Articles From the May 1993 Unification News
Unification Church Press Release on the Waco Tragedy
by Dr. James Baughman
This statement was released to the press by Dr. Baughman, President of the Unification Church in America.
The Unification Church shares, with the majority of Americans, the deepest regret for the events that have taken place in Waco, Texas. The loss of life and the harm done to innocent people is deeply saddening. The Church categorically rejects the use of violence in the pursuit of religious ideals. For over twenty-eight years, since first coming to the United States in 1965, the Reverend and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon have been vocal advocates for peace and have urged people of all faiths to be the model Christ-like exponents of true love.
The Unification Church is appalled by the way in which some of the media have irresponsibly exploited this tragedy to cast aspersions on other innocent and legitimate religious communities, including the Unification Church. Any implications and inferences that the Unification Church engages in violent or depraved behavior is unfair, untrue, and entirely malicious.
The term cult, as meaning a closed or totalistic religious sect, does not accurately apply to the Unification community.
With 30,000 members in the U.S and 1.2 million members worldwide, scholars and religious historians recognize that the Unification Church has passed through its formative phase and currently stands as a bona fide member of the religious community.
In the media however, the term cult is being attributed a new and sinister meaning. It is being employed pejoratively, to connote aberrant or disdained phenomena such as the occult, the followers of Jim Jones, or the devotees of Charles Manson. In addition, non- religious organizations like those of Lyndon LaRouche, Tony Robbins, Amway, Snap-On Tools, or even groups of magazine salesmen, have all been recently described as cults This loaded and emotive term has now become a convenient label to dehumanize entire segments of society.
In the hysteria ensuing from the Waco tragedy, there is an increasing propensity by the networks to accept the definition of cult that is being propagated by the so-called cult experts.
The primary resource for these commentators is the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) and its affiliates.
Through the years this organization has perpetuated intolerance and bigotry towards members of legitimate religious and non-religious organizations. CAN has been condemned by the major religious leaders in America and CAN has been condemned by the major religious leaders in America and has been linked by the F.B.I. to criminal activities, including kidnappings and other felonies. In fact, the national security director of the Cult Awareness Network, Galen Kelly, is currently under house arrest and awaiting trial for having forcibly abducted an adult woman whose mother disapproved of her lesbian lifestyle and wished to have her deprogrammed.
In light of the ongoing scrutiny of CAN by the FBI, it is not surprising that CAN officials have been the most outspoken critics of the FBI's handling of the Waco incident.
CAN experts make no distinction between the over 700 groups which it condemns as dangerous cults. Thus large religious groups such as the Jehovahs Witnesses, the Unification Church, Campus Crusade for Christ and even the Catholic Church are considered to be on par with small fringe survivalist groups like the Branch Davidians. Obviously not all groups labeled as cults are violent, however CAN experts make no distinction between the danger posed by small "weapons-amassing end- of-the-world groups" and those bona fide religious institutions, like the Unification groups" and those bona fide religious institutions, like the Unification Church, which have no history of violence of any kind.
Yet the networks continue to rely on CAN's array of experts without scrutinizing their credibility and motives. The media have unwittingly permitted CAN to exploit the current climate of fear and hysteria for their own economic gain. As evidence of their contribution to society, CAN highlights the fact that it receives thousands of calls and inquiries regarding the so-called cults. However, over the years, CAN has routinely referred callers to professional "deprogrammers" who charge upwards of $50,000 to forcibly abduct and "deprogram" their victims. In return CAN and its associates have received referral fees from these deprogrammers which has fueled CAN's ability to market its services under the guise of a non-profit educational organization.
We call upon the media to exercise restraint and responsibility in reporting on the issue of the cults. Nationwide, there are an array of qualified and credible experts, which include among others, Dr. J. Gordon Melton of the University of California -Santa Barbara; Marvin Bordelon of the American Conference on Religious Movements; Catholic Sociologist, Dr. Joseph Fichter; Reverend Dean Kelley, the National Council of Churches. The Unification Church will hold accountable those news organizations that maliciously misrepresent or mischaracterize the Unification Church.
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