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LISA GRAY’S EXCELLENT article about the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and National Parents’ Day (“Honor Thy Parents,” 9/8) was one of the most thorough exposés of the Unification Church in recent print. Her coverage of how the self-proclaimed messiah wields his political and economic power left no doubt about the danger posed by this megalomaniac.

However, Gray only touched upon an aspect of the Unification Church that we consider to be the most dangerous of all: the routine and systematic separation of recruits from their families. It is this that makes the establishment of “Parents’ Day” particularly ironic and outrageous.

All of us have had sons or daughters recruited into the Unification Church, and we have experienced the anguish of having our children pulled away from their life plans and goals to become worshipers of a man who shows complete contempt for their relationship with their families. Our children were taught that the Rev. and Mrs. Moon were their “True Parents,” while we were to be feared as forces of Satan. All of us experienced our children being hidden from us and lying to us.

But even more horrifying, we saw our children’s values and personalities change so that they were scarcely recognizable. Moon had captured their minds as surely as he had captured their bodies. On the rare times when we could talk with our children and the even rarer times we could actually see them, we felt as though we were communicating with strangers who had lost their capacity to share their love with us. Their lives were completely turned over to raising money selling flowers and artifacts and to recruiting new members. They worked up to 18-hour days, subsisted on junk food, and were driven from city to city in darkened vans. This was Moon’s idea of “love,” and no doubt he does love it—all proceeds go into his church’s tax-free coffers. Our children kept nothing of what they had earned.

None of our children freely chose to join the Unification Church.

They were recruited through deception, many of them not even knowing that they were with Moon’s church until well into their indoctrination. And none of our children were free to leave the church. Once seduced inside, the door slammed closed behind them, leaving them with a dread of the outside world and a fear that they could only survive within the cult confines. Inevitable doubts were stamped out by thought-suppression techniques, including chanting and forced cold showers. Sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, and constant activity kept them in a state of servitude. Never were they encouraged to question Moon’s doctrines or to seek outside information on the Unification Church. If we, as mothers, tried to express our concerns about their lives, we were shunned as satanic; if we were openly critical, especially in the media, we ran the risk of having our children disappear for months or years—a fate many of us experienced.

We were lucky, however. Our children eventually escaped the clutches of the Unification Church. They left because each of us were able to intervene in a legal manner, getting our children to hear information that led them finally to question critically their lives of servitude to Moon.

There are thousands of families who are not so fortunate. Their children remain trapped in the Unification Church, often in countries where the parents can rarely contact them or see them. Many of their children have been married in Moon’s mass weddings (there was one a few weeks ago, where Moon claims responsibility for having “blessed” 300,000 couples), resulting in their children becoming even more entrenched and, in many cases, able to get legal status to say in countries across the world from their families. These parents are rightly frightened to speak out publicly, for Moon holds their children hostage. It is up to the parents whose ordeal is behind them to help educate the world about Moon and his terrible plunder of lives.

Mothers Opposed to Moon (MOM)