Sign of the Cult-Buster (Page 5)
Although Greene told no one at the time, the ordeal helped to send him
into an emotional tailspin. He tried college but couldn't focus on studying.
Determined not to return to Willow Hill, he lived for a time in a fleabag
hotel, did a stint in a hospital psychiatric ward on suicide watch, and
had several run-ins with the law. He was arrested for shoplifting bedsheets
from a department store, cited for assaulting a police officer after a traffic
stop, and arrested for hit-and-run after he panicked following a traffic
mishap. (Nobody was injured, he says.) "Desperate and depressed,"
he went off to climb mountains in the summer of 1974. (He says he and a
friend scaled 16 peaks of at least 14,000 feet in elevation in the span
of three months.) "I hit all the rocks in the bottom of the river,
with the last one being the Moonies," Greene says.
Ford Greene's experience with the Unification Church is inextricably
linked to Catherine, the sister with whom he was closest growing up. She
met the Moonies while hanging out in UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza in the fall
of 1974 and moved to a church commune near Booneville in Mendocino County.
Moon, the controversial Korean-born religious figure accused of brainwashing
young people into selling flowers to support his movement, was rapidly attracting
converts in the United States at the time.
Greene went to Booneville to "rescue" his sister. Instead,
he succumbed to the group's indoctrination after several days of being showered
with love and affection, he says: "I was in a lot of emotional pain
and was vulnerable." He lived in church dorm houses in San Francisco
and Berkeley and took a job at a church-owned gas station on Market Street.
After being unable to accept Moon's messianic pretensions, however, he
left the Moonies eight months later and joined his mother's anti-cult crusade.
"Having been through it, Ford was able to reach people in ways that
few others could," says Michael Daly, 51, whom Greene helped bring
out of the Moonies in Nebraska in 1976. (Daly and his then-wife had joined
the group in San Francisco during an intended trip to Alaska and ended up
moving to the Booneville commune.)
But Greene's biggest failure as a deprogrammer was with his sister.
Using his mother as bait, he and other family members lured Catherine
to Willow Hill in 1977. They handcuffed and blindfolded her and whisked
her into a van that drove to the home of relatives in rural Marin County.
But things went badly. On the second day of her captivity, Catherine stabbed
herself in the stomach with a broken juice bottle and had to be taken to
a hospital. From there, she notified the police and friends from the Moonies.
The account of her kidnapping and escape from her own family was all over
the news the next day.
The district attorney declined to bring criminal charges, and Catherine
did not follow through in pressing a civil suit she initially filed against
her brother and other family members. Today she lives near Boston, is married,
has two daughters, and remains a member of the Unification Church. "She's
like a zombie," Ford Greene says of his sister. "I still love
her, but she's not the bright, effervescent person we all knew growing up."
She sees her mother and other family members once every year or two. "It's
strained and polite, and we never talk about anything of substance,"
Ford Greene says.
For her part, Catherine Greene Ono says she prefers not to discuss her
brother. She says she made peace with her family long ago despite the trauma
caused by the kidnapping, and she is following a religion she believes in.
"He still thinks I'm brainwashed," she says. "What else can
When it comes to Ford Greene, however, others from groups often accused
of being cults have plenty to say.
"I view the man as dangerous. He definitely has issues," says
Allen Seher, a Bay Area attorney and Unification Church member. Quiros,
the Scientology official in San Francisco, is even more vociferous. "In
my estimation the guy is a nut case," he says. "I don't think
condoning or advocating kidnapping against people trying to practice what
they believe is something that anybody ought to admire."