When I was 17 years of age I was invited by my church to serve at my own expense as a missionary. The assignment was to teach people, especially young people, how to be good Christians. My assignment was to go to England and, at first, everything went fine. The English countryside was beautiful and I felt quite at home with the people. However, one day I was mobbed while giving an open-air talk to the people of Ipswitch. It is a terrifying and traumatic experience to suddenly have a crowd of people go temporarily insane, knock you down, kick you, tear your clothes, and beat on you until the police finally come to the rescue.
This crowd had been very friendly when I first began to talk. It was only when a minister of a local church interrupted and began accusing me of believing all kinds of things which were totally false that the people turned from a quiet crowd of curious listeners into a raging torrent of passionate and violent rage.
That was my first introduction to the raw, cutting edge of religious bigotry. I suppose it is part of human nature to have a sense of exclusivity about one’s most sacred and personal spiritual feelings. However, it has always seemed to me that a religious philosophy, which is so insecure that it can thrive only on a diet of hostility toward all other religions is a terribly weak reed to use as a staff as we move along the pathway of life.
Thomas Jefferson’s greatest aspiration was to see us become a nation where various denominations could live compatibly together and rejoice in one another’s success. He felt the war against evil was bigger than all of the churches combined. At the University of Virginia, he had planned to have all of the churches build seminaries around the campus so the students could have the advantage of a. good religious education in the church of their choice. All the churches were to have free access to the university library and each professor was invited to feel free to have religious discussions on the campus with his students after classes were over.
Jefferson’s dream never became a reality either at the University of Virginia or anywhere else. Americans, not unlike people in the rest of the world, have displayed such a strong flavor of bigotry toward one another that the first two centuries of the nation’s history were deeply scarred from time to time with outbreaks of religious violence and mobocracy.
One of my favorite partners during the 16 years I served in the Federal Bureau of Investigation was a devout Catholic. It troubled me when I heard snide remarks from some people about his being a Catholic. I knew that his devotion to his church made him a better father, a better worker, and a better FBI agent.
I very often listen to Jerry Falwell on television. He continually makes a plea for Americans of all faiths to unite in fighting the political, economic, and moral erosion which is taking place in our nation. Nevertheless, I recently heard a minister who claims to belong to the same faith as Jerry Falwell lash out at him in a spirit of bitter incrimination.
But Jerry Falwell knows how to love his enemy. I know him rather well and I have seen him make warm friends out of some of his enemies. He has taken young people by the thousands and lifted some of them from lives of dope and moral degradation to happy, productive lives.
For several years I heard a lot of terrible things about Reverend Sun Myung Moon. They were some of the same things I had heard people say in England about my own church. When I met Reverend Moon and his assistant, Colonel Bo Hi Pak, I found them both to be drastically different than the press and some of my own friends had warned me they would be. They never tried to persuade me to accept their theology, but they did ask me to work even harder to save America. I saw them spending literally hundreds of millions of dollars from their church owned corporations in Korea and Japan to help the people of the United States realize how important it is to reestablish the principles of the Constitution and to preserve the freedom of this country. Reverend Moon is right when he says that the only real hope for the freedom of the world is the preservation of the United States. The fact that he believes that saving America is part of his ministry is an ideal he shares with thousands of other ministers.
Reverend Moon had been criticized for spending $100 million to set up a Constitution-oriented newspaper in Washington, D.C., called the Washington Times. I know a number of the writers on that paper. They are not members of Reverend Moon’s church. They were just told to “save America” and to “tell the world what is really happening to destroy freedom on the earth.” I have difficulty finding fault with that.
I have Moslem friends and Jewish friends who want to save America. I have friends who go to no church but still feel an instinctive anxiety for the future welfare of this great nation. All of these friends-whether Catholic, Protestant, Moslem, Jewish, or nonaffiliated-have a great desire to see the United States recover from her near-disastrous flirtation with atheistic secularism and to again lead mankind toward a free, prosperous, and peaceful world.
All I can say is, God bless them all!
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