Jul 27, 1990


Peter Maass
Washington Post 
July 27, 1990

Jonathan Park's investment in the Nostalgia Network, a cable television channel, was incorrectly described yesterday as a controlling interest. Park owns 27.8 percent. The network also said its subscriber base has grown from 8.6 million households to 10.8 million since Park made his investment in May. (Published 7/28/90)

SEOUL -- The Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church has been spending $35 million a year to support its money-losing Washington Times newspaper and eventually plans to expand its burgeoning Washington video operations into a nationwide cable television system, according to the church's second-ranking official.

In a rare interview in his office in a church-run school here, Moon deputy Bo Hi Pak provided fresh details about the church's business affiliations -- ranging from a computer lab in Japan to a machine tool company in Germany to an Alaska fishing fleet -- that provide at least $100 million a year to support the church's activities.

And at a time when communist regimes are crumbling all around the globe, Pak said that the staunchly anti-communist Moon plans to move aggressively into China and the Soviet Union with business ventures aimed at winning both profits and religious converts for the Unification Church.

The foray into the communist world appears to be part of a broader strategy aimed at establishing a new footing for the Unification Church after Moon's tax-fraud conviction in the United States. Moon's two-year jail term, which ended in 1985, capped a tumultuous time in which his Unification Church became known as a right-wing cult accused of brainwashing some of its American members.

"They are seeking to become a mainline religion," said Spencer Palmer, a religion professor at Brigham Young University who has written about the Unification Church.

Pak is best known in the United States as the president of the Washington Times. As one of Moon's two chief political lieutenants, the former South Korean CIA official and military officer helps oversee the Unification movement's lobbying efforts on behalf of conservative causes in America and its economic projects around the world.

Pak said that the newspaper has lost about $250 million since its founding eight years ago, and he estimated that it continues to lose about $35 million a year. Nonetheless, he described the church and its component entities as "very glad to subsidize" the paper because it contributes to world peace, and he said it would not be sold or shuttered.

Another key U.S. holding is One Up Enterprises of McLean. Pak said the company owns a broad array of businesses: International Seafood, a fishing firm in Kodiak, Alaska; Atlantic Video, a production company based in Alexandria; and U.S. Property Development Corp., also of Alexandria, which recently added the 300,000 square feet MediaTech Plaza building in downtown Washington to its portfolio of real estate holdings in the area.

Atlantic and U.S. Property are both headed by Pak's son, Jonathan Park, who recently bought several small video production companies that provide footage of news events in Washington to U.S and foreign television stations, as well as a controlling interest in the Nostalgia Network, a national cable channel with 8.6 million subscribers in the United States. Eventually, Pak said, "we would like to have our own cable system," but he said the motivation was profit, not to use the electronic media as a propaganda tool.

In the area of culture, Pak is credited with bringing to Washington this fall the Universal Ballet Academy, a boarding school whose faculty is staffed by Soviets on work visas, according to Dossier magazine. While the Unification Church hopes to continue expanding its business operations in the United States, Pak said Moon's more recent focus has been toward making inroads in the communist countries where the hunger for capital and religion is particularly acute.

The church's new direction was laid down by Moon himself, who said in a speech in Moscow this spring, "I clearly envision a moral and economic renaissance for the Soviet Union that will dramatically affect the entire world. I will do all I can to encourage and support that renaissance."

A South Korean whose followers view him as fulfilling a messianic role, Moon was in the Soviet Union to address a conference cosponsored by his movement's World Media Association. While there he met for 30 minutes with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

As a result of Moon's meeting with Gorbachev, business officials and economists affiliated with the church are to visit Moscow to discuss potential joint ventures. Pak said Moon already will cosponsor a trip by about 20 American economists to lecture at Moscow State University about capitalism and is considering opening a computer-training school in Moscow.

Pak said "the Unification movement" is pouring $250 million into the sprawling Panda Motors Corp. factory in China and is seeking at least $1 billion more from outside investors to complete the plant and an industrial city in Huizhou, about 50 miles from Hong Kong.

The car factory, one of the largest foreign investments in China, is to start operations in two years and by 1995 reach an annual output of 300,000 cars for export, Pak said. Money for the project comes from church-affiliated businesses outside the United States and is being channeled through Panda's headquarters in Tysons Corner, Pak said.

The key revenue sources for the church's expansion, outside of One Up Enterprises in McLean, are believed by church members and other observers to come from businesses in Japan and West Germany. The main holding company in Japan is Happy World Inc., whose holdings include businesses with more than 100 different products or services, such as fishing, clothing and computers, said Pak. He said the most important firm it owns in terms of revenue is Tokyo-based Wacom, which Pak said was involved in computer research and manufacturing, and which produces computers sold under different Japanese brand names, such as Mitsubishi.

In West Germany, the main church-affiliated holding company is HWH Group, whose Wonder and Hansburg subsidiaries produce high-tech machinery, according to Pak.

The firms in Japan, West Germany and the United States are not owned by the church itself, Pak said, but by church members and officials, who contribute surplus funds to church-related projects. Pak said the flow of money to church headquarters in Seoul is at least $100 million annually and sometimes well in excess of that figure. The bulk of the funds comes from business profits and the balance from church membership dues. However, Pak said he could not provide a breakdown of sales and profits by business.

Those funds go to support an expensive worldwide operation for the Unification Church. In South Korea, the church and its affiliated firms employ about 13,000 people and have extensive land holdings, according to a government official with access to information about the church. The church holdings also include a high school with an enrollment of more than 3,500 students, a new college and, since 1989, a national newspaper called the Segye Ilbo, which has cost about $140 million to start up, according to a senior editor.

Pak refutes skeptics who believe the church is also laying the foundation for recruiting a wave of new members in nations breaking away from atheism. The theory is that the Unification Church views the relatively godless masses in communist and once-communist countries as ripe for conversion to a religion that made anti-communism one of its precepts.

But Pak said, "Our goal is not to win members in China. Our job is to help them by creating a model city, a model industry, so that they can come out of {their} socialistic system {and} more embrace a market system or economy."

Even so, the church has not lost its evangelical urge. Several church members have said the church has been operating a small network of underground missionaries in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and China.

In its fight against communism, one key battle that remains for the Unification Church is opening up North Korea to God and capitalism. Pak has tried but failed so far to visit one of the last places on earth where Stalinism reigns supreme, but he is continuing an effort to persuade North Korea "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung to permit church-affiliated groups to hold a media or leadership conference in Pyongyang next year.

When Moon gathered more than 50,000 of his followers at Seoul's Olympic stadium last May to celebrate his triumphant visit to Moscow, a slogan was flashed on the huge stadium scoreboard that seemed to sum up the state of things. "This time Mikhail Gorbachev," the slogan said. "Next time Kim Il Sung."

Staff writer Paul Farhi contributed to this report from Washington.


Apr 21, 1990

Rosicrucian Leader Stole $3.5 Million, Sect Alleges

LA Times 
APRIL 21, 1990

SAN JOSE —  The leader of the Rosicrucian Order as been ousted as imperator and president of the mystic organization and is suspected of embezzling $3.5 million, a spokesman at world headquarters said this week.
Gary L. Stewart, installed in 1987 as head of the group that claims roots in ancient Egypt and about 250,000 members worldwide, left late Monday after police were summoned to enforce a restraining order, spokesman Carl La Flamm said.

A Superior Court suit had been filed against Stewart after he defied an unanimous vote by the board of directors on April 12 to remove himself as president and imperator of the Supreme Grand Lodge, a title normally held for life, La Flamm said.

Stewart was unavailable for comment.

The action to strip Stewart of his leadership came after the order’s secretary-treasurer discovered that he had transferred more than $3 million between March 28 and April 5 from the Rosicrucians’ account at Silicon Valley Bank, the suit said. The funds first went to a bank in Pittsburgh, then to a bank in the European republic of Andorra.

“Stewart has refused to explain his actions to the board of directors and has refused to disclose the account number of the (Andorran) account. Therefore Rosicrucian believes that Stewart has converted the funds to his own personal use,” the suit said.

A hearing was scheduled for May 1 on the lawsuit, which seeks placement of the order’s accounts in trust, return of the missing $3.5 million and legal costs.

The Rosicrucians Order, formally known as the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, describes itself as a fraternity, a collective cosmic consciousness--but not a religion or sect. Its symbol is a budding rose, representing the human soul, on a cross, representing the physical state.

Apr 1, 1990

Ex-Employees Describe Abuse In Suit Against est's

Don Lattin
San Francisco Chronicle
April 3, 1990

Former employees of EST founder Werner Erhard say they were forced to obey the pop psychology guru in a manner ''akin to God'' and to submit themselves to ''numerous instances of verbally and physically abusive behavior.''

In sworn statements, the ex-employees also charge that they were required to worship Erhard as ''the Source'' and were controlled with exhausting work schedules, loyalty oaths, threats and emotional abuse.

The allegations -- by five former staff members of est, of the Forum and of Werner Erhard and Associates -- were filed last week in San Francisco Superior Court in support of a wrongful termination lawsuit against Erhard by Charlene Afremow, a longt ime associate of the human potential movement czar.

Vincent Drucker of San Anselmo, the former chief financial officer of est, said in one of the affidavits that a program begun in the late 1970s ''put great pressure on the executives, including myself, to surrender to 'Source.' ''

Erhard often compared the relationship between himself and his trainers ''to the bond between a samurai lord and the samurai vassals,'' Drucker said. ''Mr. Erhard threatened me with death on two occasions,'' he said, by citing ''certain people in the Mafia.''

Allegations Denied

In a statement released yesterday, Erhard denied all the allegations, calling them ''ridiculous fabrications from a few disgruntled former employees.''

''Responding publicly to these unsupportable accusations point by point would only further the malicious intent of the individuals in question,'' he said.

Erhard's weekend est trainings -- launched in 1971 and repackaged as the Forum in 1984 for a more corporate clientele -- are among the most financially successful human potential movement seminars. Nearly half a million people took the est training, and 500,000 have participated in the Forum, an Erhard spokesman said.

Werner Erhard and Associates, which runs the Forum and several other consulting businesses, last year took in $ 45 million in U.S. revenues, the spokesman said.

Born in 1935 as Jack Rosenberg, Erhard created his ''personal transformation'' empire by combining ideas from Zen Buddhism, Scientology and some of the alternative psychotherapy and self-motivation techniques developed in the 1950s and 1960s.

Today, initiates to the Forum pay $ 595 for two consecutive weekends designed to inspire ''a breakthrough in personal effectiveness'' and produce ''a new experience of vitality and aliveness'' through a ''challenging, rigorous inquiry . . . into the profound possibility of being.'' Groups of 100 to 250 people participate in the workshops.

Range Of Opinions

Opinions vary as to whether Erhard is a leading-edge thinker or slick purveyor of meaningless psychobabble, but the accusations in the court documents paint one of the darkest pictures yet of his San Francisco-based organization.

Former est trainer Irving Bernstein of Mill Valley, who quit in 1985, said in one affidavit that ''the Source'' was understood ''to mean that Erhard was akin to God.''

''Leaving WEA ( Werner Erhard and Associates) was looked upon as an act of heresy,'' stated Bernstein, who said employees ''essentially committed their souls forever to do the Work and do what Erhard asked.''

Michael Breard of Corte Madera said in his court declaration that his ''interview process'' for becoming a personal aide to Erhard involved spending two days ''cleaning the bilge of the boat on which Mr. Erhard was living with a toothbrush and Q-tip.' Breard, who said he was hired on Erhard's staff in 1984, stated that he was told by Erhard's brother, Harry Rosenberg, that he would be harmed if confidential information about Erhard's posh lifestyle were ever revealed.

Breard said he was told that ''Mr. Erhard had a friend in the Mafia'' who would ''take care'' of anyone who leaked information.

Wake-Up Massage

He said one of his duties was to wake Erhard up every morning by ''kneeling at the foot of the bed, putting my hands under the covers and massaging his feet and calves in a particular manner.'' Breard also was supposed to make sure that Erhard's toiletries were lined up in an exact row each morning. ''Mr. Erhard was an incredible perfectionist and was extremely verbally abusive if tasks were not performed according to his exact specifications,'' he said.

Breard said that he was physically struck on one occasion but that Erhard's usual way to ''berate me would be to scream obscenities at me in a voice which is louder than I can describe.''

At the request of Erhard's attorneys, the affidavits were put under court seal last week by Superior Court Judge Ira Brown. For a short time, however, they were open for public viewing and photocopying. The suit is set for trial April 16.

In previously filed court documents, Erhard's attorneys have denied Afremow's allegations of age discrimination, sex discrimination, defamation and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.''

Based in San Francisco, the Forum is offered through 35 Werner Erhard and Associates offices in the United States and 14 other offices around the world. Erhard has also expanded into the corporate consulting and personnel management business in recent years through a network of franchise businesses sold under the name Transformational Technologies, Inc. 

Jan 1, 1990

Avatar Training

Tracy Cochran
Omni Magazine
January 1990

Most of us think of an "avatar" as an altruistic, god-like being that assumes human form. Now, however, an entrepreneur named Harry Palmer says the tricky old business of being an avatar is a mere training course away.

Palmer, an ex-Scientologist, claims he discovered the secret to being an avatar while floating in an isolation tank in Ithaca, New York in 1986. During his immersion in this altered state, Palmer redefined the form as "a being who understands that beliefs create reality and not the other way around." Developing the concept further, Palmer created a week-long course, based on mental exercises. Using his exercises, Palmer declares, participants can "discreate," or dismantle, any unpleasant creation in the world.

"Beliefs are creations," says Gerald Epstein, a New York psychiatrist who has taken an additional week of training to become an Avatar Master. "With practice," he says, "discreation becomes a 15- to 30-second mental reminder to dispose of troubling or limiting thoughts." Different exercises, he explains, target different beliefs or creations. An exercise called Body Handle disposes of unpleasant sensations, an exercise called Limitation Handle enables participants to overcome "limiting thoughts" about what constitutes the self.

Epstein admits that Palmer's Avatar techniques are very similar to simple meditation. But while meditation requires a period of quiet calm, the Avatar exercises are "geared for a materialistic society so competitive that even twenty minutes of quiet meditation a day can be considered too long a time to spend on oneself."

On the other hand, Avatar is not cheap. The week-long course costs $2,000. The nine-day Avatar Masters course is an additional $3,000. And each time a Master trains a fledgling Avatar on his own, Palmer receives a royalty.

Palmer forbids freshly hatched Avatars to divulge the mechanics of his discreation exercises, because, he says, no one could understand the program without experiencing it anyway.