Moon’s Flock Benefits From ‘Faith-Based’ Government Funding

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funds are going to followers\n of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon through the “faith-based” initiative,\n the San Fran­cisco Chronicle reported Oct. 3.

Members of Moon’s Unification Church have accepted the tax aid to run\n marriage improvement programs and abstinence-based sex education programs for\n teenagers. Moon officials insist the programs do not teach Unification theology,\n but critics say there is little public accountability in them.

The Chronicle noted, “At least four longtime operatives of\n Moon’s Unifi­cation Church are on the federal payroll or getting\n government grants in the administration’s Healthy Marriage Initi­ative\n and other ‘faith-based’ programs.”

The newspaper reported on one program, a “Certified Marriage Education\n Training Seminar,” held in late Septem­ber at a Holiday Inn in Oakland.\n Dozens of local pastors and social workers attended the event, which was run\n by two Unification Church ministers.

One of the presenters, Josephine Hauer, was recently hired as a “marriage\n specialist” at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Prior\n to starting her new job, Hauer was director of marriage education at the University\n of Bridgeport, a Moon-owned college in Connecticut.

Asked about her religious background by the Chronicle, Hauer refused\n to answer. Wade Horn, a Religious Right activist who serves as assistant secretary\n for children and families at the Department of Health and Human Ser­vices,\n also refused to comment on Hauer’s Unification ties.

“We don’t ask people’s religious affiliation before we\n hire them,” Horn said. “But if someone uses federal funds to proselytize,\n that would be a violation. It doesn’t matter whether they are Baptist,\n Presbyterian, Jewish or even members of the Unification Church.”

The event in Oakland was sponsored by the California State Healthy Marriage\n Initiative, a private group founded by a Protestant minister, the Rev. Dion\n Evans. Evans said his group got $366,179 in federal money by partnering with\n the University of Bridgeport but said he does not intend to work with the school\n again.

Another Moon-related group, Free Teens USA, received $475,000 in federal\n money to promote abstinence among teenagers in New Jersey. Richard Panzer,\n who runs the program, graduated from a Moon-owned seminary in New York but\n insists the program is secular.

Critics say Moon’s desire to get tax support for issues such as marriage\n and human sexuality is disturbing, given the Unification Church’s unusual\n practices in this area. Moon is known for performing mass weddings where hundreds\n of couples are simultaneously wed, even though they may barely know one another.

Unification theology also provides strict instructions for sexual activity\n among members. Adherents are taught that children born of these unions are\n free from original sin.

Moon himself is also a controversial figure. His church teaches that all\n world religions should merge under Moon, who has declared himself the messiah.\n In March, controversy erupted after it was reported that Moon was symbolically\n crowned “king of America” in a ceremony on Capitol Hill attended\n by several members of Congress.

Moon has promoted the faith-based initiative since it was unveiled by President\n George W. Bush in 2001. He has also used the initiative to do outreach to local\n clergy. (See “White House Official Promotes Faith-Based Plan At Moon\n Event,” People & Events, February 2003 Church & State, and “Moon\n Shadow,” June 2001 Church & State.)