he 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily halted a civil trial yesterday in which the Rev. Sun Myung Moon was being compelled to answer questions about his "meetings" and communications with Jesus Christ, Moses and Buddha.
The line of questioning had been sanctioned by U.S. District Judge Richard Owen because a "deprogrammer" is being sued for $9 million for allegedly abducting a member of Moon's Unification Church and trying to force the follower to renounce his beliefs.
The appeals court intervened at the church's request in the midst of the second day of questioning of Moon as a reluctant defense witness. The appeals court scheduled a hearing today on whether to allow the trial to continue.
The suit was filed by Anthony Colombrito, 30, a Moon follower, who charged Galen Kelly, a "deprogrammer" from Kingston, N.Y., with abducting him in 1979 and trying to force him to renounce his faith in Moon.
Colombrito tried to drop the suit Wednesday rather than have Moon, whom he calls his "personal Messiah," be subjected to questioning. Owen denied the motion and Colombrito's lawyers went to the appeals court, claiming that Owen's refusal resulted in a "government inquisition" into Moon's religious beliefs.
Before the intervention, Moon testified yesterday that he has frequent conversations with Jesus, Moses and Buddha and believes he has "the possibility of becoming the real Messiah."
"It's all a matter of faith," the 62-year-old South Korean evangelist said under oath.