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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Sept. 20, 1978)
Wednesday, September 20, 1978
Unorthodox religions gather followers in Capital City
Interest In beliefs other than those tra
ditionally practiced in Nebraska is evident
in a number of unconventional religions in
These vary from relatively new sects to
ancient Eastern practices to offshoots of
"The underdog of the underdogs," is
how a worker in the Jews for Jesus move
ment described his group.
Jews have a history of persecution by
Christians, and now Jews for Jesus are suf
fering similar abuse from many traditional
members of the Jewish faith, according to
evangelist Steven Cohen, 29.
Cohen said members of the organization
have joined various Christian churches
since they are no longer welcome in
Cohen said his wife, who have recently
moved to Omaha from New York City,
are the only full-time staff members in Ne
braska. Christian Jew possible
It is possible to be Jewish and Christian
at the same time, he said.
Cohen defined a Jew as a person born of
Jewish parents, who thus inherits the
covenant promised to Abraham and his
"According to strict Jewish law once a
Jew always a Jew," he said.
A Christian is someone who consciously
decides to follow Jesus, Cohen said, and it
is impossible to be born a Christian.
"Being born into a Christian home
doesn't make someone a Christian anymore
more than being born into a bakery makes
one a bagel," he said.
Jews for Jesus is an organization of Jew
ish and non-Jewish people who believe
Jesus is the Son of God and one must
follow him to have a proper relationship
with God, he said.
The conflict is that the majority of Jews
hnv been taught that Jesus is not the
If one has believed all his life that
225, and then dw wers that it really
equals four, he will suffer an initial emot
ional response of resentment, he said.
"The real tension is not, 'can a Jew be
lieve in Jesus?' but 'who is Jesus?'," he
Cohen plans'to bring this message to the
UNL campus in the form of Bible studies,
literature, and contacts with campus
One such organization is the UNL
chapter of the Ba'hai faith, which has been
on campus since 1967, according to Jeff
Adler, coordinator of the group.
Adler, a senior English major from Long
Island, said the group has dropped from 80
to 10 members since its founding. The
organization's purpose is to introduce stu
dents to the Ba'hai faith, he said.
The Ba'hai faith is based on the teach
ings of Baha'u'llah, Adler explained.
Ba'hais believe that Baha'u'llah received
the spirit of God in 1853 while imprisoned
in Tehran, Iran, and was transformed into a
messenger of God.
The Ba'hai faith teaches that Baha'u
'llah, Jesus, Mohammed and other past
prophets are all the same spirit clothed in
different bodies, Adler said.
The goal of the Ba'hai faith is to elimin
ate prejudice and unite all races, national
ities and sexes, he said.
Unlike some other religions, Ba'hais are
forbidden to solicit or accept donations,
Likewise, Ananda Marga, a Hindu medi
tation group, must rely on its members for
Ananda Marga teaches people to use
practical techniques such as meditation to
achieve their highest spiritual potential
said Steve McElravy, 29, leader of the
Movement, not religion
McElravy described Ananda Marga as a
movement; something more than a religion
which he thinks can be limiting.
"It's what I do instead of religion," he
Ananda Marga is divided into two areas;
service to humanity, viewed as service to
God, and discipline.
Relief operations connected with
Lincoln Red Cross and health workshops
for women are two local service projects.
Self discipline includes a vegetarian diet,
fasting, daily meditation and yoga exer
cises. Because Ananda Marga is based on the
principle of a relationship between phy
sical, mental, and spiritual health, diet and
exercise are as important as meditation.
Followers meditate individually twice
daily for a minimum of 20 minutes each
"It becomes a positive addiction, he
said. "It's so satisfying it awakens a desire
in you to do it again and again. The
purpose of my life is meditation."
The six Lincoln members also hold
weekly group meditation sessions. These
include spiritual singing and dancing.
"We're not just a bunch of individuals
meditating. We're doing something daily
and weekly to forge ourselves together."
Ananda Marga was founded in 1955 in
India by Shrii Shrii Anandamurti Ji and
brought to Lincoln by a meditation teacher
Another relatively new religion found in
Lincoln is The Only Order of Man.
The Order, founded 10 years ago in San
Francisco, sponsors the non-denominational
Christian House at 19th and R streets.
This community center and chapel is
devoted to non-profit community service
projects, said Deborah Beck, priest of the
Beck said the order does not stem from
any mainline church but most closely re
sembles the Roman Catholic faith.
Promotion of a Christian way of life is
the major goal of the order, she said.
She said the difference between the
order and other churches is the order's
acceptance of women as ministers since its
There are approximately 300 vowed
members of the church nationally. Vowed
members are similar to monks and nuns in
the Catholic church but are not forbidden
to marry, she said.
Beck said the Lincoln Order includes
two or three UNL students as members.
University Muslim students can parti
cipate in religious and social activities with
the Muslim Student Association.
In addition to weekly meetings, the
association sponsors religious discussions,
dinners and parties, club president Said
300 Muslim students
Of the almost 300 Muslim students at
UNL, 40 students are regular members of
the association, Martan said. Most of these
are graduate students, he added.
Martan said the association has been on
the UNL campus for 20 years. He has
noticed more-interest in the club in recent
years, he said.
Homelands of student members include
Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Martan
Moonie calls church a movement
Perhaps the most controversial religion ever to appear
in America is the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification
Church, which was brought to the country in the early
1960s from Korea.
The chruch has been called a cult, a movement, a
religion, an ego trip and a business venture; has been
compared to the Hitler youth movement and accused of
brainwashing its members.
But two Lincoln Moonies; Diana Deines and Renee
Stueckrath, both of 6510 Holdrege, Apt. 3; said that such
negative publicity is a result of communist smear tactics.
The two roommates discredited accounts of unethical
practices by the church, saying they don't feel members
are exploited in any way.
They described the church, which is based on a series
of revelations to Rev. Moon from God called the Divine
Principle, as a blend of Judeo-Christian and Eastern
Moon teaches that Jesus was the son of God, but he
didn't complete his mission to establish a Kingdom of
Heaven on Earth, Stueckrath said. This means a second
savior will be sent by God to eliminate evil, she continued.
She said the church feels that this means Moon is now
a profit, and if he succeeds in his mission he will be con
sidered the Messiah.
Communism represents Satan
This mission is to unify all nations and religions and
eliminate communism. The church believes that commun
ism must be eliminated because, through its denial of
God, it represents Satan, Stueckrath said.
Both members said their involvement in the Unifica
tion Church does not affect their membership in Christian
There are about six moonies living in Lincoln who
occasionally travel to the only Nebraska center in Omaha,
for workshops and meetings.
Deines explained that it is no longer necessary to live in
the centers or donate all of ones possessions to belong to
Money raising is beginning to take a smaller role in the
life of Moonies. The urgancy of the mission called for the
method of fund raising used, said the coordinator of
missions for the church.
Dan Fefferman said the church is progressing into more
normal means of fund raising such as contributions from
Church is movement
The $30 million income reported by the church last
year was reinvested in a university, seminary, fishing in
dustry, many small businesses and land purchases.
"As we have progressed and grown stronger, we've
treated Moon with the respect and dignity we feel he
deserves as our spiritual leader, Fefferman said.
This includes Moon's $650,000 home in the U.S. and
two $250,000 yachts at his disposal.
"We don't give him first rate treatment and he does not
take advantage of his position, in fact he works harder
than anyone else," he said.
Fefferman has been a Moonie for 10 years and con
siders the church the basis for a movement rather than a
"It is a movement used by God to prepare the world
for the second coming of Christ," he said.
Fefferman said Moon is the third coming of the
prophet Elijah and just as John the Baptist, who was the
second coming of Elijah, was sent to prepare the way for
Christ, Moon was sent to prepare the way for the second
coming of Jesus.
and Lucy Bighia
Ex-moonie says Moon not divine
The Unifcation Church, however loudly it proclaims
its good intentions and innocent methods, is not without
Chris FJkins, an ex-Moonie who was once a top official
in the church, said he felt Rev. Sun Myung Moon as
deceiving the public and his followers.
Elkins joined the church because he was led to believe
it was a Christian organization, he said.
He said he later decided he could not accept the
Moonies as being Christian, because they are taught that
Moon is the true savior. According to Moon, Jesus was
just an ordinary human being, with nothing divine about
him, Elkins said.
This is not necessarily what Moonies will tell others,
because they don't want to scare away prospective mem
bers, he said.
Another deception practiced by the Moonies is the idea
that the church is a movement rather than a religion, he
Moonies worship Moon
Elkins said this is not true because they obviously
He said Moonies also try to infiltrate and subvert
Christian congregations by getting involved in other
churches and community service programs.
Also, the church doesn't pay taxes on its yearly earn
ings of $60 million, because it has declared itself to be
a religion, he said.
Moon is not relying on strictly spiritual means to ful
fill his purpose; he is politically very active in Washing
ton, Elkins said.
In fact, Moon has been "trading favors" with U.S.
senators and congressmen for some time, he said.
Moon has been involved with Tongsun Park, the
Korean businessman accused of bribing members of Con
gress, Elkins said.
Moon influenced presidents
In addition, he said Moon has influenced presidents
Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon; and that Nixon invited
Moon to the White House to pray together.
Elkins said Moon was a very staunch supporter of
Nixon, in the hopes that Nixon would survive Watergate,
and want to reward him for his support.
i Daily Nebraskan photo
I Chris Elkins, ex-Moonie
Elkins said he has heard Moon pledge to "subjugate
and conquer the world."
Furthermore, the Freedom Leadership Foundation,
consisting entirely of Moonies, is briefed regularly by the
Pentagon, he said.
Elkins estimated that Moon was worth at least $150
million; and is presently negotiating through the church to
buy the Empire State Building.
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