|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
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 event.
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.