No More Gotos!

T Goto
Mr. Toru Goto after being held captive for over twelve years.

No more Gotos! No more Gotos! No more Gotos!” I shouted in front of around seventy people as I held up the poster I had made with those words and a picture of a nearly starved Toru Goto of Japan sitting in a wheelchair.

My wife and I and a couple of friends were protesting a TED event taking place at the Wells Fargo Pavilion in downtown Sacramento, California. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), whose slogan is “Ideas Worth Spreading”, holds and supports conferences worldwide. According to their mission statement they “…believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately the world.”

What a beautiful night for a protest...
What a marvelous night for a protest…September 26th 2014

Despite the proclamation on their website that “TED is not a place for partisan slams and one-sided arguments”, it appears that in the area of new religious movements they are in fact one-sided, partisan and extremely bigoted. This is especially apparent in their promotion of former Unification Church member and “deprogramming” advocate Diane Benscoter and her scurrilous presentation, How Cults Rewire the Brain.

Benscoter opens her talk by showing a slide of herself and others as they are getting ready to begin a peace walk and to encourage people to attend a speech to be given by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. She says, “What I didn’t know though, was most of those people standing there with me were Moonies.”

(Note: The nickname “Moonies” is a term that New York City’s Commission on Human Rights describes as a pejorative that evokes intolerance and hatred…and is no longer used by most major news agencies when commenting about Unification Church members.)

In her book, Shoes of a Servant, Benscoter, when referring to a flyer she had been given before she joined in the march writes: “It read: ‘Walk for World Peace. Please join us for a 3-day walk to hear Reverend Sun Myung Moon speak in Des Moines, Iowa.’ This and the slide of her standing near a huge sign with a picture of Reverend Moon and another sign that reads, “Hear Rev. Moon”, and she still doesn’t know she’s with the “Moonies”? However, in Benscoter’s defense, according to her book, she was often abusing drugs and smoking pot which may explain her tunnel vision.

Benscoter continues: “The top picture is a group of Moonies that have been blessed by their messiah. Their mates were chosen for them. The bottom picture is Hitler youth. This is the leg of a suicide bomber.”

HitlerYouth
Heil Moon!!!… Heil Hiltler!!!

First of all, it’s a pretty good chance that many, if not most, of those people taking part in the mass wedding ceremony were not members of the Unification Church and in fact consisted of people from many different faiths, and their mates were not chosen for them. Even if they were, so what?

Oh, and that cheer, where everyone’s raising their hands? That’s a customary Korean cheer that’s probably been taking place for centuries. Hitler Youth? Yeah, right!

The Hon. S.Y. Lee, Vice President of South Korea, leads cheers at the close of the UN Day ceremony at Seoul. October 24, 1950
The Hon. S.Y. Lee, Vice President of South Korea, leads cheers at the close of the UN Day ceremony at Seoul. October 24, 1950

However, Benscoter’s comparing me and my church to Hitler Youth, Jim Jones and suicide bombers, and her insulting pseudo-scientific theory about our brains being infected is not what motivated me to protest a TED event. I’ve heard it all before, ad nauseam. But, for an organization as respected as TED to promote and elevate someone associated with forcible incarceration and coerced de-conversion is personal.

Maree Ryan
You can’t keep a good woman down.

In Auckland, New Zealand, August of 1983, my wife was kidnapped by “deprogrammer” goons who came from America and held her against her will while they attempted to harass, harangue, bully and manipulate her into recanting her chosen religion. She, however, did not give up her faith, but escaped from her captors and is now enjoying her life as an outstanding wife, mother, business owner and community activist.

Perhaps the most egregious and downright sinister aspect of TED’s support of “deprogramming” lies in its potential to influence and legitimize the practice in locations where religious freedom is not protected by law and forced de-conversions still take place. For example, it would not be hard to imagine Chinese government officials viewing Benscoter’s presentation for advice on how to attack Falun Gong, a Buddhist religious practice of self-cultivation, founded in China by Li Hongshi. Already the government-controlled press has attempted to depict Falun Gong as a “cult of evil” which engages in mind control. Sound familiar?

Thousands of Falun Gong followers have reportedly been arrested by the Chinese government and have been forced into “reeducation camps” to remove the “wrong thinking” from their minds. (Perhaps Deprogrammer Diane and her fellow henchmen from the now-bankrupt Cult Awareness Network should see if the Chinese government is hiring.)

On the job training for work in China.
On the job training for work in China?

When I copied and pasted the URL for Benscoter’s TED presentation and performed a Google search, many of the results that came up had Chinese characters and other foreign languages in their headings. So it appears that TED ideas are indeed spreading globally, no matter how bigoted and jaundiced.

I also checked out some of the websites and blogs promoting Benscoter’s hate speech and her book; and I kept seeing words like: harrowing, disturbing, appalling and evil, when describing her time in the Unification Church when her “…mind was lost to mind controlling manipulators in a powerful cult.”* However, after reading her book and many of the blog posts, I just couldn’t seem to find anything that even came close to be terribly appalling, disturbing or evil. However I did find one post that highlighted, “She fasted and prayed for Nixon”. Now that’s scary.

If someone really wants to read about a harrowing and evil experience, I suggest they read Toru Goto’s testimony about his imprisonment and torture at the hands of relatives and “deprogrammers” for over twelve years in Japan.

http://religiousfreedom.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=55

When I decided to protest the TED event in Sacramento I had no intention of speaking in front of that crowd. I simply wanted to hand out some fliers and display my placard, and also to get some ideas for future protests. As I walked with my wife towards the Well Fargo Pavilion, I held her hand tightly and looked at the image of an emaciated Mr. Goto taped to my poster. I remembered English statesman, Edmund Burke’s quote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I also thought back to the time over thirty years ago to when I had no idea where my wife was, except that she was being held against her will and that people like Diane Benscoter were trying to force her to think and act in the way they deemed appropriate. I guess I was just moved by the spirit when I walked into the pavilion courtyard.

No more Gotos! No more Gotos! No more Gotos!” I shouted, and then declared that TED supports forced kidnapping and de-conversion. “Stop the hate speech!

As I started to give out fliers, much to my surprise nearly everyone, especially the younger people, took them. However, my wife and friends and I were promptly escorted out of the courtyard by security. Again to my surprise, several young people followed us to find out what we were protesting and to get more information. All of them were sympathetic and supportive of our cause.

Tell us more.
Tell us more.

So TED, how about letting my wife, Mr. Goto, or someone else who survived incarceration and forced faith-breaking attempts, tell their side of the story?

*Quoted from Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus Stanford University on the back of Benscoter’s book, “The Shoes of a Servant”.

 

 

 

 

Forgive Them

Imitation of Christ
My copy of “The Imitation of Christ”.

Reverend Moon’s teachings opened my heart to Jesus and I eventually decided to become a full-time member of the Unification Church. Now that I was a religious nut, I figured it was about time I learned more about Christ. So I started with the basics. I found a children’s Bible at one of our church centers and began reading it. I also kept a New Testament in my shirt pocket that I would often consult. Furthermore, I started studying “The Imitation of Christ” (a Christian devotional book composed by Thomas Kempis in the early 1400’s), and was especially moved by the chapter, “Few love the cross of Christ” where I read the following passage:

“Jesus always has many who love His Heavenly kingdom, but few who bear His cross…Many love Him as long as they encounter no hardship; many praise and bless Him as long as they receive some comfort from Him.”

Suffering Jesus
Our Holy song book.     http://unification.org/ucbooks/HolySongs/022.htm

In addition, a song “Suffering Jesus” from the Unification Church’s Holy Song book touched me. I began to pray and ask Jesus to show me his heart,  something I almost regretted when I walked into a large night club in Northern Wisconsin with a case of brandy snifters filled with wax and made into candles. I asked some of the patrons if they would be interested in purchasing some of my fine product.

“It’s a Moonie! It’s a Moonie!” someone in the crowd of about thirty people yelled. Somebody tried to yank the box of candles from me and the box ripped and brandy glasses crashed to the floor. A couple of burly guys grabbed hold of me and started parading me around the night club as people spat and poured their beer on me. That’s when I remembered praying to know the heart of Jesus. “Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” I thought. I felt no animosity, no hatred toward those people. However, I told Jesus that was about all I could handle after I was thrown out the door and onto the ground while the owner of the night club kicked me and what was left of my candles.

Fetal
Drop kick

After my beating was over I stood up and walked to the edge of a forest near the nightclub and hid while keeping an eye out for the van that would come to pick me up. While waiting alone on that crisp, star-studded, pine-scented night, I started humming a church song, “Grace of the Holy Garden”, and then began to softly sing the words of the chorus:

“Glorious the song ringing in my heart for my Father above; gratefully I give offering to Him, triumph and glorious love…”

 

Amazing grace

Long and lost. (4) by FrannyFotographyâ„¢, on Flickr
A diary

“……kill myself…..”  I’m not sure what I would have done with that book if I hadn’t noticed those words. I probably would have thrown it in the garbage.

It had fallen between the counter and refrigerator; it was someone’s diary. When I moved the refrigerator in the recently-vacated house to work on it (part of my job at Beale Air Force Base military housing), I picked it up. The diary fell open to where a page was wrinkled, perhaps by the dampness of the unknown writer’s tears. Much of the content was smudged, but the words, “kill myself”, clearly stood out. My heart sank as I struggled to read the tear-stained page. The author of the diary wanted to kill herself because her husband was in their bedroom looking at pornography and pleasuring himself. She believed that her husband loved the images on his computer more than he loved her. How sad, I thought. I closed the book, put it in my service truck and later arranged for it to be given to a chaplain.

Licensed marriage and family therapist Kevin B. Skinner, Ph.D., author of Treating Pornography Addiction: The Essential Tools for Recovery, wrote in the December 12, 2011 issue of Psychology Today:

“My heart hurts for individuals caught in the web of pornography. When you see grown men crying in your office because they can’t quit and when they tell you that porn is costing them everything, you quickly realize that pornography is not just a leisurely activity. Then, when you meet a woman who feels rejected, not good enough, and unloved by her partner because of porn, you want to change something about the way things are being done.”

Treat porn

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/inside-porn-addiction/201112/is-porn-really-destroying-500000-marriages-annually

On September 19th, 2014,  my wife and I attended a presentation given by former pornography producer, Donny Pauling, at Saint Isidore’s Catholic Church in Yuba City, California. Pauling, who travels the world, sharing his testimony about how he was transformed from porno-promoter to porno-opponent, tells a heartfelt story of experiencing God and finding the strength to abandon the allure of riches for a higher calling.

Pauling began his talk with some disturbing statistics which showed how pornography is adversely affecting marriages, intimacy, and our young people. To hear that 56% of the divorces in America are primarily related to pornography addictions was especially alarming. (More statistics concerning the destructive effects of pornography can be found on Pauling’s website: www.donnyPauling.net.)

Pauling credits XXXChurch, a ministry dedicated to liberating men and women from the sex trade and porn addiction, for helping him to walk away from the industry. www.XXXChurch.com

Brothel Booth! by KalebColeman, on Flickr
XXXChurch booth

Screams of agony until they get the scene right, young women curled up in  fetal positions sucking their thumbs after their performances, genital warts, herpes, surgeries required to repair sexual organs and men acting “gay for pay” are just some of the ugly truths of the sex industry that are normally hidden from the public, according to Pauling.

 Pauling has contacted many of his former employees to apologize for getting them involved in the porn industry. Many have accepted his apologies, but many haven’t. He pointed out, “You know, I recruited over five hundred girls to work for me and not one has ever called to thank me for getting them involved in the sex trade.”

However, he has been contacted by several women pleading and begging him to help get their sexually explicit images off the internet.

One of those women, who only worked two days in the porn business, had to give up her life-long dream of becoming a police officer. She was kicked out of the police academy after her pornographic images were discovered during a background check.

A father anonymously receiving an envelope containing incriminating images of his daughter; a member of the military worried that her career could be over if her past activity were to be discovered; a newly-engaged woman whose fiancé took back his marriage proposal after her secret history was brought to his attention; these and many other tragic stories were shared by Pauling that Friday evening.

DPauling
Donny Pauling at St. Isidore’s

As I sat in the pew with my wife, in this (unfortunately) sparsely-attended event, I wondered what it must have been like to hear the testimony of John Newton, the former slave-trader who wrote the hymn, “Amazing Grace”, after he became an Anglican priest.

In 1778, many years after giving up the slave trade, Newton published the popular pamphlet, “Thoughts Upon the Slave Trade”, in which he wrote:

“It will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”

John Newton and Donny Pauling are truly brave and honorable men. If more brave and honorable men would simply refuse to consume pornography, could we then put an end to this soul-destroying industry once and for all?

newton 2 by mcfa0773, on Flickr
A stained-glass image of John Newton in his parish church at Olney, England.

 

 

A Diary
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  FrannyFotographyâ„¢ 
XXXChurch Booth
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  KalebColeman 

John Newton
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  mcfa0773