Funded by the Unification Church, CAUSA seeks an interfaith effort based on Moon’s theology.
Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church is conducting a political outreach to evangelical and fundamentalist pastors through CAUSA, an anti-Communist organization with headquarters in New York City. The group’s “ministerial alliance,” headed by Unification pastor Chung Hwan Kwak, is organizing grassroots teams to promote Godism, a philosophy Moon says will defeat communist ideology worldwide.
Pastors are offered all-expense-paid trips to conferences and training seminars; Unification Church members follow up with phone calls and letters; and assurances are made that CAUSA is out to change no one’s religious convictions. But Godism is an intricate “world view” that permeates CAUSA seminar materials and is touted as the sole solution to communism, which is viewed as “God’s emergency of all time.” In essence, Godism is a formula for ushering in the kingdom of God on earth by human effort. CAUSA has attracted a following among some Christians throughout the country, and it has gained at least a temporary hearing among others.
In Washington State, Assemblies of God evangelist Daniel Scalf agreed to become a regional director for CAUSA. In a published CAUSA report about one of its ministerial alliance meetings, Scalf is quoted as saying “I believe that CAUSA has the best material I’ve ever seen on the subject of Marxism-Leninism.”
Reports of Scalf’s work on behalf of CAUSA generated alarm at Assemblies of God headquarters in Springfield, Missouri. The denomination’s executive committee passed a resolution urging pastors to avoid CAUSA. “Contacts made through this group are followed up by Unification workers who use the openings to solicit for converts,” the resolution reads. “The Committee feels our ministers and churches should be discouraged from identification with it.”
David C. MacKenzie, assistant rector at The Falls Church (Episcopal) in Falls Church, Virginia, met with CAUSA representatives twice and was contacted by telephone several times. He said they denied any ties between their organization and the Unification Church. MacKenzie said he finally told them not to contact him again because their presentations were based on Unification theology.
Thomas McDevitt, a Unification pastor and CAUSA’s East Coast regional director, said there are no formal ties between the Unification Church and the anti-Communist organization. When two Baptist pastors raised questions at a CAUSA conference, McDevitt said he told them, “If you can refute communism with your theological views, then that’s fine.” He added, however, that he believes an interfaith effort is essential. “As long as you stay in your fortress of orthodoxy,” he said, “you will be defeated.”
Although it is officially separate from Moon’s church, CAUSA has close links with Unificationism financially and through its personnel. The CAUSA Lecture Manual states, “The history of CAUSA is inseparable from the life and experiences of Reverend Moon.” Bo Hi Pak, president of CAUSA International, and Joe A. Tully, executive director of CAUSA USA, are highly placed Unification officials.
Lori Antolock, an aide to Pak, confirmed that Unification money pays for most CAUSA events and projects. For a recent East Coast regional meeting in Atlanta, CAUSA prepared invitations for 5,400 pastors, offering each one a full scholarship.
CAUSA International, based in New York City, was founded in 1980 and is active in 21 countries. Its affiliate, CAUSA USA, has headquarters in Washington, D.C. Originally, CAUSA was an acronym for Confederation of the Associations for the Unification of the Societies of the Americas. Now, according to CAUSA USA president Phillip V. Sanchez—former U.S. Ambassador to Honduras—the name refers simply to the “cause” of fighting communism. CAUSA USA inaugurated its ministerial alliance last year following a series of rallies held nationwide to protest perceived threats to religious freedom, including Moon’s imprisonment for tax evasion (CT, Sept. 7, 1984, p. 56).
Baptist Pastor Resigns as Head of Religious Freedom Group
Greg Dixon cites the publication of an article by Sun Myung Moon as his reason for leaving.
The Coalition for Religious Freedom, a Washington, D.C., group supported by a number of fundamentalist and evangelical pastors, went to bat last year for Sun Myung Moon when he was convicted of tax fraud. To express his appreciation, Moon offered the group a substantial contribution, estimated at $500,000, to help launch an effort to publicize threats to religious freedom in America.
The coalition produced a videotape, began publishing a monthly newspaper called Religious Freedom Alert, and invited pastors to form local affiliates nationwide. Its president, Greg Dixon, pastor of Indianapolis Baptist Temple, said he was assured that he would have “total control” over the coalition’s published materials, board membership, and philosophy.
Last month, Dixon resigned as president of the Coalition for Religious Freedom. He cited his concern that the organization appeared to be a platform for advancing the views of Moon’s Unification Church. The coalition’s former executive director, Donald Sills, replaced Dixon as president, and Robert Grant of Christian Voice was named chairman of the corporate board.
Specifically, Dixon objected to portions of a lengthy letter written by Moon that were published in the March issue of the coalition’s newspaper. The letter was published under a headline that called Moon a “Prisoner With, And For, A Cause!” The letter portrayed Moon as a Christian pastor called to “promote love and unity in the Body of Christ around the world.” It is an important tool in the Unification Church’s campaign to gain acceptance in American religious life.
If he had known beforehand that Religious Freedom Alert planned to publish Moon’s letter, Dixon said, he would have prohibited it. Publishing the letter “goes beyond the limits of reporting the facts of his [Moon’s] incarceration; and actually allows the [Religious Freedom] Alert to be used as a pulpit for a sermon from Moon,” Dixon wrote in his letter of resignation.
Publication of Moon’s letter made his resignation necessary, Dixon said. “To do anything to directly further what I believe to be false doctrine is not only a sin; but inexcusable,” he wrote in his resignation letter.
“The purpose of the [Religious Freedom] Alert is not to espouse any particular doctrinal position,” Dixon said in a telephone interview. “I feel we’ve been true to that position up until the article on Moon.” Because the article appeared at the same time the Unification Church sent explanatory materials to 300,000 pastors, Dixon said, “it is impossible for me to convince my brethren that the Coalition [for Religious Freedom] does not advance the Unification Church. The only way I can prove my sincerity is to resign, period.”
Kathleen Masters, editor of Religious Freedom Alert, said she decided to print Moon’s letter because “people wanted to know why we supported his case, and I thought, ‘Why not take it from the horse’s mouth?’ The letter is the epitome of what he really believes.”
Dixon and other coalition members say they have experienced no pressure from the Unification Church, but Moon has exercised a subtle influence on the group. News articles published in Religious Freedom Alert come from Religion Today, a news service provided by William F. Willoughby, who is religion editor for the Unification Church-owned Washington Times newspaper. Willoughby is not a follower of Moon, but he portrayed the Unification Church leader sympathetically in a 1984 column in the Coalition for Religious Freedom newspaper. Moon, he wrote, has “quietly championed the arts and things of high cultural and scientific values in this country.” Willoughby’s column said Moon “has won a resounding victory” by awakening America to the precariousness of its religious rights.
Some people listed as members of the Coalition for Religious Freedom executive committee and advisory board say they are unaware of the group’s activities. D. James Kennedy, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, said he has never attended a coalition meeting and knows nothing about what it does from day to day. “My name is [used by] … literally scores of organizations,” he said.
Ben Armstrong, executive director of National Religious Broadcasters, said he would “have to bow out” of the coalition committee if Unification Church ties exist. Christian author Tim LaHaye, chairman of the coalition’s executive committee, said he has not been active in the coalition since last summer, when he chaired a rally in Washington, D.C., to protest government interference in religious freedom.
Many Christian pastors participated in the rallies because they were organized by members of a Coalition on Religious Freedom, headed by fundamentalist pastors Greg Dixon and Donald Sills. Dixon recently resigned as president of the coalition (see article on p. 56). Funded primarily by business interests and organizations controlled by Moon, the coalition attracted support from conservative Christian circles by championing Baptist pastor Everett Sileven’s battle with Nebraska authorities over licensing a church-run school. There are no direct links between CAUSA and the Coalition for Religious Freedom, although Sills often speaks at CAUSA conferences.
Sills defends the coalition, saying, “Our organization is very simply an independent educational operation. The coalition is not classified as a Christian or even a religious organization so much as it is a First Amendment organization.”
Both the Coalition on Religious Freedom and CAUSA concentrate their efforts on local pastors, organizing meetings and rallies to stir support for causes they say serve the interests of all religious groups. Many who attend the meetings are wary, however, of helping Moon and his church achieve the social acceptance they want.
Richard Bello, a Baptist associate pastor and head of South Carolina Citizens for Morality, attended a five-day, expense-paid CAUSA meeting in Washington, D.C. He said he was troubled by the theological slant behind the anti-communist presentation.
“The first day was introductory, the second [day] had a little more of Godism, and on the third there was no question we were being solicited,” Bello said. “On the fourth we were recruited, and by the fifth day we were either financed or wooed into trying to draw the net in our own communities.” CAUSA officials asked Bello whether a financial contribution would help his ministry. He said he told them $ 150,000 would enable him to buy a motor coach and pursue a teen outreach.
They indicated the money was available, Bello said, and they asked for further information about his ministry. He turned down the offer, left the meeting early, and has not heard from CAUSA since.
Godism, according to the CAUSA Lecture Manual, was developed by Moon as “a winning solution” to communism. “Through extraordinary communication with God, he [Moon] came to see clearly that there is no way we can eliminate communism if we do not confront it with a superior ideology or worldview.” One of its main precepts parallels Unification teaching: “All mankind should be united, for we are all the children of God.”
In his opening remarks in the manual, Pak says CAUSA’s purpose is not to change anyone’s religion. Yet he teaches that “the God of Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Mormonism, Unificationism, and the God of all religions is one and the same.”
The CAUSA material describes communism and says the West has grown increasingly vulnerable to it. Each section concludes with a strong appeal for Godism. Participants are encouraged, however, to “keep their own views” if the Godism presentation conflicts with their own convictions.
In accord with Moon’s primary “theological” work, Divine Principle, the CAUSA world view asserts that God’s intention to create perfect humans was thwarted because Adam and Eve did not produce children until after their fall. In man’s fallen condition, communism has flourished, bringing about “the perfection of evil,” the manual states. “Communism has created the ultimate hell.”
Moon’s Divine Principle teaching states that Jesus, as well as Adam and Eve, failed to do what God desired. Jesus was supposed to marry and bear perfect children, but was killed before accomplishing his mission. Because of this, Moon has said that a “Lord of the Second Advent” must come into the world to provide the physical salvation Jesus could not deliver. This “second” Christ, Moon says, will hail from South Korea. Moon’s followers believe that Moon himself is that messiah.
While the CAUSA material does not spell this out, it expresses a Unification perspective on the primacy of married life. “In order to make the fullest expression of God,” it says, “man and woman must be perfectly united as husband and wife in love.” The manual predicts a day when “every person will eventually be able to restore his original character and essential value. All men and women shall become ‘perfect as their Heavenly Father is perfect.’ ” Jesus’ role in the CAUSA world view is minimal, although New Testament quotations and references to Jesus appear occasionally.
The CAUSA manual insists that it prescribes no particular form of worship or path to salvation, yet its three concluding recommendations explain how to become a child of God, how to obtain eternal life, and how to achieve fulfillment in life. Eternal life, it says, “means the attainment of the highest stage of spiritual development. Our goal must be to secure eternal life. This can only be achieved by the diligent application of God-centered principles here on earth,” as outlined in the CAUSA world view.
Cal Thomas, communications vice-president for Moral Majority, attended a CAUSA seminar in San Francisco. At the end of the world view presentation, he was asked to comment from the floor. Reacting to the unchristian theories put forth, he shocked participants by standing and saying, “I am a follower of Jesus, who said he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man comes to the Father except by him.”
Gordon Lewis, professor of systematic theology at Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary and author of Confronting the Cults (Baker), has studied CAUSA materials and Moon’s theology. He said that although CAUSA says it is ecumenical, it cannot help but reinterpret others’ view of God from the Unification perspective.
Moon’s goal, Lewis said, is “to establish a super race, a new family of perfect people.” Moon’s followers refer to him and his wife as “True Parents,” and they demonstrate their perfection through loyalty to Moon. This explains why 4,000 of Moon’s followers submitted to his choice of a marriage partner for them in 1982, when he held a mass wedding ceremony at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Moon’s apparently dictatorial control over active church members’ lives has lost him the support of some leading conservatives in Washington who emphasize traditional family values. “They’re not on our team because they don’t have the same agenda,” said Connaught Marshner, executive vice-president of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation. “They’ve said things suggesting that their goal is to take over the U.S. government. Catholics, Mormons, and Protestants don’t say that.”
Sanchez, CAUSA USA’s president, is aware of the public relations problem the Unification Church poses for anyone associated with it. He said he is determined to see CAUSA materials purged of theological content and a nonsectarian support base built for the group through grassroots organizing. Sanchez said he is a lifelong Catholic and knows very little about Unification doctrine. “Not being familiar with their theology, I never know when what is being said is coincidental to it or not.”
Even if CAUSA succeeded in ridding its training materials of theological content, many Christians who have studied Unificationism say participating in its activities would be risky. Said Lewis, of Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary: “Whatever CAUSA is able to accomplish will contribute to the cause of Moon.”
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