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D. Burton: Religious Freedom in America and Throughout the World

Address at the Memorial Program on the Second Anniversary of the Passing of Rev. Sun Myung Moon
Cheongshim World Peace Center, Gapyeong, Korea, August 12, 2014

Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, distinguished current and former heads of state and government, international religious leaders from many nations, and distinguished guests. I am very happy to join you here in the Republic of Korea – one of the US’s greatest allies and friends – to celebrate the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon. And especially to Mrs. Moon, my wife Dr. Samia and I offer our heartfelt greeting and condolences from our family to yours.

As a veteran member of the United States Congress for 30 years and a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee I am greatly encouraged by this gathering of participants from so many countries, representing all the world’s faith traditions, to address the critical need for and your unique approach to establishing peace in this era of urgent challenges.

Dr. Moon, I must say that your continued leadership to support The Washington Times is appreciated by all God-fearing people. The role of The Washington Times in the US capital city has been one of the most powerful influences on the nation and the world in support of faithful marriage, religious freedom, respect for all faiths and races, and finally the rejection of socialism and atheism. The thought-leadership presented daily in The Times also supports the God-affirming democratic free world to stand firm against terrorism and tyranny.

I can see that your work for peace through many organizations such as the Universal Peace Federation along with the efforts to promote interfaith unity have greatly influenced the people of North and South America, and more than 180 countries worldwide.

I want to encourage you and everyone here in this impressive gathering that the work you and your husband have done and continue to do to strengthen America and people of faith over the years is recognized throughout the world. We know that Rev. Moon suffered for several years in a North Korean communist prison camp and was liberated by UN Forces led by the United States. After launching his church, together with Mrs. Moon, he then responded to God’s call and came to the US to strengthen its founding spirit of faith and freedom so that it could lead the world to peace. I witnessed how his movement worked hard to help America’s leaders, citizens and media stand firm against communism and immorality.

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to set the record straight today. We know that it is because of such a righteous and effective stance that Rev. Moon encountered opposition and persecution – just as it came to all historical religious leaders. Just two weeks ago, I met with my good and long-time friend, Senator Orrin Hatch, who has served in the United States Senate for 37 years. He is well known in the US as a champion of religious freedom and traditional values.

Senator Hatch sincerely conveyed how he knew that Rev. Moon had been persecuted and mistreated. Back in June of 1984, the Senator held important hearings on religious freedom in the US Senate and he stood strong to fight this injustice. He said on the record in those hearings, “as Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, I personally analyzed Rev. Moon’s case very carefully, and felt so strongly about what I believe were violations of Rev. Moon’s constitutional rights, in the manner in which his trial was conducted, that I filed my own brief with the Supreme Court.” Senator Hatch concluded, “I believe that injustice was done and that the treatment of Rev. Moon was because of his strong righteous stance against communism and immorality.” I agree with Senator Hatch – and would like to set the record straight today – before you in this historical event. What happened to Rev. Moon was not the will of righteous American people – but a tragic case of religious persecution and bigotry.

As a man of faith who was honored to serve my country in the United States Congress and on behalf of the patriotic and God-loving people of the United States, I am sorry that the US system did not work to protect this man of God.

Dr. Moon, I want you to know that because of the persecution you and your husband endured, your movement became stronger and more effective. And, through The Washington Times and your husband’s many efforts combined with freedom-loving people of the world, the Cold War was ended and the Berlin Wall came down.

Today, given the many challenges faced around the globe, here on the Korean peninsula and in America, we stand together with you and are confident that with your leadership and a unified effort among faith-based organizations, families can be strengthened with a God-centered approach that reduces divorce and immorality. A new level of cooperation can be made real among the Abrahamic faiths. And, the mounting wave of terrorism and other security challenges will be rolled back. It is our common prayer that peace be established and that God’s will be done to set forth His kingdom.

However all of us here gathered need to speak loudly to all the leaders, nations and peoples around the world that religious persecution and terrorism must be defeated.

America must once again stand up to be a beacon of religious freedom and morality for all—and with the Republic of Korea and all God-loving nations join in protecting the rights of conscience at home and abroad. But before the world leaders assembled here, let me once again say it is up to all of us to speak out strongly against religious persecution and terrorism.

Ladies and gentleman, I pray that the legacy of peace that Rev. Moon upheld throughout his life, and that all of you carry forward together with Mrs. Moon, will shine brightly here in Korea and throughout the world.

Thank you, and may God bless each of you, your families and your significant work.