Friday, June 15, 2007

Moonies Receive Federal Grant for Martin Luther King Initiative

Claiming credit for King's revered status, Moonie front gets $80,000 in federal funds to celebrate MLK Day.

Mooning Martin Luther King, Jr.
10 June 2007

Bill Berkowitz

If there was an organization that received taxpayer money and appeared to be doing reasonably good things in the community, would you care whether that organization was a front group for a powerful political/religious enterprise? Would it matter to you that the head of that enterprise had a much broader -- some call it an anti-democratic -- agenda, than merely helping out in the community? Would you warn your neighbors about the group?

Those were some of the questions facing Connecticut State Senator Bill Finch when he recognized that the Bridgeport, Connecticut-based Service for Peace (SFP) was affiliated with the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church.

On December 8, 2005, Finch posted the following information on his website:

In its heyday the Moon Organization had literally hundreds of "front groups." These groups generally had sunny exteriors with lofty and socially conscientious goals. Their real purpose was to recruit unsuspecting, idealistic people into the Moon web. Before recruits knew it the idealistic goals were gone and they were being drawn into Moon's agenda of fundraising, recruiting, weird conferences and mass weddings of strangers. This all in the name of a pseudo-religion, which demands you reject your parents and embrace Moon and his wife as your "True Parents."

The Moon Organization is opening a new front group right here in Bridgeport. Service for Peace will locate in the Black Rock Arts Center. Perhaps you saw the CT Post article touting this group, which will be working to involve the area youth with their idealistic mission. Before you or your family members get involved check them out. My friend, Steve Hassan, author and self-described former "Moonie" keeps a web site where you can check out any group that sounds fishy or too good to be true. Steve's website is

A broken clock is right two times a day. Even cult front groups do good work. Don't be misled by slick brochures with lofty goals and lots of pictures of smiling faces. Those faces year later will be crying over the years of their lives wasted serving Moon or other cult leaders.

Be skeptical and forewarned.

It is unlikely that Finch was prepared for some of the responses he subsequently received. One person responded:

Bill I was at their grand opening and have worked with Charles the head of Service for Peace in our Rotary club for a couple years now. Beware of people doing good works? I don't see it. The Martin Luther King Inititive seems like a good idea that resonates with many people. What should I fear? When do they make their move? what are the tell tale signs that I'm about to be dragged off to some Mooney brain washing room? Bill I've been listening to this rhetoric for years and I see very little proof of any wrong-doing on these peoples part. Am I missing something???????

Someone signing on as "Anonymous" suggested that the State Senator's comments were "ludicrous": "Who are you to judge a world wide religious movement?" Another anonymous poster wrote: "I find it to be a chilling reprehensible development when an elected government official supports and sanctions religious bigotry on his blog."

Diana Vaptzarova, the Executive Director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Initiative at Service for Peace in Bridgeport also responded:

Service For Peace is a non-profit, non-religious organization with a mission to provide service-learning opportunities to everyone who wants to improve themselves and their communities and work for lasting peace. Our service programs deepen cooperation between diverse groups and communities and the world, leading to lasting change.

Last week, Service For Peace was one of six non-profit organizations nationwide to receive a federal grant totaling almost ¼ of a million over three years from the National Corporation for Community Service in support of projects for Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. ...