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NPR One-sided on Moon Movement

Vol. 11, No. 4, 1994

Cult Observe

 

Herbert L. Rosedale

 

The following letter was sent by Herbert L. Rosedale, president of the American Family Foundation (publisher of The Cult Observer), in response to a January 15, 1994 story on National Public Radio’s "Weekend Edition Saturday." Some of Mr. Rosedale’s remarks were read during a subsequent edition of Weekend Edition Saturday.

I am the president of The AFF, a nationwide organization in which more than 100 professionals (doctors, lawyers, theologians and educators) donate their time to educating the public about the dangers of destructive cults. One of the most significant difficulties

s we face in our task is rebutting "after the fact" one-sided presentations that deal with a very significant social concern in an incomplete and un-objective manner.

In the program presented on Weekend Edition . . . Scott Simon presented a view of the Unification Church as if there were no objective negative knowledge developed with respect to this group in the past twenty years. It wholly ignored the findings of Congressman Frazier’s report [1979] as a beginning point. It ignored numerous court decisions which have nothing to do with the belief structure of the Unification Church but rather deal with its "heavenly" deception of state authorities such as a Board of Regents [in the State of New York] and various zoning boards.

Commentary concerning the criminal prosecution and sentencing of Mr. Moon and another senior Unification official ignored the court finding (upheld on appeal) that there were forgeries and alteration of documents which more than justified the punishment meted out. Responsible and balanced recent analyses of the Unification Church and its activities have appeared on public television and on a number of networks in Japan. Those programs did not deal with the beliefs of Unification members. They did, however, address significant claims of wrongdoing leveled against it and its affiliates. Professionals who have developed expertise in treating those injured as a result of their experience with the Unification Church are readily available and someone seeking them out could have obtained their input to balance the views of Unification Church members and supporters, who often find their support buttressed by financial reward.

I find it surprising that the show chose to reach out to an "expert" who recently had her government support terminated because, I am told, of unhappiness with an alleged lack of responsiveness to victims of destructive cults and their families.

The influence of the Unification Church in the media had been well-documented. Resignation of certain editorial personnel at The Washington Times who claim they were subjected to improper control is a matter of public record. The Unification Church’s recent foray into television and its affiliate’s purchase of control over the University of Bridgeport have likewise been the subject of critical examination.

The American Family Foundation does not assert that no person can find a reason for joining a group like the Unification Church or for staying in that group and making a long-term commitment to it. A fully-informed decision to choose a way of life is entitled to respect, but one must continue to wonder why it is that so many of the people who choose to leave this group cite deception in their recruitment, coercion in their retention, and the attempted destruction of their family values and moral integrity. Surely, that is an issue warranting equal concern with examination of those who have remained committed to a totalistic group for the better portion of their lives. The presentation given [on NPR] did not treat the participants as true believers, but rather as unfairly persecuted members of a weak minority religion.

Criticism of the Unification Church by groups characterizing it as a destructive cult does not involve its eastern origin or its beliefs. Rather, criticism has focused upon its use of deception in recruitment and its totalistic view, as well as injury it has caused to persons who become involved in it without their informed consent.

As the president of an organization devoted to educating the public, I would appreciate your considering an appropriate program to supplement the views set forth on the Weekend Edition of January 15. You might consider, in that connection, using the book Recovery From Cults, published by W. W. Norton Company and edited by the Executive Director of AFF [Michael D. Langone]. The book is an alternate selection of the Behavioral Science Book Club and presents a series of professional papers articulating a view wholly different from that presented on your program. It deals with an issue of national public concern that cannot and should not be buried under the well-financed propaganda cloak of an organization skilled at media manipulation.

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