New York -- Months ago, when Sister Marjorie McGregor,
Janet Gilroy and Joanne Fruhauf learned about a slide presentation
on AIDS that stressed teen-age celibacy, they were eager to promote
The three women, who lead groups on Long Island that encourage
family values and premarital celibacy, worked hard at distributing
the presentation, "Free Teens, USA." They championed
the show's creators, Richard A. Panzer and Dr. William L. Bergman,
at public and private schools, churches and doctors' offices on
Long Island and in Brooklyn.
"We bought it because it's very good and very concise,"
Ms. Fruhauf, a chapter leader of Concerned Women of America said.
"It's a very moral message."
Mrs. Gilroy, a leader of Project Respect, said, "We trusted
and thought this is such a great thing they're doing."
Last fall, the women were stunned to hear from a specialist in
anticult research that Mr. Panzer and Dr. Bergman had had leadership
roles in the Unification Church. The church, led by the Rev.
Sun Myung Moon, has been widely criticized for enticing young
people to join and isolating them from their families.
Although the three women had no indication that the two men were
recruiting in this case, they immediately cut their ties.
The men said their intent was only to stop the spread of AIDS.
"We may never be able to decipher the truth regarding the
motives behind the program," Sister Marjorie McGregor said.
"But I strongly recommend the Panzer program not be used
by our young people."
The concerns of the Long Island groups are shared by their usual
ideological opponent, Planned Parenthood, which also opposes Mr.
Panzer and the presentation.
Public schools throughout the region have used the slides, with
many unaware of Mr. Panzer and Dr. Bergman's links to Mr. Moon.
Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, N.J. is among those.
The school districts that have bought the slides include Bronxville,
White Plains, Yorktown, Byram Hills and Briarcliff, in New York,
"Free Teens" literature says.
In April, the New York City Board of Education approved Mr. Panzer
and Dr. Bergman as vendors, clearing the way for the city's middle
and high schools to buy the slides for $150 for a three-hour presentation
or $200 for six hours. Board officials said that they believe
that no schools have bought the program, but that they cannot
be certain because the decision is up to the individual schools.
Mr. Panzer and Dr. Bergman have been promoting their program among
teen-agers and health teachers in New York metropolitan region
for years. Mr. Panzer has used highway billboards to urge teens
to "Save Sex" until marriage.
In an interview, Mr. Panzer said his religion had no relation
to "Free Teens." "It's not affiliated with any
church, period," he said. "I have not received any
funding from any church. The issue of personal religion of the
author is not relevant."
Mr. Panzer said he was the director of the Unification Church
in Rhode Island in the 80s, a decade after having graduated from
Yale with a degree in film making. He also writes for the church
newspaper, the Unification News. But he said he no longer hald
any official church position.
Dr. Bergman is head of the World Medical Health Foundation in
Manhattan. Critics have said the organization is a front for
the Unification Church.
Mr. Moon has proclaimed himself the Messiah, with a goal of unifying
all races and nations under his church, which is based in Korea.
Critics say its recruiting focuses on the young and vulnerable.
Often, the critics contend, the young people are required to
sell flowers, attend lectures and study Mr. Moon's teachings long
into the night, and they are drawn away from their families, physically
Abstinence is a church tenet. Traditionally, marriages are arranged
and conducted in mass ceremonies, like one for 2,000 couples in
Madison Square Gardens in 1982. Spouses are often required to
live apart, celibate until the church deems them spiritually ready
to consummate the marriage.
"This is reminiscent of the way that Moon organizations have
often bee accused of functioning - creating mainstream of conservative-seeming
front groups that are designed to carry out the wider mission
of the church," Frederick Clarkson, editor of Front Lines
Research, a Planned Parenthood bi-monthly, has written in the
Mr. Panzer has asked government agencies, including the New Jersey
Health Department and the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and
Drug Information, a branch of the Federal Department of Health
and Human Services, to review the slide presentation.
Asked about the Long Island group's concerns about indoctrinating
teen-agers, Mr. Panzer said: 'I don't understand how it's supposed
to take place."
Asked whether fears about recruitment were misguided, he said,
"That's obvious," and called the collapse of the Long
Island network tragic.