The following letter was sent to the NY Daily News, in response to the September 15th article "500 Followers of Moon Rise and Shout, 'We Do.'" A similar letter was sent to the NY Post regarding its article "Moonies Tie 200 Knots in City."
September 17, 2002
Letters to the Editor
New York Daily News
New York, NY
To the Editors,
Fernanda Santos' story on the recent "Stand for Family, Save the Nation" Interreligious and International Blessing and Rededication Ceremony ["500 Followers of Moon Rise and Shout, `We Do,'" Sept. 15, 2002], correctly captured the spirit of reconciliation that characterized the event, which had people of different faiths marrying or rededicating their vows marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Several grievous errors of fact, however, present a distorted impression of what actually took place.
Less than 100 of the nearly 800 couples that were counted at the event were followers of Reverend Moon. I am sure that the Moslem, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Native American, and Christian couples of differing denominations do not wish to be incorrectly labeled as "moonies." Only a handful of couples (less than 20) were newly married, and many of these knew each other for some time prior to making this commitment. The rest were couples rededicating their vows, to make a statement in answer to terrorism: religious harmony and the universal value of strong, loving families. This was not a "mass marriage," as your article asserted. It was an interfaith affirmation of the importance of families as a basis for world peace (exactly as it was billed).
The term "moonie" is offensive to Unificationists (and non-Unificationists like myself) and its use in your story was inappropriate. The New York City Commission on Human Rights calls it a "pejorative term that evokes intolerance and hatred for the Unification Church and its beliefs." The New York Times and New York Post have both joined media such as the L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today and Reuters in a commitment to never use the term. I pray that your paper will consider how the thoughtless use of a demeaning pejorative has unjustly mischaracterized a noble and peaceful event and the good people of many faiths who participated in it.
Archbishop G. Augustus Stallings
Chairman of the Executive Committee
American Clergy Leadership Conference
(Please read and consider to determine the veracity & credibility of the above letter)
We seriously demand both a public response in the form of printing the above letter, and a meeting between your editors and a committee of interfaith pastors regarding the "moonie" issue, so you may understand both our diversity and our determination.
Please respond to Reverend Phillip Schanker at (202) 365-0219, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phillip D. Schanker
Tel: (202) 319-3200 / Fax: (202) 299-9496