My Impressions Of Reverend Moon In Prison — An interview of Mark Batton
In March, 1985, Mark Batton was released from Danbury. He later shared some of his experiences with Today’s World. ‘Mark Batton” is a pseudonym.
I am a Christian. I believe in God, but I am still learning. Before I came to Danbury, I studied graphics. There is a large turnover at Danbury prison; many people come and go. I sometimes visited Mr. Kamiyama in his cube, and I met Rev. Moon playing pool.
I never formed any bad impression of Rev. Moon from talking to him. He was always giving good advice, and he has very good intuition. Rumors tend to travel down the line and get out of control, and usually people don’t know the truth.
One time I asked Rev. Moon: You are a billionaire, and also a religious leader. What comes first for you — God, or money? He said that the money was owned by the church, and in all of his explanations of this situation he stayed within the Bible.
Rev. Moon told me that I was still like a baby. He told me to create a foundation: to develop a goal in life and go the right way. “Know who you are, what you are, and what you stand for,” he told me. He advised me to help my mother first, and then go to school.
Playing Pool and Ping-Pong
In playing pool, I think that Rev. Moon’s strategy is basically defensive, while mine is more offensive. Sometimes he really eyeballs the pool ball to focus his mind. He’s got a heck of an eye. He doesn’t really stroke, but just taps the ball lightly. Because he is so good, I figure he must have a table to practice on. He plays the game by the basics.
We played again the night before my release, and the score finished up 64 to 60 in Rev. Moon’s favor. In Ping-Pong I am ahead of Rev. Moon, but in pool he can defeat me because of the precision of his eyes. When he plays, he makes many interesting sounds and visual effects with his body. A lot of times he is really enjoying himself, so I don’t say much.
Rev. Moon said that he started playing Ping-Pong about six years ago. I know how to put topspin on the ball, and I would send him running at the other end of the table: it’s very difficult for him to catch. He would hit it, but then the ball would go off the table.
Some days we would have really great games, and come out sweating and hot. Rev. Moon is in very good shape for his age. Sometimes we would play late into the night or early morning — Bill Sheppard, Rev. Moon, and myself — since the recreation room is open 24 hours a day.
In the morning I worked in the kitchen. Then from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. I worked in the T-shirt factory. There were 105 people working in the factory, but the goal is to get 120. The work is divided up into different grades: grade four pays $.44 per hour; grade three pays $.66 per hour; grade two pays $.88 per hour; and grade one pays $1.00 or $1.05 per hour.
In the beginning prison officials wanted me to work on a cleaning job outdoors for only $.07 per hour. I rebelled; I thought, why make any effort at all for so little money? Then they removed me from that job and gave me one that I liked. In the prison, you have to work; it’s mandatory.
Inmates’ Perceptions of Rev. Moon
Even though people didn’t like Rev. Moon initially, they respected him for what they thought he had accomplished materially. In the beginning many people avoided him: they were afraid that if they were seen with him or attended religious activities together with him that the other inmates would think that they had become Moonies. They worry too much about what other people think. After I had spent some time with Rev. Moon, some of the other inmates told me, “You never read the Bible before you came here! He must have brainwashed you.” They also insinuated that I was now attending religious activities just so that I could get out of prison sooner.
It’s strange, but people always look for the worst in any situation. For example, there was one inmate who was a devout Christian. The others knew this, and always tried to find fault with him. He usually carried a small Bible in his back pocket, and wherever he went the inmates would deride him, saying, “Come on, that’s a pack of cigarettes, isn’t it?” People always seem to look for bad things and then glamorize them; by doing so, good things get lost.
Some of the inmates were envious of Rev. Moon. They complained, “Because of him, we don’t get so much attention. Because of him, things get changed.”
Around Christmas time an extended grace period was granted, and many said that it was because of Rev. Moon. But a lot of them benefitted from that.
No matter how he was treated by the inmates, Rev. Moon only did good things, so the inmates came to develop a real respect for him. I believe that Rev. Moon’s intentions and the intentions of those around him are good. Also, there was always a mystique, an aura of mysteriousness around him.
Even when I left, however, many inmates still avoided him; they’re afraid he’ll convert them or something. Not many people would just come up to him and say, “Hi, Reverend!” I never went out of my way — I didn’t go looking for him; but I played pool and Ping-Pong with him, and if there were some question in my mind I would come by to see him. I’d talk to him, pat him on the shoulder, and joke around with him. He is a human being like Kamiyama, like my roommate, or anyone else. Of course I respect him — how could I not? What he stand- for is great. But I see him simply as a man.
As I said before, I wondered initially about his ethics, but I found out that he is a very sincere man. He never gave me any indication of being insincere, and only gave me sound advice. If there was ever any question on my part, I would come to see him and find out the truth.