“There’s a Moonie in Town”

drawing 001
“Betty, call the shopkeepers and townspeople. Warn them there’s a Moonie in town!”

Reprinted from: http://www.tparents.org/library/unification/books/40years/40-4-38.htm  (Sort of)

“Betty, call the shopkeepers and the townspeople. Warn them that there’s a Moonie in town.” Such was the response when I asked the hardware store owner, in a small northern Wisconsin town, if he would like to make a donation for a butterfly pin to help our church.

“Come here, young man. I’ve got something to show you,” the shopkeeper said as he walked into his office. “Look!”

On his office walls, instead of the usual hardware store office decor of stuffed deer heads, dead fish and calendars of scantily clad women hawking pipe wrenches and the like, were hundreds of sensational articles about my church, the Unification Church. I thought, man, doesn’t this guy have anything better to do?

“What do you think?” he asked.

I wanted to tell him, “I think you’re a religious bigot!” but thought better of it. I glanced at a few of the articles but knew I wouldn’t find anything new since I had already read most of them. My aunt from Duluth always kept my parents highly informed about how terrible my church was by clipping out derogatory articles and mailing them to California. I got to read them on my visits home.

Downtown Crandon, Wisconsin by jimmywayne, on Flickr
Small Town Wisconsin

I told the shopkeeper goodbye, wished him a good day and walked outside. I looked down the street and thought, today is going to be an interesting day. I then proceeded to go shop to shop, which of course was futile since every shopkeeper had been “warned” about me. Having finished the shops in record time (having someone yell “no” at you when you open the door doesn’t take very long), I started to go house to house. Although many of the residents had been alerted about me, I was still able to gain some success. However, it was soon to become more difficult.

One gentleman, perhaps a relative of the hardware store owner, believed it was his personal responsibility to make sure that no one in this town was going to give me any money. He went with me to every house to let the residents know why they shouldn’t give. Luckily I was able to outrun my persecutor,  an overweight middle-aged man, and was able to knock on a few doors without his presence. However, after he decided to drive around in his car, he was able to keep up with me again. So I decided to try another part of town.

Near downtown I was passing a small gas station when a frail elderly lady asked me to come inside. She asked me what all the commotion was about. (Meanwhile, I noticed that my antagonist was driving around trying to find me, but couldn’t see me inside the gas station.) I briefly explained what I was doing. She said, “People in this town are mean. You seem like a nice young man. I’ll buy some of your butterfly pins.” She gave me ten dollars.

My cherished I.D. Badge

I then left the station, ran to the other side of town, and started to go house to house unmolested… at least for a while, until I reached a newer subdivision. They’d been waiting for me! “Red alert! Red alert! Moonie on the block!” about six kids on their bicycles shouted as I started going around the neighborhood. Surprisingly, people still bought. Perhaps they felt sorry for me.

Around 7:00 p.m. a police officer pulled up and said the townspeople had had a special meeting to decide what they should do about me. The officer stated that he knew I had every right to raise funds for my church, but for my own safety, he suggested I stop.

Since I was almost done with the town, I agreed. “You know,” I said, “I get an idea how Jesus must have felt when he got kicked out of towns.”

Jesus before Pontius Pilate by Nick in exsilio, on Flickr
Jesus before Pontius Pilate

“Yeah, and I know what it must have been like for Pontius Pilate,” replied the officer. I walked over to the post office where I was to be picked up in about an hour, sat down, and started to reflect about the day. I thought about the elderly lady who had asked me into her gas station; I thought about the policeman; I thought about the various people who gave me a donation while someone was screaming at them not to. In particular, I thought about an elderly couple living in a small shack down a dirt road,  who were reading their Bibles when I knocked on their door. They offered me some lemonade, said they were glad I came by, and gave me $5.00.

Around 8:00pm the fundraising van picked me up. I counted up. I had made exactly 100 dollars, which was my goal for the day. Someone asked me about my day. “Well, when I walked into a hardware store……..”

MFT Mates
MFT Mates



Downtown Crandon, WI – Picture by Jimmy Emmerson

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  jimmywayne 

Jesus before Pontius Pilate – Photo by Nick Thompson

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Nick in exsilio 

15 thoughts on ““There’s a Moonie in Town””

  1. Reminds me of my own time when a minister went around on his motorcycle warning fellow Iowa citizens. Or the time I was picked up by police in Murdo, North Dakota and dropped off outside the city limits in the freezing cold. Often I was asked “this ain’t no Jim Jones deal now is it boy? I am grateful for all those character building experiences. Way to go Bob on penning yours so well on paper !!

    1. Thank you Michael. I’m working on a post about a hilarious experience I had on a North Dakota Indian reservation. Stay tuned.

    2. Don’t you just hate it when people compare the Unification Church with Jim Jones? Like they think mass weddings and mass suicides are almost the same thing.

  2. Another gem, Bob — thanks. Reminds me also of those precious moments where one’s faith is tested by fierce reality. I found those to be the hardest and yet most consequential of times. God is present in those moments if we persevere with love and hope. Unforgettable.

    1. Thanks Bento. Not only are those moments a good test of one’s faith, they also provide great material for writing a blog!

  3. Two sisters pioneered a university town near Melbourne.
    They had front page headlines, so I went with another sister to do some public relations.
    Two went to civic leaders, and I went with a sister to religious leaders.
    Most were fine except for one who berated me for 5 minutes before asking, “Which church are you from?” When we told him, he was like:
    “The Moonies? You’re as bad as the Mormons. You’re almost as bad as the Catholics. The only church apart from us I can stand around here are the Baptists. I mean, they’re still going to hell, but at least they are more bearable.”

    I moved back to that city 23 years ago and now lived there.
    I was voted in as the vice-chairman of the local interfaith group with Catholics and Christian Science, Methodists and Mormons, Buddhists and Bahaiis, etc.
    It was an interesting experience to introduce myself as a Moonie to the same ministers who were quoted in the newspaper so many years earlier.

    1. Great story Randall. I have a copy of the Lutheran Standard magazine on my desk. On the cover of that magazine is a young man tied up as he gets deprogrammed. That magazine is no longer published and its publisher The American Lutheran Church ain’t doing too well.

  4. Hey Bob, nice story. An amazing time in history that will likely not ever be repeated. I am so proud and humbled to have had a very small role in that drama. You brought back a flood of memories. Loved the pic. I know those guys! Still remember Gabe’s vest, burned into my “memic”. 😉

    1. Thank you Greg. I’ve often thought it would be great to have a VMFT Club filled with old vans, fund-raising products, etc.

  5. Meanwhile, Thundercat Magnolia sat outside a dirty dark run down bar on the outskirts of town, praising herself for her well executed plan. It was tiring work, and she felt she deserved this beer. If only the barkeep would quit looking at her..

    1. Thanks Stacy. (Readers of Stacy’s comment are advised to check out the post “Hope Point” in order to have an idea of what she is writing about.)

  6. Great story…reminds me of the persecution days…the sister on the far left looks familiar…probably was on one of my teams..know here name?

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