Hawaii Tribune-Herald, Aug. 9, 2002
By Hunter Bishop/ Tribune-Herald
A nonprofit foundation headed by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon is proposing to build a private high school in Kona.
Directors of the Pacific Rim Education Foundation announced plans last week to establish the “High School of the Pacific” on a 32 – acre site makai of Mamalahoa Highway, adjacent to the Kona Ocean View Properties subdivision in Pu’ukala.
The proposed boarding school would house up to 200 students from Pacific island nations and Hawaii in a “shared – living experience,” said Joe A. Tully, president of the foundation.
Moon, a Korean religious leader, founded the Unification Church in 1954 and introduced the movement to the United States in the 1960s. Its controversial doctrine is based loosely on Christianity and Moon has suggested he may be the “real Messiah.” Mass weddings of Moon’s followers, who are matched by the church, are among the church’s important rituals. The church claims millions of followers worldwide, and tens of thousands in the United States. Moon was convicted in the U.S. of conspiracy to evade taxes in 1982.
Tully, a member of the Unification Church since 1970, said the proposed school would accept kids of all faiths, cultures, ethnic backgrounds.
Fears about the growing influence of the church, expressed in several letters to West Hawaii Today recently, he said, are a “red herring.”
“This school is being set up to serve 12 Pacific island nations,” Tully said. “It is not being set up for church operations, by or for any church.”
People may have valid concerns about the faith, “but I am not envisioning any overt religious education” at the school, he said. The Unification Church has had a history of involvement with education for 25 years, Tully said, citing the Little Angels High School for the Performing Arts in South Korea, New Hope Academy in Maryland, and the University of Bridgeport (Conn.) as examples of Unification Church – supported schools.
He said the church and affiliated organizations own the 30 – acre school property, another 27 acres in Holualoa, and a wholesale fish company on Oahu.
County Councilman Curtis Tyler, who represents Kona, has encouraged Tully to address the community’s concerns about the project and believes he will.
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