A California magazine claims that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church has given some of its members instructions in suicide practices to be used if confronted with deprogrammers.
The report, in the current issue of New West magazine, was denounced by Mose Durst, state director of the church, as "rubbish and compost" and an attempt to make political capital out of the murder-suicide of Rev. Jim Jones' followers in Guyana.
According to the two-page New West article, former Moon church members interviewed by the magazine said they were told that death by their own hands is preferable to deprogramming or life outside the church. All of the members quoted left the church two or more years ago.
One of the former members, 24-year-old Virginia Mabry, is quoted as saying that she attended a lecture in December 1976 at the Moon House in San Francisco where "Moonies" were told to make their deaths look like murder if they had no chance to escape from a deprogrammer.
"The best thing would be to throw ourselves in front of the deprogrammer's car, because then he'd be charged with murder," Mabry was quoted as saying. "Second, depending on how much time we have, we were told to slice either our wrist or our jugular vein."
Philip Kashian, 22, was quoted as saying he attended a church lecture in January 1977 where death by razor blade was encouraged as a response to kidnaping and deprogramming.
New West said that neither Durst nor other members of the Unification Church have been willing to comment on the report. But Durst said the magazine never tried to obtain the church's views.
"There was no attempt whatsoever, by mail, by phone or by any other way to reach any member of the Unification Church for comments," Durst said. "They reached members who, for several years, have had as their actual purpose the desire to destroy the Unification Church."
Durst said the former members who were quoted have been criticizing the church for years and never mentioned suicide until after the killings at Jonestown.
The magazine quoted from speeches by Moon in "Master Speaks," the transcripts of his speeches and sermons, to attempt to show that he supports suicide.
"Have you ever thought that you may die for the Unification Church?" Moon is quoted as saying in a speech called "Let Us Go Over the Boundary Line."
Durst said that the church's teachings were based on Judeo-Christian tenets and "suicide is completely anathema."