Cult leader, convicted felon, Washington Times owner and all around wackadoodle Rev. Sun Myung Moon died last week. Moon was perhaps most famous in the culture at large for staging mass weddings, but he was a bigot and a con man who called himself Messiah, preached that gays were “dung-eating dogs,” called Communism “the religion of the devil,” claimed to be a proponent of world peace while profiting off of numerous arms businesses, and tore thousands of families apart while waving a pro-family banner. So I’m not going to shed any tears over his passing.
Former Unification Church member Steve Hassan, who went on to write numerous books about cults and cult-indoctrination methods, wrote about his experience with the Moonies here. I’ve also read Nansook Moon’s expose on her life inside the abusive Moon family, In The Shadow Of The Moons. It’s a fascinating read and I recommend it highly.
Less known is how Moon cultivated long and deep ties to the Republican Party — Moon’s anti-communist, anti-gay, pro-military and pro-family BS made the two natural allies. I always found his connection to conservative Christian leaders especially ironic, since the Unification Church preached that Moon was the “true Messiah,” sent to complete the mission Jesus failed at when he went and got himself crucified. That big dummy! Any real Christian, especially the literalists in the evangelical world, would have found such thoughts abhorrent. But the ability of some right-wing Christians to compromise their faith in the interest of their politics no longer surprises me.
During the Bush years I observed how the messages and activities coming from the Republican Party corresponded with cult thought control techniques (something I touched on in this post last year), to the point where I wondered if somehow the Unification Church’s cult techniques hadn’t been adopted by the GOP and performed on the American population as a whole. I still think there’s something to that.
In more recent years, the Unification Church tried making inroads into Democratic Party circles — primarily socially-conservative African Americans. Illinois Rep. Danny K. Davis was one of several Moon allies in the Democratic Party. But Moon’s most influential connections were always in the GOP and included Presidents Nixon, Ford and both Bushes.
What follows is a list of creepy stories about Rev. Moon and his empire. Truth really is stranger than fiction.
1- A Coronation At The Dirksen Senate Office Building
Back in 2004, Rev. Moon was crowned — literally — in a ceremony presided over by members of the U.S. Congress in a special ceremony at the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Those presiding over the ceremony included Sen. Lindsay Graham, Rep. Curt Weldon, Rep. Danny Davis and, yes, Tennessee’s own Harold Ford Jr. It was a deeply creepy event that raised more than a few eyebrows, such that Rep. Curt Weldon claimed not to have been in attendance, until pictures of him at the event surfaced.
People have mostly forgotten about this weird event, but here’s a copy of the invitation. Go to the link for more gory details.
2- “Moonie, Mooonie, Moonie, Moonie, Moonie!”
A battle over leadership of the Jefferson County Republican Party in Louisville, Ky., ended in name-calling and alleged fisticuffs as one person accused the other of being a Moonie:
Both men said Lawlor used the term “Moonie” several more times. Lawlor said that is when Hayes “bopped me” in his left arm. It caused a bruise and left his arm sore for several days, Lawlor said. Hayes, however, said he only tried to grab Lawlor’s arm to get his attention. Hayes said: “I asked him how come you didn’t do the right thing, and he said, `It’s because you’re a Moonie and I don’t want to work with you.’ Then, he started saying, `Moonie, Moonie, Moonie, Moonie, Moonie.’” Lawlor recalled saying only “Moonie, Moonie, Moonie.” Hayes said he believes Lawlor, who serves on the party’s nominations committee, blocked his candidacy because of his religion. That violates his constitutional rights, Hayes said.
Well alrighty then.
3- Everytime you eat sushi a Moonie gets its wings
Okay, this one isn’t political, but the Unification Church’s massive business empire includes a company called True World Foods which has cornered the American sushi market — and also threatened FDA inspectors.
4- Mooning Over Bush
Is Neil Bush a Moonie? Is Pappy? Who the hell knows, but in the waning years of the Bush Administration there was a conspiracy theory going around that Bush was going to evade a war crimes trial by hiding out in Paraguay. That was a specious claim, but it stemmed from the very real report that the Bush family had purchased a massive tract of land in Paraguay adjacent to a spread owned by the Unification Church. Fueling those rumors: the fact that Neil Bush traveled to Paraguay on behalf of Moon. Barbara and Bush Sr. spoke to Moonie groups around Asia and South America too, and were paid handsomely for it (most of my links on that last bit have since expired but you can Google it if you want).
5- Saving Liberty University
In 1995 the Unification Church saved Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University from bankruptcy with a $3.5 million donation, funneled through Moonie front groups the Christian Heritage Foundation and the Women’s Federation for World Peace. There was also a $400,000 loan, made through News World Communications, the Unification Church organization which owns the Washington Times. Falwell claimed to not know of the money’s cult-group ties, but those claims have been debunked. Falwell spoke at several Moon front group events, too.
Frederick Clarkson posted a more comprehensive look at the creepy controversial cult leader in this post.