The Unification Church has sent packets of three videotapes and two books to 300,000 ministers across the United States as "a gift for you from some folks who care."
The tapes explain the church's theology on the principles of creation, the fall of man, the purpose of the Messiah, God's work through history and the second coming of Christ. The books are "Outline of the Principle Level 4," a book expounding on the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's "Divine Principle" book, and "God's Warning to the World," a book containing Moon's "message from prison."
Moon, the Korean-born founder of the church, is serving an 18-month prison term for tax evasion. Mose Durst, president of the Unification Church of America, said that since Moon's trial and conviction, "hundreds of requests for information about our movement have been received by our churches across the country." The packets were sent out "for the sake of mutual friendship and ecumenical sharing" at Moon's suggestion, Durst said.
The names and addresses were obtained from mailing lists purchased from organizations that work with the Rev. Jerry Falwell and other evangelists, church spokespersons said. One church representative told the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board that the mailing cost about $10 million.
Joy Garratt, the church's director of public affairs, said that of the more than 500 responses to the materials received at the national headquarters in New York by mid-March, 58 percent were positive, 39 percent negative and 3 percent neutral. "The negative people have requested that their names be removed from the mailing list and several have returned the charred remains of the tapes they burnt," she said.
Responses varied from that of a minister in Louisiana who wrote, "I do believe that there are many sincere people in your church and I will consider anything you have to say," to a minister in Maryland who wrote, "The literature [brainwashing kit] you sent to me . . . will be put in the incinerator and burned as will all of Satan's works some day according to God's Word."