Internal Unification Church documents provide new details on how the followers of South Korean evangelist Sun Myung Moon organized their elaborate campaign in late 1973 to defend President Nixon from impeachment.
The documents, included in executive session testimony just released by a House International Relations subcommittee, show that the church-sponsored National Prayer and Fast Committee was in close contact with the White House and such Nixon supporters as Rabbi Baruch Korff throughout its "Project Watergate."
The purpose of the campaign, according to a Dec. 29, 1973, memo, was to bring new life to the archangel, Nixon - hence to make him aware of our significance." The project was a top priority of Moon, it added, because "Master wants to give an address to a joint session of Congress."
The plan, therefore, was to impress the President, Congress and the media through the use of mass rallies, full-page ads in major newspapers and telegrams and letters to the editor.
Moon said that while visiting Korea in November, 1973, God spoke to him, telling him to "forgive" Nixon. The result was a campagin which included such "TV hints" as: "On camera, medium strong prayer looks good. Very strong prayer doesn't. It looks strange."
Later memos, in July, 1974, outline meetings planned with Bruce Herschensohn, a White House aide. Herschensohn said yesterday that he met several times with church leaders, but denied that he ever discussed strategy with them. "We were very sensitive to having someone say we were orchestrating anything," he said.
The Internal Revenue Service is known to be investigating whether such activity was political, rather than religious. Political action is prohibited for tax-exempt organizations such as the church or the associated groups involved in the pro-Nixon rallies.
The testimony also includes the first public release of several of Moon's sermons, which outline his goal of uniting the world through his fervent, anti-Communist religion.
In one such speech, in 1974, he told his followers how he had overcome early opposition by the Korean government, which was now "begging for our opinion and action.
The House Subcommittee on International Organizations, which released the testimony, has been investigating alleged ties between the church and Korean Central Intelligence Agency as part of a wider study of U.S. Korea relations.
The Washington Post reported last year that U.S. intelligence reports show that the KCIA asked a top Moon aide. Bo Hi Pak to stage the anti-impeachment rallies on Nixon's behalf.
Neil A. Salonen, president of the Unification Church in the United States, declined comment on the new testimony yesterday. But an aide repeated earlier church denials that its support for Nixon was political in nature, or that the church ever acted at the direction of the KCIA.
It is clear from the questioning of Dan Fefferman, head of the committee that organized the rallies, that the subcommittee is attempting to establish that the church-supported political objectives paralleled the interests of the South Korean government.
For instance, Rep. Donald M. Fraser (D-Minn.), chairman of the subcommittee, noted a 1975 Salonen statement which said, "When Father [Moon] came to the United States his primary purpose was to do things that make him influential in Korea." Thus, he added, the rallies were more important for their impact in Korea than in the United States.
"If it helped to bring the government and our church close together, then it was more important than anything else," Fraser quoted Salonen as saying.
The newly released testimony also shows that a rally sponsored by another Moon organization, the Freedom Leadership Foundation (FLF) was abruptly canceled in September, 1974. (The target of the rally was the Japanese government.) Fefferman said he didn't know why, but Donald L. Ranard, a former State Department official, said yesterday that he heard of the plan through intelligence channels and called the Korean embassy not FLF to protest.
Fefferman did say the group considered cutting off their fingers at the planned anti-Japan rally for dramatic effect, but opted instead for egg-throwing.
The subcommittee has recommended that Fefferman be cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to answer some of its questions.
Fefferman testified that he had some social contacts with Korean embassy officials and once arranged for Minister Kim Yung Hwan to meet Ed Feulner Republican Home staff aide, about a possible trip to Korea for congressional aides.
Kim at the time was the KCIA station chief at the embassy, Fefferman said he didn't know that.
Fefferman resisted attempts to ask about his group's dealing with Rabbi Korff. But an Aug. 4, 1974, memo by Salonen aide Judy Green implies there was some disagreement with the other pro-Nixon leader.
"Dan and I agreed that it was best for me to smooth things over with RK." Green wrote, "Maybe I could tell him beat me at chess, Dan suggests."