In Scotland and Britain Unification Church (UC) properties are being sold, centers are closing. A mass exodus of members to Europe and the US leaves but a handful of Moonies in the UK. Such is the current backlash felt by the church, whose troubles began in 1978.
Contesting a Daily Mail article titled »The Church That Breaks Up Families,« Dennis Orme (then head of the UC in the UK) brought a libel suit against the newspaper. The 100-day case, which involved 117 witnesses, was spread over a period of six months. It was Britain’s longest, costliest (estimated expenditures £750,000) libel action that ended in March 1981 with the jury deciding in favor of the Daily Mail. The UC then filed an appeal. In late December 1982 the three appeal judges upheld the High Court’s decision that the newspaper was »justified« in reporting that the Moonies brainwashed recruits and broke up families. In their statement the judges confirmed:
In our judgment there was evidence which was capable of being regarded as the brainwashing of prospective converts. There was also evidence from which the jury could infer that, both in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, this church broke up families and carried on its activities under a cloak of deceit and in a manner which gave cause for concern about its money-collecting activities. In our judgment there was evidence which was capable of supporting the case that Mr. Orme, as leader in the United Kingdom, was closely associated with a bogus organisation which exists for political and commercial purposes, rather than religious ones.
Precisely because of those allegations of »political and commercial purposes,« the jury (and subsequently Attorney General Sir Michael Havers) demanded that the UC’s charitable status be investigated by the Inland Revenue, an investigation predicated on a recommendation by the Charity Commission. In June 1983, however, the Charity Commissioners released a statement in defense of the UC.
The evidence showed that many well-educated people all over the world believed the tenets of Divine Principle and that those tenets, however unorthodox, were arguably within the scope of Christianity in the broadest sense... on the information before (us) there is insufficient justification to use (our) powers.
Angered by the Commissioners’ attitude, Sir Havers stated in late June that the government is »to press ahead with a High Court action to remove the charitable status of the Moonies.« If successful, that action would undoubtedly deprive the UC of its tax-free status, along with its removal from the charity register. The issues at hand involve whether the UC is an organization established for religious purposes, which are grounds for it being maintained as a charity, whose political activities are merely incidental to its main goals.
On another front, The Far Eastern Economic Review reported in its 17 December 1982 issue that Reverend Sun Myung Moon joined together in 1968 with prominent Japanese rightists (principal among them Ryoichi Sasagawa) to found the Kokusai Shokyorengo. That group boasts 400,000 members, the majority of whom belong to the UC. The head of more than 30 organizations and the man who holds a monopoly on Japanese motorboat-race gambling, Sasagawa has described himself as »the world’s wealthiest fascist.« The Kokusai Shokyorengo has been ranked »as 11th among all Japanese groups, with an annual outlay of $1.7 million.« Among the rightist factions in contemporary Japan, the Kokusai Shokyorengo is »particularly active in harassing the communists. The group imported several hundred air-rifles and shotguns from Moon’s South Korean arms factory.«
On still another continent, »An arm of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, a group called ‘Causa,’ or cause in Spanish, is pumping millions of dollars into an anti-communist organizing effort...in much of Central and South America.« So reports Joan Omang in a Washington Post article titled »Moon’s ‘Cause’ Takes Aim at Communism in Americas.« Founded in 1980, Causa is presided over by retired South Korean Colonel Bo Hi Pak, a top Moon aide. Having had a rocky start in Brazil, El Salvador, and Honduras (due to opposition by Roman Catholic church and lay leaders), Causa is enjoying success, the group’s literature reports, in Guatemala, Paraguay, and Uruguay. »Causa International has recently been most visible in Honduras where Pak contributed $50,000 last March on behalf of Causa to a new exclusive group of businessmen and military officers called the Association for the Promotion of Honduras. Causa had earlier given 12 Honduran notables a free trip to South Korea...and held a series of four-day seminars on anti-communism in San Pedro Sula, Honduras’ second largest city, for ‘over 1,000 national leaders,’ journalists and public officials, according to Causa literature.«
But Honduran Roman Catholic leaders continue to denounce Causa, prohibiting laypeople and clergy from participating in promoting Causa’s philosophy of »God-ism.« Mincing no words, the bishops’ recent pastoral letter decries the UC as »truly anti-Christian,« producing a »species of material and spiritual slavery.«With reports of that nature, it is little wonder that the Attorney General, Prime Minister Thatcher, and angered Members of Parliament in Britain are questioning whether Moon and the UC’s political activities worldwide are merely tangential to the church’s religious goals or, rather, present a primary thrust of the church, whose stated goal is to unify all religions and establish a one-world government, ostensibly under Moon’s rule.