AFFs Advisory Board
New York, NY
Cynthia Lilley (B.A.,
American University) is a welcome addition to AFFs advisory board, not least because
of her passionate concern for families that have suffered as hers has done. A nationwide
audience of the "Today" show received a stunning lesson on November 8, 1993 when
Ms. Lilley was shown in company with family members and an NBC crew, laying siege
to Unification Church headquarters, demanding access to her daughter. Eighteen-year-old
Cathryn had completed a year at college and was beginning a summer job in New York City.
Within days, she sent her mother a chilling letter, announcing that she would be traveling
around the country with a wonderful group, working with alcoholics and addicts, and
unreachable by phone. The address she gave, Ms. Lilley soon learned, was a Moonie post
box. She spent the night crying, and decided next day that from that moment, her
lifes work was to rescue her daughter.
satisfying career in music education on hold, she was soon immersed in consultation with
family, friends, police, lawyers, private eyes, social workers, and counselors who were
ex-cultists. She spent days telephoning other Moonies parents, absorbing everything
they could tell. AFF president Herb Rosedale gave her invaluable advice and encouragement,
as did Dr. Jolly West ("he was terrific"), and AFFs Washington lawyer,
David Bardin ("a great taskmaster"), who kept her busy writing letters. Working
"harder than at any time in [her] life," she left herself little time to
It took two months to find Cathryns address and,
faced with a camera crew and an adamant family on their doorstep, the Moonies relented to
permit a brief, sad, and inconclusive reunion between mother and daughter.
Sixteen-year-old brother Jonathan was not permitted inside, but he called his messages of
love and support through the open stairwell. A final shot showed the distraught family
walking away into the summer dusk. The November broadcast succeeded where calls and
letters had failed: within three days, the U.C. allowed Cathryn to go home for a visit.
She said later, "I was so broken down at that point that I thought, I may be
rejecting the truth, but I cant go on." The familys relief was
Ms. Lilley has seen at close range both the marvels and the
inadequacies of cult education and rehabilitation. She is committed to improving both.