AP 07/19 2356 Another Look: Bayou-Moon By GARRY MITCHELL Associated Press Writer BAYOU LA

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AP 07/19 2356 Another Look: Bayou-Moon By GARRY MITCHELL Associated Press Writer BAYOU LA BATRE, Ala. (AP) -- South Korean evangelist Sun Myung Moon's quiet visits to this coastal Alabama fishing town are reminders that his Unification Church put down roots here in not-so-quiet fashion about 10 years ago. The arrival of the Moonies, as followers of the faith became known, touched off protests and a petition drive to keep them out of the clannish bayou. But much has changed in a decade. The Moon followers remain, although they number only about 50 among church. Claiming religious discrimination in Bayou La Batre, the local Unification Church members successfully sued the city 10 years ago to block a rezoning attempt that would have jeopardized use of the 722 acres owned by two church-related seafood and shipbuilding firms. The Moonies have become "good neighbors," said Mayor J.F. "Jiggs" Nelson. Part of the initial fear was that Unification Church members would proselytize their children about Moon's beliefs, local people recalled. The Rev. Thomas J. Sheppard, a United Methodist minister, said he hadn't noticed any religious outreach program by Moon followers. Still, he considers Bayou La Batre the "Southern headquarters" for the Unification Church. "I've seen them bringing 18 or 19 busloads of people here for meetings," Sheppard said. "In the communities in which they live, I believe they want to be accepted. They make pretty good neighbors," the minister added. The bayou has about 1,300 registered voters, and Moon's followers have not sought elective office. Police Capt. Curtis R. Roensch praised Moon followers for organizing a community watch program that has reduced the number of burglaries and a boat registration program that has made it easier to keep up with crews and boat equipment. There have been other changes in this 201-year-old fishing town, once a haven for Cajun settlers, now a sort of religious and ethnic gumbo. The small numbers of Unification Church members have been obscured by about 800 Indochinese refugees who began arriving in 1978 to take seafood processing jobs and work aboard shrimp boats. Bayou La Batre now has seven businesses run by Indochinese, including a pool hall and Saigon, a restaurant. "In a little while they'll own this country," grumbled Jim Odom, a customer at Donna's Grocery Store in nearby Irvington. Odom, a state prison system employee, said he fought in Korea and acknowledged his prejudice against Asians. But many locals praised the hard work of the Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians and Thais. The mayor said his big problem is teaching the Indochinese refugees to drive on the right side of the road. Last page !


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