THE HI-JACKING OF EVANGELICALISM
Part III – Unification Church
How it all started for me
Traipsing around Wayne State University in the late 1960s when I was a student, I saw posters for a new “messiah”, Sun Myung Moon. I thought then of the Biblical warnings of Jesus that “false christs and messiahs shall arise, deceiving many.” Rev. Moon was visiting the United States then. He moved here in the 1970s. The followers elicited many jokes about “flower sellers.” Books by authors such as Ted Patrick warned that these groups were brainwashing America’s children. The only seeming Christian regard for them then appeared to be that of something to be avoided at all costs.
I graduated from law school in 1975 and immediately began an active practice. My work frequently took me downtown. Downtown Detroit had a prominent building – still there – the First National Building. The First National Building had a health food bar – one where somebody could sip herbal teas, buy ginseng tablets (billed as a legal way to keep us awake) and eat various nutritional goodies. Although the staff was fairly quiet, it soon came out that they believed Rev. Moon was the messiah.
When Benjamin Crème spoke in Detroit, November 4, 1981, the Unification health food store and faces commonly seen there were included in his large audience. So was just about every other mind control and /or other forms of “New Age.” Bread for the World and Oxfam also had a presence that evening. The First National health food bar personnel were visibly present.
There were so many people in the audience representing such a huge variety of New Age groups – ranging from Est to Rajneeshees (Osho), to Unity and A Course in Miracles that Unification Church seemed the least of our worries. When I collected the New Age books and periodicals, there was ample evidence that Rev. Moon and his organization were clearly part of the New Age landscape.
Escalating events seemed to carry me about after Benjamin Crème and company ran their April 25th, 1982 advertisements proclaiming “THE CHRIST IS NOW HERE.” Only a few short days after those ads appeared, the local paper, THE DETROIT FREE PRESS featured a large feature article by staff writer, Ruth Seymour. The numbers attending my local lectures suddenly jumped from 35 to hundreds. I was suddenly on demand for television appearances, radio interviews, and many out of town lectures. I would put my law practice on hold for the next seven years and get the bulk of my exercise running for planes. An unexpected referral fee for an old medical malpractice fee came just in time to sustain us financially during this time that my law income was diminished. As I did not feel I could maintain credibility for a controversial message by exploiting it financially, I spoke for free will offerings. Often the speaking engagements came from small churches that sacrificed to raise the transportation and lodging expenses. To lighten the load on organizers, more often than not I was housed in church member homes. Things were happening to me so rapidly, I could scarcely reflect on them, let alone daily catalog them.
This was also a time when I was receiving fierce opposition from too many Evangelical sources for reasons I did not understand and would not fully understand until I discovered the details outlined in the first two articles of this series. It was a time of tremendous anxiety and stress for both me and my family. My disabled husband who had lost both legs above the knees in a 1979 accident and my son were understanding troupers throughout these years as I traveled more heavily than I had expected to ever do in my life.
THE HIDDEN DANGERS OF THE RAINBOW was released in late May, 1983. By early October 1983 it headed the Christian best seller list for the USA. Foreign editions were scheduled. It was about that time I received a letter which rang a curious bell. The letter, on CAUSA letterhead, was signed by a U.S. Brigadier General E. D. Woellner. It invited me to an all expenses paid seminar in Washington, D.C. “to explore positive alternatives to Marxism.” It specifically denied any Unification Church involvement in its operation. I pulled an article from my filing cabinets I had recently filed under “Uruguay.” The article talked about the success of the Unification Church in that South American country. It further called CAUSA, “the political arm of the Unification Church.”
Just about that time the phone rang and Kansas city friends were on the line. They told me they had just come back from a CAUSA conference and were shocked at what they had seen. They said all accommodations were deluxe. They said they had met a “Bo Hi Pak,” whom they subsequently learned was then “number two” in Unification Church. Cleon Skousen as well as W. Steuart McBirnie, author of then popular books on the antichrist had been present at the same conference. My Kansas City friends told me they said to each other, “good grief, they’re presenting the entire New Age agenda as a positive alternative to Marxism.”
There was a form to fill out at the end of the conference. It included a “whom shall we invite.” They duly filled out “Constance Cumbey” complete with Detroit address and phone number. They called me to say that they both thought it terribly important that I see it for myself. They were right.
Shortly thereafter I got a followup call from CAUSA staff. I said I would accept their invitation; however, they would have to fly me from Fort Wayne, Indiana as I would be there for Christmas. They would have to return me to Detroit. The terms were accepted. Flying that “milk bucket route,” I was routed through Charlotte and got there several hours late. There was a “Carla,” with the “CAUSA” sign held aloft waiting for me. She drove me to the hotel. I went to the room which I learned was to be shared with a female author of books on camping. She told me she was there because they had a son involved in Unification Church. They had tried unsuccessful attempts at deprogramming and they had given up on seeing their son again. Then, she said, out of “the blue,” they were contacted by Unification Church personnel and told that if they became active in CAUSA, they could have free access to their son.
I filed this using of children as literal hostages to the devil away in my memory for future reference. I then went down to the reception which was full of almost every delicacy one could conceive. It was there that I met Kofi Annan who would later become the Secretary General of the United Nations. He must have told the organizers that I had expressed concerns as shortly thereafter I was taken aside and grilled by General and Mrs. E. D. Woellner. They said, “who invited you?” I said, “you did.” I was to be watched extremely closely over the next few hours until I was literally put under house arrest and extradited back to Detroit. It was, to make a long story very short, quite an experience. What was even more shocking was to watch the Christians sitting there, very respectfully under the image of Buddha (projected during the presentations) and hearing that “when we say God, we mean the God who is the God of the Christians, of the Jews, of the Mormons, of Unification Church . . .”
Well, I had the conference materials and lists of names of those there. I also had a sense of the danger the organization posed. CAUSA Executive Director Joseph Tully had admitted to me, “ yes, we work with Benjamin Crème AND Tara Center, but we don’t all agree on who that new Christ is.” For the record, I had not mentioned “Tara Center” to him – only that I had seen local Unificationists in the Detroit area present at the November 1981 Crème lecture.
I returned home. Many radio interviews gave me the opportunity to give CAUSA more “free advertising” than they had ever counted on. I had telephone calls from Memphis pastors. Two, saying they were from large Memphis, Tennessee churches called me to tell me the Unificationists had tried to work their congregation over “religious freedom issues.” They said they working to free people such as Everett Sileven and Rev. Moon from “religious persecution.” These godly men further told me they were presented brochures indicating “bubble gum card” Christians such as Tim LaHaye (Chairman), Marlin Maddoux, Jan and Paul Crouch, and many others were named on the brochure for the organization "Coalition for Religious Freedom." The ministers said they had called these people who had refused to listen. Given my recent personal experiences with this cult, I listened.
We would move to Lake Orion, Michigan in late 1984. In late 1985 I read an article, THE MOONIES AND THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT by a free lance writer, Carolyn Weaver in MOTHER JONES MAGAZINE. I saw it in the small bookstore of Lake Orion where we were very new in town. Ms. Weaver said that by writing this article which featured sad news of Tim LaHaye’s entanglement with Bo Hi Pak, she did not intend to imply that the average fundamentalist Christian supported Bo Hi Pak or Unification Church in any manner. “To the contrary, the average Christian would perceive Bo Hi Pak as an altar boy to the Antichrist,” aptly wrote Ms. Weaver.
At Huntington House’s request, I attended the 1986 National Religious Broadcasters convention held in Washington, D.C. In February 1984, two years earlier, Tim LaHaye had introduced himself to me at that event. We then had a cordial discussion. He told me the threat as he saw it was “secular humanism.” I told him I thought he should take a closer look at the New Age Movement. I did not stay at the hotel, but with Washington area friends in 1986. I’m certain that Tim LaHaye who then lived in Washington, D.C. was not staying at the hotel either. I was scheduled to leave for Colorado for speaking engagements in Colorado Springs and Denver. I wanted to speak with Tim LaHaye personally about Ms. Weaver’s allegations. As I was coming down a Sheraton Hotel elevator, Tim LaHaye was coming up. I said, “Tim,” and he looked over. “Constance Cumbey,” I said. “Oh yes, we’ll get together,” he said.
It never happened and it was probably nobody’s fault. I was scheduled to speak to an Eagle Forum conference in Colorado Springs. My assigned topic was New Age infiltration of the Church. I was wishing I had that article with me, but I did not. The Eagle Forum chairman for Colorado, Jayne Schindler, however, brought me a copy and specifically asked me to comment on it. I mentioned only in passing that it was one more example of how New Age factions were seeking to neutralize and even proselytize the Church. Another speaker was Peter Waldron also of Washington, D.C. Over the past four years I had done many radio interviews with him. He and Tim LaHaye had joint radio ventures in Washington, D.C.
It was a bright post-snowy day in Colorado Springs when the sponsoring committee took me to lunch at Furrs Cafeteria. We were all startled to hear, “paging Wanda Leonard, paging Wanda Leonard” over the Cafeteria’s speaker system.
Wanda left for the page and came back signaling me. “Tim LaHaye is on the phone,” she said. She told me he said “This is the Rev. Tim LaHaye calling from Washington,D.C.” She said “yes.” He then said, “I understand you had a certain speaker named Constance Cumbey speak at your conference.” She said, “yes.” He then said, “I understand she quoted from a sleazy left wing magazine (referring to Mother Jones). Wanda said, “Well, Tim, Constance is here. I think you should speak with her yourself.” He said, “Fine, put her on.”
I said, “Wanda, I am not about to debate with Tim LaHaye on Furrs Cafeteria’s only phone, located at their cash register, at the height of their rush hour, especially when my own lunch is getting cold.” He’ll have to call me later. Wanda scheduled me for a 3:30 Colorado time telephone conference with Tim LaHaye.
Next Week: PART IV: The LaHaye conversation; me as the “new enemy” and the continued incursions of Unification Church into Jerry Falwell’s networks and beyond. “Burying the Cross” with Rev. Moon.