A new North Carolina law has haltered, at least temporarily, fund-raising efforts by the Unification Church in the state.
Speaking for the organization of followers of Korean evangelist Sun Myung Moon at its headquarters in New York, Susan Reinbold said church lawyers are considering whether to challenge the law. She said other Unification activities would be continued in North Carolina.
Under the law, effective July 1, a religious organization supported primarily from nonmember contributions must submit extensive financial reports in order to apply for a state soliciting license.
Last September the church was denied such a license after it refused to provide requested financial information. The denial was subsequently reversed because the law at the time exempted religious groups.
The new law does away with that exemption in cases where primary support comes from nonmembers and their contributions amounts to more than $25,000, although funds raised from the sale of printed or recorded religious materials are not included.
Edwin Edgerton, head of the solicitation licensing branch of the state Human Resources Department, said the hope is that the new law will ease complaints about allegedly misleading or otherwise improper fund-raising tactics by religious organizations.
Some of these groups, he said, have furnished so little information to contributors that "the public can be misled into supporting certain causes which may be contrary to their beliefs." Some fund raisers, he said, have used embarrassment and other such tactics against persons on the streets and elsewhere.
Last year only about 11 of 350 organizations were denied solicitation licenses, Edgerton said. He said the new law protects the public from "deceptive and dishonest statements" by solicitors and portects the charitable agencies themselves from unfair competition.