by Phil Mershon
One of the ways those inclined to be intolerant exploit the sentiments of the more accepting among us is by introducing reactionary weirdness into mainstream society, an oddity whose visual image is more appropriate to the radical left but whose message aligns with the disciples of Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff and Benito Mussolini. A recent example of this is a pusillanimous pundit named Ann Coulter, one of the syndicated Fox News screamers who visually resembles a stylish cross-dressing Ken doll and whose vicious rhetoric suggests that such a man should be castrated, the act of which perhaps exemplifying the brand of self-loathing brought to us by the wide homophobic stance of Larry Craig. More significant than the cartoonish Coulter and lovelorn Larry is the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, formerly known by the more familiar moniker The Unification Church, an international institution guided by that most glittering of contemporary false messiahs, the Right Honorable Reverend Sun Myung Moon.
Moon’s quest to finish the work left incomplete by Jesus Christ brings together like-minded disciples through mass marriage services, thereby erecting a spiritually-united front against the godless pseudo-Christians and other unwashed minds of depravity. Who better to thump the drum for donations, reasoned Moon back in the early 1970s, than the very same counterculture people who, due to their perceived outsider inclinations, would be most open to radical practices such as hard core panhandling, redemption through sacrifice, and matrimony? And wouldn’t Ma and Pa actually be kind of relieved to find their kids involved in this type of “religious” activity rather than worshipping a more traditional Satan and placing pipe bombs under police cars, like all the other kids on TV were doing in the late Sixties and early Seventies? Of course! So the young Moonies flocked to airports and shopping malls, radiating beatifically, promising centeredness in this unstable world, spinning and spinning in the widening gyre (and thanks, W.B. Yeats), reciting from the Father’s Divine Principle, and soliciting cherished contributions. The group garnered some sympathetic press when a minister named Ted Patrick got himself arrested on charges of kidnapping Moon’s followers and deprogramming them at their families’ requests. Moon himself holed up in prison in the early 1980s, serving thirteen months for tax evasion. And there the story of this charismatic Korean-born crusader might have happily ended were it not for Divine Intervention in the form of Right Wing respectability.
Today Moon owns a media empire which, while not as flamboyant as the professional propaganda wrestlers who work for Rupert Murdoch, nevertheless maintains some considerable authority internationally, at home, and one presumes, in the Hereafter. As chairman of News World Communications, Moon is the chief funding source of the Washington Times (although this recently changed), the owner of the UPI wire service, the man behind two slick educational periodicals called Insight and The World & I, and the Latin American voice of invective, Tiempos del Mundo.
Well, this is a new century and what’s wrong with a little ambition? Britney Spears branched off into movies and childrearing, Donald Trump has a boring TV show, Lindsey Lohan branched out from whatever she used to do to being a media target, and even Billy Graham wrote books! This is all true and understood on even the most cynical level by the Moonies’ fans and adherents. But when I watch the latest Paris Hilton porn video, I do not expect inserted messages telling me how to vote (except on “American Idol”), which would be a weird form of subliminal penetration. But I choose the pornography example deliberately because what that anonymous fellow is doing to Ms. Hilton is the same thing Moon has been doing to the people of this planet.
In 2001 the Moonies praised George W. Bush for his faith-based initiatives and in turn a Moon-based support group, Free Teens, was rewarded with public funding for its blind faith abstinence approach to sex education. The Washington Times Foundation further demonstrated its commitment to American youth by spending one million dollars for educational material from a company owned by the renowned pedagogue, Neil Bush, brother to the forty-third President. And the Houston Chronicle reported in 2006 that the Foundation provided a similar amount to a community group that funneled the money into the senior Bush’s Presidential Library.
Those days of rampant cronyism are now, as always, in the distant past, so I guess we should leave them to be unearthed in a few centuries by metaphysical archaeologists. We can, therefore, ignore Moon’s connections with Dan Quayle, Jack Kemp, Bob Dole, Elliot Abrams, as well as with the late Jerry Falwell, the later Strom Thurman, and the latest Ronald Reagan, although we can be assured that Moon still conducts seminars with their souls. We can dismiss the fact that CNN and C-SPAN often quote the Times and never mention its ownership by a convicted tax cheat and leader of a religious cult. We can scoff at Moon’s early history with South Korean intelligence and we can laugh at a photograph of his holiness shaking hands with Richard Nixon, the then-President grinning as if he had confused this king of kings with Elvis Presley.
None of these things would matter much, I suppose (and if you have stayed with it this long, stand by because the payoff loometh), were it not for a cosmic coincidence that sprang out of Sunny’s Tear Down the Cross campaign of a few years ago. It seems the Moon Man objected to the Christian symbol of the cross—which or without Christ upon it—because, he said, it represents pain and the earthly failure of Jesus. Better, argued Moon, to use the image of a crown, with all its pious and majestic connotations. The next messiah, rumored to be a Korean male big in the news and politics industries, would feel more encouraged with a symbolic head ornament than with a mode of capital punishment which, under other circumstances, Moon would readily endorse. So, on March 23, 2004, in the Dirken Senate Office Building, U.S. Representative Danny Davis, an Illinois Democrat, presented Sun Myung Moon with a fluffy silk pillow upon which sat a crown for the ongoing coronation of the new, improved Savior. If this sounds like a media stunt arranged by the Yippies to discredit everyone involved, all for the sake of a good laugh, the irony is compounded by the fact that usage of the Senate Office Building was granted not by the estate of Abbie Hoffman but rather by Virginia Republican Senator John Warner, who reportedly did not know whether to laugh or cry when Moon declared himself the Messiah of the Second Advent and added that his teachings had gone a long way toward helping Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin become better people in the afterlife.
The Reverend offered no opinion as to the condition of P. T. Barnum.