Hail to the Moon king
By John Gorenfeld
June 21, 2004
The deeply weird coronation of Rev. Sun Myung Moon in a Senate office
building -- crown, robes, the works -- is no longer one of Washington's
You probably imagine your congressman hard at work in the
Capitol debating legislation, making laws -- you know, governing. But
your newspaper probably didn't tell you that one night in March,
members of Congress hosted a crowning ritual for an ex-convict and
multibillionaire who dressed up in maroon robes and declared himself
the Second Coming.
On March 23, the Dirksen Senate Office Building was the scene of
a coronation ceremony for Rev. Sun Myung Moon, owner of the
conservative Washington Times newspaper and UPI wire service, who was
given a bejeweled crown by Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-Ill. Afterward, Moon
told his bipartisan audience of Washington power players he would save
everyone on Earth as he had saved the souls of Hitler and Stalin -- the
murderous dictators had been born again through him, he said. In a
vision, Moon said the reformed Hitler and Stalin vouched for him,
calling him "none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord
and True Parent."
To many observers, this bizarre scene would have looked like the
apocalypse as depicted in "Left Behind" novels. Moon, 84, the
benefactor of conservative foundations like the American Family
Coalition -- who served time in the 1980s for tax fraud and conspiracy
to obstruct justice -- has views somewhere to the right of the
Taliban's Mullah Omar. Moon preaches that gays are "dung-eating dogs,"
Jews brought on the Holocaust by betraying Jesus, and the U.S.
Constitution should be scrapped in favor of a system he calls "Godism"
-- with him in charge. The man crowned "King of Peace" by congressmen
once said, according to sermons reprinted in his church's Unification
News: "Suppose I were to hit you with the baseball bat to stop you,
bloodying your ear and breaking a bone or two, yet still you insisted
on doing more work for Father."
What, exactly, drew at least a dozen members of Congress to
Moon's coronation? (By the Unification Church's estimate, 81
congressmen attended, although that number is probably high.) The event
was the grand finale of Moon's coast-to-coast "tear down the cross"
Moonification tour, intended to remove Christian crosses from almost
300 churches in poor neighborhoods -- the idea being that the cross was
an obstacle to uniting religions under Moon. Yet the Dirksen ceremony
was sold as a celebration of world peace. According to a cheery
promotional video released by Moon's International and Interreligious
Federation for World Peace, the ceremony marked the dawn of "the era of
the Eternal Peace Kingdom, one global family under God." Moon's
coronation also cured God's pain, the announcer explains.
By all accounts, most of the congressmen in attendance didn't
expect a coronation. Instead, they thought they were heading to an
awards dinner honoring activists from their home states as "Ambassadors
for Peace." A flier for the event claimed an impressive who's-who of
organizers, including Republicans Sen. Lindsey Graham of South
Carolina, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland and Charlie Black, a top
Republican strategist. Democrats were named, too, like Rep. Harold Ford
of Tennessee, who, incidentally, claims to have not even heard of the
And then there was Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-Ill., the only
congressman who has publicly expressed pride in the crowning ceremony,
who praised Moon for bringing religious leaders together in his
Ambassadors for Peace tours to Jerusalem and beyond. Davis, it was
revealed this week in the Chicago Reader, took money from
Moon-organized fundraisers, who also gave to a charity of his choice.
Davis told an Anglican magazine that Moon's remarks were "similar to a
baseball team owner telling team members that 'we are the greatest team
on earth'" to get them fired up.
At the time, the surreal event went uncovered by the Washington
press corps, save for Moon's own Washington Times, which ran a brief
description of the festivities. The story is getting some traction only
now, after it was recently reported in the online magazine The
Gadflyer. But what transpired at Dirksen two months ago remains a
mystery to most Americans -- and those constituents of congressmen who
attended Moon's crowning.
The crowning ritual indeed began as a somewhat normal awards
ceremony. Ribbons that looked like Olympic gold medals were given to
Rep. Bartlett and others. But then it took an odd turn. Rep. Curt
Weldon, R-Pa., whose office maintained he did not attend the event
until I provided photographs of him there -- spoke beside a photograph
of himself pinning an American flag on Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy,
back when President Bush was praising him for abandoning WMD programs
and before he was suspected of trying to kill the leader of Saudi
Then, after Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., gave a speech praising
one of Moon's Ambassadors for Peace, the civil rights veteran Rev.
Walter Fauntroy, an unnamed Lubovitch rabbi took the stage declaring:
"I have never seen this miracle where Jews, Christians and Muslims come
together for peace!" Then Moon's cleric Chung Kwak took the mic. Before
his days as the commander of the UPI wire service, Kwak, Moon said in a
1997 speech, was authorized to whomp on Unification Church members who
slacked off. "Particularly those who are sleeping and hiding, Reverend
Kwak's baseball bat will fall upon you at any time," Moon said. Now
Kwak was standing in a Senate office building declaring Moon the king
of the "second and third Israel."
It might almost make sense for conservative congressmen to honor
Moon in this way. After all, a writer in Moon's magazine Insight wrote
in February that it's long past time for Republicans to thank the
billionaire Korean preacher for his gifts. "[T]he continued refusal of
Beltway conservatives publicly to acknowledge their steadfast patron
is, of course, scandalous," wrote contributor Paul Gottfried. Moon has
sunk an estimated $2-$4 billion into the money-losing Times, and
countless other causes -- like Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.
Moon has also made inroads in the Bush administration, as Salon
reported last September, with plum appointments for former or present
Moon VIPs, and almost half a million dollars in abstinence-only grants
supporting Moon's anti-sex crusade. To teach teens that "free sex" is
revolting, they're asked by Moon's followers to drink other people's
spit out of a cup, and then consider how much more vigilant you must be
when sharing other body fluids.
While Moon once focused his energies on anti-Communism, making
him popular among Republicans in the Reagan era -- his organization
gave the first $100,000 to Oliver North's Nicaraguan Freedom Fund -- he
has now shifted gears, aiming left. He's planning a "Peace United
Nations" entwining religions instead of countries and is trying to make
friends in the Congressional Black Caucus, like Rep. Davis. No
congressman, on the right or left, has publicly denounced Moon for his
momentous speeches describing his "peace kingdom" as a place where
"gays will be eliminated" in a "purge on God's orders" he says will be
like Stalin's. And many are surprisingly comfortable around a guy known
for over-the-top speeches about the holy "love organ of life" and its
various fluids. In a 1994 speech, he asked: "Do you like the smell of
your husband's semen? Answer to Father. Does it smell good or bad? You
may not like the smell of your wife's stool, but do you smell your own?
Why don't you smell your own but you smell your wife's? Because you are
not totally one."
But if Moon pulled off his greatest trick on Mar. 23, fooling
some unsuspecting congressmen into attending his coronation, it's not
as if his stunt was new -- for more than 25 years, Moon has sought to
surround himself with powerful people to gain credibility and
legitimacy, including presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George
H.W. Bush. If the congressmen had simply run "Ambassadors for Peace"
through the Google search engine, they would have discovered the group
was tied to Moon and his grand plans for the future of Christianity --
plans to "reconcile" religions by tearing the Christian cross off
church walls and persuading Jews to sign apologies for giving Jesus
over to the Romans.
Weldon, for one, had a long time to do that Google search. As
far back as June 19, 2003, he's listed in a speech by Rep. Danny K.
Davis on the floor of the House of Representatives honoring Moon: "Many
of my colleagues will join me and the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr.
Weldon), co-chair, in giving tribute to some of the outstanding
Americans from our districts," said Davis. "We are grateful to the
founders of Ambassadors for Peace, the Reverend and Mrs. Sun Myung
[Moon], for promoting the vision of world peace, and we commend them
for their work."
As for Moon's vision of world peace, there are widespread
reports, even acknowledged within Moon's church, of allegations that in
1989 he allowed brutal inquisitions to take place. The inquisitor, a
man Moon apparently believed was the reincarnation of his son, was
allegedly encouraged to tie people to radiators and beat them. As a
result, Moon's trusted lieutenant, Bo Hi Pak, was said to have suffered
minor brain damage. Wrote his daughter-in-law, Nansook Hong, in her
tell-all book: "Sun Myung Moon seemed to take pleasure in the reports
that filtered back to East Garden of the beatings being administered by
the Black Heung Jin. He would laugh raucously if someone out of favor
had been dealt an especially hard blow." Members of Congress may want
to do their homework before they crown their next King of Peace.