Moon Shadows


Bill Berkowitz


Some 1,700
religious, civic, and political leaders attended a January 19 pre-inaugural
prayer luncheon. The guest list included a host of Religious Right luminaries;
the ubiquitous Rev. Jerry Falwell, former National Evangelical Association
President Don Argue, Trinity Broadcasting Network’s Paul Crouch, and a host of
leaders from the Southern Baptist Convention, including President James
Merritt, Executive Committee President and CEO Morris H. Chapman, and Ethics &
Religious Liberty Commission President Richard Land.

According to a
front-page story in the Moon-owned Washington Times, then Sen. John
Ashcroft dropped by and “brought down the house…with a tale of amazing grace.”

One of the
featured speakers at the luncheon was Dr. Tony Evans, head of the Texas-based
group, The Urban Alternative. Dr. Evans, an African American, is an
entertaining and unrestrained speaker with a penchant for saying outrageous
things. He is frequently a featured speaker at assorted Promise Keeper events
around the country. He is also a close friend and confidant to President Bush.
Several months ago, the New York Times reported that Bush often calls
on Evans for spiritual guidance. According to its website (www.tonyevans.org)
The Urban Alternative proclaims itself “a ministry that seeks to equip,
empower and unite Christians to impact individuals, families, churches and
communities for the rebuilding of lives from the inside out.”

Despite being a
rhetorically charged and lively interdenominational event, some leaders from
the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) quickly backpedaled after they learned
that the Inaugural Prayer Luncheon for Unity and Renewal was sponsored by the
Rev. Moon-run Washington Times Foundation. According to a January 23
report from Baptist Press, some SBC officials are claiming they knew
nothing about Moon’s imprint on the event. “We knew that it was going to be an
interdenominational event, but we had no idea that the luncheon was hosted by
the Moonies,” said Merritt, pastor of an Atlanta area church. This despite the
fact that for years Moon has been lending a helping hand to several
financially challenged Religious Right organizations; not long ago, he gave a
large donation to help shore up Rev. Jerry Falwell’s financially troubled
Liberty University.

In one of his
first moves as president, George W. Bush signed a proclamation designating the
day after the inauguration as a National Day of Prayer and Thanks- giving.

Rev. Moon’s
Unification Church, which enjoys nonprofit tax status, is once again finding
fertile ground for its political mission. Moon, the owner of the
ultra-conservative Washington Times and a large group of other media
outlets, including the recently acquired United Press International, delivered
an address at the prayer luncheon, and then handed out complimentary copies of
one of his books and other Unification Church materials.

For a period of
time during the past few years, things weren’t looking so good for the
Reverend and his family. In 1998, Moon’s former daughter-in-law, Nansook Hong,
wrote an explosive book, In the Shadow of the Moons, which detailed her
stormy relationship with Moon’s eldest son, Hyo Jin Moon, which included
alcoholism, drug abuse, wife beating, and cavorting with prostitutes. In
October 1999, one of Moon’s other sons committed suicide by jumping from a
17th-story balcony at Harrah’s hotel in Reno. According to Don Lattin,
Religion writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, revelations in Nansook
Hong’s book, coupled with the death of his son were extremely significant
because they strike at the heart of Moon’s teachings. Moon claims, “that he
and his wife are the True Parents of a new spiritual lineage born without
original sin.” Last year, Lattin reports, the Unification Church published a
history of its U.S. ministry, 40 Years in America, and the book “ends
with the clear anointing of Hyun Jin Nim, a graduate of Harvard Business
School.”

The
much-publicized disfunc- tionality of Rev. Moon’s family contributed to
keeping him out of the public spotlight during the past few years. However,
recently Rev. Moon has reemerged, participating in a series of high profile
events aimed at unification—which means the “melt[ing] down [of] all
denominational barriers to form one body of Christ,” according to Rev. Michael
Jenkins, a top Moon official.

In mid-October,
Moon’s Unification Church provided critical financial and organizational
support to Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan’s Million Family March in
Washington DC. Hundreds of Unification Church followers were mobilized to help
organize, finance, and attend the Washington, DC gathering. Long-time right
wing watcher and author Frederick Clarkson, who broke the story in the online
journal Salon, wrote: “Moon’s role in the Million Family March is the
fruit of a three-year personal relationship that began when Farrakhan helped
officiate at one of Moon’s marriage ceremonies at Washington’s RFK Stadium in
1997.”

Moon’s minions
were also intimately involved in the vote counting fiasco in Florida. On
December 1, according to Church & State, the monthly publication of
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, “Moon’s American Clergy
Leadership Conference (ACLC) sponsored a press conference in front of the
Supreme Court to coincide with legal arguments before the justices over the
Florida election results.” This event was another interfaith call to “unite
upon the common ground of America’s tradition of faith in God to prevent the
continued partisan struggle over the election results in Florida from further
polarizing the nation.”

Several
fundamentalist Christian groups, including the Center for Christian
Statesmanship (CCS), Intercessors for America (IFA), and individuals such as
Pastor Dutch Sheets, are advocating turning Bush’s one day of prayer
declaration into 100 days of non-stop prayer.

According to
Charisma News Service, a daily news update put out by Charisma
magazine, “Christians who offered concerted prayers during the presidential
election have been urged not to stop following the weekend’s inauguration.”

The Center for
Christian Statesmanship (CCS) is asking Christians to pray every day for the
Bush administration through mid-April. The virulently anti-gay Florida-based
evangelist D. James Kennedy, of the Coral Ridge Ministries, founded the
Washington DC-based CCS. The organization is closely linked to several
congressional representatives and their staffs who participate in meetings,
events, personal ministry, and the distribution of the Center’s materials. CCS
director Frank Wright told Charisma News Service the first 100 days is a
critical period especially since the nation is so divided. “It seems it would
be a good time for God’s people to pray for divine guidance and intervention
and wisdom,” he said.

For the better
part of four decades the Rev. D. James Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Ministries has
been flying beneath the radar of mainstream media, while building a
multimillion-dollar media ministry and political operation. In 1998, the
Ministries’ Center for Reclaiming America initiated the campaign to reposition
the Religious Right’s anti-gay activities by asserting gay people could become
ex-gays through the proper therapy and counseling.

 


Intercessors
For America


One hundred days
of prayer is supported by Intercessors for America, a major player in the
relatively unknown intercessor prayer movement. The Leesburg, Virginia-based
IFA was founded in 1973, to encourage effective prayer and fasting in support
of the church and the nation (www.ifa-usapray.org).

Before the
election, in a bit of inside the church-way politics, IFA got egg on its face
after falsely accusing Pastor T.D. Jakes of partisan politics on behalf of Al
Gore. Jakes, who runs the powerful Potter’s House church in Dallas, Texas, a
26,000-member congregation with dozens of outreach ministries, quickly denied
the charges. It turned out Gore had been one of the church’s invited guests
along with then Governor George W. Bush, who was unable to attend, at a
dedication ceremony at Jakes’s church. Partisan politics had not been involved
and IFA was forced to apologize.

Although IFA
claims its prayers are non-partisan, it’s clear that its virulent
anti-abortion and anti-gay politics mirror the agenda of the Religious Right.
In a 1990 GroupWatch report by the Inter- hemispheric Resource Center, IFA was
described as a prayer network serving the New Right’s domestic and
international agenda. IFA founder John Talcott also started the right-wing
Plymouth Rock Foundation, and sponsored Third Century Press, a group set up by
then-Congressperson John Conlan and the Campus Crusade for Christ’s Bill
Bright, to publish and distribute conservative political books based on the
scriptures.

In April 1993,
the Intercessors for America newsletter helped set the tone for what was to
become the so-called era of incivility in Washington, DC—the changing of which
George W. Bush has repeated over and over again. Commenting on President
Clinton’s support of Roe v. Wade and of gays in the military the
newsletter stated: “The sun had barely set on the inauguration of President
William Jefferson Clinton when pronouncements from the Oval Office cast dark
shadows across America’s faded moral landscape. With callous disregard for
those who valiantly stood for life, the president chose the 20th anniversary
of Roe v. Wade to strip away several rights of the unborn. He then
sought to reverse the time-honored practice of restricting homosexuals in our
armed services, ignoring the counsel of the nation’s military leadership.”

During the
period between election day and the Supreme Court’s selection day, IFA issued
“a plea to the youth of America to cry out to the God of Heaven and earth,
that truth, justice, and righteousness would prevail.” IFA called on young
people, youth workers, parents, and others to commit themselves to: (1)
individual prayer and fasting until the election is resolved; (2) having youth
groups join in united prayer for our nation; (3) 20 to 30 minute prayer
gatherings around the flagpoles at school campuses on the day the Supreme
Court meets.

Pastor Dutch
Sheets is a national prayer leader and pastor of Spring Harvest Fellowship in
Colorado Springs, Colorado. His Intercessory Prayer is a guidebook on
the subject. It explains, “The power of intercessory prayer… [which] inspires
you to pray with courage to a God who hears your words…before you even speak
them.” Sheets says Christians need to “up the scale of prayer” or President
Bush could “be overcome by the political machine…I think our job as a church
is to go to a new level of prayer for this man, that God would literally
anoint him to lead this nation.”

With Rev. Moon
back on the A-list and casting himself as a “uniter, not a divider” and the
intercessor prayer folks standing in the shadows, indeed the times they are a’
changin’.                     Z

Bill
Berkowitz is an Oakland, California-based freelance writer covering the
Religious Right and related conservative movements.