Reflections on the Cheon Il Guk Constitution
The Applied Unificationism blog welcomes the spirited discussion of the new Cheon Il Guk Constitution with two articles by Graham Simon and Gordon Anderson (UTS Class of 1978). Because of the importance of this topic, I feel motivated to frame this discussion a bit. While the Unification Movement aspires to restore a physical nation, at this time this “Constitution” is in reality governing a religious organization and a spiritual community. It might be more appropriate to call it a “CIG Charter” and to compare it with the laws of governance for other religious communities around the world. In any case, I invite readers to consider views with which they may or may not agree in the spirit of “true love.”
Sincerely, Richard Panzer, President, UTS/Barrytown College
By Graham Simon
That day passed with little notice.
Might the CIG Constitution have an impact on our lives and the way the Unification family organizes itself in the immediate future? Looking further ahead, will it have an effect on the lives of our descendants or humankind as a whole?
Let us assume that the Principle and True Parents’ teachings become the fundamental bedrock of a future world order, that they resonate with humankind’s inner nature to the extent that their universal acceptance is no longer a question of “if,” but “when.”
Given this assumption, the CIG Constitution would become an extremely important document. The question is whether it would be so in its current state or inevitably go through further incarnations.
Now, two months later, members in the West are beginning to subject it to sustained scrutiny (Editor’s note: the presently available English translation is considered provisional, not final).
The CIG Symposium in London
The first serious effort came at “The Symposium on the Cheon Il Guk Constitution” held in London on March 22, 2014. The consensus of the eight panelists who gathered there was sobering: If the ideal world envisaged by True Father is to come to fruition, it certainly will not be helped on its way by this version of the CIG Constitution.
In fact, most of the panelists viewed it as entirely antithetical to the creation of a domain where a person would voluntarily choose to reside. The speakers highlighted a range of issues.
Dr. C. Turfus identified the Supreme Council, a body that would be seemingly unaccountable once True Mother ascends to the spirit world, as a very worrying development. He stated:
“[T]he main problem I see is with the Supreme Council. This appears to operate like a Communist-style Politburo with extensive powers to appoint and dismiss and to stack the institutions and even to have influence at the national church level through appointment and dismissal of advisers (national messiahs) and veto rights over the appointment and dismissal of national leaders. There is also the problem that most of the members of the Supreme Council are appointed by ‘True Parents,’ but, in their absence, by the Supreme Council itself, with no clarification of how this would work.”
Robert Haines saw a fundamental contradiction at the heart of the constitution. He asked, “Who owns Cheon Il Guk?” and answered:
“True Father and the Divine Principle had elevated humankind to be God’s partners and co-creators, endowed with our own consciences to guide us. This is reflected in the Family Pledge we read every morning in which we pledge ourselves to be Owners of Cheon Il Guk and to take responsibility for its creation — each of us and each of our Blessed Families. But according to this constitution undoubtedly the Supreme Council and its Chairman are the sole owners of Cheon Il Guk. This is therefore not a constitution based on the spirit of the Family Pledge. Its priorities lay elsewhere, namely the consolidation and preservation of religious authority and institutional power and control.
The constitution’s priority is to make clear that a select group of people monopolize the Will of God and the management of Cheon Il Guk. It is alarming that they will hold True Parents’ posthumous authority. This will lead us to repeat the tragic history of so many religions that have been corrupted by such power. They will control who receives the Blessing. They will hold the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. This will mean that we will have to swear allegiance and obedience to them above God and above our consciences. …There will be no place for people to speak out against vested interests – no place for whistle-blowers or reformers. A ruler who claims a monopoly of the Will of God necessarily aspires to tyranny because, by definition, he is always right and those who oppose him are opposing God. This will leave no space for creativity and difference.”
Jesse Deocares from the Philippines, drawing upon the words of St. Paul, also saw the Constitution as being exclusive and deeply divisive – the very opposite to True Father’s vision. He told the audience:
“The imposition of the CIG Constitution, because it involves religious beliefs, can only be detrimental to the Church as a whole. I say this echoing St. Paul’s thought regarding the imposition of Jewish laws on the Gentiles. Such laws highlighted the Gentiles’ lack of conformity to Jewish customs (circumcision, for example) which would lead to the exclusion of many from Jesus’ circle of love. On the other hand, St. Paul saw that by practicing Jesus’ teaching of love, the Gentiles were able to receive forgiveness, regardless of their shortcomings. He said of the Jewish laws, in Rom. 4:15, ‘Where there is no law, there is no transgression.’ And where there is love, there is forgiveness. Laws are unforgiving, love forgiving.
In much the same way, the imposition of the CIG Constitution will collectively exclude major world religions and will inevitably squander the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s teaching of unconditional love, which aims to embrace all peoples in all walks of life, theists, non-theists and atheists alike.”
Don Trubshaw (UTS Class of 1989) observed that the framers of the CIG Constitution had actually debased the ideal of Cheon Il Guk:
“Cheon Il Guk is, primarily, a world not really of this world. It is a spiritual ideal of Unificationists, many other religious people, and perhaps at the deepest level of all people. It exists in the realm of faith and hope, as a source of inspiration to strive for the realization of good character and a life lived by the highest values. The framers of the Constitution clearly overlooked this point. They have failed to distinguish between the ideal, the reality of an organization badly in need of a reform of its governance, and the social order created by autonomous human beings. In particular, they have sullied the ideal by reducing it to a hierarchy of power and a mechanism for control, and made absolute the constitutional arrangements for an organization by usurping the moral authority that rightly flows from a God-centered conscience and a God-centered love at the individual and family level.”
A FFWPU Korea video on the Cheon Il Guk Constitution.
The primary concern I expressed at the symposium was the CIG Constitution is set to enshrine a new theological orthodoxy that is only partially in accord with the Divine Principle. This may sit fine with a small core of members in the West, but will alienate many others. I suggested that:
“Many first generation members in the West were attracted to the Unification Movement because the Divine Principle taught that Jesus was not God and that Christianity had failed by elevating him to a God-like position and worshiping him.
Over the past 20 years, following the failure of North and South Korea to unify in the wake of Father’s meeting with Kim Il Sung and the latter’s death in 1994, there has been a sea-change in our theology. The theory of Restoration by Returning Resurrection has been superseded by the Cheong Pyeong Providence. With the announcement that the True Parents are henceforth the visible face of God from now until eternity, they have been elevated to a God-like position. The CIG Constitution (Article 14) tellingly omits the Divine Principle as one of its Basic Scriptures.”
Ollie Davies, a post-graduate student who spoke at the symposium, humorously summed up his view of the real purpose of the CIG Constitution. He read to the audience an excerpt of the terms-of-use agreement for the World of Warcraft online game, then told us:
“We can conclude that it is not a constitution, as with a democracy. It is not a covenant, as with Canon Law. It is a terms-of-use agreement written to protect the Movement from its members. The defining factors of the document are the high levels of security, granting more power and protection the further up the chain you go, and, if that is not its original motive, it is the one it does very, very well.”
The summary of presentations at the UK Symposium on the Cheon Il Guk Constitution.
The Purpose of the CIG Constitution
Given this response, it is helpful to place the CIG Constitution within a broader interpretive framework.
It is instructive to step back in time to the fourth century CE when Christianity was still in its formative stages. Around the Mediterranean there was a fundamental rift between the followers of Athanasius, who claimed that Jesus was God, and the followers of Arius, who maintained that Jesus was a created being, not God Himself.
In the end, the Roman emperor Constantine threw his weight behind Athanasius, because his views – today formalized in the Athanasian creed, read weekly by Christians worldwide – fostered the creation of a hierarchical power structure. With this, the growing religion, Christianity, could be safely incorporated into the apparatus of the state. From this emerged the Roman Catholic Church. If the Romans had allowed the Arian “heresy” to flourish, they feared it would have led to a democratization and empowerment of the people, especially women, which would have ended up destabilizing the state and its leaders’ ability to control the masses.
With the passing of True Father, the leaders of the Unification Movement now face a similar dilemma. They may feel the need to introduce a theological orthodoxy and hierarchical organizational structure to stem the tide of fragmentation.
But perhaps the initial CIG Constitution will not be the last word. Hopefully, its authors will take to heart the concerns being expressed by members around the world and consider it as a work in progress rather than the finished product. With a broader and more empowering constitution, the institutional concerns of fragmentation will fade and we can move a step closer to realizing the vision of Cheon Il Guk that we all hold so dear.♦
Graham Simon met the Unification Movement in California in 1981. He has lived in the UK, USA and Japan and worked extensively for international corporations, including IBM, Shell and Itochu Corporation. He holds an MA in Economics from New York University. He now lives in London and is a trustee of the FFWPU-UK charity.
Photo above: A draft of the Declaration of Independence as prepared by Thomas Jefferson, featuring notes from Benjamin Franklin. Image from the Library of Congress.
Updated: Thoughts on a Cheon Il Guk Constitution by Gordon Anderson
“Who Owns Cheon Il Guk?” by William Haines