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M.W. Jenkins: Address to World Summit 2014

Address to World Summit 2014, Seoul, Korea, August 9-13, 2014

Under Rev. Moon’s guidance we began a work in Israel in 2003. We were asked to organize Christians in America to seek to take away the barriers between Christianity and Judaism because he saw the vision that if Jews and Christians don’t come together, we will never be able to embrace the third brother of the Abrahamic family, the Islamic family. He saw that vision being critical to take away anything that was dividing Jews and Christians.

The thing that has divided Jews and Christians for 2,000 years is the situation of Jesus Christ coming. Jesus came and was not received at that time. Then Christianity grew as a new expression of faith, and what happened over the years is the Jewish and Christian families did not protect each other; the Christian family in particular did not protect the Jewish family over the years, and there was tremendous fear.

The Crusades were very challenging. In the First Crusade, when the Christians went into Jerusalem it was not a good situation. Jews and Muslims were not embraced.

Christianity has to come to this place of really living the teaching of Jesus, which means we have to respect and love all of the family of God. When we first went to the Middle East, Father Moon told us that one of the things that causes the greatest tension and fear in Jewish people is the cross. Of course Jesus brought victory through the cross, but the cross creates fear among the Jewish people because it has been a symbol of great destruction.

When we first called the organizers in Israel and said we wanted to bring 120 Christians to Israel to meet with rabbis, they said, “Forget it. It’s the last thing they would want.” But they heard that these Christians were willing to take down the cross as a symbol of division, blame and accusation.

Then rabbis agreed to meet, and a declaration was signed proclaiming that Islam, Christianity and Judaism are one Abrahamic family. But to take the barriers of prejudice and discrimination and judgment and make love the center of our faith is not simple.

When we called upon an Orthodox rabbi from Ramat Gan to sign the declaration, the rabbi said, “I’ll sign it on one condition; if the Muslim sheikh from Nazareth comes forward and signs with us.” That launched the Middle East Peace Initiative in Jerusalem. Sheikh Manasra from Nazareth came forward and signed with the rabbi and a Christian archbishop, and a new condition was made in history.

But this has to be based on love. Christians understand that Jesus brings us salvation. I believe that’s true. I’m a Christian. But salvation cannot expand without love. Jesus’ love should be the center of all of our interfaith work.

The core values of UPF center on the faith that we are all from one God, that Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and all the major faith traditions come from one God. That’s not easy for many Christians. We run seminars to help Christians understand that Muhammad, peace be upon him, was sent by God. That wasn’t an easy step for me to take as a Christian. It takes time, it takes understanding. It takes a spiritual experience to understand that God is bigger than any one religion.

The scripture says, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions.” I used to understand that meant that in my Father’s house there are many denominations, so it’s okay to love Catholics, Protestants, Lutherans, Methodists, Pentecostals, etc. But after I went to the Middle East for several years I began to understand that my Father’s house, our Creator God’s home, is bigger than Christianity. That’s a tough one for Christians to accept. We tend to think that we’re the only religion that truly is valid. We will never bring peace if we really believe that in our hearts.

There is validity in every major religion because God is greater than any one religion. God is the creator of us all, and with that understanding we can dialogue with Christians, Muslims and Jews without a pre-judgment that says “I’m better than you.” Our family has complementary elements – Islam, Christianity and Judaism – and all the faith traditions complement one another. We’re meant to come together.

When Rev. Moon spoke at the U.N. in 2000, he said “World peace can be fully accomplished only when the wisdom and the efforts of the world’s religious leaders, who represent the internal concerns of the mind and the conscience, work cooperatively and respectfully with national leaders who have much practical wisdom and worldly experience about the external reality or body. In this light, it is time for us to give serious consideration, even to the prospect of restructuring the United Nations. For example, perhaps it is possible to envision the United Nations as a bicameral institution, where religious leaders and people of faith, academicians, business people, elected officials who have faith as their center, faith leaders form the upper house.”

A voting council, like a senate, would have real power to decide things and complement the lower house, which should be the political leaders and diplomats from all the nations.

Diplomats have their role, which is to secure benefit for their nation, and, of course, to cooperate with other nations. But religious leaders have a vision beyond national boundaries, a purpose that goes beyond just their national interest, because they believe that God is over the whole world and there should be a world of peace for all people, regardless of their faith, race, culture or nationality. The vision of UPF is to secure peace for everyone.

Therefore, what’s a strategy to gain peace with Boko Haram in Africa, with ISIS, with the extremists who are working to create conflict between the Palestinians and territories in Israel? The strategy is the same that God gave Rev. Moon in relation to communism. He understood that the Soviet Union was founded on a false ideology called Marxism, and that false ideology denies the existence of God. Something that is not founded on truth rests on shifting sand. Eventually it will fall. The only thing that allows people to stand on something that’s not true is when the people who are standing on truth bicker among themselves and don’t exalt and live the truth in loving one another.

The extremists who stand on an ideology that has perverted the Qur’an are not Muslims in true form. There are Christian extremists, and there are so-called Jewish extremists, people who are not true to their faith.

How will we defeat Boko Haram, people who believe that their faith in God and their understanding of the Qur’an justifies capturing young ladies and take them away to a terrible place, or even to death? Or the extremists that took the young girl in Pakistan who wanted to study and shot her in the head? That’s not Islam.

We have to understand how our faith traditions have common ground: there is one God and we are one family. There are 1.3 billion believers in Islam. I believe, as a Christian, that they are God’s people and that we should protect them and embrace them. But we have to understand that there are other forms of interpretation that are not correct. Just as the ideology of Marxism was false in proclaiming that God doesn’t exist, there are false ideologies within these extremists. We have to challenge them.

But when the U.S. challenged the Soviet Union, we could not be weak. We had to have a strong military. We’re not just peace activists who oppose any kind of defense. Without a strong defense, the people who advocate terror will destroy your family, will destroy your nation, will destroy those schoolgirls in Nigeria.

But military actions and war will not solve the problem. They will defend us from that evil force but will not solve the problem, because the problem lies deeper.

I’ve been to Gaza, I’ve been south of the Litani River in Lebanon, I went into a Shiia community that was in conflict with Sunni communities, I went into Jordan. I found that there are people of God in every community. There are people who are really true to their faith in every community.

Therefore, we’ve got to stop judging people as a whole, thinking all Israelis are bad, all Palestinians are bad, all Muslims are bad, or all Christians are bad. We have to transcend that level and go much deeper into understanding. God’s people are everywhere.

Father Moon went to the Soviet Union and embraced Mikhail Gorbachev; he went to North Korea and embraced Kim Il Sung. He could do that because he saw that the only way to take the terror and the evil and the hatred out of somebody’s heart is to be strong but at the same time liberate your enemy from the evil that’s controlling them by going in and risking your life for their benefit. If you are focused on your ideology alone or on conquering them so you can control everything but instead have the heart of liberating every nation, race and religion, then you are truly living for the benefit of everybody.

Liberating somebody from the evil ideology of terrorism is something we must do. There’s a great sharia judge in Yemen named Hamoud al-Hitar, and many of the al-Qaeda had been taken into prison because of their terrorist and violent, murderous activities. But as a sharia judge he said to them, “You’re not living the Qur’an. You do not believe in the Qur’an as it truly is written.” In a jihadist rehabilitation program, he challenged them one by one to a debate. He said he would dialogue with anybody, no matter what they had done. The guns have to be taken away, but he wanted to dialogue.

He went into the prison, and every single person whom he engaged in extensive dialogue about the Qur’an converted to true Islam and eventually became peaceful Muslim people.

That’s how to change the situation. We don’t have to fear ISIS. We don’t have to fear terror as a global phenomenon exploding all over the world.

Evil is not strong. Evil is weak if we expose the fallacies and the false positions and principles that they’re trying to advocate. Evil is strong only when it’s not confronted with truth and love.

King Abdullah of Jordan did a great thing in exposing what was wrong with the extremists. He held a conference for 200 Islamic scholars, and they created the Amman Message in November 2004. Islamic scholars from 50 countries and from every major Islamic tradition developed their positions and unanimously agreed.

They specifically recognized the validity of the eight Madhhab: the five Sunni schools, two Shia schools and one Khawarj school of Islamic thought. They came to a precise definition of what it is to be a true believer. Based on that definition, they forbade the condemning by Muslims of other Muslims and also proclamations of fatwas simply because an extremist wanted to condemn other Muslims and have them killed.

An understanding of the true essence of the Qur’an is now being upheld. We can’t fall into the mistake of Christians or people of other faiths who condemn all of Islam. The vast majority of Muslims are ready to walk with us in peace.

There are people who live in Islamic states where Islam is part of the government. Then there are the militant Islamists who do not interpret the Qur’an properly but use it to their own advantage to dominate and create destruction. Unless we understand this, we can never bring peace.

I can see the day is coming when terrorism will fall. We can’t do it with weakness. If somebody is shooting 1,000 missiles, the military in the neighboring state is going to respond. But why would the leadership of any area allow 1,000 missiles to go into a country with one of the strongest and most technologically developed military forces on earth, knowing that their response is going to create destruction among their people?

At the same time, we have to understand that when military power goes into a community to chase after terrorists, if they use mass destruction to wipe out the terrorists they end up destroying innocent people and multiplying resentment.

So military action for defense, yes. But it will not bring peace. It will not take the resentment out of people’s hearts. UPF would advocate in the spirit of Zechariah 4:6: “Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit, sayeth the Lord.”

I’d like to ask all the UPF delegates and Ambassadors for Peace to create momentum for an interfaith council at the United Nations, so that faith leaders who are truly practicing the faith and love of their traditions and respect for all races and all religions can be in decision-making bodies so that people will study war no more.

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