The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church and one of the strangest and most talked-about religious figures of the 20th century, has died. In its obituary, the Times notes:
Mr. Moon courted world leaders, financed newspapers and founded numerous innocuously named civic organizations. To his critics, he pursued those activities mainly to lend legitimacy to the Unification Church, although his methods were sometimes questionable. In 2004, for example, he had himself crowned “humanity’s savior” in front of astonished members of Congress at a Capitol Hill luncheon…[Mass] weddings were the activity most associated with Mr. Moon in the United States. They were in keeping with a central tenet of his theology, a mix of Eastern philosophy, biblical teachings and what he called God’s revelations to him.
In the church’s view, Jesus had failed in his mission to purify mankind because he was crucified before being able to marry and have children. Mr. Moon saw himself as completing the unfulfilled task of Jesus: to restore humankind to a state of perfection by producing sinless children, and by blessing couples who would produce them.
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.”