Why is it that after 40 years of sometimes heroic efforts by members of Sun Myung Moon's movement there are around, I estimate, only about one or two thousand American members? Why is it that Rev. Moon could live in America for 30 years, and the Divine Principle is not a household name? We should have thousands of dedicated members attending Sunday service in thousands of cities. In the 10 or so regional centers you would be lucky to find a hundred or more American adults who have been converted (I'm not counting foreign spouses or children). In the 40 or so states you would be lucky to find 10 or 20 American adults who were witnessed to and joined.
Some think that it is a miracle that there are as many Unificationists as there is, considering Jesus had practically no one believe in him when he died. Some believe that the incredible persecution Father has received has slowed down growth. Deprogrammings and court cases are cited by others as the cause for so little growth. After so many years the Unification Church [hereafter UC] cannot say they have not grown because they are still paying indemnity and still building the foundation. The walls should have gone up a long time ago.
Father says these 40 years have been 40 years of wandering in the desert. Was it God's plan that Moses spend 40 years wandering around? Did Father expect the UC to wander for 40 years in the wilderness instead of settling down and planting roots? If so, why did he keep pushing 1-1-1? Every UC center in the 70s had posters on the wall that had the goal of 1-1-1 or the goal of 30,000 members by 1981.
A past president of the UC, Tyler Hendricks, gives his thoughts of why the UC did not get those 30,000 members that would in turn have got 300,000 and we would have millions by now. He writes about how the UC should organize itself so it can start growing in his book Family, Church, Community, Kingdom: Building a Witnessing Church for Working Families. He says there is a difference between "the settlement era and wilderness course." He explains the past in America this way: "Until now, when we witnessed we did so from the stance of an apocalyptic sect, to put it bluntly. Our strategy in America twenty to thirty years ago was to convince people that the Lord is on the earth and it is best to join his people on the frontline, giving up employment, school and family ties for an indefinite period of time. This was the way of the wilderness course, not the way of a settlement-era church community."
"It is certainly not the way of life we intend our children to lead. Most if not all blessed couples want their offspring to go to college and find success externally as well as internally. That is, we do not want OUR children to leave school, give up jobs and separate from US, do we? Why would we want to inflict that upon other parents, who are our friends in the PTA and colleagues at work? Do we wonder why people are negative about our church? ... People become negative when we pull a loved one out of their life."
Tyler does not say that anything in the first 40 years of the UC in America was a mistake. He does not apologize for the "crazy for God" strategy that gave the UC the image of an cult. I believe the leaders of the UC should realize that they were basically wrong and not rationalize their words and deeds as appropriate for that time in history. The ends do not justify the means. The proof that they were wrong is that the UC has not grown.
INDEMNITY WITHOUT LOVE
Tyler is too diplomatic to those who say that numbers don't mean anything -- that quality is the point, not quantity, but he correctly states that we should have grown all these years. He says, "Some say that in the wilderness era, the conditions we set were more important than the 'external' results we brought. I can accept that, but there were times when Father said something different than that. The following passage is from Way of the Spiritual Leader on page 326. 'What is the most urgent thing? It is the issue concerning numbers. The number is the problem.' So Father is clear that God desires numerical results, not just indemnity. As the Old Testament prophets put it, 'I desire love and justice, not burnt offerings. Your burnt offerings are a stench in my nostrils.' Indemnity without love is a hollow, superficial act that just may be a stench to God." The UC definitely has the smell of a rotting corpse. As Hamlet said, "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark." Unificationists need to stop being in denial and see that the movement never got off the ground. While we were stuck in the mud, the Mormons worked a plan that gained millions of members. It's time for us to have the guts and heart to admit we must do things completely different.
He goes on to write, "Father went on: 'Then, in order to secure a large number, what has to be done? ...' In other words, let's find an effective strategy. The numbers will not appear by magic; we have to do something. What is that something? We call it witnessing. Father continued: 'You have been witnessing up until now, but the way you have been employing so far is not acceptable. The fact that you have not been able to make much progress with your method so far shows that such ways do not work.' This is pragmatism, folks --heavenly pragmatism: the value of the method is determined by the result that it brings. If a method brings no result: dump it; it's not acceptable."
Does the UC have the guts to "dump it" and do some soul searching and be open to suggestions from a wild and crazy guy like me? Do the remaining shell shocked troops in this salvation army have the courage and heart to experiment? Can they muster up the desire to want to witness and keep members who in turn witness and are able to keep members? Does anyone give a damn in the UC about witnessing and holding on to those new members and stop the hemorrhaging of first and second generation members who are leaving now? The 70s church was ridiculous but at least we called ourselves a "family" and had some passion for witnessing and teaching the Principle. Now it seems the UC has become some kind of strange PR group who have forgotten that the primary goal is to transform lives with the Principle.
Tyler is too weak in his analysis. The UC has been and is half empty. The history of the UC has been one of a young movement that made a lot of mistakes -- mistakes so severe that there are very few members and those who are left do not witness and teach the precious words of the Divine Principle. Every person is very sensitive and the UC has often been too insensitive to those who accepted the Principle and gave their lives to advance this movement. That is why so many thousands have voted with their feet like those in communist countries do.
DIE HARD FUNDAMENTALISTS
Some members have rose tinted glasses of UC history and will probably go their grave as die hard fundamentalists having nothing but fond memories of all the five year plans. Former members like Steve Hassan and Barbara Underwood write graphically in their books how frightening and nutty their life was in the UC. Their portrayal of life in the UC is accurate. They are right -- it was a nightmare. They are wrong in seeing the UC as evil, but we must come to grips with the sad fact that pulling young people out of school and careers to join a workaholic MFT almost killed our movement. Let's retore that mistake and create a movement in which guests come and see a group that is beyond the Mormons in organization. The Mormons teach science fiction theology, but they have an organized and effecient plan to witness and raise the members. We do not. I have some revolutionary ideas on how to be superior to the Mormons in how to organize ourselves.
There are several hundred or so American members who have hung in there for the last 20 to 30 years and are as cozy as a bug in a rug with everything the UC has ever done. These members hate what I write because leaders are sacred and can never be criticized. They have even turned Father into God who never makes mistakes like the early Christians did to Jesus. To these stubborn fanatics I am a rebellious Cain and even worse -- a vocal one.
There are also hundreds of American members who have stuck it out and are walking wounded from the madness of decades of no growth. They are burnt out and may or may not attend Sunday service. These are the members who may be open to change. And the UC desperately needs fundamental change -- dramatic, 180 degree change from the past. I give some ideas in this book that are totally new and revolutionary. Will the UC have ears to hear or will they just continue to do business as usual and get the same results they always have? So far, the response to my exciting and common sense ideas has been basically negative. But none of my critics have a plan for growth. Tyler is the only member I have read that even acknowledges that we are not growing and has some ideas. Change is hard and stuck-in-the-mud Unificationists will probably find Tyler's lightweight proposals to get the UC out of its comfort zone too much to bear. I don't know what it will take to wake up the UC from its coma and see that it is a pathetic disaster, but I'm trying.
I have had members tell me to lighten up on leaders who meant well. "Give them some slack," I am told. "It is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback," I am lectured. The truth is that human history has repeated itself with the UC who do as all pioneers do -- make a lot of mistakes. I understand that, and I appreciate the efforts of those who tried their best. I don't want to wallow in accusation to others and in guilt over my failures when I held leadership. It's water under the bridge, and we should move on. But this does not mean we should not analyze the past and learn from it -- especially when so many in leadership are those diamond hard pioneers who always show up and get leadership and keep hitting their heads against the wall. They need to be dealt with. If they can't be persuaded to change, then they should be ignored and the rest of us will have to do it on our own. I have been told, "Well, you go right ahead and do your thing and if you are successful then Father will recognize it and send everyone to study your success." It has been explained to me by some that I do not have a snowballs chance in hell to get the few members left who drag themselves out of duty to attend Sunday service to change from any of my words. I hope that is not the case, but if that is the harsh reality, then I accept it and will continue my course and convert outside people to my views.
I believe that Tyler's proposals do not go far enough. We need to radically change the lifestyle of UC members. Father said he "hates" being called "reverend." He says he took down the UC sign. You would never know this by reading Tyler's book. Father takes the sign down and Tyler puts it right back up.
The former member Steve Hassan writes in his website that the UC is a "destructive cult." He has thrown the baby out with the bathwater. The best analogy I can give of the UC is the Vietnam War. Both were noble attempts to fight communism and both were miserable failures. Father was deceived by UC leaders who told him how wondeful the MFT was. The MFT tactic was as disastrous as Lyndon Johnson's idiotic decisions that tied the hands of those who fought in Vietnam. Leaders like Kamiyama and Neil Salonen were like General Westmoreland who were well meaning and tragically ineffective. It reminds one of the famous painting -- "The Blind Leading the Blind." Steve Hassan is one of many who felt traumatized by their fundraising and workaholic lifestyle. Karen Armstrong is a leading religious writer who, like Hassan, wrote of how she was traumatized by the Catholic Church when she was a nun in her youth. The UC and the Roman Catholic Church mean well but many people feel they were hurt. Hassan makes no sense when he says the UC is destructive but the Catholic Church is not.
The UC needs to apologize for the mistakes they made and move on to be effective in fighting communism. The tactic of evil now is to work through communism in China (see Bill Gertz' The China Threat) and the successful tactics of the feminists. Hassan should be warning everyone about women's studies in universities, China and the mafia instead of small religous groups. It is important that we we see things in perspective. We are in a cultural war (see my book Cultural War Since 1848) and Hassan is as naive as those who persecuted Jesus. The UC is on the side of good in the cultural war. It is frustrating to see the incompetence of UC leaders, but it is half full and we should work within the organization to change it's stupidity. Steve should join (as everyone should) and work to make changes through persuasion.
COMMUNITIES -- NOT CHURCHES
We need a movement of families living in a utopian community, not a boring church that members drive to every Sunday. Tyler is wrong in thinking we need 144,000 churches that have a pastor. What we need is 144,000 communities that have a democratically elected leadership that does not call themselves "reverend." Every day is Sunday in these communities. Everyday guests (who have been screened) experience the joy of community that is not a commune and not a cult. People break bread together everyday. These communities should be organized like cohousing communities (see the book in your library titled Cohousing). I talk about this in my chapter on the Third Blessing.
Unificationists need to live next to each other in loving communities. The UC had socialist communes in the beginning, then they lived individualistic lives in the suburbs and went to church on Sunday, and now they should live close to each other and eat dinner together. This would be the first time in history there would be a successful religious community because it would be based on capitalist free enterprise -- on private property. Click here to go directly to my chapter about the exciting concept of cohousing communities.
Stephen Covey explains in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People that there are three stages of growth: dependent, independent and interdependent. The formation stage of the UC was having members dependent in socialist communes. The growth stage is what everyone is doing now -- living individualistic lives in their own apartments and homes. The completion stage will be when they live next to each other and meet in what is called a common house. There they can share dinner and share the life giving truth of the Principle with guests. 60 Minutes will come and show the world the true lifestyle everyone should live.