Religions that Thrive and Religions that Die

By Ronald Brown

Jacques Marion is one of those first generation Unificationists who, he told me, “dropped everything” when he met Reverend Moon and set off to spread the teachings and vision of Unificationism to the world.

He described his years as a missionary in Russia and Africa and the enthusiastic welcome the movement is receiving there. He concluded that it was in times of turmoil and trouble that people are most open to new and often radical solutions. Russia and Africa were in such states when he was there and largely remain so until today.

My conversation with Jacques and other Unificationist missionaries evoked major questions regarding how religions take root, thrive or die.

Why did Buddhism thrive in China, Korea, Japan, and South Asia, while it all but disappeared in its Indian homeland? Why did the Russians adopt Greek and not Roman Christianity, or even Judaism, Islam, or Buddhism as their national religion? Why is Evangelical Christianity sweeping the USA while mainline Christian churches are at best lingering?

In Paris this past summer, I decided to explore how Catholicism became and remains the dominant religion of France. My experience there led me to reflect on how Unificationism might fare in Africa.

The Thermes de Cluny: The latest in modern technology

In the early centuries after Christ, the Gauls swept out of the forests of northern Europe, eliminating all traces of Roman civilization in front of them. They sacked Rome in 387 B.C. but mighty Rome was not so easily humbled. Rome drove them out and back into their primeval forests. Finally, between 58 and 51 B.C. Julius Caesar conquered the barbaric Gauls and founded the city of Lutetia along the banks of the Seine River among the local Gallic tribe of the Parisii.

Little remains of the Roman town of Lutetia except for the underground ruins of the Roman Northern Baths beneath the ruins of the medieval Monastery of Cluny. Of all that remains of the ancient Roman bathhouse the most impressive and insightful was a massive marble bathtub dating from the 2nd century. According to the sign, the tub was made in Rome and brought to Lutetia to serve the ruling elite in the gigantic domed bathhouse.

Along with the bathtub, the Romans introduced glass bottles and plates for their dinners, cotton cloth from Egypt, and the Latin alphabet and language to record their history, laws and exploits. Iron swords, knives and arrowheads for their wars, sculptors to decorate their buildings, engineers to build roads, bridges, walls, and temples, doctors and pharmacists, books containing the wisdom of the Greeks, Egyptians, and Babylonians, and black slaves from Africa rapidly followed.

Alongside the latest in Roman technology, industry, learning, science, and art, the many religions of the Roman Empire were also introduced to the pagan barbarians. The gods of Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Israel, and Greece found curiosity among the Franks, as well as the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Among the Romans who found life and adventure in the far north of the empire was Denis who was a follower of a strange religious miracle worker and teacher from distant Palestine named Jesus of Nazareth.

The Chapel of St. Genevieve: Victory in battle

My next visit was to the little known 15th century church of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont where a side altar and tomb preserve the remains and memory of St. Genevieve (422-512). The Roman preacher named Denis attracted a small number of followers but the persecutions of Christians by Emperor Decius drove the few Christians deep underground.

As if persecutions by pagan Romans were not enough to wipe out the first Christians in the city, barbarians from the north bearing such fearful names as Goths, Vandals and Huns followed. Attila the Hun laid siege to Lutetia in 451 and all the generals, phalanxes, tactics, weapons, and engineering skills of the Roman Empire proved unable to resist the fierce barbarians.

A Christian woman from a nearby village named Genevieve approached Attila and dropped to her knees in prayer. According to legend, God heard her pleas and Attila spared the city. Genevieve was canonized a saint and is honored as the patron saint of Paris. She was buried in the church of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont.

What better way to prove the power of your god than victory in battle. Emperor Constantine’s famous victory in the Battle of Milvian Bridge proved to him the superior power of the Christian over the Roman, Greek, Celtic, Egyptian, and Babylonian gods. The miraculous victories of the Prophet Mohammed over the Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians were interpreted as proof of the superiority of the new revelation over the old. The equally miraculous victory of the State of Israel over the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria in 1967 was incontrovertible proof for many of God’s approval of the Zionist state.

Église Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre: A national myth

The Church of Saint Julien the Poor claims to be the oldest church in Paris even if authorities can’t agree on who this particular saint was. It was constructed in the 5th century, though only a small portion of the main entrance still stands.

The adoption of biblical names for individuals, streets, neighborhoods, mountains, rivers, and even entire cities is an important step in the Christianization of France. The church stands on a small street not far from the Boulevards St. Michelle and St. Germain with a host of other streets bearing biblical names nearby. Biblical names such as Marie, Sarah, Pierre, Jacques, and Thomas are commonplace, and Julien is the third most popular man’s French name.

However, more than proper names were introduced among the barbarian Franks when they became Christian. The Jewish and Christian Bibles provided a universal history of humanity that began with Adam and Eve and continued until the end of days with St. John the Divine’s Book of Revelation. St. Paul extended a Christian welcome to Greeks and Jews in Galatians 3:28-29: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” This same welcome was extended to Romans, Celts, Germans, Africans, Egyptians, and Franks. Christianity not only provided the Franks with bathtubs and victories in battle, but membership in Christendom.

Basilica of Saint Denis: A king

A onetime divine intervention does not a Christian nation make. St. Genevieve had saved the Franks from Attila, but once secure, the majority of Franks no doubt continued worshipping the gods of their ancestors, Roman deities, and occasionally Jesus of Nazareth.

Of the many kings of France buried in the Basilica of St. Denis, Clovis I, the first king of France, was the goal of my visit. St. Denis had introduced the teachings of Jesus to the Franks and St. Genevieve had proven the superiority of the Christian god over all rivals. Through a strategic marriage, intrigue, and military victories, Clovis united the Frankish tribes, declared himself their king, and made Paris the capital of his Frankish Empire.

However, more than military victory was necessary to unite the tribes and give legitimacy to his claim to kingship and the legitimacy of his dynasty. Like Stephen in Hungary, Vladimir in Russia, and other barbarian rulers who sought to found empires, Clovis’s evolution from tribal chief to king was not accepted by his rivals.

Clovis merged Roman and Christian law in his famous Lex Salica that among other accomplishments formalized Christianity as the religion of the kingdom, the diocese as the territorial division of the realm, the king as the overlord of all tribal chiefs, and heredity as the source of kingship. Furthermore, linking the new Frankish Kingdom to Christianity identified Clovis as heir to the long history of Jewish kings. With God’s approval, kings Saul, David and Solomon had united 12 factious and warring Hebrew tribes into one people with themselves as their first kings and Jerusalem as their national capital. As a Christian king, Clovis was carrying out God’s plan for the Franks. Kingship was part of the divine order of creation.

Along with his crown, Clovis inherited the centuries-old administrative apparatus of both the Roman church and Empire. Latin became the language of government and laws along with the wealth of Greek and Roman literature and poetry. Monks, priests, and nuns founded schools, libraries, hospitals, monasteries, and convents. Roman engineers and architects transformed the landscape with Roman-style churches and basilicas filled with mosaics, statues, and frescoes. Clovis’s Merovingian kingdom lasted until 751 when the Carolingians took over and ruled for the next two and a half centuries. The bond forged between the Church of Rome and the Frankish Kingdom largely endures until today.

The author by a statue of a priest in the ruins of the Thermes de Cluny in Paris.

Rue du Temple: Saving Christendom

The bond forged by St. Denis, Genevieve, and Clovis between the Franks, Rome, and Catholicism provided a stable structure for the emerging kingdom of the Franks. Clovis was a king with a golden crown and a stable administrative infrastructure, an army trained by the best Roman generals, inhabiting a growing city constructed by Roman engineers and decorated by Roman artists, and a people worshipping the God of Nazareth. But compared to the ancient peoples of Egypt, Babylon, Greece, and Rome, Clovis was but a second-rate newcomer. The Franks needed to make a major contribution to human civilization.

Newly-converted Frankish monks and priests set out to convert the still-pagan tribes in Germany and England. As the once Christian lands of Egypt, North Africa, Palestine, Syria, and Babylon fell to the Muslims, Charles Martel defeated their invasion of France in 732. In 885, King Charles the Fat definitively defeated the Vikings and forced them into the Roman church.

But the Frank’s moment of glory came when Alexion I Kommenos, emperor of the rump Byzantine Roman Empire, appealed to the French-born Pope Urban II to protect the Holy Land from the Muslims in 1045. Two Frenchmen, Hugues de Payens and the future Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, rose to his challenge and established the Military Order of the Knights Templar (The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon). The First Crusade, often referred to as the French Crusade, not only saved Constantinople and the emperor but went on to liberate the Holy Land, and founded the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1099. Beginning with Godfrey of Bouillon, a series of Frenchmen ruled the kingdom for the next century.

The massive fortress multi-towered headquarters of the Knights Templar that once dominated the Paris neighborhood of the Marais was demolished in 1808 and only a host of streets, squares, and other place names containing the word “temple” remind the curious tourist of the First Crusade.

The “French” Crusade marked the emergence of the Frankish Kingdom as a major, if not the major, defender of Christendom. No longer was France an outlying realm recently added to the civilized and Christian worlds, but a key player in saving the Roman Empire and liberating Christ’s most sacred sites. France as the “eldest daughter of the Church” remains central to the national identity of France and even the Enlightenment. Napoleon, Marxists, secularism, the separation of church and state, and massive non-Christian immigration have not undermined this national identity.

The Unification Movement in Africa today

Professor Samuel P. Huntington predicted a 21st century dominated by a handful of great and ancient civilizations: Western Christian, Eastern Orthodox Christian, Islamic, Sinic, Hindu, and Buddhic. Northern Africa he placed in the Islamic civilization but the southern half remained a mystery to him. It had no major indigenous great civilizations, was shattered among countless Christian and Islamic movements, did not share a common history, enjoyed no unifying language, was riven by tribal, regional and religious conflicts, ravaged by violence, revolutions, genocides, and wars, and inspired by multiple economic and political ideologies. To make matters worse, the former — France, Britain, Spain, and Portugal — and current — USA, China and India — imperialistic powers retain and expand their influence.

What does the Unification Movement have to offer this continent?

The International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) provides a forum for African political and religious leaders to discuss their common problems without the interference of foreign powers, multinational corporations, and foreign religious authorities. The theme of the 2016 inaugural conference was “Addressing the Critical Challenges of Our Time: The Role of Governments, Civil Society and Faith-Based Organizations.”

The UN, foreign governments, and multinational corporations all have their specific agendas for involvement in Africa. The IAPP, on the other hand, emphasizes peacebuilding as its central goal. In this violence-ravaged continent, any economic, social, or political success could be negated in a spasm of violence.

The IAPP highlights the need for dialogue and participation of both political and religious leaders in addressing the “Critical Challenges of Our Time.” Traditional nation-states, the United Nations, and international organizations, as well as socialist and capitalist ideologies are dedicated to the notion of separation of church and state and strenuously avoid the involvement of religion in their meetings and proposals.

Unlike foreign involvement in Africa, which treats the continent as the beneficiary of foreign altruism or a trove of resources to be exploited, the IAPP provides a forum for African political, civic, and religious leaders to independently discuss and arrive at solutions to the problems facing them, such as environmental degradation, deforestation, desertification, water, food security, health, sanitation, corruption, and poverty.

Finally, the IAPP capitalizes on the themes that unite, rather than divide, the diverse peoples of Africa. The family remains a central focus of the IAPP which recognizes it as the foundation of a stable society and key to development. Whether Catholic, Protestant, independent Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or tribal, the family is the fundamental building block of society.

Will the Unification Movement play the same role in the evolution of Africa as Catholicism did in the evolution of France, Orthodoxy in Russia, Catholicism in Hungary, or Islam in Central Asia? Jacques Marion seems to be enthusiastic that it will. For global tourists like myself, who has spent considerable time in Africa, the continent is overflowing with enthusiasm. The 21st century might well witness the arrival of the continent as a major player in human history.♦

Dr. Ronald J. Brown is a professor of history, political science and ethnic studies at Touro College, and teaches courses in world religions at Unification Theological Seminary. A docent at the New York Historical Society with degrees from Harvard Divinity School, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the University of Geneva, he is author of A Religious History of Flushing, QueensInto the Soul of African-American Harlemand How New York Became the Empire City.

Photo at top: The stained glass rose window of the north transept of the Basilica of Saint Denis in Paris, France (source: Wikimedia Commons).

12 thoughts on “Religions that Thrive and Religions that Die

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  1. This article started out pretty interestingly, but then got completely lost in historical overview instead of any analysis of how a religion comes to dominate (or inspire) a culture outside sheer force or political influence. It didn’t even discuss what Unificationism has to offer Africa (and the rest of the planet was ignored) beyond just a casual mention about stable families. Well, Islam and Catholicism provide that and more effectively in Africa…so? When talking about Africa, the article carries a distinct anti-West guilt-by-historical-association flavor.

    Reality check: Romans had very few black Africans enslaved or even freely employed or living in the European part of their republic or empire. Even fewer made it up into Germany or Britain. Probably 95% or more of slaves in upper Europe and Britain during Roman times were European and not imported slaves from the Mediterranean basin (with some exception for Greece) or south of the Sahara.

    My opinion is that any Unificationism that played the “same role in the evolution of Africa as Catholicism did in the evolution of France, Orthodoxy in Russia, Catholicism in Hungary, or Islam in Central Asia” wouldn’t even be a Unificationism any of us could recognize or want to associate with.

    1. Re: your comment: “…any Unificationism that played the ‘same role in the evolution of Africa as Catholicism did in the evolution of France, Orthodoxy in Russia, Catholicism in Hungary, or Islam in Central Asia’ wouldn’t even be a Unificationism any of us could recognize or want to associate with.”

      My thesis is that peoples and countries adopt a religion for very concrete reasons. The religion offers something concrete at a particular stage of the evolution of a people. Catholicism offered France a universal history, a king, a destiny, and much more, such as education, universal language, culture, holidays, social organization, etc.

      If a religion does not offer a people these or other benefits, they will chose another religion or even make up a new one.

      You seem to feel Unificationism has little of the above to offer, or, and this is crucial, at the current state of Africa, Unificationism has other benefits to offer.

      1. To take Chris McKeon’s points further, the context is very different in different countries. How can there be a monolithic “Unificationism” anyway? Muslim-dominated countries in the Middle East and in Africa have huge differences from Judeo-Christian America. Already, we have several movements similar to Judaism within FFWPU itself — Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform or Liberal.

        Although not exact in correlation, it seems that the most Orthodox hold these beliefs: 1) Marriage is between a man and a woman; 2) Blessed children should marry blessed children only; 3) True Parents are Heavenly Pope Central Figures. The Conservative factions hold these beliefs: 1) Marriage is between a man and a woman; 2) Blessed children can marry unblessed or people from other faiths; 3) True Parents are religious leaders, but not Pope figures. The Liberal faction holds these beliefs: 1) Marriage can be whatever bond is preferred — heterosexual, polygamous, or gay marriage is acceptable and/or tolerated; 2) True Parents are spiritual advisors to those of other faiths; 3) Secular bonds are given priority when interfaith or diverse cultures are involved and cannot find a common moral or religious code (example: mutual interdependence, sharing horizontal projects without a universal moral or religious code).

        Surely, these categories overlap and/or don’t hold up. So, my point is that “Unificationism” is not monolithic and could that be why leaders are possibly tentative about how to grow, maintain and/or even survive? That brings us to the question Chris and Ron ask: What do Unificationists want to bring to Africa?

  2. All,

    My central point in this piece is that irrespective of the theologies of a particular religion, if a religion wants to be accepted and even adopted by a people (such as the case of Catholicism in France), it must respond to the needs of the people at a particular time. We have just seen the de facto adoption by Brazil of Evangelical Christianity. What is Brazilian Evangelical Christianity offering Brazilians today that Catholicism is not? UPF’s recent African Summit 2018 in Dakar is an example of Unificationism elaborating a message that appeals to Africans in 2018. Read “Moving toward Resolution” by Simon Amare, national leader of FFWPU-Ethiopia, for an example of the UM contributing to the current demands and needs of Africa.

    1. I grew up in France, more precisely in Alsace, that, together with neighboring Moselle, is under a special rule of no separation between church and state due to The Concordat, a remnant of the Napoleonic Concordat of 1801.

      My opinion is that separation of church and state is a more preferable way to go. I can understand why this was such an important point for America’s Founding Fathers.

      The Roman Catholic Church certainly has had a substantial influence in the development of the nation throughout the centuries. However, let us not forget the numerous religious wars and huge amount of lives lost in France because of them.

      This is far from the heroic and spirit-led beginnings that you shared about Saint Denis and Sainte-Geneviève, truly two admired role models of faith and courage.

      However, as the church’s influence grew, so did its power. Any French schoolchild knows about the most famous cardinals: Richelieu and Mazarin. They were men of enormous influence and wealth.

      “What happened?” one may ask.

      In the words of Lord Acton: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

  3. Well, what is Brazilian Evangelical Christianity offering in Africa, Ron?

    Yes, the work by Rev. Amare on conflict resolution and cooperation is important.

    As Errand in the Wilderness by Perry Miller points out, this horizontal service orientation is greatly needed and does create a foundation for mission. Whether religious affiliation/commitment develops from that is the question. If it is evangelical, then teaching the gospel follows or goes hand in hand.

    Will UPF initiatives stay at the horizontal and/or secular level — as a service-oriented project — and will it develop into an evangelical or covenant level with God, marriage and family, which is the crux of Unificationism in my experience?

  4. The concept of “good governance” has been a hallmark of the Universal Peace Federation since its inception. Obviously, this would mean governing with the purpose of attaining the goals set forth by the founders, namely, achieving interdependence and mutual prosperity based on universally shared values. Identifying and promoting those “values” would seem to be a vital first step in the process of better governing.

    According to our founders, creating “ideal,” God-centered families is at the heart of this process. Therefore, I’m wondering about UPF and IAPP and how these organizations can find common ground with the non-sectarian United Nations, or religious denominations that view sexual mores and family values in very different contexts than the Judeo-Christian sphere of the West, or some of the more “traditional” familial norms in Asia or South America — not to mention the views of our founders. The recent schism in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America over issues of sexual orientation comes to mind. My cousin, Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, is the presiding bishop of ELCA, and I know that she takes a rather liberal view of such matters. But this has led to dissenting views within the ECLA that resulted in a break-away sect, the North American Lutheran Church.

    Moreover, the UN is promoting an agenda that recognizes the rights of numerous “non-binary” gender types as part of its “Agenda 21” initiative. Member nations are expected to comply. Rights and social justice are one thing, but identifying the “universally shared values” that UPF considers in accord with its founders is quite another.

    Dr. Ferrantello’s distinctions of “orthodox,” “conservative,” “reform,” and “liberal” with regard to “universal values” points to a serious dilemma given the unequivocal standards as espoused by the UPF founders in their writings and speeches. Historically, syncretism (applying or fusing different customs or cultural differences) in any religious sphere has led to a dissolution of the foundational tenets of a given faith tradition. If the goal of IAPP is to advance the core teachings of the FFWPU founders regarding “true family values” vis-à-vis “The Blessing” as the way to “good governance,” I’m curious as to how this is being advanced.

    Dr. Brown’s assertion that religions necessarily need to “respond to the needs of the people at a particular time” may lead to the kind of syncretism that has recently plagued the Lutherans because not all people in the ELCA were on the same page with regard to sexual orientation and their doctrine. Scripture is instructive about this; 2 Timothy 4:3 states:

    “For the time will come when the people will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will seek teachers who teach what their itching want to hear and thus turn away from the truth.”

  5. Donna Ferrantello offers a suggestive typology of orthodox, conservative and reform strains of Unificationism that in the main, with some quibbles, applies. The question left on the table is whether each of these orientations are authentic and/or legitimate.

    In an earlier article on this blog, I claimed that “mainstream” Unificationism affirms Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon as the True Parents of Humankind. At the same time, I argued that mainstream Unificationism accommodates differences of opinion, i.e., the extent to which True Parents embody divinity and/or humanity, the literal or symbolic nature of “holy wine” and “change of blood lineage,” creationist and evolutionist perspectives, right-wing and left-wing ideologies, democratic and theocratic governance, and centralized or local lines of authority among others.

    A second question, beyond that of authenticity, is whether adaptation to diverse cultural norms benefits religious traditions. David Eaton claims, “Historically, syncretism (applying or fusing different customs or cultural differences) in any religious sphere has led to a dissolution of the foundational tenets of a given faith tradition.” The weight of scholarly opinion is actually the opposite, i.e., religious traditions that adapt to diverse cultures are “religions that thrive” and those that don’t, “die.”

  6. Dr. Mickler,

    In my post I cited a very recent schism in the Lutheran Church that was caused by an attempt to “adapt” certain attitudes regarding sexuality that were considered by many Lutherans to be out of step with the teachings of Jesus. This is a micro example of syncretism. A marco example might be how Christianity in Europe has been so diluted in its attempt to adopt many non-scriptural beliefs and behaviors into the practice of the faith, that Christianity is actually dying there, or at least has become impotent as a cultural force, and as such, is on life support. Our founders cited similar problems with Christianity in the USA, and DP states that, “though it professed the love of God, [it] had degenerated into a dead body of clergy trailing empty slogans.”

    There are various reasons for this decline, but it seems that in the attempt to “adopt” and remain relevant, Christianity has lost its moral compass and become less effective in promoting a “heavenly culture.” Sayyid Qtab wrote about this in 1951 after visiting the USA in his book, Milestones, in which he asserted that the West was “unable to present any healthy values for the guidance of mankind,” due to the decline of Christian virtue. I believe syncretism had a great deal to do with this.

    1. David,

      Syncretism is not the same as secularization. You confuse the two. Syncretism is a constructive process whereby faith takes on vital elements from host cultures. Unificationism is a great example of religious syncretism, i.e., Christianity taking on vital elements from Korean culture and emerging in the form of a dynamic new movement.

  7. Donna and David’s comparison between the diverse views among Unificationists and the “factions” to Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Judaism breaks down in this sense: each of the denominations of Judaism has its own institutional structure, schools, rabbis, etc. But the so-called “factions” of Unificationism are not distinct denominations; they are simply differences of opinion among members of FFWPU.

    The factions in Unificationism are its institutional manifestations in FFWPU, Global Peace Foundation, and Sanctuary Church, but I don’t think this is where the comparison is being taken. Rather it is an attempt to reify the breadth of opinion among the membership of the Unification movement’s mainstream denomination (FFWPU). In Judaism, the Reform movement arose in Germany in the 1830s out of the desire to modernize (syncretism) that entailed a sharp rejection of the traditional place of the Law (halachah). This caused a split of such severity that it upended the entire theology of Judaism, leading to its complete rejection by the mainstream Orthodox establishment and followed by the rise of a new denomination with its own rabbis, seminaries, etc. We have not come to this in FFWPU, assuming that no one is advocating excommunicating those who do not hold to a particular standard.

    Unificationism permits some diversity, I believe, because its essential basis for unity is family and blood lineage. While doctrine (Divine Principle) is important, belief in it doesn’t have the same defining role as doctrine does in Christianity. Christians have divided into denominations over doctrine and moral beliefs, but Jews have resisted that, by and large, because Jews, like Unificationists, are bound together by the connection by blood as one people. However, Orthodox Judaism also gives the preeminent role of the Law (Torah) as a standard that became a point of contention where disunity was not tolerated.

    This raises the question of whether in the future a Unificationist hierarchy will lift up the Divine Principle, or some of its beliefs, e.g., about marriage, as the necessary standard that cannot be disregarded, and thus be the basis for schism. Against that outcome is the necessity of Unificationsts to relate to their second generation, not cast them out because of differences in belief or morality, because by virtue of the Blessing they belong to God’s lineage regardless.

  8. Andrew,

    Thank you for the historic context of Judaism.

    My point in discerning core values of the Holy Marriage Blessing is to affirm that there are core values to strive for. We need to affirm them, while not alienating those who cannot realize them in the same ways. Therefore, when Michael Mickler wrote an article advocating for the “Open Blessing” it gave support for the concentric circles of options in the Marriage blessing that validates participation by many who want to participate. As you mentioned, it allows for diversity in context and background. At the same time, it is potentially a problematic reality if by embracing people at different levels we forget or abandon our core and highest values given by our founders.

    In the ideal, blessed couples raise children who have a consciousness and practice of faith and purity; their children, when marrying other blessed children, can then raise third generation children who can realize that spiritual inheritance. That is why our founders advocated for the third generation of blessed children to be excellent. As we know, many have not or will not come from blessed parents. Therefore, their children begin a second generation lineage that will eventually mutiply to third generation also. It all works out to have these concentric circles of families spiraling around True Parents in their unique ways.

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