22 May 2012
Unificationism is still a young religion. As we college-aged Unificationists know from our parents’ stories, it didn’t always have the best rep. And while we slowly pulled away from the limelight, we still experience the odd stinging comment here and there.
Luckily though, Headquarters has a tiny but passionate team dedicated to creating a better public image of the Unification Church! Among other things, it is their job to do damage control when these hurtful comments come up.
One such painful incident took place in Pennsylvaniain early April. Crescentia DeGoede, co-pastor of the Philadelphia Lovin’ Life Ministries, was interviewed for a story in the Daily Pennsylvanian, the student newspaper for University ofPennsylvania. However, when the article was published, it portrayed Lovin’ Life Ministries and the Unification Church in a very negative light.
Together with her husband and co-pastor Leighton as well as the Headquarters team headed up by Doug Burton and Ariana Moon, Crescentia formed a team to stand up to the Daily Pennsylvanian. Hours of work, countless conference calls, and several weeks ensued.
It’s a long story, but the moral is that we do not have to put up with any form of bullying anymore. Because our faith makes us pretty cool people, and it’s time the rest of the world knows it. Using the resources and the support team that is available here at Headquarters, two young Unificationists were able to transform their college’s perspective on the Unification Church.
Here’s a little more detail on what happened:
Part 1: A Nasty Article is Written
Alumni of the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and their allies are reacting in sorrow to an article titled “Some Religious organizations Near Campus Show ‘Darker Side’” published April 5, 2012 in Penn’s campus newspaper, the Daily Pennsylvanian. Penn student Glenn Shrum’s article, which labeled the religious groups Good News Mission (GNM), Ananda Marga and Lovin’ Life Ministries as “high-pressure groups,” can be found here.
“First, I am insulted by Shrum’s use of the term ‘Moonie,’ which is a derogatory term rather than an ‘unofficial name for members of the UnificationChurch,’ as he said in his article,” said DeGoede. “All major media from the New York Times to Reuters have confirmed that its use indicates bigotry. If Shrum believes he has the liberty to use such a term, does he feel the Daily Pennsylvanian will allow writers such as Shrum to disrespect and publicly belittle all minority groups?
“Second, I am saddened by the statement from Prof. Steven Dunning that members of religious groups may need some form of psychological ‘de-programming.’ Over the past thirty years, thousands of Unification Church members have suffered brutalities at the hands of ‘de-programmers’ who sought to break their faith through kidnapping, forced isolation and intimidation. Far too many Unificationists have been physically, psychologically and even sexually abused by these de-programmers. However, countless victims – of which my mother was one – returned to theUnificationChurchand are now successful parents of children who have strong core values of purity, altruism and internal- and external excellence for the sake of world peace. Had their ‘de-programming’ process been successful, these children, of which I am one, would not exist today. Is that the desired outcome?
“Third, Shrum writes that according to Religious-Studies Prof. Dunning, ‘certain new religious movements use ‘high-pressure’ tactics to attract and keep their members.’ However, where is the evidence of the fact that Lovin’ Life Ministries uses ‘high-pressure tactics’? Has Shrum even attended Lovin’ Life’s service or interviewed someone who has?”
The article states that members of theUnificationChurchperform “a lot of good works but sometimes show a darker side,” yet does not specify what the phrase “a darker side” entails.
“Therefore, this statement is merely a harmful insinuation that encourages an attitude of denigration against all Unificationists,” said DeGoede. “Shrum is making baseless claims that not only insult our members, but also leave them vulnerable to criticism by those who are swayed by his narrow-mindedness.
Rev. Michael Jenkins, chairman of the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC), said in response to DeGoede’s statement, “Our goal should not be to make them apologize,” he said. “A forced apology doesn’t advance our relationship. They should apologize but only when they understand and genuinely feel sorry about the situation. Our goal is deeper. We want to win them over as our friends. When they get to know Crescentia, they will be amazed. Their paper should be helping such an excellent ministry as Lovin’ Life to be promoted for its emphasis on abstinence before marriage, fidelity and faithfulness.”