The Words of the Jenkins Family after 2008
Kidnap victim Toro Goto speaks to 300 at prayer breakfast in Chicago, IL.
It is the duty of all faith leaders to defend and uplift human rights for all. Recently, in Chicago 300 clergy gathered and heard the shocking story of egregious violations of human rights that still are going on in Japan. During the previous 40 years thousands of the members of the Unification movement have been kidnapped, confined against their will, and put under severe mental distress and physical abuse in attempts to force them to renounce their faith. In one incident some years ago one innocent young sister repeatedly was raped by her captor in an attempt to demoralize her and break her faith.
As we presented the story of Mr. Toru Goto to the clergy, there was a stunned gasp as we showed the pictures of his time in the hospital shortly after he escaped last year. He was held in confinement for twelve years and five months. The pictures call for action, for Mr. Goto’s appearance is reminiscent of survivors of German death camps. Starved and emaciated -- his doctors were shocked that he is still alive.
Three hundred and thirty three clergy signed our statement calling for the nation of Japan to immediately stand and uphold the Human Rights Declaration of the United Nations and affirm the human rights and religious freedom commitment in its own constitution. Rev. Willie Wilson one of the ten most influential ministers in America, according to USA Today, signed the document. The clergy gathered at New Covenant Baptist Church in Chicago under the leadership of Dr. Stephen Thurston. Rev. Wilson gave the main message after Mr. Goto's presentation, which deeply moved the pastors on the role of the Prophetic voice to stand up and be courageous for the sake of God and the Family.
The Chicago pastors responded with the following statements:
Bishop Earnest Hamilton (Pastor, Greater Holy Temple Missionary Baptist Church, Chicago) commented:
“It is tragic that anyone is confined because of their religious beliefs. I truly commend Mr. Goto for being strong enough to hold on, no matter what. This shows the power of faith because he was willing to endure that tremendous suffering. His situation reminds me of the Apostle Paul.
I was honored to shake Mr. Goto's hand and thank him for his fantastic testimony. But, something needs to be done about this situation. The people of God must band together now to eradicate these incidents of injustice. Instead of fighting each other over denominationalism, and focusing on which doctrine is better, we must come together for a common cause -- not necessarily for the sake of a religious belief -- but for the sake of morality. You can count on me to help with this cause in whatever way is needed.”
Rev. A. P. Randall (Pastor, Twelve Gates MB Church and Vice President of the Westside Baptist Ministers’ Conference, Chicago) observed:
“Mr. Goto’s testimony reminded me that as children of God, we have God-given rights to live to the fullest potential according to the ways we believe are the best in serving Him. Even agnostics have the desire to serve and want the freedom to fulfill their potential. We must practice the right to serve God in our own ways and no one has the right to stop us from doing so. We Christians, especially, should strive to protect all people to practice their religious beliefs because, if we don’t, people of every faith tradition could lose their religious freedom. This is a very serious matter.”
Rev. Wendell Eubanks (Pastor, Little Jerusalem Church Of God In Christ, Chicago) commented:
“It is amazing that Mr. Goto was held captive for 12 years by people who did not agree with his religious beliefs! They tried to exercise mind control but he would not give up his faith. This courage should inspire us to do the same with our faith and fight for what is right.
I am grateful that he came to speak to our ACLC pastors and that we had the chance to sign the petition stating our opposition to the acts of injustice based on religious prejudice. It bothers me even more to think that many others are being held in Japan because they believe in Rev. Moon. Everyone must have the right to practice whatever religion they believe in.
The problem is that people don’t know who Rev. Moon really is. I know him as a true leader who believes in one family under God. He is not trying to make anyone change their religion; he is just trying to bring all the religions together to realize that God is Love and Love is God. He is often feared because he is doing things that no other leader can do. He is a Korean Dr. Martin Luther King, and I greatly respect him because he is trying to complete the dream that Jesus and Dr. King could not finish. God continues to bless him in his old age and he is still going strong!
We have to fight together to keep God’s hope alive. We should have fought in this way when they took prayer out of the schools. Now we need to continue what Rev. Moon has started, without fear, and help all people live freely as God’s children. I’m ready to go!”
Our Founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, and his daughter, Rev. In Jin Moon, who oversees ACLC, has called for the righteous to stand as Dr. King's movement did in the past to stop this violation. We have now begun an ongoing and very serious effort with the American Clergy Leadership Conference to educate clergy, civil and human rights leaders and elected officials throughout America, about this violation. We are calling upon the president and the civic and faith leaders of this nation to stand together against injustice and to immediately call for a release of the four adults that are currently being held against their will, and that the Goto case be prosecuted and criminals brought to justice.
At the ACLC Co President Archbishop George A. Stallings’ church another 80 clergy affirmed our ACLC statement on human rights, and again across this country a gathering storm is forming of clergy who will not tolerate injustice against any faith in any nation. We are now meeting our senators and congressmen in each of the fifty states, as well as the heads of denominations.
Rev. Arnold Howard -- Co-Chair for ACLC in DC, VA and MD had this to say:
"ACLC must address this injustice, and we will. America is the foundation for human rights, and America will call for an immediate stop to this imprisonment of people for their faith."
Rev. Tanya Edwards, ACLC Women in Ministry observed:
“Women are being violated and Japan is not doing anything about it. Women of faith must call for action."
The National Council of Churches years ago condemned religious kidnapping, and convictions were secured in America against those who were hired by relatives to kidnap and break the faith of members not only of the Unification Church but of other faith traditions. These convictions in America, which came on the basis of the alarm and outcry of faith leaders, as well as people of conscience, caused this kidnapping and faith-breaking activity in America to dissolve.
Unfortunately, they refined their tactics and found a lucrative market for their criminal acts in Japan. We are shocked to find that many supposedly Christian ministers in Japan have failed to respect the rights of Unificationist Christians and have even conspired and cooperated in confining them against their will until they renounce their faith. Some even prey on these kidnapping victims and force them to convert to their own particular denomination. Such actions are more characteristic of the Inquisition than of the Biblical spirit, which proclaims: 'where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty' (2 Corinthians 3:17). True Christian leaders must not tolerate such injustice! For some Christian leaders in Japan we have found it’s because of bigotry toward our movement there, which is one of the fastest-growing among the Christian groups. Perhaps the very success of our church is perceived as a threat to those Christians there. Another motivation is that they are acting out of intolerance, or possibly even pure ignorance.
The ACLC is organizing Christian leaders to expose this injustice in Japan to the American people, as well as to the United Nations and nations of the world. The United States Department of State referred to this case last year and in 2009, listing this issue under the heading of “restrictions of religious freedom in Japan.”
We ask all clergy to stand with the ACLC with the same spirit with which the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. challenged the injustice of racism, saying in his letter from the Birmingham Jail, on April 16, 1963 that, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. ACLC will stand against this injustice.
Written by Rev. Michael Jenkins, Chairman of the American Clergy Leadership Conference