Moonie leader 'crowned' in Senate
Republicans and Democrats attend cult blessing ceremony
Julian Borger in Washington
Thursday June 24, 2004
The US Senate was used for a bizarre ritual in which the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the head of the Unification church, was "crowned" and declared himself the messiah in the presence of more than a dozen Republican and Democratic members of Congress, it was reported yesterday.
"Emperors, kings and presidents ... have declared to all heaven and Earth that Reverend Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity's saviour, messiah, returning Lord and true parent," the 85-year-old Korean "Moonie" cult leader told several hundred guests at the meeting in one of the Senate's office buildings on March 23, according to the Washington Post.
He also claimed endorsement from Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Hitler, who had all been reformed and reborn through his church's teachings an idiosyncratic version of Christianity which rejects the use of the cross as a symbol and denounces homosexuals as "dirty dung-eating dogs".
An account of the ceremony was first published by a Washington investigative journalist, John Gorenfeld.
According to a transcript of the event, Mr. Moon declared: "I am God's ambassador, sent to Earth with his full authority. I am sent to accomplish his command to save the world's six billion people, restoring them to Heaven with the original goodness in which they were created."
The glittering event in the Senate's Dirksen building reflected Mr. Moon's extraordinary influence in US politics. He owns the conservative newspaper the Washington Times and the US news agency United Press International.
His fiercely conservative attitudes towards homosexuality and pre-marital sex have won him the endorsement of leading Republicans, including the president's father, George Bush, and John Ashcroft, the attorney general, who participated in one of Mr. Moon's "prayer luncheons" days before the president's inauguration in January 2001.
Leading black Democrats also played a prominent role in the March ceremony.
An Illinois congressman, Danny Davis, wore white gloves and carried a purple cushion bearing a medieval-style "international crown of peace", which was placed on Mr. Moon's head, at an event at which 100 Americans from 50 states were also given lesser "national" and "state" peace awards.
The event was an "innocent ceremony," Mr. Davis told the Guardian. "It was a banquet to give out awards. I didn't have any way of knowing Reverend Moon would say he was the messiah, or whatever he said."
Mr. Davis acknowledged that "three or four individuals directly related to Rev. Moon" took part in a fund-raiser for his primary campaign in Illinois earlier this year, but said small sums of money were involved.
Other members of Congress who attended the event said they had been fooled into going by being told only that people from their constituencies would be honoured at the ceremony.
A spokeswoman for a Democratic senator from Minnesota, Mark Dayton, said: "We fell victim to it. We were duped."
It was unclear who gave permission for the Senate office building to be used.
During the ceremony Mr. Moon invoked the blessing of all America's past presidents. He also claimed to have communed with other big names in history.
He told his audience: "The five great saints and other leaders in the spirit world, including communist leaders such as Marx and Lenin, who committed all manner of barbarity, and dictators such as Hitler and Stalin, have found strength in my teachings, mended their ways and been reborn as new persons."
It is not the first time he has claimed posthumous backing. His followers recently took out a two-page advertisement in the Washington Times to run a testimonial to him, quoting 36 former presidents "from the vantage point of heaven".
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004