Allow Freedom of Religion in the Soviet Union

The Marxist idea that spirit originates in matter is wrong down to its root. Human beings are created by God and all beings are unified bodies having both material and spiritual aspects. In short, the theory and philosophy of Communism is wrong. During the period that I was studying in Japan, I worked together with Communists for the independence of Korea. They were my good friends who were prepared to give their lives if necessary, for the independence of our homeland, but our way of thinking was fundamentally different. So, once independence was achieved, we had to go our separate ways.

I am opposed to the historical materialism of Communism. I have carried out a movement for victory over Communism throughout the world, and I have advised successive U.S. Presidents that they must protect the free world stand up to the Communist strategy of turning the world red. Communist countries that were unhappy with my actions attempted to remove me through acts of terror, but I do not hate them, nor do I consider them my enemy. I oppose the philosophy and ideology of Communism, but I never hated its people. God wants even Communists to be brought into His oneness. In that sense, my visit to Moscow in April 1990 for a meeting with President Mikhail Gorbachev and my visit to Pyongyang the next year for a meeting with President Kim II Sung were not simple journeys. Both were taken at the risk of my life. It was my destiny to go on these journeys to convey Heaven's will to these men. I said many years before that first journey that Moscow, pronounced in English, sounds similar to "must go." I had to go.

I had a long held conviction regarding Communism. I could foresee that signs pointing to the fell of Communism would begin to appear after about 60 years after the Bolshevik revolution, and that it would fall in 1987, the 70th anniversary of the revolution. So I was excited in 1985, when I heard that Dr. Morton Kaplan, a noted political scientist at the University of Chicago was proposing to hold an international conference titled, "The Fall of the Soviet Empire." I asked him to pay me a visit in Danbury prison so that we could discuss the details. The first thing I said to him when we met was that I wanted him to declare "the end of Soviet Communism" before August 15 of that year.

Dr. Kaplan responded, "Declare the end of Soviet Communism? How can I do such a risky thing?" and indicated he was not inclined to do this. It's the final spark that burns the brightest. In 1985, the Soviet Union was increasing its worldwide influence, and there were no outward signs of its decline. So it was natural that Dr. Kaplan would be reluctant If he made a declaration predicting such a specific event, and it turned out to be false, his reputation as a scholar could be destroyed overnight.

"Rev. Moon," he said, "I believe you when you say that Soviet Communism-will fall. But I don't think it will happen just yet.  So instead of declaring, 'the end of Soviet Communism,' how about if we say 'the decline of Soviet Communism?" I saw, too, that he was proposing to soften title of the conference and use something other than "Fall of the Soviet Empire."

These were compromises I could not accept. I felt strongly that if a person had conviction, he should be brave and put out all his energy to fight, even if he feels afraid.

"Dr. Kaplan," I said, "What do you mean? When I ask you to declare the end of Communism, it's because I have a meaning that is clear enough to justify it The day you declare the end of Communism, it will take energy away from the Soviet Union and help to bring about its peaceful collapse. Why are you hesitating?"

In the end, Dr. Kaplan declared "the end of Soviet Communism" at a conference of the Professors World Peace Academy held in Geneva under the tide, "'The Fall of the Soviet Empire': Prospects for Transition to a Post-Soviet World." It was something that no one dared consider. Because Switzerland was a neutral country, Geneva was a major staging point for the Soviet Committee for State Security (KGB), and many KGB agents worked from there to carry out espionage and terror activities around the world. The Intercontinental Hotel, where the PWPA conference was held, faced the Soviet embassy across the street, so I can well imagine how much fear Dr. Kaplan must have felt. A few years later, however, he became well known as the academic who had first predicted the end of Soviet Communism.

In April 1990,1 attended the World Media Conference held in Moscow. Unexpectedly, the Soviet government gave me head-of-state level protocol, beginning at the airport We were transported into the center of

Moscow in a police escorted motorcade. The car that carried me traveled on the yellow section of the road, which no one other than the President and state guests were allowed to use. This was before the collapse of the

Soviet Union, so the government was affording this exceptional treatment

to me as an anti-Communist.

At the conference, I gave an address praising the move toward perestroika. I said that this revolution must be bloodless and that it must be a revolution of the mind and spirit. The purpose for my visit was to attend the World Media Conference, but my mind was focused on a meeting with President Gorbachev.

At the time, President Gorbachev was quite popular within the Soviet Union, following the successes of his perestroika policies. I could have met the U.S. President ten times if I wanted, but meeting President Gorbachev was much more difficult. I was concerned that even one meeting might be difficult to achieve. I had a message to give him, however, so it was important that I meet him. He was reforming the Soviet Union, giving rise to the winds of freedom there, but as time passed it became dear that Gorbachev himself was likely to become a target of reform. If the situation were left unchecked, he was about to fall into great danger.

"If he doesn't meet me, he has no way to catch the wave of Heavenly fortune, and if he cannot do that then he will last long."

Perhaps he heard this expression of my concern. The next day, he invited me to the Kremlin Palace. I rode a limousine provided by the Soviet government and entered deep into the Kremlin. On entering the Presidential Office, my wife and I took our seats and former Cabinet ministers of the Soviet Union took seats next to us. President Gorbachev

smiled* big smiie and gave us an energetic explanation of the successes of his perestroika policies. Then he showed me into an anteroom, where we met one on one. I used this opportunity to give him the following message.

"Mr. President, you have already achieved much success through perestroika, but that alone will not be sufficient for reform. You need immediately to allow the freedom of religion in the Soviet Union. If you try to reform only the material world, without the involvement of God, perestroika will be doomed to fail. Communism is about to end. The only way to save this nation is to allow the freedom of religion. The time is now for you to act with the courage that you have shown in reforming the Soviet Union and become a president of the world who works to bring about world peace."

President Gorbachev's face hardened at the mention of religious freedom, as though he had not been expecting this. As one would expect from the man who allowed the unification of Germany, however, he quickly relaxed his expression and soberly accepted my words to him. I continued, saying, "South Korea and the Soviet Union should now open diplomatic relations. In that context, please invite South Korean President Roh Tae-woo to visit." I also explained a list of reasons why it would be good for the two countries to have diplomatic relations. After I had finished all that I wanted to say, President Gorbachev made a promise to me with a tone of certitude that I had not heard him express prior to that point.

"I am confident," he said, "that relations between South Korea and the Soviet Union will develop smoothly. I, too, believe that political stability and the relaxation of tensions on the Korean peninsula is necessary.

Opening diplomatic relations with South Korea it only a matter of time; there are no obstacles. As you suggested, I will meet President Roh Tae-woo."

As I was about to leave President Gorbachev that day, I took off my watch and put it on his wrist. He seemed a little bewildered that I would treat him as I might an old friend. So I told him firmly, "Each time your reforms face difficulty, please look at this watch and remember the promise that you made to me. If you do that, Heaven will surely open a path for you."

As he promised me, President Gorbachev met President Roh in San Francisco in June that year for a bilateral summit. Then, on September 30,1990, South Korea and the Soviet Union signed a historic agreement to open diplomatic relations for the first time after 86 years. Of course, politics is the job of politicians and diplomacy is the job of diplomats. Sometimes, though, when a door has been closed for a long time, a religious person can be more effective.

Fours years later, President and Mrs. Gorbachev visited Seoul, and my wife and I hosted them at our home in the Han nam Dong neighborhood. He had already been removed from power by a coup d'etat. Following the coup by anti-reformist forces opposed to perestroika, he had resigned his position as General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, and dissolved the Party. As a Communist, he had eliminated the Communist Party. The former President and First Lady used chopsticks to eat the bulgogi and jabchae that we had carefully prepared. When he was served su-jeong-gwa as desert, the former President, repeated several times, "Korea has excellent traditional foods." The former President and First Lady appeared quite different from when he was in office. Mrs. Gorbachev, who had previously been a thorough-going Marxist-Leninist ~ring at Moscow State Unversity, wore a necklace with a crucifix. -Mr. President, you did a great thing," I told him. "You gave up your post as General Secretary of the Soviet Union, but now you have become the president of peace. Because of your wisdom and courage, we now have ^possibility to bring world peace. You did the most important, eternal and beautiful thing for the world. You are a hero of peace who did God's work for Him. The name that will be remembered forever in the history of Russia will not be "Marx," "Lenin" or "Stalin." It will only be "Mikhail Gorbachev."

I gave high praise to the decision by President Gorbachev to bring about the break up of the Soviet Union, the mother country of Communism, without shedding blood.

In his response to me, President Gorbachev said, "Rev. Moon, I have been greatly comforted by your words. Hearing your words gives me energy. I will devote the remainder of my life to projects that are for the sake of world peace." And he firmly took my hand in his.