Much of the criticism directed toward the Unification Church "stems from a lack of knowledge of how it's theologically grounded," Anthony J. Guerra, a Divinity School student and church member, said yesterday.
Tall to the Moon
One of five student panelists explaining their faith to an audience of about 40 in Phillips Brooks House. Guerra said those who believe the Rev. Sun Myung Moon brainwashes people into joining his church have never met or talked to him.
"We don't read about him in The New York Times. We know him," Guerra said.
The Church's goal is nothing less than relieving the world's suffering, Andrew M. Wilson '72, a Div School student, said.
"The Unification Church sees itself as a movement within the Christian Church. Most Christian churches would not agree with us, however," he added.
All in the Same Boat
Church creed stresses world peace and unity through a "revolution of the heart," Duong Ha '81 said. Ha arrived in the U.S. as a Vietnamese boat person in 1976.
Church principles affect students' roles at Harvard, panelists said. "I'm here to study how to be more effective and to help people," Viola Canales '79-3 said adding, "I'm not here for money, for prestige or for personal reward."
The Great Escape
Wilson added that after he had been in the Church for two-and-a-half years, his parents paid $5000 to have him kidnapped and deprogrammed, but he eventually escaped from his captors.
"The deprogramming psychology begins with the presupposition that society is okay. That's scary," he said, adding that his captors believe anyone who holds unconventional ideas is brainwashed.
Janina Anderson, a Div School student, moderated the panel.