How Reverend Moon Created The Washington Times, Seduced the Religious Right

Among those who will read this item, there are probably a few who already believe that followers of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon (aka ‘Moonies’) are crazier than a trainload of outhouse rats. My hat’s off to those who think so, for they are correct.

Most readers probably won’t believe such an extreme statement. If you are one of them I will not argue but urge you instead to point your browser at Messages from the Spirit World. At the center of the image is a link that reveals “Messages from God and former U.S. Presidents to the United Nations.”

By the time you return from that bizarre adventure, the Moonies themselves will have convinced you (as they convinced me) that they are indeed crazier than a trainload of outhouse rats. And if, like me, your curiosity drives you to learn more about Sun Myung Moon and his Unification Church, you may be of a mind to read author John Gorenfeld’s book, Bad Moon Rising (PoliPoint Press: Sausalito, CA; 2008; $24.95).

Unlike this critic, Gorenfeld avoids extreme statements because he is a good journalist. Mr. Gorenfeld evidently gives credence to the idea that in making a joke of someone, we discount the possibility that he, she, or they might actually be dangerous. And as a Moonologist of several years’ experience, Gorenfeld also seems to understand and appreciate that while members of Moon’s Unification Church may actually be insane, their collective insanity must be methodically directed because it works toward a coherent purpose.

The Rev. Moon’s story is one of the strangest this writer has encountered. Born Yong-Myung Moon in 1920, the penniless son of North Korean peasants, he became Sun Myung Moon only after he experienced an epiphany in 1935. During Easter, Moon went up a hill to pray. God appeared and told him: “You are the son I have been seeking, the one who can begin my eternal history.”

Moon then went to Japan, where he trained as an electrical engineer. His training finished, he went back to Korea. There he began his ministry but was rejected by his congregation. He was also arrested and imprisoned by authorities in North Korea. Escaped from what amounted to slavery, Moon fled to South Korea. There he started a church that combined Moon’s own, weird take on Christian theology with a virulent anti-communism.

While Moon nurtured and grew his flock, the Republic of Korea created its own Central Intelligence Agency. The ROK CIA then created the Unification Church from whole cloth. Secret agencies being what they are, details of the action are sketchy where they’re not entirely lacking. Somehow the Rev. Moon ended up as leader of the ROK CIA’s new church, and he brought his flock of some few thousands with him. The Unification Church proved popular in Japan and over the years gained a toehold in the United States and in other countries, as well.

By the middle Sixties, Moon was in America and evangelizing furiously. Here in the States, the message of the Unification Church proved most appealing to confused and rebellious youth, to dropouts who were alienated even from the counterculture, to young spiritual cripples of most every stripe.

Survivors of the crazy, drug-sodden street scene of the Sixties and Seventies will recall how it was: after the Manson murders and the Jonestown massacre, parents nationally were terrified of anything that smacked of ‘cultism.’ Moonies – who did weird things such as travel in flocks and sell flowers on the street – were one group suspected of ‘cultism.’ They were believed to have been hypnotized or brainwashed – call it ‘spiritually hijacked’ if you will. Frantic parents sometimes kidnapped their own children and dragged them home, away from Moonie influence, where the kids were confined for weeks or months under close supervision by professional (and sometimes brutal) ‘deprogrammers.’

While Moonie flocks raised money selling flowers, Rev. Moon schmoozed Washington bigwigs. Through well connected Korean friends, Moon gained the endorsement of former President Eisenhower. Using Ike’s good name as a springboard, Moon moved boldly to widen his circle of influential friends. He was one of the very few in Washington who openly stood by Tricky Dick Nixon in the depths of the Watergate scandal. Media reported Moon and Nixon praying together in the Oval Office. Moonie faithful marched in support of Nixon outside the beleaguered White House.

Through the turbulent Seventies, Moon and his people persevered despite accusations of ‘cultism’ that involved him and his church in congressional investigations. At different times, Moon made himself useful dispensing money and favors to people such as Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jesse Helms, Jack Kemp, William Bennett, Ralph Reed, Jerry Falwell, Karl Rove, organizations such as Empower America, The Heritage Foundation, and a host of other big-league players in the rabidly reactionary, right-wing power grab that American journalism likes to call ‘Christian conservatism.’

Savoring the worth of propaganda for such purposes, Moon bought The Washington Times newspaper (then defunct) in 1982 and has since then spent billions to get the paper up and keep it afloat.

Moonism hit a speed bump in 1984, when then Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) had the Reverend jugged for tax evasion. During the nineteen months Moon spent in prison, his public relations campaign went forward without missing a beat. Moon and his church continued in service to the power elite of America’s radical right. Moon’s promo operation went global in Y2K, when the Reverend snapped up the United Press International newswire at a fire-sale price.

Schmoozing paid dividends: Highly placed Moon journalists began to achieve influential positions in government. Former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow (now deceased) spent three years as opinion-page editor at The Washington Times before he went to work for George W. Bush. Moonie church member Josette Sheeran, former managing editor of The Washington Times, in 1997 quit her Moonie job and went to work for Bill Bennett’s ‘Empower America’ think tank.

In 2001, President Bush named Ms. Sheeran ‘undersecretary of state for economic, business and cultural affairs’. In 2006 (with the support of U.N. Ambassador John Bolton) Sheeran vacated her undersecretary of state appointment to head up the U.N. World Food Program. And it surely was no coincidence that the Unification Church and its many dozens of ‘non-profit’ front groups stood in line with their hands out when the Bush administration handed out taxpayer dollars to ‘faith-based initiatives’.

Now some 89 years old, Moon stands at the head of a church that spans the globe. In the United States alone, Moonies interact with the public through more than 1,500 assorted front groups and businesses – most of them innocuously named. Globally, Moon’s church is active in 40 nations through more than 2,100 affiliated groups. Steven Alan Hassan’s Freedom of Mind Center attempts to keep tabs on Moon operations and has posted what they hope is a complete list of Moon Church affiliates on the World Wide Web. Reading that list, it is likely that some of those who donate to charitable organizations and political or religious causes will learn that they’ve been donating money to one or another aspect of the Unification Church.

All of that came to a climax (if NOT to a blessed end) on a March evening at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., in 2004. Then and there, members of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives gathered for a coronation ceremony at which they crowned the Rev. Sun Myung Moon ‘King of Peace’. So far from his humble origin as a North Korean clodhopper, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon today calls himself “The King of Peace, the Lord of the Fourth Israel, the Messiah,” and he has the endorsement of the United States Congress to prove his claim.

Don’t be surprised if you never knew about Moon’s congressional coronation. Senators and representatives involved in the travesty rushed to cover it up as soon as they did it, and mainstream media helped them do so. Everyone involved was ashamed of themselves, you see, because while Moon pretends to be a rabidly patriotic American, his teachings contradict his pretense: Moon teaches that he is more powerful than God; that Jesus was a failure; that Satan loves democracy; that dictatorial rule is best. He claims endorsements from thirty-seven former U.S. presidents (all of them dead) that were channeled to him from the spirit world through a medium (also dead). Moon claims to communicate with God, with Jesus, with Mohammed, Confucius, and the Buddha. Moon also claims to have freed Adolf Hitler from Hell (Toward what end remains unclear. Best evidence suggests that Moon had Hitler’s ghost appointed chairman of the Republican National Committee.).

Considering what the Rev. Sun Myung Moon teaches and professes to believe, an American patriot has to shudder. What can it mean for America that people who either believe in or carry water for a nutball such as Moon have schmoozed and bought their way into the Oval Office, into the US diplomatic corps, and into other positions of importance in our federal government?

Thus Gorenfeld’s gift to us is not just the story of Moon and his church but the facts on which that story is built. While this review gives only the barest few, Bad Moon Rising is packed with scary and outrageous details. Gorenfeld did years of legwork and compiled a mountain of documented information, which he deploys with skill. His narration is dispassionate but laced with a dry wit. Reading Gorenfeld’s book, I found myself chuckling wryly when I wasn’t slack-jawed with astonishment.

This writer recommends that you support great journalism, strike a blow for sanity in government and amuse yourself in the process. Buy and read Bad Moon Rising. Then go and vote accordingly.