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On Its Image
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 17, 1984; Page A01
he Unification Church of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon is spending millions of dollars a year on a broad range of cultural and political programs, including academic conferences, foreign trips for journalists and conservative lobbying activities, that are designed to improve the church's image with the American public and promote an ideological "world war" against communism.
The church also is using its vast financial resources to foster a budding alliance with the New Right and conservative political leaders. In May, a church political group called the Freedom Leadership Foundation paid for four Republican Senate staff members -- including aides to Sens. Steve Symms (R-Idaho), Robert W. Kasten Jr. (R-Wis.) and William L. Armstrong (R-Colo.) -- to fly to Central America where they met with government leaders and U.S. Embassy officials in Honduras and Guatemala and joined the official U.S. observer delegation to the Salvadoran election.
Another church political arm, Causa International, which preaches a philosophy it calls "God-ism," has been spending millions of dollars on expense-paid seminars and conferences for Senate staffers, Hispanic Americans and conservative activists. It also has contributed $500,000 to finance an anticommunist lobbying campaign headed by John T. (Terry) Dolan, chairman of the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC).
These activities are described by Unification Church officials as part of a much broader, and sometimes more subtle, program to influence American politics and culture. This year, the church has spent $15 million to launch a national edition of its Washington Times newspaper and earmarked $5 million over the next five years for a new academic-oriented publishing company called Paragon House that has ambitious plans to publish up to 100 books a year.
The church also is spending $1.5 million a year on a new local think tank, the Washington Institute for Values in Public Policy, that is underwriting conservative-oriented research and seminars at Stanford University, the University of Chicago, the Institute for Energy Analysis in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and other institutions.
"We're trying to combat communism and we're trying to uphold traditional Judeo-Christian values," said James Gavin, special assistant to Col. Bo Hi Pak, Moon's top deputy who serves as chairman of Causa International and News World Communications Inc., parent company of The Times. "The Washington Times is standing up for those values and fighting anything that would tear them down. Causa is doing the same thing, by explaining what the enemy is trying to do."
As a result of these activities, the church is increasingly developing financial and professional relationships with prominent conservative academics, religious leaders, journalists and political leaders. Causa's domestic affiliate, Causa USA, has recruited an advisory board that includes retired Army Lt. Gen. Daniel O. Graham, former U.S. ambassador to Honduras Phillip Sanchez and Dolan, who said last week that he was proud of his association with the group.
"I talk to Col. Pak regularly," Dolan said.
The Washington Institute has a blue-ribbon board of trustees that includes two former members of Congress, professors from Columbia University and the University of Maryland and David Carliner, former general counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union, who has represented Moon on immigration matters.
At a recent church-funded academic conference in Washington, more than 240 scholars, including professors from Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, University of Michigan and the Sorbonne in Paris, gave a standing ovation to Hak Ja Han, Moon's wife.
In addition, church officials say they are providing large amounts of humanitarian aid to the needy. The church-financed International Relief Friendship Foundation recently shipped 1,000 pounds of clothing, nearly seven tons of food and medical supplies to Miskito Indian refugees in the jungles of Honduras, according to Joy Morrow, the foundation's Washington coordinator.
But some conservative leaders warn that the growing relationship between the church and the New Right will provoke a fierce public backlash that will damage the conservative cause.
"The Unification Church is trying to buy its way into the conservative movement," charged Neal B. Blair, president of Free the Eagle, a Washington-based conservative lobbying group. "Moon says he's the son of God and the savior of the world. . . . It's frightening. Seldom have we had a group come into this country before and have this much money to spend."
This is not the first time that the church's political activities have generated controversy. In the 1970s, church officials organized prayer breakfasts and rallies in support of President Richard M. Nixon, dispatched young female members to infiltrate congressional offices and had extensive "operational ties" with the Korean Central Intelligence Agency as part of the agency's efforts to influence U.S. officials, according to a 1978 report by a House subcommittee.
Those allegations, most of which were strenuously denied by church officials at the time, continue to trouble their more recent efforts. When the California Republican Youth Caucus accepted $5,000 from Causa last year to help underwrite the cost of an organizing conference, party officials were deluged with protests and the Los Angeles County party worker who had solicited the contribution was fired.
Similarly, a number of influential conservative leaders have steered clear or dropped out of Dolan's political lobby, titled CALL, or the Conservative Alliance, when they learned it had taken money from Causa. A foreign policy aide to Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) was refused permission to participate in the Senate staff trip to Central America because of the Unification Church financing, Senate sources said.
Samuel Routson, an aide to Symms who organized the trip, said the offer to finance the group's plane fare and other expenses was made by church official Joseph Tully, who also is executive director of Causa USA. Routson said all the aides on the trip were aware of the funding source and that the financing was cleared with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, which, according to a spokesman, permits any outside group to pay for staff travel.
"You'd have to go a long way to find anything improper about this," Routson said. "This is something that has been done by numerous other organizations."
But unlike many other organizations, Causa conducts seminars and conferences behind closed doors, refusing permission for members of the public or the press to attend. Tully said this is because "we want to make sure that people who come to the conferences will spend their time on the material . . . . We're not interested in opening them up so that people can do their own thing."
After repeated requests, a Causa USA official said a Washington Post reporter could attend a recent Causa conference for Senate administrative assistants at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill. The next day, Causa official Lenny Brown called back to tell the reporter he was "disinvited" because virtually all the participants had canceled when informed that a reporter would be present.
Paradoxically, the church's efforts have been helped by the U.S. government's tax case against Moon. Last year, the church retained the Los Angeles public relations firm of Madison Fielding and Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Tribe to spearhead a legal and political lobbying campaign aimed at persuading the Justice Department to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Moon's conviction.
A coalition that included civil libertarians, religious fundamentalists and black Baptist ministers, such as civil rights leader Rev. Joseph Lowery, participated in the campaign, joining coalitions and attending church-financed news conferences and rallies where Moon was depicted as a martyr for religious liberty.
The campaign to identify Moon with the religious liberty issue has done more to enhance his image than any other event since the South Korean evangelist came to America in 1971, church leaders have said. In addition, the church's alliance with these groups is continuing. Last month, dozens of southern black ministers were flown to Washington for a weeklong conference on the religious freedom issue at Causa's headquarters here.
"This kind of activity with Christian clergy would have been unthinkable six months ago," said Tyler Hendricks, a Unification Church theologian who helped conduct the conference. "They realize we're in a common situation as Christian people."
Unification Church officials, including Moon, have said that much of the funding for their operations here is coming from "overseas." An article in yesterday's editions of The Washington Post reported that two former church officials in Japan said the church has sent more than $800 million into the United States over the past nine years years from a Tokyo business operation that sells marble vases, miniature treasure pagodas and other religious icons.
These funds have supported a vast array of church businesses here, the most important of which is The Times, the former officials said. Moon has invested more than $150 million in the newspaper. The paper grossed about $3.4 million in its last fiscal year, according to James Whelan, the paper's former editor and publisher.
But some portion of the church's political and cultural activities also is financed by U.S. church fund-raising, including mobile fund-raising teams (MFTs), small groups of church members who travel by van from city to city selling flowers imported from South America, boxes of candy and inexpensive trinkets, according to a number of ex-church members. Such fund-raisers are expected to bring in at least $100 per day, but can sometimes collect as much as $1,000 on weekends, they said.
Mose Durst, president of the Unification Church, said the church raises "more than $20 million" in the United States annually and that such activities are considered an important part of church life. "For us, the basic point of fund-raising is that it teaches you to love other people," said church spokesman Joy Garrett.
Former church members say they are expected to meet demanding fund-raising goals. Shoshee Larkey, 27, said she worked on a four- to six-person team in the San Francisco Bay area during 1982 and 1983, spending most of her time peddling roses in bars, restaurants and factories and giving all proceeds to the church. Each member of the team set a personal goal which, in her case, was to earn $200 a day. Some members fasted when they failed to reach their goal, she said.
"The more money you made, the more dedicated a church member you were considered, the more valuable a part of the movement you were," Larkey said. "The less money you made, the more time you spent repenting and praying for your failure to fulfill your mission."
These revenues, supplemented by the contributions from Japan and other branches of the international church, have financed a large number of church activities that extend beyond religious proselytizing:
*A Moon organization called the World Media Association has staged a series of all-expense-paid foreign trips for journalists, such as one to a conference in Seoul two years ago that featured talks by National Review publisher William Rusher, the chairman of the conference, and Accuracy in Media Chairman Reed Irvine.
In April, the group took about 100 journalists, including about 30 American editors and reporters from mostly small- and medium-sized newspapers such as the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post and the Kokomo (Ind.) Tribune, on a two-week "fact-finding" trip to Asia. At church expense, the journalists met Thai Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanond in Bangkok, inspected refugee camps on the Cambodian border, toured the Demilitarized Zone in South Korea and received a group interview with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone in Tokyo.
The trip cost the association about $500,000, approximately the same amount the group will spend later this year for its annual World Media Conference in Tokyo that will be chaired by Douglas MacArthur II. He is a former U.S. ambassador to Japan and a member of the editorial advisory board of The Washington Times, according to Larry R. Moffitt, executive director of the World Media Association.
*An estimated 5,000 scholars, including more than two dozen Nobel laureates, have accepted expense-paid trips to academic conferences around the world held by the International Conference of the Unity of Sciences (ICUS) and the Professors World Peace Academy, two offshoots of the Moon-financed International Cultural Foundation (ICF), a New York-based umbrella organization for church academic programs.
This year's 13th annual ICUS conference, with the theme "Absolute Values and The New Cultural Revolution," was held over the Labor Day weekend at the new J.W. Marriott Hotel in Washington and attracted 240 participants from 46 countries, including John Lombardi, dean of international programs at Indiana University; Claude A. Villee, a Harvard Medical School biochemist; Morton Kaplan, a University of Chicago political scientist, and Eugene P. Wigner, a Princeton University physicist and Nobel laureate who, at an ICUS conference two years ago, received a $200,000 "founder's award" from Moon.
The conferences are described as academic affairs devoid of religious themes, although Moon selects the conference topics and, until this year, delivered a "founder's address" to the academic audience. In addition, about 40 of the scholars will receive speaking fees totaling $1,000 each -- $500 for delivering a paper and another $500 when the papers are published in church-sponsored publications of the ICUS proceedings. Committee and conference chairman receive additional fees.
In the past, Moon has used the founder's address to denounce communist efforts to discredit him and, twice, to sing a Korean folk song. In Moon's absence last week, the academics listened to Kaplan praise Moon as an important world leader.
"I had occasion to visit Rev. Moon in prison recently . . . and it was the strangest experience," said Kaplan, one of five professors who serve as $5,000-a-year "senior consultants" to the ICF. "He was interested only in how the world could be made a better place . . . . His heart and his mind were filled only with what he regards as his mission. He had not time for any personal concerns."
The participation of prominent scholars at the conferences has provoked a debate over academic ethics. Although many participants make a point of saying they do not endorse the theology of the Unification Church, critics note that the church has in the past used photographs and films of the scholars, frequently shaking hands with or standing side-by-side with Moon, in promotional literature. The presence of distinguished academics at church-sponsored gatherings gives Moon the aura of power and influence he seeks, the critics said.
"These academics are selling themselves," charged Ann Lindgren, president of the Citizens Freedom Foundation, an anti-cult group. "All these conferences are taped and those materials are used in recruiting programs all over the world. They say, 'Here's professor So-and-So from Yale University' and that makes a big impression on young people. It adds credibility to their organization."
Irving Horowitz, a professor of sociology at Rutgers University and another critic of academic participation in the events, calls the ICUS conferences "one of the great brilliant marketing strategies in the history of religion. They know how to get them academics ; they know how to market them."
But scholars who attend vigorously cite their "academic freedom" to do so and praise the interdisciplinary nature of the events. "No other organization has the scope or range of these conferences," Kaplan said. "Is the church-sponsorship evident? The answer is clearly yes . . . . But the academics don't write their papers with the church in mind."
"I go there with a perfectly clear conscience because they are intellectually worthwhile," Harvard biochemist Villee said. "I don't pay any attention at all to whatever religious aspects there are of Mr. Moon's operations. I know nothing about them . . . . The Unification Church stays so far in the background you don't even know they're there," he said.
Some scholars also have joined church-sponsored protests and rallies that have attacked the Justice Department for its tax-evasion case against Moon. In one such rally in May at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Richard Rubenstein, a professor of religious studies at Florida State University who also is president of the Washington Institute and a senior consultant to the ICF, hailed Moon as "one of the most important religious figures of the 20th century" and reminded his audience that Moon "is not the only convicted felon in the history of religion."
A similar debate over ethics has surrounded the participation of journalists in the World Media Conference, particularly in light of the church's advocacy role on political issues.
Tom Kelly, editor of the Palm Beach Post, a newspaper owned by Cox Enterprises Inc., who went on the April trip to Asia, said that on the first day in Bangkok, Causa officials launched a series of lectures about the dangers of communism and the group's alternative philosophy, "God-ism."
The lectures "totally turned off about 90 percent of the group," said Kelly, but he added that "there was no great proselytizing" during the rest of the trip except for a breakfast meeting that he and others had with with Col. Pak in Tokyo. On the whole, he said, the trip was "quite well done" and professionally useful. "I figured this was the only way I would get to Asia," Kelly said.
After he returned to the United States, Kelly said he wrote a five-part series for the Cox chain about his travels, identifying his trip sponsor as the "publishers of The Washington Times." Since then, a Cox official in Atlanta said the company has imposed a policy that would prohibit employes from taking such trips in the future.
The premise behind these and other church-sponsored activities is an apocalyptic world view in which followers of Moon are instruments of God locked in a "third world war" against international communism, according to church literature and statements by church officials.
Pak, a former South Korean military attache who oversees the church's political activities, declined to talk to a reporter for this article. But Pak did offer a rare public glimpse of his view of the church's mission in an interview with Ken Ellis, a producer for KQED-TV in San Francisco, during the media trip to Asia.
"We want to awaken the world," said Pak, according to a transcript of the interview. "We want to turn the tide so that this totalitarian, godless system must go . . . .
"It is a total war," Pak added. "Basically a war of ideas. War of minds. The battlefield of the human mind. This is where the battle is fought. So in this war, the entire things will be mobilized: political means, social means, economical means and propagandistic means . . . . The media organization that we are setting up wants to be utilized as an instrument, an instrument of our cause, instrument of our purpose . . . the instrument to be used by God."