American Clergy Leadership Conference
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“Rebuild the Family, Restore the Community and Renew the Nation and the World”
Statement on the Human Rights Violations Against Mr. Toru Goto in Japan
July 30, 2009
The American Clergy Leadership Conference is a broadbased coalition of 20,000 clergy in the United States of diverse races and denominations. As our representative, Rev. Dr. Walter Fauntroy, a noted Civil Rights leader, clergyman, veteran U.S. Congressman and prominent ACLC leader went to Japan recently to investigate human rights violations concerning Mr. Toru Goto, an adult member of the Unification Church, who was imprisoned in a private apartment for 12 years and 5 months from September, 1995 to 2008. On his return he reported an ongoing situation of human rights abuse.
Upon hearing of this tragic situation, faith leaders of America and the world are unanimous in their deep concern that this violation of faith, freedom and human rights has not been vigorously addressed and prosecuted. As Civil Rights leaders and pastors we are alarmed that it appears that the individuals who committed this high crime are known to the authorities in Japan and yet no action has been taken to prosecute them. We understand that religious freedom is guaranteed to all in Article 20 of the Japanese constitution which affirms the global human and religious rights perspective advocated by the United States and the United Nations. In this light the Goto case should be resolved immediately.
The yearly International Religious Freedom Report of the United States Department of State has cited the Goto case from the office of the Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs : Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. It states: “a member (Mr. Goto) of their congregation was abducted by his family and held in captivity for more than 12 years in an attempt to "deprogram" him. Four months after his escape, police had not opened an investigation into the case.”
We understand that Mr. Goto was kidnapped and held against his will by professional faith breakers with the support of his relatives. As Pastors in the U.S. we were confronted in the past with the efforts of such anti religious organizations. They would exploit families for profit promising to break the faith of adult members of various churches when they found families disagreed over their choices in faith.
This anti-faith movement at first appeared to be a simple effort to help families reconcile their differences. However, what we discovered was a network of predatory faith breakers who charge relatives exorbitant fees for the kidnapping of and imprisonment of adult relatives to force them to give up their faith. Typically these organizations are primarily motivated to make financial gains from exploiting the situation using the guise of “helping” families come back together.
The anti religious organizations began in America with unpopular religions and then moved on to do the same illegal activity against mainstream religious people and even for people who had political differences with relatives. Kidnapping is a most serious felony offense and when the efforts of the faith-breaking organizations were exposed for what they really were, the National Council of Churches, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Civil Rights and Human Rights organizations as well as other faith organizations quickly responded. When authorities in America understood this and saw the human rights violations, the basic laws were applied and felony kidnapping convictions were secured. This resulted in the collapse of the faith breaking network in America. We understand that it was around that time that they moved to Japan.
As faith leaders we must say that we were shocked to see photos of Mr. Goto taken just after he escaped last year. He looked in every way the same as survivors of the holocaust death camps of Germany. We are even more shocked that, in such a modern democratic society as Japan, this egregious violation has not been fully prosecuted based on existing laws. We call upon the Japanese government, media, and all appropriate law enforcement authorities to demonstrate Japan’s rightful position as a global leader by bringing this case and the lawbreakers to justice. The 20,000 pastors of the ACLC will fully work from America and through the United Nations to support your efforts.
Dr. Michael Jenkins Archbishop G. Augustus Stallings Jr. Rev. Walter Fauntroy
Chairman Co President ACLC Exec. Comm.
ACLC ACLC (US House of Represenatives 1971 – 1991)