putting wreaths on the graves of those massacred at Hue, but the pleasures of this part of the trip were those of being a simple tourist. For me, visiting the Far East was the fulfillment of a dream. I was delighted to see a Buddhist monk who had been meditating under the same palm tree for seventeen years. I was transported back to the time of my readings in Eastern mysticism a few years ago. How eagerly I would have wished to question just such a man, if I had the time and if he could reply. What wisdom he must have, this man with his shaved head and saffron robe, growing old under a tree that was slowly growing larger.
At a monastery I spoke to the senior monk. I tried to draw him out. I told him that we also were seekers after God and wisdom.
“What is the difference between Christ and Buddha?” I asked him.
“When is Christ returning to Earth?”
And then he said, through our interpreter, that if I was really a seeker I should remain with him. I explained that a few years ago I would have been delighted with his offer, but now things had changed. His eyes, as I took my leave, remained quite blank, utterly unreadable. I was often to wonder, was this invitation really meant or were we indeed just making diplomatic small talk?
We met more leaders, the leaders of six or seven villages. One village was said to be a two-thousand-year-old democracy where the art of self-determination had long been practiced. The saying here was, we were told, that the emperor’s rule ended at the village gates. We also met with a local military leader, an ARVN leader and an American advisor. We visited temples, saw karate demonstrations, spent nights in the jungle, when we got down to the Mekong River, in well-guarded huts, and went to a military college at Dalat, a beautiful mountain town. As much as anything, I remember a picnic by a waterfall where two baby elephants were tied to a tree.
We returned to Saigon. It was hot, hotter even than Tennessee. The temperature seemed to hover around one hundred degrees, day and night. Something was heating up between Elizabeth and me, too. When possible, traveling on buses on tours or seated and listening to this or that leader, we chose to sit next to each other, like sweethearts in the seventh grade. It was not much more than that. Now and then our arms brushed. Back at the hotel, the room Marshall and I shared was right next to hers, and we had a balcony in common. A couple of times, during sleepless tropical nights, we stood out there alone together, overlooking the lights of what had to be at this time, with so many strange and contradictory forces at work within it, the most absolutely exotic city on earth. There was nothing explicit in this, certainly no explicit sex, no explicit touching, except for the brushing and the one time I put my arm around her on a chilly mountain morning in a Jeep, not really even any explicit talk. We just talked about everyday things, while we looked into one another’s eyes.
Finally our group was led behind the presidential palace to a sort of backyard where I recall a structure which may have been a little house or maybe a trailer, but it definitely had a fold-up-and-take-away sense about it. There, standing on the steps to the doorway, was President Nguyen Van Thieu, wearing slacks and a shirt open at the neck. He was a short man, stocky but not fat, and gracious and courtly as we were each in turn introduced. He offered us drinks, which he mixed personally, and we accepted them, though in fact we never otherwise drank. I had a light bourbon and water, my first in years. For him, surely, dealing in this social ritual was an acquired diplomatic grace, as if an American emissary in Japan had learned to pour tea and bow and hobble around on his knees, and we must have realized he could scarcely relate to us as Americans if we did not sit around him in a semicircle holding glasses of booze with gently clinking ice cubes.
We talked about the usual topics, what would be expected in the circumstances, about the United States’ presence in Vietnam, the good and the bad of it, and about the country in general. Then Thieu went off on a tangent about the white man, the little boy and the buffalo. While I understood every word that Thieu said, and while the story obviously had a metaphorical meaning, I never did feel I fully fathomed its meaning. Perhaps the anecdote just didn’t translate into English, which Thieu spoke very well. It seems that when he was a little boy Thieu had herded water buffalo. Little boys herding these beasts—asleep, in fact, on their great flat backs, three barrels wide—were a common sight all through Vietnam. Thieu had learned that the smell of a white man would drive these crescent-horned buffalo mad, because the white man was an animal the black buffalo had never seen. But a little fifty-pound Vietnamese boy with a switch had no trouble controlling the buffalo, which must have weighed nearly a ton.
When our tour was almost over an invitation came from the Congress of Cambodian Intellectuals for a similar but shorter VIP tour of Cambodia, and we accepted. That worked out especially well for those of us, myself included, who were going on to attend the World Anticommunist League Conference in Japan in a few weeks. As long as we were finagling airline passages, we might as well do what needed doing over here. Another group, Kirby Smith included, was going to Korea, where Moon was going to marry hundreds of couples, and I was going to Korea, too, to meet Moon, although I had no marriage prospect. If I had known then how apparently impulsively Moon matched up noses for blessed couples, I might have been worried about Elizabeth’s and my flirtation, because in the Unified Family there was no ritual of courtship and Moon was perfectly capable of marrying couples who had not even known each other a day or two before. This was not so strange to Koreans and Japanese, who were accustomed to having their marriages arranged.
Before we left Vietnam, however, we called a press conference. We held it at the Press Club, and hundreds of reporters turned out to hear our story and take our handout. The press, though I did not realize it then, had heard what we had to say many times from many sources. It was, in fact, the official fine. The press didn’t want to hear it again and they asked us questions about things we weren’t prepared to discuss. The worst reporters, from our point of view, were the Europeans, who treated us like fascists or racketeers. We were unsettled by this flop of a press conference, but we were bolstered by the thought that truly we were neither right nor left but actually believed in a third position, so far hidden: Moon’s. Within a few weeks I would know a great deal more about that position.
Our takeoff from Tan Son Nhut Airport was delayed by about three hours and so we were quite late in arriving at the Phnom Penh airport. Still, we were greeted by a crowd, including two lines each of fifty high-school girls holding bouquets of flowers, which they gave us to take back to the hotel. The students who met us were not junket-wise, like the Vietnamese, and these girls, with their doe-like eyes, radiated a guileless, sexless innocence that reminded me of people out of Kipling’s The Jungle Book.
I found Cambodia more exotic, more Buddhist than Vietnam. We were able to move around freely in Phnom Penh and we appeared to be entirely welcome, which was not the feeling we had gotten in Saigon. The inner city seemed untouched by the war—Nixon’s “incursion” had been only a few months earlier—and where Saigon roared along in the din of motorbikes and cars, Phnom Penh purred along almost silently. Its people traveled by rickshaw and bicycle. Yet in another way the war was closer, quite literally. All day and half the night we could hear the sounds of fighting out on the perimeter of the city: single shots, the thump of a mortar, an occasional burst of machine-gun fire. We met students who wore black pajamas and went out to the perimeter in the mornings in school buses and fought with far, far outdated equipment. We were not able to travel as much outside the city, either. The country was simply not as secure as South Vietnam. Everywhere in this city, too, we felt the presence of the colonial French, indirectly, through the palatial architecture they had left behind. Here, I again often had the feeling of being in a high-school building during summer vacation.
Again we met leaders—among the military ones, Sirik Matak, and another general who was a cousin of the exiled Prince Sihanouk. This general was now against his cousin, who he said was inviting the Reds in, and he said that without Nixon’s invasion the country would have fallen within weeks. He said the country was now dependent on the United States, which he didn’t like, but it was a fact. He said he looked on Lon Nol as a savior.
We met Lon Nol too, at military headquarters. It was all rather casual, with little sense of security. We sat in chairs— this time without drinks—around Lon Nol, a man with a large mouth and big, slow eyes, who seemed far more thoughtful than Thieu. He said that he had served Sihanouk for twelve years but that now he took a position for independence. He said he feared that the country’s institutions would be destroyed if the communists came in. He gave each of us a big, thick, silver identification bracelet. He said we were the first American group, aside from journalists and advisors, to visit since 1963.
We visited refugee camps and walked around in a village leveled by an American air strike. We flew out one hundred miles to where they were building a sort of Maginot line out of bamboo, wood and stone. We went to Preet Leap, which was near Phnom Penh and the Mekong River, and helped dig trenches. I was interviewed there by CBS camera crews, and their film was aired on the evening news with Walter Cronkite. So there I was for some ten million people to see, including all my old school buddies, my family, and my mother’s anti-war colleagues, leaning on a shovel and saying that if American students knew the truth they would be flocking to Kennedy Airport the way they did during the Hungarian revolution of 1956, demanding to fight for Cambodia’s right for self-determination.
A day later we flew to Japan. Here we were to see an organization much farther along than ours. The Japanese branch of the Uniﬁed Family was large, disciplined, as tightly run as a battleship. Again we were met at the airport, this time with banners and cheers. We were put up in a private guesthouse with a staff for cleaning and cooking.
Moon had come to Japan after he had established missions in the United States and Europe, but he had found far more fertile ground here, and by 1967 he was even running candidates for political office. Osami Kuboki, president of the Japanese church, had run for mayor of Tokyo just this year. Moon seemed to be drawing his following in Japan more from the political mainstream than he did in the United States, where most of us could definitely be said to be disaffected types. Kuboki, for instance, had been secretary to Japan’s major Buddhist party. This man, who was now in his mid-thirties and who was as broad as a sumo wrestler, was well born and well educated. According to the story he was fond of telling, one day while fasting he had had a great spiritual revelation. The world had stopped for him—all motion, all time, everything, except the sky—which swirled and boiled above him. Out of this sky came a voice which said, in effect: “This is it, the real thing.” Even then, Kuboki had waited. He mortified himself for six months, collecting and selling garbage to scrape a living, and sleeping out in the open. Only then was he sure his calling was right and that he was worthy of it.
Japan was a politically fragmented country. Its coalition of communist groups was powerfully organized, and we would see them at their most effective before the visit was over. Moon, moreover, was drawing converts from both extremes of the political spectrum. This became obvious to us because the Japanese church had an odd quirk: having apparently ripped a page from the fundamentalists’ Bible, they were keen on giving testimony. How happy they were—right down to the cleaning staff—to march forward and then for two hours in parade-ground voices (sometimes in their own stilted English and sometimes translated by Miss Kim or someone else) recite how they had come to the church, how many fasts they had had, all about their dreams and visions. One told us how he used to be a communist and had made bombs in a factory, but now had come to God and Moon and was working for peace. Another told how he lost half his stomach and gained his spiritual eye and could now tell when people lied. And yet another told us how he used to be an emperor-worshipping right-winger and now had come—perhaps by only the slightest flick of his political compass needle—to worship Moon.
It was through this witnessing process that we could understand how deeply appealing Moon was to Japan’s reactionaries. What better way to tell it than through Arima Katayama, one of Kuboki’s close connections. Katayama, now in his seventies, was a World War II fanatic, an architect of the kamikaze program who had had a role in the Hitler-Tojo pact, and a war criminal who had done time; he was now the unofficial head of Japan’s right wing. It would be wrong to say he was a follower of Moon, but he clearly admired the devoted corps which Moon had raised. In his peculiar way, Katayama considered himself Moon’s friend. This militant old Japanese, who looked as if he could unsheathe his samurai sword, cut you in five pieces and then resheathe his blade, all in two seconds, put it his own way: “I am Moon’s dog,” he told a group of Moon’s followers. I was coming to understand to what a strange extent subservience was a part of the fierce Japanese character.
Katayama headed a number of big corporations, including one that might well be the world’s biggest shipbuilder. As for his own religion, he seemed to have invented it, and it wasn’t as crazy as it sounded when you realized that what he said brought him very close to the first Greek monist, the pre-Socratic who is generally considered to be the great-great-grandfather of modern science, Thales, who said that everything was water. Katayama carried a bilingual card that explained on the back his personal religion of “waterology.” It said that water was strong, water takes all shapes, water penetrates everything, destroys silently, is eternally moving, changing, and so on.
The Japanese are a highly complicated people with a great sense of dignity and honor, and Moon seemed to understand them well. This was not so difficult to comprehend when you realized that Japanese was the only foreign language Moon spoke fluently. Moreover, he had been schooled in Japan—in engineering—and Korea, until 1945, had been occupied by the Japanese, whose culture had been well absorbed.
Right-wingers like Katayama loved Moon because he wanted Japan to rearm. After I took the two-and-half-hour supertrain ride north to Kyoto to the WACL conference, I had no difficulty in understanding how pleasantly Moon’s teachings struck right-wingers in Asia. Nor was the conference limited to Asian right-wingers: Senator Strom Thurmond was the keynote speaker at the rally following this fifty-three nation parley, which was held in a great modern conference center that looked, with all its turrets and towers, like an aircraft carrier stranded on dry ground. Anita Castro also spoke, reviling her brother as a murdering criminal about as passionately as he used to revile the capitalists in his speeches.
Kuboki was the host at the conference, which was in turn sponsored by the International Federation for Victory over Communism, in other words by Moon. In all, the conference must have cost an astronomical amount of money, perhaps three or four million dollars, and most of the money came from the fund-raising efforts of the Japanese members, largely through the street sales of flowers. (Such fundraising had not yet begun in the United States.) However, Moon’s connection with the conference was far from explicit. In fact, his only obvious link was in the widely displayed poster picture of Kuboki walking with his teacher, who was not named, but who was unmistakably, to those of us who knew him, Sun Myung Moon.
Those under age twenty-ﬁve met as a conference subgroup, and I was the United States’ representative. For three days we read papers, gave talks, ﬁled reports and suggestions, acted out stratagems and counter-stratagems—the main one against some Indian representatives who seemed to want to sabotage the conference through parliamentary means, using questions, motions, and delays—and ended at some posture on where the communists were and what needed to be done about them.
Kuboki was to give his closing speech in English, which would be difficult, since he didn’t speak it. I wrote his speech and taught it to him by rote in a couple of hours. It was only about three hundred fifty words, and it went perfectly, except that he never, no matter how many times I drilled him, could pronounce miracle. So everyone left the conference expecting no milacres—whatever they were.
Kuboki and I got along nicely, speaking as well as we could through an interpreter, usually Miss Kim, who had arrived for the conference and who went on with us to Korea. (Marshall, having finished all the AYJP business and not being a member of the church, had returned to the United States to set up a press conference which we would give jointly in early October.) Kuboki told me that President Park was one of the sponsors of the conference. He also told me that Moon was in some fear of the Park regime and there was even talk that he was marked for assassination, for religious oppression was the order of the day in the new South Korea. One of the main aims of this conference, said Kuboki, was to reassure Park that his aims and Moon’s coincided.
I could hardly doubt that Moon’s strategy had succeeded perfectly. His political aims were perfectly enmeshed in his religious goals, since the final cataclysm was to come in the form of World War III. They would be absolutely palatable, when they were more widely understood, to Park or Strom Thurmond or for that matter to the Nationalist Chinese. To Moon, Korea was the third Israel—modern Israel being the second after the historical first one—and it was to be reunited either under Satan, meaning always the communists, or under God, meaning the “democratic” nations. Moon strongly favored a bloc, made up of South Korea, Japan and Nationalist China [Taiwan], which would be powerful enough to stop Red China.
Things had gone well indeed, and well enough for Kuboki to say that we would do this again, only next time it would be in Washington in 1973. (It didn’t happen, but there is no doubt that the WACL conference in Japan gave Moon the courage and inspiration for the Madison Square Garden rally of 1976.) [It was 1974, not 1976.]
We returned to Tokyo briefly, where we joined in a great anticommunist rally at the Budokan sports palace. We went out into the streets and made speeches from bus tops, and here we glimpsed how tightly organized the Japanese communists were. They came after us in the streets wearing shields and helmets and carrying kendo sticks, joining hands in a great chanting snake that undulated around us. We developed the tactic of putting our women in an outer circle around us, and it worked perfectly. They couldn’t attack the women or they would get bad press. And who knows what notions of ancient chivalry they would have been violating in striking women, for the kendo sticks were related to the old ways, being a practice device for the samurai sword. How well I knew that, since the guesthouse was near a building where the sport of kendo fencing was practiced, and I can remember trying to sleep one exhausted afternoon while the crack of the sticks went on and on for hours, interrupted from time to time by great roars of applause as someone placed a particularly deft stroke.
In late September we flew on to Korea. We landed in Seoul, a booming skyscraper city of six million, full of plenty
of soldiers and a great many second-class buses full of workers. From there we drove two and a half hours out to Moon’s training center. This was also where Moon had his air-rifle factory, as well as a plant producing steel rods. The steel rods were apparently put to industrial uses. The air guns were, as we would see, models of a military rifle—in effect, a trainer. Moon also owned a shotgun factory, which was elsewhere in Korea. This gun was marketed commercially under the name of Tong-Il, which means unification in Korean. Elsa Reiner had told me that when Moon had come to the United States in 1969 he had proposed marketing this gun from door to door. She had been one of those who had protested vigorously. Moon had been furious at first, had taken their resistance as a kind of betrayal. But at last he had come to understand that even in gun-loving America, the door-to-door marketing of a shotgun by a religious sect would have been regarded as peculiar by some and sinister by others.
We were greeted by Young-Whi Kim, who headed the Korean church. He had an engineering degree from Berkeley and holes in his pants. We would often be reminded of what a poor country Korea was. Kim was a quiet, gracious fellow in his mid-thirties who had joined Moon very early, sometime after he had gotten his engineering degree in the mid-fifties.
We were put up in a sort of barrack facility. It was newly finished and more of these dormitories were being built. Ultimately they would be used to house the factory workers. They were just installing the bathrooms, with toilets and bathtubs. I had the feeling that they were replacing a very primitive arrangement, like a hole in the ground. We had two cooks, a teenage girl and a woman in her forties, and we were served simple but good meals. We often called for kimchi, the Korean pickled cabbage we had learned to love from Miss Kim’s cooking, and this delighted and amused our cooks. With our meals, which we ate with chopsticks, we learned to drink cold barley water. It was a healthy diet.
At about eleven, the morning after our arrival, Miles Taylor, Bennie Sutherland, Elizabeth, Cecil Meecham and I were waiting to see Moon. Except for Cecil, who had met him in the United States in 1969, it would be our first sight of the man we had come to believe was the second messiah. The experience would bring out something different in each of us.
Already Elizabeth seemed to have turned into a Japanese female, swishing around, all bows and curtsies. Miles wanted very much to be liked and loved and was very fearful that he would not be appreciated. He also grew anxious about protocol.
“Who do you think should meet him first?” Miles asked. “Don’t you suppose it should be the person of the highest rank?”
“And who would that be?” asked Bennie. He had shaped up well since I had known him in Berkeley, when there was still a lot of rock music and leftover acid coursing through his veins. Now all that had been refined.
“Me,” answered Miles. “I’ve been a follower the longest.”
“Not longer than Elizabeth,” chimed in Cecil.
“Oh . . . well . . . yes . . . but . . .” We all knew what Miles wanted to say but couldn’t make explicit. Elizabeth was only a girl, and besides she was a crushed thing, just coming back. She didn’t count for much.
“I say it’s Allen,” said Elizabeth, who also perfectly understood what Miles was trying to express and who probably wanted to thwart him for bringing it up. And, of course, she favored me. “He’s head of the FLF. He holds the highest rank after Kirby.”
I agreed, actually. After all, I had been specially treated, singled out all during this tour. But I was in no mood to do battle with Miles, who had such a domineering personality.
“Let it be Miles,” I said.
“Oh, this must be him,” said Elizabeth, swishing to the window.
We saw a chauffeur-driven black limousine drive up.
By the time we had advanced across the lawn to meet him, the Reverend Moon and his wife were out of the car and standing beside it. I studied this man carefully. Like any fan meeting his favorite movie star, my first instinct was to compare him with his photograph. He seemed older. His hairline was higher and the crow’s feet around his long Oriental eyes seemed more distinct. But I was not disappointed. His smile was warm. The eyes sparkled. The sense of his presence was strong. His limbs were rounded, his shoulders thick. Here he was in all three dimensions. His hand, when I clasped it in a handshake, was strong, like a laborer’s. Here was a man who had done humble physical work. In one ear, I noted, was a plug of bright red wax. I’m not sure why, but I found this sign of physical imperfection endearing.
Beside him was his wife, Hak Ja Han, pretty, smiling, self-effacing, dressed as she nearly always was, in Oriental costume. Moon had on a white shirt and slacks, like a man who had been wearing a suit and had discarded his tie and jacket. Bennie particularly was fascinated with Hak Ja Han. He would tell us, weepily, how he felt he had a sort of inner communication with her. He seemed to have a mother hangup. Cecil and I, by contrast, related to the strength we sensed in Moon. Here, we decided in our discussions later, was the warrior-hero who would lead the last battle. Wasn’t it wonderful, just unbelievable, that we were right here, in on it all?
This first meeting was short; already it was ending.
“Would you like to see more of me?” asked Moon. He spoke through his driver, who also interpreted.
“Oh, yes, yes,” we said.
“Then I will come tonight. I will teach you.”
He walked away from us and on toward one of the workers’ dorms, where he had lunch. At this time there were perhaps one hundred fifty to two hundred workers housed here, and whenever Moon came into sight of any of them they all bowed low and stayed down until he left. I had the feeling he owned these workers body and soul. They worshiped him, they followed his religion and they worked for him. I had the feeling that they were paid subsistence salaries, that in effect they donated their labor to his cause.
Moon sent for me during the dessert course.
“You and I must meet privately,” he said.
I was eager to oblige him, and deeply flattered. We made an appointment for the next afternoon in Seoul.
That night we all met in one of the factory conference rooms. From about eight to eleven he spoke to us, using as an interpreter Mrs. Choi, who spoke English fluently. She was one of the three “nuns” who orbited him in a strange relationship which that term only partially describes. These women were mediums, and they brought him news from the spirit world. Miss Kim said these women sometimes even chastised Moon and he in turn would strike them. These were women without husbands—nuns in that respect also. Mrs. Choi had been deserted by her husband, who, she said, had tried to kill her when she joined Moon. She had seen Moon in a vision one night and then the next day had gone to him with supersensory accuracy, finding him in downtown Seoul.
Moon talked that night about world history, especially detailing his ideas for America, which he told us now occupied in God’s world the position that Rome had held in biblical times. As I watched Moon I felt the absolute conviction that he was the messiah. Why should the messiah not be born in a poor country like Korea, which was after all the new Israel? It all made perfect sense. I felt that I was part of a young, growing movement and that we were the soul of righteousness, the hope of the world. I was gratified that I had been cast in a fairly major role. I felt specially favored to have risen in the movement so quickly.
During the three hours that Moon talked to us that night, he nibbled at two giant persimmons, which he had peeled, and sipped at a glass of barley water, which remained three-quarters full. When he left, in the stunned worshipful silence that followed, we took the remains of the fruit and drink and shared them around, each of us taking an equal share. It was a sort of spontaneous Mass.
The next afternoon I went to Moon’s apartment in a rundown part of Seoul. He lived in rooms above the headquarters, where we would hold services on Sunday mornings. I saw the room where he slept alone. There was a bed, fluffed and neat, a desk and a chair, and a small window. There were flowers on the desk and calligraphy framed on the wall. We had lunch sitting cross-legged on the floor around a black lacquer table, inlaid with two swirling dragons. I had come with Mr. Kim, head of the Korean party, and at the table we joined Moon, his wife, and Mrs. Choi, who translated.
“Did you see the communists in Japan?” Moon asked me, smiling. We had finished the meal, during which our conversation had consisted of polite pleasantries.
“You saw how well organized they were. We are really the only group opposing them. We are the only ones with an ideology. The West is money only. In the West people will not sacrifice their lives. Are you ready to sacrifice your life?”
I nodded again. I was ready for this. More and more there was this kind of talk. We were told we must be ready to fight, to go to the front, women first. It was a sort of variation of our tactic of surrounding ourselves with our women back in Tokyo.
Moreover, being pro-war and anticommunist did not mean that Moon wanted me to give up my draft deferment and go over to Vietnam in the United States army. I had better things to do. Everyone who could get a deferment of any kind, including a C.O. status on the basis of religion, was encouraged to do so.
“We must unify and work hard. We must gain converts,” Moon went on through the interpreter. “But there is so little time. Already Korea may be lost. I hope not, but it is possible.”
“What do you wish me to do, Father?”
“We need support on university campuses. We must unify the students, the faculty, and bring them with us. The faculties hold the reins of certification to all professions. If we make gains there we can shape the thinking of all America. We must win friends, we must win their trust. We must do this by serving them. We must serve them until heaven gives them to us. Do you understand?”
I did. It was part of the dogma and not to understand would mean I had not grasped his teachings. Our relationship to others, to non-believers, was like the relationship of Abel to Cain. Our job was to subdue Cain, to bring him to us by any means, and serving him was one of the best. It was a subtle paradox, appealing no doubt to the Oriental mind: you could dominate people by subordinating yourself to them. In the end, when they owed you everything, you literally owned them. This was in essence what Moon was doing to President Park in holding the WACL conference.
Moon’s oldest son, who was nine, swept into the room. He leaped into his father’s lap with complete abandon, and he encountered no reproof at interrupting us. His father laughed and jostled him. The boy carried a tablet and a pencil. As we looked on benevolently he drew for us tanks, submarines, rockets, anti-aircraft guns, all the implements of war, and all the while his father nodded approvingly.
Hyo-Jin was Moon’s first [son] by this third wife, which was what Hak Ja Han was. You were not told about previous wives when you first joined, but gradually you learned these things, not with the sense that you were uncovering lies, but rather that you were peeling off layers to a deeper reality, to the heart of the artichoke. I had found out a year or so ago, from Miss Kim, that Hak Ja Han was Moon’s second wife. But in Korea we found other sources of knowledge about Moon than Miss Kim, who had been our only direct link. We had even met Won-Pil Kim, Moon’s first disciple, in effect the first Cain of a new historical cycle. All that remained for Won-Pil Kim to do was not to betray or turn against Moon, or lose his faith.
If he did not do any of these things, history could move forward.
Here, through speaking with these Korean followers, both early and late, through mediums like Mrs. Choi, and through Moon himself, we learned the story of his life. Each night, for the rest of our stay in Korea, he came to us and taught for three hours.
At this time Moon was about fifty years old….
In 1960 Moon became the Lord of the Spirit World. As such he ruled all creatures of that world, including the spirits of all people dead and unborn and all other spirits, both evil and good. In that all-important year he was married to his present wife and his true mission began. It is to be finished in the year 1981, after three cycles of seven, when the holocaust is to come. Only those sealed by the messiah will survive.
Moon had had two previous wives, but they had turned against him. One, [Myung-hee Kim] however, had come back to the fold, we were told, but no longer as his wife. She was now merely a faithful follower. In 1969 Moon’s thirteen-year-old son [Hee-Jin] by [Myung-hee Kim] was killed, decapitated when he put his head out of a speeding train.
This boy died because the Korean church was not faithful enough. Mrs. Choi and the other mediums saw a red tide pouring into Korea. It was a sign that the communists were again about to try to take over all of Korea. Moon called for everyone to work. He called three times, but they did not help him. After the third call, he picked up a stone and put it in the gap in the wall—the demilitarized zone—through which the red tide was pouring. That stone was the life of his son, sacrificed for the sake of South Korea.
There was yet another son of Moon’s by a previous wife [Sun-gil Choi]. This was [Sung-Jin], who was born in 1946. I met him there in Korea in 1970, when he was twenty-four. Moon now has seven children by Hak Ja Han. …
It was fall now in the Korean mountains, though the sun was still hot during the day. In the cool evenings we gathered together, though whether it was a meeting, a service or a training session or all three, I couldn’t really say. As in our Sunday morning services, there would be sermons and prayers. Nearly all our functions began and ended with prayers. As in the training sessions, there were tirades against Satan and the communists that would have satisfied any fundamentalist This was a living religion, and in the near future—within our lifetimes —real people were going to roast in a real hell, albeit a hell of napalm and nukes as well as natural disasters, and then the Kingdom of Heaven would be established on earth. This was nothing like the namby-pamby Protestant congregations led by watery-blooded ministers who would have choked on the thought of anyone sitting out there really going to hell. And where hell wasn’t really possible, neither was heaven.
Mr. Ishi would stand up and tell about how the Reds were gaining control of his native Japan. Then he would sing a Korean folk song, perhaps “Toragi,” a common one. The Korean members loved to hear a Japanese sing a Korean folk song because the older ones could remember when the Japanese ruled them and when their own songs, not to mention their own language, were held in utter contempt by their occupiers. …
I was on the ascent again, almost patched up, when I made a bad slip. I hadn’t been talking to Mona, but I figured all that had blown over. When she invited me to dinner—I actually told Frank about it—I went. We had a big feed at Trader Vic’s on Sixteenth Street and got drunk on luscious rum drinks filled with fruit and gossiped about everyone and everything. Mona was always lively and entertaining. But when I came back something snapped in Frank. He was furious at me. He said I was still sex-obsessed and he quoted my conversations with him, which as far as I was concerned were initiated by him, as evidence of my unreformed character. And the kid I was rooming with in the basement, another troubled paranoiac, said he was having bad dreams because of my sexual vibrations. I was condemned again.
I was demoted even further. I would not be a lecturer in Level III. I was going back to being a student. I was aghast. I had been expecting to be reinstated, like Frank and Salonen, but here I was getting pushed even further down.
I went to Miss Kim. She was the power behind the power. She was everyone’s confidante; she knew all that was going on behind the scenes. And she had always liked me, favored me.
I remember talking to her as the late afternoon light faded in the kitchen. She sat with her elbows on the plastic tablecloth. Behind her on the shelves our motley, tacky collection of dishes was stacked. In the background the refrigerator hummed.
I told her the whole story in a great state of agitation. As I spoke she pulled the pins from her hair, which I had never seen down. Her beautiful blue-black hair cascaded about her shoulders. It was thick and long. It reached down to the middle of her back. There was greater meaning in the gesture, I thought. I felt I was seeing the unveiling of a celestial being. What she said did not disappoint me.
Miss Kim had always been a critical follower of the Reverend Moon. Once she had told me that she believed he had some years ago lost his ability to read minds and travel in the astral world. That was why he had to employ the three mediums now. Once she had hinted that Moon was not the messiah, but only in the line of the messiah. He was an Abraham figure, and his son or his grandson would be the true messiah. This was utter heresy, of course, and this was in the back of my mind as Miss Kim spoke.
“Do not worry, young Allen. Frank has many problems and you must bear with him. All this will smooth out later. Meanwhile, I have powers myself. I will look after you. You are under my protection.”
I left the interview completely satisfied. I felt that I had the blessing of a real-life good witch of the East. I did not know exactly what she meant, but I had faith in her. I recalled what had happened the last time I had come to her discouraged. I did become a student in Level III, and I bore with it the best I could. I was a good follower, and by November came the news that made me determined to remain one. The Reverend Moon was coming here!
In December 1971, about a week before Christmas, Moon was present for our Level III graduation, which was held at a church we rented across the street. We had been renting its basement for our Sunday services for a long time. I got a small printed certificate saying that I had graduated from Level III. Presumably I was rehabilitated.
Moon stayed in the Upshur Street house, in the “parents’ room,” which was a room we kept in every center, specially furnished and waiting, should the day come for the visit of Our Leader. He lay low for about a week. He watched a lot and he conferred privately with many people. I was not one of them; I was no longer in the inner circle. Then, on the day before Christmas, he came out of his room and began to speak. And he kept on preaching all through Christmas and on to the beginning of the new year, for the greater part of seven consecutive days.
Moon talked for many hours each day, until people began to fall asleep, and he would awaken them with a shout or a shake or even a slap across the face.
He told us many things. He told us that the messiah was now in the new Rome, that as of now he had made far more progress than Jesus ever had, though he was also far short of completing his mission. But from now on, his mission was here. Moon would not perform miracles, by the way, because miracles were merely crowd pleasers, nothing serious. Jesus’ miracles were a sign of failure, Moon said.
Moon retold the parables of the Bible, adding his own interpretations. Mrs. Choi, the medium, translated for him, as she continued to do when he was in the United States and speaking more or less privately, to his own followers. When he spoke publicly, as he was preparing to do, for his mission was taking outward shape, Colonel Pak was the translator.
Moon told us about the nature of sin. The main duality in God’s creation was between good and evil. To do evil was to sin, but since everyone thought of themselves as good, how did we know when we were sinning? The answer was that when we were working for ourselves, we were sinning. When we were working for others, we could be sure that we were doing good. Even if we did things that seemed good to others, if we did these things out of our own vanity and egoism, then we were doing evil. Motive counted very heavily in Moon’s system. Just as we could lie for good motives, and thus be doing God’s work, we could tell the truth for bad motives and be doing Satan’s will.
Such a psychology kept us at constant war with ourselves, and if it succeeded in its aims, our energy would be constantly projected outward. Moon’s was not a religion of introspection, of mysticism, of finding a oneness with God or Nature, nor even a religion of peace or beauty. It was rather a path of action. He would tell us what to think, and our duty was to obey him. His was the perfect religion for those who wished to escape from themselves.
In those seven days Moon mapped out a plan of action and told it to us. He would begin a One World Crusade and he would speak for three days in each of seven cities. A number of us would be formed into mobile bus teams, whose job would be to go into each city as an advance guard. These people would rent the hall for him to speak, sell tickets, do publicity, preach in the streets and then, when at last the Master arrived, move on to the next city on the list and do the same thing. About all this there was an atmosphere of breathless urgency. This was not something that was to happen in the far future or even the near future, but right now. It was to begin even before the month of January was out.
But that was only part of the beginning of his mission, merely the bringing of the word. After having gotten our followers, we wanted to hold them. For that we needed more centers, at least one in every state, including Hawaii and Alaska. Despite our best efforts so far, we had centers in only eight states. We would immediately send out missionaries to all the other states.
In those seven days Moon also prayed many times, and each prayer ended with him in tears. He pulled out his big white handkerchief, snapped it open with a flourish, wiped his eyes and blew his nose. He even sang to us at times; his voice was not pretty, but it was powerful. He sounded like a wounded water buffalo. Moon’s voice had great range, and sometimes, in contrast to the low ranges of his singing, it rose in passion to a mere mouse’s squeak. All in all he was a gigantic, an enveloping personality.
One of the sad things that happened for those of us who knew and loved Miss Kim—and particularly for me, since I was under her protection—was that Moon deposed her, abruptly, impatiently, bitterly, though privately. He was angry; he told her she had failed. We heard that he told her she must assume in regard to him the role of a child. She must learn everything all over again. …
About this time it was decided that Moon should have a place of his own, and a wonderful place at that. An appropriately grand place was found, a mansion on an estate north of New York City in Tarrytown. This estate, once owned by a liquor magnate in the early part of the century, was called Belvedere; it cost $800,000. We, the American Uniﬁcation Church, were going to raise the $200,000 down payment, thus beginning our first major fund-raising drive.
Meetings were held to decide how the money should be raised. Upper Marlboro backed candle sales and we offered to make the candles, but Salonen and others were in favor of raffles. So raffles were held, and through two months, July and August, very little money was raised. Then Salonen had an idea of his own: candle sales. A great crash effort was set in motion, what we called a “forty-day condition.”
We worked in the candle factory around-the-clock, turning out three to four thousand candles a day. These we sent to other centers, which were working just as hard selling them in the streets all over the United States. In the end we made well over the amount for the down payment. During this time we, for our part, kept no financial records and paid no taxes, since the Uniﬁcation Church was incorporated as a nonprofit, tax-exempt religious institution. Belvedere was bought.
“Heaven gave me this,” a triumphant Moon said when it was bought. The statement didn’t sit well with those who knew about it, but fortunately the news didn’t sift down to the rank and file who had pounded the pavements selling those candles. Moon got a surge of confidence out of all this, and the Upper Marlboro branch stood very high in his estimation. It must have been clear that, heaven or not, the money would not have been raised without the candle factory.
In many ways the whole operation epitomized Moon’s financial operations. The essential thing is that we donated our labor, and did it around the clock, as we later would many times again. As far as I know, the same thing was done abroad, in Japan, Korea and Europe. Monumental sums of money can be raised in such circumstances. People have been astounded at the sums Moon has had at his disposal at various times… I have seen what a large band of fanatical devotees can do with simple street sales when there are no taxes and little or no overhead. At times drivers from other centers showed up to buy our candles with vans full of tons of coins which had been taken in through street sales. It was a concrete demonstration that every little bit adds up. I would estimate that in two years the Upper Marlboro factory brought in nearly two million dollars. Looking at us on any given day, no one would have thought us capable of more than a few thousand a year.
Some months later Moon came out to visit us at Upper Marlboro. It was a gesture of appreciation. He walked all over the grounds and gave us advice on how to take care of the trees. He saw the candle factory, asked questions, and nodded approvingly. Candles were now well established as a major source for fund-raising.
On the grounds Moon spotted a couple of our new young men wearing long hair. He called us together.
“I have a favor to ask you,” he said in a low voice. Sometimes he spoke halting English without an interpreter. “I want to ask you to cut your hair. I won’t tell you to do it, but I will ask you.”
The next day they had the bank-clerk haircuts we all wore. There was simply no discipline problem in the Unification Church. Converts quickly came to understand that even if they did not believe Moon was the Messiah and wanted to work for him, there was no room for them unless they understood the Divine Principle. And once they understood, it was the source of their very identity.
After Moon arrived in this country, a more rigid dress code was instituted. While we had never been particularly sloppy, now a closer watch was kept on the length of our hair. And in public we wore, almost invariably, conservative suits, with white shirts and ties—what Moon himself wore. While the rest of the country’s youth were getting “greened” and slipping into comfortable faded denims, the garb of Consciousness III, we were dressing totally for the eyes of others. We dressed without regard for our own comfort or style, and the result was a strange but unmistakable style of our own. What came through, I believe, is the denial of self, what some people would call the “zombie” look.
The visit went well. Moon was pleased. We were gaining membership. The layout was attractive. He was ready to leave when Miles reminded him: “Master, you have not seen the parents’ room.”
Moon and his entourage followed us to the upstairs room which we had furnished with a fine Oriental rug, silver candlesticks, a fireplace with brass andirons, bureaus, chairs, a couch, and to top off this perfectly appointed chamber, a big, framed color blowup of Mr. and Mrs. Moon.
Moon broke into delighted laughter. He kicked off his shoes and sat on the couch. With his slitted eyes, the accentuated crow’s feet, the wide mouth in the flat, round face, he seemed to have more than one smile going at once. He called for the whole group to sit around him, and he looked at us with new eyes.
“You are a success,” he said to Miles. “You are doing good work.”
Elsa, Jeffrey, and I beamed. Although Miles was our official leader, the four of us were the core who led the mission. We three felt Moon’s compliments applied to us as well. Here, as almost everywhere in the organization, leadership was taken by a handful according to principles that were only implicitly understood.
“You are rich,” said Moon, moving his hand in a semicircle, indicating the room and presumably what lay beyond it. Our prosperity had truly impressed him.
“No, Master,” replied Miles. “You are rich. All this is yours. For you.”
Moon radiated more smiles.
He turned to Neil Salonen; the president had accompanied him on the tour. “You have much to learn from this group,” said Moon. “I want you to visit here often, perhaps as often as once a week.”
Salonen nodded. But he never returned to Upper Marlboro.
When he left, Moon bought five candles, paying for them with five $100 bills. It was an expansive gesture, but nothing more. The money would come right back to him.
As I said, Neil never came to visit, not even once. The rift between those of us in the Upper Marlboro group and the national headquarters grew wider. The situation was exacerbated by Elizabeth Burns, the object of my Vietnam flirtation, who was now completely rehabilitated and established as State Commander. No longer was she a humble follower; technically she was our boss. But in fact she had nothing much to do except to devise intrigues and make trouble. Elizabeth tried to force her will upon me. She had no real staff, no troops, only a corps of five neophytes who seemed always to have tummy-aches and couldn’t work. Meanwhile, she wanted to direct our operations, our people, and we resisted her.
We did the same to Neil and headquarters. By now the 100-day training program, which was essentially what Level III had become, had been set up in Belvedere. It was growing increasingly clear to us that the training was taking on a fanatical turn. Moon had brought over some of his Japanese troops to show us the way, first a core of twelve and then a flood of four hundred. He also brought over a number of Europeans, including a large group of Germans. In Germany, too, he seemed to appeal to a right-wing fringe. The head of the Germans was a former Hitler Youth.
We were drawing in recruits at a good rate, but we were not turning them over to Belvedere for the 100-day training, as we were supposed to. These people would have been redistributed afterward, and we wanted to keep them with us. However, the church seemed consciously destructive of allegiances between members. Our refusal was resented and challenged in headquarters, and the rift grew worse in time. We were well on our way to becoming a splinter group. It was felt in Washington that we were building a separate empire. We were thinking and acting independently. It was as if a microcosmic reformation were taking place. We represented a softening, a liberalizing tendency, while the main group, far from even staying in the same place, was moving toward a harder line. We did not, however, in any sense repudiate Moon. We still believed he was the messiah and loved him. We blamed all our differences on his followers, who we believed were following his will imperfectly.
For the most part, Moon seemed oblivious to the frictions within his camp. He liked us, too, because we were such good money-makers. For over a year the candle sales were the main source of funds in the United States and we were the masterminds of that activity. We stood as independently as we did for as long as we did only because of this situation. Otherwise, we would have been broken down, demoted, retrained and reassigned, as was the modus operandi of the Unification Church. …
When Moon held his first of many state directors’ meetings in Belvedere, I went, though I held no official position there. I got away with it and I even managed to pull off a coup and get appointed bus commander for the state. I got the job the same way nearly all jobs were gotten there: I showed I wanted it, I pushed and hustled and maneuvered. My motives were better than the usual ones, though. I wanted to stop the Upper Marlboro center from being effectively dismantled.
Now my rank was equal to Elizabeth’s. I could stymie her even more effectively. I even went to Moon himself and told him about the trouble with Elizabeth. He listened patiently in the parents’ room of the Upshur Street house.
“I know all about it,” he said. “In the end you must let me deal with it. Meanwhile, you must obey me. My lieutenants can fight if they must, but God will forgive them on the last day if they obey me.”
Jeffrey, Elsa, and I began making clandestine visits to Miles at Belvedere. The visits had to be secret because such a thing as friendship was regarded with suspicion. On the other hand, we didn’t have to be particularly secretive—it was enough to be discreet—because in fact there was hardly any real friendship there, and people, seeing us walking on the grounds, were hardly likely to think we came up only to see Miles.
One day just as the three of us were getting out of the car in the parking lot, we heard this terrible racket, which first seemed incomprehensibly strange and was eventually perceived as a cacophony of human voices. We walked over and peered through a high hedge around the grounds. That weird sound was the Japanese, praying. They were outside, kneeling in a group, and shouting at the top of their lungs. “Kneeling” was perhaps an understatement, for they were doing so in the new Oriental style, which meant that their faces were sometimes plastered to the ground, their shoulders only inches from the turf, their buttocks turned to the sky. This was not the stained-glass posture of the knight paying homage to his liege lord and his God at once, dignified, down on one knee, his head up, his right hand on his sword, his eyes open and blazing fervently. This rather was the posture of complete submission of a subject who presented himself as an utter object, an unperceiving footstool or doormat that would be grateful even for the recognition of the Master’s feet wiping themselves.
This was the new spirit brought by Moon’s four hundred Japanese fanatics, who lived full-time at Belvedere now. On this visit Miles told us that the Japanese were no longer praying to God. They figured their efforts would be more efficacious if from then on they just prayed directly to Moon.
We would seek out Miles and walk with him around the well-tended grounds. During that first visit he looked like a humiliated wreck, but Miles was slowly recovering himself. The 100-day training was intense. The trainees rose early, prayed, did karate exercises and then spent the day in mind-numbing lectures on the Divine Principle. Then after that they would be driven out to sell candles in the street for several more hours. And this wasn’t the same Divine Principle that Miss Kim had taught us, but rather the gospel according to Mr. Kim, the head of the Korean church, who, like so many important leaders, had come over to the new Rome. This Kim taught a Divine Principle about three times longer and more complicated, also with lots of bogus biology and mystical electronics, which must have passed for science among the peasants of the Korean congregation.
Nor were these lectures anything like a typical course taught by an urbane professor. Rather they were taught by monotonous rote, the old Korean prison-camp routine. You would go through the teachings quickly, say in three days, and then you would go through them again, and again, and again, for one hundred days. …
[At Belvedere] After another institutional breakfast on the lawn—powdered scrambled eggs and two quick paper cups of coffee heavily laden with sugar and milk—I went to the living room of the main house, where I sat on the carpet. The room was perhaps thirty feet by sixty and would have been comfortable for maybe forty-five people. Already twice that number were kneeling, sitting yoga style or leaning against the walls, and another forty or fifty were still to arrive. Males took one side of the room and females the other. The men wore coats and ties and the women conservative dresses or skirts. The men had short hair and not one wore a mustache or a beard.
At eight sharp everyone stood and the sea of bodies parted. Moon and his translator, Mr. Kim this time, walked briskly to the end of the room, where the glass French doors overlooked the garden. Generally, Moon stood, but he also leaned, perched, and sometimes sat on the small couch there.
“Good morning.” His accent was thick; the r sound was typically Oriental, slurred.
“Good morning, Father,” came the reply, forceful and in unison.
Moon was wearing a tunic-like white shirt outside his black slacks. He looked starched and crisp, even in this relatively informal attire. Although it was hot and would get hotter in the packed room, we were not to unbutton our collars and loosen our ties. Moon had told us he put a pin through his knots so his ties would never slip a millimeter. This he had told us in one of those many talks, like the one he was to give this morning, that lasted sometimes four hours, or six, even eight, and on very rare occasions, like during the days around Christmas two years ago, twelve or sixteen hours. His mind ranged freely during these talks and there was scarcely an aspect of life the Master had not passed on. He enveloped us in these speeches.
Moon sometimes gave away his suits to his underlings. This was an honor and a mark of affection. It was also a signal that when he was away these favored people had his authority and stood in his place, literally in his clothes. Moreover, Moon practiced shamanistic magic. He believed people and events could be controlled through the unseen spirits that, for instance, inhabited clothing.
His translator, Mr. Kim, had not been so favored. (Kim was a common Korean name, and this was yet another Mr. Kim, unrelated to Miss Kim or to the head of the Korean church or to Moon’s first disciple.) It was not necessary thus to favor him, however, for this Kim was always in the Master’s presence. Kim wore the kind of Robert Hall suit that the state might issue a prisoner after his time was served. If many of Moon’s followers now dressed in these cheap, badly cut suits, it was partly because they had very little personal money. Kim, like Moon’s other translators, seemed like a being who had been totally taken over, who had no will of his own. He was solely a reflection of Moon, literally a puppet who talked and moved when his master jerked the strings.
A friend who spoke Korean once told me about overhearing an exchange: “I have to take a piss,” said Kim. “Tough, I have to take a shit. Stay!” said Moon. He counseled strength in the face of all discomfort. All inconvenience was to be regarded as training for the harder, leaner days to come.
I felt a great warmth when my eyes rested on Moon. I regarded him as my spiritual father. I wanted to win his trust, and felt that to some extent I had. I was not afraid of him as some others had confided to me they were, possibly because they were afraid of their own fathers. Moon was misunderstood. He wanted us to be creative and interpretive in carrying out his word. He did not wish to be taken literally. He did not ask blind obedience. He was not the harsh autocrat some took him to be. That was why we had done so well and had prospered at Upper Marlboro and why he was so pleased with us. Being from another culture, he did not realize how weird some of his followers seemed in terms of their own American culture. But eventually he would understand.
Kim was invited to say the morning prayer. He did so in the voice of a Bible-belt evangelical preacher. This revival-tent voice was surprising the first time you heard it coming out of this small, subdued Oriental. But Kim had learned his English at a fundamentalist seminary in Chicago, and that was how he spoke it.
Moon stood stolidly now, giving an impression of contained power in his thick shoulders and arms. His hooded eyes sparkled darkly and he seemed to me to be laughing inwardly, at himself or at us. I fancied he had a great sense of irony. This cryptic look seemed to say that all this might be a game, a cosmic joke, his being the messiah and us his followers. But then, look again. He seemed to say: It is true.
After Kim’s prayer, Moon, speaking directly in his heavily accented English, asked: “How many of you have dreamed of me?”
More than two-thirds of the congregation held up their hands, including myself. I had dreamed some days ago that I was waiting in a room. Three men had entered and left. The air was strangely charged, as if about to break into flames. The third man was Moon. I decided when I awoke that the first two, who had also been Koreans in the dream, were Adam and Jesus.
“How many of you have seen me in visions?”
About a third held up their hands. I had never seen Moon in a vision.
Moon taught that when you saw him in dreams or visions you were approaching—like a mirror that was aligned at the correct angle—the proper relationship with God. Many of his converts said he had come to them in dreams before they had even heard of him, much less seen him in a photograph. There were two particularly startling instances of this, in two groups as far apart as Oregon and Denmark. Of course, what we called “real life” was to Moon a mere illusion. “You do not really see me here,” he would say, “because I am not really here. I am truly in the presence of God, where there is no space or time.”
Now the state representatives stood to report on their candle sales, or any other money-making schemes—Moon was always interested in anything, anything at all that worked— and the number of converts. We were always far behind in our quotas and in a constant state of guilt about it. Moon taught that the more people who were converted when the judgment came, the less severe would be the ensuing holocaust. And though we were always doing better, all in all we were failing him miserably.
When my turn came, I reported: “From May first to June first we produced seventy-two thousand candles at the factory. We have four new members and six more people say they are returning to study with us. Seven or eight more have said they are interested in our workshops.”
Moon was sitting on the couch now, his elbows on his knees and his head cupped in his hands. He sought eye contact as Kim translated, and he smiled and nodded.
That morning Moon elaborated one of the finer points of his moral system. This was his principle of “heavenly deceit,” which justified lying by those in a higher state of knowledge to those in a lower state.
“You know the story of Esau and Jacob,” the revivalist voice of Kim explained. “They were twins, only Esau was the firstborn. Esau was a hairy man, and Jacob smooth-skinned.” Moon held up one arm and paused while Kim caught up. The light emanated from behind through the doors. Kim, standing a little nearer to us, went on: “Their father, Isaac, was old and blind. Jacob put lamb’s wool on his arms and went to his father. ‘I am Esau,’ he said. ‘Bless me as the firstborn.’ ‘I do not believe you,’ said Isaac. But Jacob held out his arms for his father to feel and Isaac blessed him. In this way Jacob stole his brother’s birthright.
“When Esau found out, he went to his father. ‘But I have no blessing to give you,’ said Isaac. ‘The blessing is given.’ Esau wanted to kill Jacob. And so Jacob fled. He went away for twenty-one years, and grew rich. Then he returned. But first he sent his wealth, his wives, children and livestock to Esau. Then Jacob came. And Esau said: ‘When I look into your eyes I see the eyes of God.’ This is the first time in history that Abel subdues Cain. And because Cain is subdued, Jesus can be born from Jacob’s line.
“The messiah cannot work until the harmony between brother and brother, between Cain and Abel has been restored,” said Moon, speaking of himself in the third person, as he often did. “He will be thwarted until the restored Cain serves his brother and obeys him. But the world is full of Cains. What must we do? Until the better times to come, we must trick Cain for his own benefit until his eyes are opened through this principle of heavenly deceit.”
This was the first time I had heard Moon’s explanation of “heavenly deceit” since the incident with Ian MacIntyre, the bright new Georgetown graduate who had argued with the head of the Korean church, Young-Whi Kim, over some editorial changes in the coming definitive edition of the Divine Principle. What was it Kim had said? “When you don’t understand it, then you know it’s heavenly logic.”
At lunch break I ran into Frank Lyons at the buffet table and sat with him while we ate our bologna sandwiches. We made desultory small talk, grudgingly on my part, because how could I trust him after he had denounced me for my “sexual obsessions”? But then how could I bear a grudge after so long? How many times since then had he been rebuilt, reborn, rewired, retrained, reprogrammed and reoriented? I wondered what he thought of me now.
When we returned, I was able to sit close to Moon. Closer was better. As a teacher, the Master was not the type to tolerate the bright kids sitting in the back of the class. He wanted the bright kids up front. He wanted them to fight to get up front. And the strongest would win. It was a simple world.
Mr. Choi, an erect, thin, dark Mongolian type who had a Hitler lock falling over his severe high forehead, was invited to pray, and he launched into a long Hegelian harangue. I always remembered him for the Miracle of the Rock. Probably almost everyone there had heard Choi (who was not related to Mrs. Choi, the medium) tell of his out-of-body experience, when he was praying with all those more conventional ministers back in Korea, outdoors. He had seen their prayers, mere wisps wafting up to heaven. His own, he saw, was like a strong, clear beam rising to God. They were on the wrong path. He must warn them. In his fury (he would relate this part in a fury, acting out how he had picked up the rock—it must have weighed five tons) and with divinely inspired strength, he hurled it at their feet. The right path was Moon’s.
When Choi finished, Moon opened the session up to questions. I was sitting at his feet, and he seemed to me the epitome of powerful masculinity. At moments like this, the Belvedere living room was like a locker room, with Moon the coach who owned his players heart and soul.
Seeing Frank must have started the train of thought. Homosexuality, even the latent homosexuality that had troubled so many of the young men whom I had known in the church, seemed a great gap in Moon’s teaching. I recalled his other teachings concerning sex. I knew why we were rigidly segregated by sexes in this room, that we were to abstain from intercourse or any sexual activity until marriage. I knew that our marriages now were to be arranged by Moon according to principles greater than our own selfish pleasures or inclinations. I even knew why, when a couple consummated their marriage, it was to be in the woman-above position the first [two] times [and then the husband, as restored Adam, above for the third time]. That was because we began with and moved on from the woman-dominated fallen state where Eve’s seduction of Adam had left us.
But what of the person who was tormented by homosexual yearnings? Segregation of the sexes was obviously no answer. Was lifelong abstinence enough? Or was that even permissible, since we were instructed to marry and fructify? Were the yearnings by themselves sinful? I did not know. Moon had never spoken of such matters. Perhaps I should have paused at this point. Many such questions were not really questions, on clearer reflection. It was a waste of time to ask those kind. But now a host of related questions were unleashed upon me. I must have the benefit of the Master’s thoughts.
“Father,” I asked when he called on me, “what are we to do about the matter of homosexuality?”
I was conscious of a stunned silence around me. There was always a courteous silence after a question, but this was extreme, as if everyone had stopped breathing during the time lag for translating.
Here came the answer: “If it really gets to be a problem, you tell them to cut it off, barbecue it, put it in a shoebox and mail it to me.”
He laughed and the room exploded into laughter. Sex-obsessed Allen had done it again! All eyes were riveted on me, and I could read those expressions: “Oh, you jerk! Now he knows you’re queer!”
I sat down, confused, humiliated, aghast. How had this happened? What had I done? The next question was totally unrelated to mine, and the subject of homosexuality appeared closed for good. But my thoughts raced on. I was oblivious until suddenly the session ended. The ranks parted, and Moon and Kim passed by. Everyone bowed. It used to be that Moon shook hands Western style, but now the Oriental bow was in vogue. At each meeting, the bows grew deeper and deeper.
At the next month’s meeting something even worse happened. It was at Sunday service, which began as always at five A.M. I had slept badly and awoke even earlier than necessary that morning, so I got right in the front row. We began with the pledge, which was very like the traditional Apostle’s Creed. As we recited it, I was conscious that all the other members around the country would be reciting it, too, in the parents’ rooms of the various living establishments, the sanctified places where Mama and Papa Moon slept when they came to visit. Again, there was an aspect of shamanistic magic to this. Moon’s power was literal: it leaked from him. Places where he slept, the objects he touched, the carefully selected plots of land he had visited and prayed at in each state, all contained him and forever after brought closer to God those who came there to meditate and pray.
Moon was not present for the service. He was upstairs, going through it with the “blessed” couples, whom he would marry in the future.
When Moon came down to talk to us, I often met his gaze—possibly because I was in the front row. His eyes sparkled and his serene beaming expression seemed meant in part especially for me. The wonderful circuit between us was complete. Then, while explaining one of the parables of obedience, that of Abraham, who is told by God to sacrifice his son Isaac, Moon motioned me to come to him. My first thought was that he would ask me to confess my sins. Although confession is not a ritual in the Unification Church as it is in Catholicism, it is employed at certain points—for instance, before one is married. I prepared myself. I prided myself on my candor and certainly I was humble enough.
Moon motioned me to kneel.
I did so in an attitude of prayer.
No, he told me with gestures, I was to get down on all fours.
When I did, I was looking out at the expectant congregation. I felt a jarring smack on my rear. Moon had kicked me. The congregation was puzzled. So was I.
“Would you follow me if I treated you like this?”
Aha! Now they understood the drift.
“Yes!” came the crashing reply. The clenched fists shot upward.
This time the reply was a mighty roar.
I looked behind and up to see Moon cupping his hand to his ear. Then he smiled and nodded. He motioned me up and gave me a gentle push away. I sat back down. It was some time before I had the courage to look around. In the eyes I caught, I saw a certain smirking amusement. Was I contemptible? Or blessed? I did not know. The kick itself had not been hard enough to hurt.
Afterward I discussed the incident with Miles, who had been sitting near me that morning.
“He cast me in the role of Isaac,” I told him. “It was an honor. The kick didn’t hurt. We were only acting out the story.”
“Don’t be an idiot,” Miles replied evenly, and he looked blankly into my eyes. Unable to read his thoughts, I glanced away.
“This afternoon you’ll get a taste of the war games,” said Miles as we walked through the cafeteria line. He smiled dreamily. …
The people who came to Moon were almost universally confused about sex, and that really meant they were confused about love. Most of them, undoubtedly including myself, wanted to escape, at least for a time, from combat in the erogenous zones. …
We were generally discouraged from seeing our families, but never forcibly restrained. Force wasn’t necessary. If you believed Moon’s teachings you believed that the rest of the world was in the hands of Satan. You were told that your family members were your enemies and that you could expect them to try to bring you back to the old evil ways. It was a catch-22 mode of thinking. The more your family tried to win you back, the more they proved that Moon was right and the more desperately you resisted. It was catch-22, because if you were sane they were crazy, and if you were crazy they were sane, but if you were crazy you weren’t about to concede they were sane.
Miss Kim had explained to me about my family long ago—in her own gentle way—and it worked perfectly. In the more than four years that had passed since then, the doctrine and method of handling families had been refined, perfected, firmed up, made more explicit, like many of Moon’s teachings. If at first he groped his way along a dark footpath, moving by uncanny intuition toward whatever worked—he was always the most pragmatic of religious leaders—later he would ride there on a brightly lit highway. His psychological efficiency was ever improving.
When we did visit our families, it was almost always with other church members, so we could resist collectively and make sure one of our people didn’t waver during a period of vulnerability and doubt. Sometimes we even had reasons for wanting to visit someone’s family; they might have something we wanted—especially money. Wealthy, influential families tended to get more visits than no-account, poor ones. …
It was on that long drive back that the spell was utterly and finally lifted from my shoulders. It came as it went, without my being fully conscious of what was going on. This journey was part of it, of course. It was as if we had chosen to take a literal trip to parallel the mental one Elsa and I had embarked on back in Upper Marlboro. At first I was inclined to give C. S. Lewis too much credit. I was riding in the back seat of the car and reading That Hideous Strength, the last volume of his science-fiction trilogy. … The villains of the book were members of a great benevolent-seeming science-oriented society who purported to want to better all mankind but really were intent on strangling everything that was human, vital and valuable. Suddenly I saw how much like Lewis’s pompous meanies the Moonies were. The book struck a deep emotional chord, and I laughed and chortled as we drove back, choked until tears rolled down my face. When I finished the book, I knew I was out of the Moonies.
Elsa was already effectively out, but Miles was having a much harder wrestle with his demons. He had doubted longer than I had, but he was an embittered personality, and he could not let go of those six years he had put in. All the rest of the drive we argued matters out with Miles. He was trying to do something that was fairly common with people in his situation.
“If Moon isn’t the messiah,” argued Miles, “then he is Satan. That means we ought to dedicate our lives to Jesus.”
I told Miles that all he was trying to do in switching the good and evil roles around like this was trying to hold on to the whole system. I urged him not to try to keep his system intact.
“We don’t know who Moon is,” I said. “God knows who Jesus was.”
Miles was still floating when we dropped him off in New Orleans. But he did know he was packing up his gear and coming to Upper Marlboro to live, without official permission.
When we arrived at Upper Marlboro Zeigler was installed in the best bed, a big antique that had come with the house. Again he began a campaign of conquest with the bed. Zeigler told Elsa and me that it was the Master’s wish that we go to the 100-day training where we would be broken down, disassembled and rewired for duty at some other post. We told Willard, with all due respect, that we didn’t think we’d be going. He said that he was empowered by the Master to take control of Upper Marlboro. Then we hit him with the shocker. We had incorporated Upper Marlboro, actually had done it under orders of headquarters, which was now employing some legal talent. However, this time they had outsmarted themselves. The separate incorporations were intended to keep the church from being financially wiped out by a big lawsuit for damages, such as some parents had been threatening. Now we ordered Zeigler off the property we legally owned.
But before he went we held a meeting of all our people in the big living room. Jeffrey, Elsa, Miles, and I, who had quickly flown up from Louisiana, told our membership, which had been whittled down now to about twenty-seven by various projects, that we no longer believed in Moon but that we were holding on to Upper Marlboro. They could go with Zeigler or stay.
Willard addressed the meeting. A relationship with God was possible only through Moon, he said. Although he took a long time, essentially he said that those who stayed with us were in the hands of Satan and going to hell. Then we spoke. What we said—that God could reach us all individually and separately—came as a surprise to the membership, because we had hidden our spiritual confusion. What happened next explained a great deal of what had been going on at Upper Marlboro all along. One guy went with Zeigler and all the rest stayed. We had developed a group loyalty greater than anyone’s individual loyalty to Moon, except for the one fellow who couldn’t break away. We were a genuine splinter group, an absolute heresy.
Now the question was, what were we going to do with ourselves. Although we began to feel we were freed from some kind of evil spell, it was not an altogether happy thing. We did not celebrate and kick up our heels. Within a few days we realized we were living in a fearful limbo. To some extent we were living in the very condition of existence we had sought to escape by joining up. We were face to face with the existential realities of life and it was scary. There was a cold winter wind blowing outside.
We huddled together. At times we were in a defiant mood. We smoked big black cigars, drank jug wine and lounged around reading The Hobbit out loud. We played cards until the early morning. We watched Kung Fu on the tube while Rob Sheppard critiqued the karate. We decided we would sell the place and give the money to the Communist Party. All witnessing, all candle-making, all the million little schemes, workshops, propagandizing, and projects that kept us busy, busy, busy, kept us from facing whatever it was we were afraid to face—all that stopped.
Another time we decided we’d like to give the place to Miss Kim. Jeffrey, who was tuned into the technological and ecological prophets, people like Buckminster Fuller, wanted to stay together and go down to Baja California and build a clean nuclear reactor or something.
Meanwhile the phone was ringing and visitors were knocking. Emissaries of the Master were on the horn. He was in Detroit, wanted us to come and see him. They were sure he would forgive us. In fact, the word was he already had forgiven us. Colonel Pak called and assured us we would be given jobs of even higher responsibility if we just submitted to the 100-day cerebral scrubbing.
One of Moon’s three mediums, Mrs. Pai [Lady Dr. Kim], arrived with her teenage daughter Hak Bon [Hyobon], who was fluent in English. Mrs. Pai brought good messages from the spirit world and a big bag of groceries: we were going to have a feast. We turned her down. She sat on the living-room floor and started giving her testimonial. It was a good one, but we had all heard it many times before. She was an intriguing woman and, among other things, performed exorcisms. She’d done something involving chickens, blood and candles to one poor fellow plagued by homosexual demons, but it hadn’t been effective for long. I told Hak Bon to stop translating. Then most of us went upstairs and watched a television sci-fi movie.
Elsa took a group up to the Society of Brothers in Pennsylvania, where her mother still lived and her brother was a minister, which they called a Servant of the Word. At this point this group made a great impression on most of us. The Brethren were gentle, peaceful, low-keyed. They claimed to have no special lever to bring God’s blessings. Yet they seemed genuine seekers, genuine lovers of their neighbors. How antithetical this was to the ways of the Moonies.
And yet the Brethren offered themselves as a buffer against the cold existential bath of the real world. They welcomed us, if we wished to come and work and meditate and discuss. There was no such thing as joining them, however. They resisted the very concept. I remember coming back from the visit by car during a snowstorm. No one spoke for hours, and the snow had silenced almost everything outside. …
In the Land of Nod
Here at the end I find myself wanting to reflect a little bit about my dark odyssey. From a distance of five years Moon’s New Heaven and New Earth seem more like The Island of Dr. Moreau than a restored Garden of Eden. When I began working on setting down my experiences with Jack Vitek, I discovered with him that a simple narrative approach would allow us to tell the story without a lot of moralizing to predispose the reader. Now that we have rendered the story, I can’t resist naming my experience, sharing some of the insights I have brought back with me from my strange sojourn.
In the late sixties and early seventies the two great symbols of American civilization—political freedom and economic prosperity—lost their constellating power. The psychological and moral confusion unleashed by the prosecution of the war in Vietnam has yet to run its course. Richard Nixon’s Machiavellian abuse of the highest office in the land received “divine” sanction, when Jerry Ford pardoned the culprit and obviated the impeachment process. The dissonance in the signals coming from high places, the “credibility gap,” the loss of faith in constituted authority, the systematic murder of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese peasants: these things are bearing fruit today. In the face of our political leaders’ inability to assert moral authority we are confronted with the rise of absolutist religious cults led by men whose claims to absolute moral supremacy go unquestioned by their followers. I once told a leader of one of Mr. Moon’s International One World Crusade bus teams that I thought it was possible for God to inspire me independently of Mr. Moon. He replied, “Allen, that is not the Divine Principle. You are taking a Satanic position.”
What does a cult follower gain? All the questions surrounding growing up—like what profession to choose, coming to terms with one’s sexual orientation, where to live, how to find friends who share one’s concerns, how to establish emotional independence from one’s parents, whom to vote for in the next election—are precluded. Existential anxiety, which so often becomes acute in the late teens and early twenties for many Americans, is drastically reduced if not totally extinguished by membership in a cult. The cult member receives a new identity based on his or her relationship to the cult leader and predicated on absolute acceptance of his religious ideology. Status is based on one’s ability to articulate the cult ideology and to implement its goals. And here, as in business, nothing succeeds like success.
In the Unification Church the power to produce is taken as a direct sign of God’s blessing. If one’s entry into the Unification Church moves apace, one’s former life recedes into insignificance except as evidence for God’s infinite love in having beaten you about in a special way so that you could recognize the truth after having it drilled into your head for seven or twenty-one or forty or one hundred days, depending on what kind of mission God has in store for you. It is a curious paradox that an independent or semi-independent decision of conscience can become the foundation for the grossest form of moral slavery. Implicit in accepting Moon’s divine spider web is the notion that people who don’t know his ways are morally blind. In other words, when a normal citizen tries to make a decision about what’s right and wrong, at worst he has committed an act of hubris, at best an impotent, well-meaning act of moral solipsism.
To have discovered the absolute truth is a wonderful experience. Talk about getting high—Moonies who see the light are often among the highest people in the world. Whether or not the truth is true is up for grabs, but the experience of having found it is real. And there is nothing quite like it. Tears of relief, gratitude, and love come forth; finally, the reasons for all the failure, fear, confusion, misfortune have been made clear. In fact, they were worth it, because in those dark hours I was unconsciously paying for my ticket to the promised land.
Another paradox the Moonies live out is that while they have accepted the notion that, apart from Moon, they are incapable of making accurate moral judgments or even existential life decisions, they are perfectly competent to judge those outside the fold. This situation reminds me of the passage in Genesis where Lucifer holds up the apple to Adam and Eve and says take this and eat it. It will make you wise like God, knowing both good and evil. I’m no deep student of history, but it seems to me from my reading that the worst fanatics have been those who have had such a python grip on the absolute truth that they were compelled to administer it to their heathen brothers.
Moon readily lends himself to comparisons with other famous demagogues of the twentieth century, but when I think about him my mind is irresistibly led back to ancient Egypt, in which religious absolutism reached an apex in the worship of death . . . life serving death. If I try to look at him in American terms, I think of him as Asia’s revenge for all those Protestant missionaries we unloaded over there in the nineteenth century, while we were checking out the raw materials. He’s a kind of bastard son of monopoly capitalism and a fierce Protestant fundamentalism.
Since I left the Unification Church, I have helped about ten people to see their way out of it. Since August of 1978 I have been working as a counselor for cult-related problems. I made the decision to do this work after attending a conference of parents of cult members and ex-cult members, along with a number of doctors, lawyers and members of the clergy. I attended the conference, which was held in Baltimore, with my friend (an ex-Moonie) Steve Hassan in the middle of August. Looking at the anguish on the faces of the parents who had lost a child to a cult moved me more than anything I ever experienced in the Unification Church. I had given four and a half years of my life to Moon. Lost years, or so it had seemed. Now I realized that the experience of those years could be put to good use. I could perform a real service for many people all over the country and at the same time begin to save money for graduate school in psychology.
In 1975, before becoming actively involved in helping kids get out of cults, I wrote a short autobiographical article about my experiences called “My Four and a Half Years With the Lord of the Flies.” This article has been circulated all over the country by deprogrammers, parents of Moonies, and ex-Moonies. Because of this article I have been invited to assist in many deprogrammings. In most cases I declined, because in good conscience I could not condone the use of force or restraint. With one exception, all the Moonies I have talked to were completely unrestrained. In fact, I now make it a condition that for parents to hire me, they must have the express consent of their child in the cult.
Doing this work is fascinating, deeply satisfying, sometimes frightening, and always exhausting. People often ask me whether I fear reprisals from the Moon organization. I generally reply by saying, “Well, I don’t think about it.” But the fact is that I know that their teaching does not preclude violence. In November of 1978 a mother of a Moonie showed me a letter that her son (a member for three years) had sent her. In the letter he said that if she made trouble for the Church either she, his father, or her sister might have to die.
Each case I have worked on is unique. There are some common variables. If I had to reduce what I do to a few words, it would boil down to something like trying to convince young men and women that they can work, they can fight for righteousness, they can make a difference, they needn’t prostrate themselves before some divine king in order to be justified. I invite them to leave Eden, to come back onto the field of battle, to enter a world of uncertainty where knowledge of the truth does not exempt them from moral responsibility, a world where their successes and failures will be their own.
Defectors inside story: How the nickel and dime Moonies rake in $219 million
By Hal Davis The Post 1979
The highest ranking defector from the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church today disclosed new information about the inner workings of the organization, revealing that the young Moonies collecting nickels and dimes bring in as much as $219 million a year.
Alan Tate Wood made his revelations in interviews with The Post at his Princeton home and in testimony in Manhattan Supreme Court, where the church is challenging a City Tax Commission ruling denying it exemptions for its real estate.
Wood, the 32-year-old grandson of the late poet Alan Tate, was head of the church in Maryland and “One World Crusade Commander.”
He left the church in 1973 and now is a deprogrammer. He has written a forthcoming book about Moon’s organization, “Moonstruck.”
Wood told The Post that the church fields a force of 2000 people, who are “on the street 18 hours a day, seven days a week.”
They each “pull in an average $150 to $300 a day,” he said. “Multiply that by 365. What do you get?” Anywhere from $109.5 to $219 million.
Wood saw for himself the results of these street collections when his Maryland group began manufacturing candles for sale to the national church. The national church then resold the candles.
“They would pay us – they would send a van with 2000 pounds of coins. We had to lug it to the bank to deposit it.”
The church has told city tax officials its income nationally is about $10 million a year, 80% of that comes from street donations.
It owns property in the Metropolitan Area assessed at $20 million.
Wood charged that Moonies sometimes say they’re collecting for a charity, then turn over the money to the church.
He said he helped raise money to buy books for inmates of a Virginia reform school. “We collected $6000. That was unheard of. We realized, my God, there’s an unlimited source of income out there. We sent the school a check for $500.”
Wood said Moon encourages this type of fraud, calling it “Heavenly Deception.”
“They raise money in Idaho, say it’s for a charitable purpose and send it to New York to invest in a restaurant,” Wood said.
Wood said he decided to leave “after I attended all the National Directors conferences. I heard Moon speak 10 hours a day. It was like being in a business meeting with a body count: how many businesses opened, how many new members, how much money coming in, who was being influenced politically. There was not one iota of emotion felt.”
He describes the church as “a religion the way Hitler’s movement was a religion. It’s a fascist power movement.”
Moon, he said, runs a “monolithic, military operation. Everything we did in the Unification Church… was to bring power into his hands.”
He said Moon’s teachings drummed obedience into their followers with a cycle of three days of eight hour lectures repeated 33 times – 99 days of indoctrination. “They talk about this being the Age of Obedience – You obey the Messiah [in] an elaborate process of obedience to successive leaders going up to Mr Moon.”
Wood explained that “peer pressure” forced members to take part in political activities.
During his testimony he said he never kidnapped any of the former Moonies he “deprogrammed.”
Confessions of an ex-Moonie: ‘I had been serving Hitler’
Bennington Banner Tuesday, August 12,1980
By MAGGIE PAINE
MANCHESTER – “When I left, I looked back on the last four years and realized I had been serving Hitler.”
This is how Allen Tate Wood, who spent four years as a leader in Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, now views the religion he calls a kind of fascism.
Wood, who is summering in Manchester, now travels the country lecturing about the dangers of cults and has written a book, Moonstruck: A Memoir of My Life in a Cult.
In 1968, following a Democratic convention where he watched police brutalize citizens and saw Eugene McCarthy lose the nomination, Wood felt “my hopes had been extinguished – I was ready to write America off and get out.”
“I was ready for something utopian, totalitarian,” he continued.
And Wood found it in Sproul Plaza on the University of California campus at Berkeley, where one in five “Moonies” is recruited to the church. He asked someone if he knew of somewhere he could keep his bags and ended up learning of a Korean sage, Sun Myung Moon, whom his followers called Messiah.
Wood, who proselytized for the Moonies, likened the potential follower’s first days to a seduction.
“You love them in a way no one else has ever loved them, make yourself indispensable and create a debt in them they can only repay by surrendering,” he said, describing the way a recruiter will woo someone to the cult.
He explained he was told to find a crack in a person and drive a wedge through it. But this is never apparent to the initiate, “You reflect them, mirror them – whatever your desire is, I will lead you toward Moon on the basis of that desire.”
After the first lecture, participants are asked to write a reflection sheet containing their greatest hopes, aspirations, signal events in their lives. The workshop directors go through these after the meeting and decide who the attractive candidates are and cull those who appear unintelligent, troubled “or lacking a trust fund.” The reflection sheet then helps them to penetrate each individual’s outer defenses, according to Wood.
Moonies are told to find “people who are better than you are, stronger, better looking, more articulate,” said Wood.
It is not just young people the Unification Church seeks to control, although Moon places major emphasis on recruitment on college campuses both of students and faculty.
“Once you control the universities, you’re on the way to controlling the reins of certification for the major professions,” Wood explained.
Moon spends $1.5 million on an International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS) once a year to which he invites Nobel laureates like physicist Eugene Wigner and theologian Walter Kauffman, according to Wood. Films of Moon speaking to those assembled and shaking hands with these men are made and then shown at the conclusion of lectures which introduce Moon as the Messiah.
Moon’s followers also ingratiate themselves with congressmen and other political figures. While Wood was a member, the church had a full-time covert lobby group in Washington of 20 men and 20 women who would provide whatever aid a congressman needed in his bid for re-election from 500 canvassers to large sums of money, he claims. Any information on the man’s private life, government or business dealings was reported back to Moon headquarters.
Near the end of Wood’s tenure as a leader in the Unification Church, a directive was sent out ordering all Moon followers to send the then embattled president Nixon telegrams telling him “we love you, God loves you” and to sign their own names so that no one would know they all emanated from the same organization. The church is fervently anti-Communist and its support for the president during Watergate stemmed in large part from this.
Central to the religion is what Wood calls “a special adversary relationship with the world” based on Moon’s interpretation of the Biblical stories of Adam and Eve, of Cain and Abel and of Esau and Jacob. In this version, Lucifer, acting out of pride and selfishness, seduces Eve. Moon is working to restore the first family to its original pristine purity. Moon is directly in touch with God and with the Absolute Truth and so must be obeyed absolutely, the church contends.
This appealed to Wood. “I think I wanted a universe in which I was aligned with the highest power and therefore I couldn’t be destroyed,” he conjectured.
God is constantly setting up unbalanced situations where balance may eventually be restored, the Moonies profess. Cain, Esau and all non-church members take the position of Lucifer, the fallen elder. The Moonies, like Jacob, must humiliate and steal the birthright of the elder so he may overcome pride and be forgiven.
For this reason, Moon’s followers feel justified in using any method to gain world control. Wood explained that the church’s vast business enterprises extend into all areas. Taking advantage of free labor supplied by supporters and of the church’s tax-free status, Moon enterprises are able to undercut competition. Known as International Oceanic Enterprises or Father’s Fish, Moon has fishing interests all over the country from Alaska to Alabama, Virginia and Massachusetts.
Moon also has financial interests in holistic health and homeopathic medicine, pharmaceutical companies and newspapers, including one called “Rising Tide” which is sent to every congressman. When Wood left in December 1973 Moon planned to move into the lucrative arms market. At that time the church had over 200 front groups with titles like Judaism in Service to the World, Freedom Leadership Foundation and the American Youth for a Just Peace.
Sun Myung Moon:
“In your own way, you can organize your lecture. In order for you to be a dynamic lecturer, you must know the knack of holding and possessing the listeners’ hearts. If there appears a crack in the man’s personality, you wedge in a chisel, and split the person apart. For the first few lectures, you will just memorize. But after that, you will study the character of your audience, and adapt your lecture. If he is a scientist, you will approach him differently than a commercial man, artist, etc. The audience as a whole will have a nature, and you must be flexible.”
Significance Of The Training Session
Reverend Sun Myung Moon
Third Directors’ Conference
Master Speaks May 17, 1973 Translated by Mrs. Won-bok Choi
“I pulled the wings off the fly so that it couldn’t get away,” explained Moon to a rapt audience of several hundred young disciples. He had been telling us about one of his experiences in prison. “I was dreadfully lonely,” he said. “My only companion was a fly. I spent hours each day watching it. I watched it clean its legs. I loved it so much that I didn’t want it to escape. That is why I pulled it’s wings off.”…
Allen Tate Wood has spent the last 30 years helping cult victims and their families overcome the negative influence of destructive cults. An authority on the subject, Wood has been invited to speak at universities all over North American and Europe.
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