The Way, The Truth and The Life
by Harlan Simantel
~I was with the Moonies for 5 months in 1979. I had just spent 5 years in a
fundamentalist cult, the Worldwide Church of God, but was kicked out for
believing Christ was working in other churches besides the WCG. Recruited
in downtown Portland, Oregon by Yuri, a Japanese sister, I was vulnerable
to the Unification Church: without a job, fresh out of another cult,
emotionally distanced from my family, and without friends.
I was interested in the UC theology and after a weekend workshop was
invited to go to Camp K near Healdsburg in northern California. But after 2
days of being shadowed by a Moonie and hearing repetitive lectures, I
needed space, so I just walked out, followed by my shadow. He couldn't
persuade me to return and gave up. I was interested in the theology, but
the lifestyle was too intense for me.
Meeting the Moonies....again!
I hitchhiked to San Francisco, intending to earn money (I was broke) so I
could return to Oregon. I couldn't find work, but ran into more Moonies. I
went to another workshop, but didn't join. I went to the downtown library
and the librarian gave me a folder of articles on the Moonies, mostly
negative. Having found that the former cult I was in was not what it
claimed to be ("the one true church") probably helped me to be a little
skeptical of Moon and his church.
I worked some temp jobs, slept in a loft above a donut store and ate stale
donuts for a week, then was kicked out. Later I slept in parks and ate one meal
per day at a Catholic church, downtown. I somehow wound up in Berkeley,
where I stayed in the CARP house, read the Divine Principle, and did some
fundraising with a mobile team. But I was lousy at it, because I would
almost always tell people that Sun Myung Moon was the man behind the
organization I represented; I just insisted on being up front. When
witnessing to prospective members I would sometimes tell them what to
expect -- more and more workshops. I was scolded for doing so.
I can't remember the order of events, but at one time I went with a group
to San Jose and then on to Camp Mozumbdar near San Bernardino. I felt a
sense of oppression from the group prayer and chanting. It probably helped
that I'm a loner by nature and didn't care for the intense group
activities. Dr. Bergman was one of the leaders there and stood out for
being approachable and caring.
A Spiritual Vision
While others watched a movie one evening I laid in my cot, feeling mixed up
about this new religion. Wide awake, I had a vision in my mind's eye of an
open Bible, with the red-letter words, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the
Life." I felt reassured, but the vision didn't convince me to leave because
I'd learned that Jesus was working with Sun Myung Moon.
After the 7 day workshop we all returned to Berkeley. I got a job at a lab
as a shipping clerk and was allowed to live in the CARP house, paying room and board for a couple months. In the evenings I read through the entire Divine Principle book at coffee shops in the area. Looking back
I'm amazed I was allowed this kind of freedom. But it didn't last. I was
finally given an ultimatum: quit my job and get 100% involved or leave. I
But before the ultimatum, I walked to an Italian restaurant one evening and
mentally prayed, "God, how can I get closer to you?" While eating my meal
at the restaurant I heard a man's voice clearly say, "Study and I will be
with you." I looked around at fellow customers chatting away and decided I
was the only one who heard the message. I took it to mean study the Bible.
Eventually I bussed and hitchhiked back to my parents house in Oregon City.
I still wasn't sure whether Moon was the second coming of Christ. I decided
I'd read all about Jesus' second coming in the Bible, and read books on the
Moonies. So, in a nutshell, I eventually deprogrammed myself by reading.
Six years later I wrote a 40 page letter to the Unification
Church (the results of my Bible study and reading books by ex-members) and
sent it to all 50 state UC centers. Later I sent the letter to Reverend
Moon himself. (No replies, of course) The concluding 10 pages of the letter leads up to the
possibility that Moon is 666 in the Bible, the one who "exalts himself
over everything called God" (2 Thess. 2:4). I'm posting the letter on my website: The Lord Is Near
I've pretty much stayed out of churches for 20 years now, but continue to
read the Bible and maintain a prayer life and a relationship with Jesus
Christ. Life has been good since my exit.
© 2000 Harlan Simantel