Rob: He would get 1,000 people to get married that didn't even know each other. He would just say, "You marry this one. You marry this one. You marry this one," and they would get matched up and married as Moonie marriages! Where does that fit into the Moonie picture, and then we're going to transition to talk about top down bottom up religion a bit? What happened to all those Moonies?
Frederick: Well, a lot of them are still Moonies. Some of them wandered off. Some people get in pretty deep and other people are in kind of shallow. And most of the marriages of that nature didn't last. But it wasn't just 1,000 at a time. There were mass weddings at RFK stadium, and Washington, and at Madison Square Garden. So, we're talking about many thousands of people at a time. And not just in the United States, in various places around the world. Now, Moon claims millions of followers but truly by any effort to reasonably count, whether you're a critic or journalist or pro-Moon academic, whatever you happen to be, nobody can find more than a few thousand in the United States right now. So, it's just something that didn't last and didn't work.
Now, in the stadium marriages, somebody who you'd never met and didn't know, and from a different country and a different language and a different background would be matched up: a Hungarian with a Kenyan. It was like that, but people believed that "this was the match that God intended for them."
Now, they weren't allowed to consummate the marriage. They were immediately sent out to do missions for four years before they could even have sex or be together in any way, and when they were together, of course they didn't even know each other, let alone speak the same language. So, it just didn't work. Now, that of course is the ultimate top-downism. A lot of people were used, because if they were legally married in the United States, there was access to passports. If they were on missions, they could transport money, be involved in this or that project in various countries, depending on what the need was.
One of the institutions I should've mentioned was, the University of Bridgeport Connecticut was acquired by the Moon organization when they fell on hard times. Suddenly they had a University, and there were student visas available to move people around the world too. This is ultimate top down political chessboard stuff, and people's lives being used as pieces.
Rob: He owned the university. Do they still own that university?
Frederick: They do indeed. They have several universities in different places. They didn't quite get the big global network with universities that they aspired to in Moon's lifetime. But they do have a couple of them, at least one in Korea.
Rob: Wow. Tell me more about how they used this.
Frederick: How they use it? Well, if you need to have somebody come to the United States, a student visa's a great way to come. So, they become a student at the University of Bridgeport, and they do what they do; if you need to send them to Africa or Europe, well, you take a semester in Europe. It's a great way to move people around. Having a university is a way of having respectable conferences where you can bring people in and put [on] a veneer of respectability; pay them a lot of money. Senior politicians, and journalists, and academics participate in conferences--not just at the university but if the Washington Times sponsored something in Washington, they could get former President George H.W. Bush to show up, for example. Having these kinds of assets that purchase respectability within the culture: universities, prominent media outlets, prominent businesses; creating religious institutions and publishing houses--all the features of culture they're able to turn into a pretty organic network to wage influence in the United States and in other countries.
Rob: Now of course, Moon didn't start this idea. It seems to me the Catholic Church has been doing it for a real long time.
Frederick: Sure, there's nothing new under the sun. There are, of course, differences in the way different institutions do these things.
Rob: Absolutely, but when I think about it, I wonder how much the Catholic Church does this kind of stuff, too. Isn't it transitioned from talking about Moon, to talking about top-down religions and the influence of religion on politics?
Frederick: Well, yeah. I think that we see the kind of top-downism that you're talking about, in say the debate about the contraception rule in Obama's health plan: requiring employers to provide contraception coverage in their employee plans. Now, the Catholic Church takes great exception to this, saying that all of their institutions and the one that they essentially control--it's a violation of their religion freedom to have to provide coverage of say, oral contraceptives. Now, it gets interesting, because, well okay, if it was just the church, you might do it that way, or even a church-controlled seminary or something that actually has something to do with the core religiosity itself. You might say, "Okay, that's a good argument there." And in fact, the Obama administration compromised and said, "Yeah, that's a good argument. We'll buy that." But, what the church and even some of their Evangelical allies are arguing is that degree of control should extend to sensibly secular universities and hospitals that are affiliated with them, but not necessarily controlled by, the church. And many of the employees are not even members of the Catholic Church or other affiliated churches. So, this is an aggressive effort to declare control over the very definition of religious freedom; not just for themselves, but for everybody who touches anything [of] which they have any kind of significant influence. This is really something extraordinary that we've never seen before in our culture, and it's a desperate attempt to reach out for control in places that arguably has never been done before.
Rob: Now, the Christian right and also the more conservative Jewish right often attack Islamism and worries about Sharia law. When I say they worry about Sharia law, they worry about it being imposed on the United States, and different religion being imposed on the United States. It seems to me that Reverend Moon has--through his resources, billion dollars spent and invested in business and media and influence, and covert operations--had an immense influence on the way that we live and the way our culture functions.
Rob: And I wonder whether that's not also the case for other organizations that are not seen as so far outside the mainstream, like the extremist religions on the right--the fundamentalist religions in this country.