A four-day conference here sponsored by Causa North America, an arm of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, featured "standard conservative ideas" about communism until the third day, according to Frank Jones, a pseudonym for one of the 200 participants.
"Then it got theological," he said.
Jones, who identified himself as a conservative West Coast writer, said he and like-minded friends who attended the seminar Aug. 18-21 at the Mayflower Hotel "weren't really sure what was coming and were a little leery of the connection to the Moonies."
They came because the letter of invitation promised an ecumenical effort to challenge communism, and because the letter had heightened their curiosity by openly stating the connection to the Unification Church, he said.
When it was over, Jones said, he decided that the program "was designed to gain legitimacy for the Unification Church among the conservative community and to use that to draw people into the church," and that it had been at least partly successful.
"My concern is that the Moonie attachment to the conservative, anti-communist cause is going to jeopardize the legitimacy of that cause," he said.
His account of the meeting coincides with a basic description provided by Causa USA Director Joe A. Tully.
A reception introduced the participants to Causa President Bo Hi Pak, Moon's top aide; Causa's research institute director Thomas Ward and Causa executive director, and conference co-chairman Warren Richardson, former general counsel for Liberty Lobby.
Speaking at the next day's plenary session, Pak said, "The Causa world view offers a complete solution to communism."
Jones said he was impressed by the ensuing computerized slide, film and audio presentation entitled "Causa," which depicted Latin American poverty and said that communism exploited conditions to topple democratic governments.
The 40-minute presentation showed Ward and Pak in Latin America, explaining "God-ism" to the people as a counter-ideology to communism, Jones said. The philosophy was not further explained at that point.
Six lectures during the rest of the day, punctuated by films and slides, discussed communist growth in the west, the history of Marxism-Leninism and communist theory--"very academically, a standard primer course," Jones said. "A few people dozed off, but most didn't."
The dinner speaker was Soviet dissident Michail Makarenko, a former art gallery director who left the Soviet Union in 1978. He showed a film of Soviet life that he allegedly had smuggled out of the country.
"We were thinking, 'Well, so far so good; none of this is really new,' " Jones said.
Ward led off the third day with a lecture asserting that communism is the truly imperialistic system. Then William Lay, editor of Causa magazine, discussed "Confusion in the Western Value System," saying the classic balance between humanistic Greek philosophy and God-centered Hebraic thinking had ended after the 18th century.
"He said now the Hellenic emphasis on man predominates, and Marxism-Leninism is the ultimate manifestation of that," Jones summarized. "It's necessary to return to God right now before communism triumphs."
Pak, using slides and films, then gave a three-hour "Introduction to the Causa World View," Jones related.
Pak said it was not the theology of the Unification Church but rather a philosophy called "God-ism, something broad and ecumenical enough that all faiths could agree on it," Jones said.
God's creation of perfect earthly goodness had become corrupted through selfishness into hell on Earth, but history is moving toward the restoration of perfection, Jones quoted Pak as saying.
Using what he called "beach-ball" diagrams of the black-white, Yin-Yang duality, Pak linked God's cosmic mind to human will, intellect, emotion and purpose, and thence to human satisfaction through union with God.
"A lot of the Protestant fundamentalists and the Catholics there were exchanging glances, and some people were a little nonplussed," Jones said. Asked how Causa viewed the Church, Pak said that Pope John Paul II and President Reagan were "the two leaders of the free world who deserve our support."
Asked how God-ism would fight communism, Pak said programs were being developed, but that one ideology must be met with another.
He asked participants to help Causa in voter registration and in organizing in each congressional district.
A dinnertime film on Pak, "The Truth is My Sword," was introduced as the truth about Moon and the Unification Church.
Pak's speech afterwards roused participants to emotional applause for his defiance of a congressional investigation in 1978, Jones said. About a third of the people signed up as Causa members at the closing session the next day, he said.