Blessed are the persecuted

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The Independent Online
We shall win in the end. History shows, remarkably, that the persecuted often become the victors.

I am sure that Reverend Moon is very sad and disappointed that he cannot come to Britain on his world tour. I know he loves this country and respects its great tradition of freedom. The Home Secretary has made a grave error, and my fellow members of the Unification Church are seeking urgent redress.

For many of us it has been 17 years since we have seen Reverend Moon and we remember that visit with great fondness. Why has this man of God been refused entry to this country? We are hurt, baffled and angry and yet many of us have learned patience and hope from previous confrontations with bigotry and prejudice.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ said: "Blessed are ye, when men persecute you." Truly we have been blessed by Michael Howard. We had 48 hours after being notified by the Home Secretary that Reverend Moon had been refused entry to this country, and to bring this injustice to his many supporters' attention, 48 hours to try and gather enough representation to present to the Home Secretary.

Michael Howard clearly indicated that no matter what representation he received supporting Reverend Moon, he would still refuse him entry. It seems a no-win situation. Nevertheless, he has sparked off an outcry that must be heard.

Because he never gave up, despite being tortured, imprisoned, vilified on many occasions throughout his life, I believe Reverend Moon demonstrates a faith and a love of God and mankind that could have been the turning point to change this country's moral decline.

That opportunity has temporarily been denied to the people of Britain, but we shall not stop until this unjust ban has been quashed and those people are free to make up their own minds.

I remember the day Reverend Moon heard the news that a jury in the United States had found him guilty of what everybody knew was a trumped-up charge of tax evasion. He smiled and shook his head. Then turning to one of his closest followers he said: "How many times is that now?" And the man laughed with him. He has been, like St Paul, like Martin Luther King, and like so many other men who gave their lives for freedom and for mankind, imprisoned often.

Millions of Christian people throughout the US demonstrated at the injustice. My earnest hope tonight is that, whether or not they agree with his beliefs, many similar people in Britain will feel as they did.

The writer is president of the Unification Church in Britain.