Lawmakers say they didn't mean to hear Rev. Moon

San Francisco Chronicle/June 23, 2004
By Charles Babington and Alan Cooperman

Washington -- More than a dozen lawmakers attended a congressional reception this year honoring the Rev. Sun Myung Moon where Moon declared himself the Messiah and said his teachings have helped Hitler and Stalin be "reborn as new persons. "

At the March 23 ceremony in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., wore white gloves and carried a pillow holding an ornate crown that was placed on Moon's head. The Korean-born businessman and religious leader then delivered a long speech saying he was "sent to Earth ... to save the world's 6 billion people. ... Emperors, kings and presidents ... have declared to all heaven and Earth that Rev. Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity's savior, messiah, returning lord and true parent."

Details of the ceremony -- first reported by writer John Gorenfeld -- have prompted several lawmakers to say they were misled or duped by organizers.

Moon, 85, has been controversial for years. Renowned for officiating at mass weddings, he received an 18-month prison sentence in 1982 for tax fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice. In a 1997 sermon, he likened homosexuals to "dirty dung-eating dogs."

Among the more than 300 people who attended all or part of the ceremony was Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., who now says he simply was honoring a constituent receiving a peace award and did not know Moon would be there. "We fell victim to it, we were duped," Dayton spokeswoman Chris Lisi said Tuesday.

Other lawmakers who attended or were listed as hosts felt the same, she said. "Everyone I talked to was furious," she said.

Some Republicans who attended the event, including Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., said they did so mainly to salute the Washington Times, a conservative- leaning paper owned by Moon's organization. "I had no idea what would happen" regarding Moon's coronation and long speech, Bartlett said Tuesday.

But a key organizer -- Archbishop George A. Stallings Jr., pastor of the Imani Temple, an independent African American Catholic congregation in Northeast Washington -- said Moon's prominent role should have surprised no one. He said a March 8 invitation faxed to all lawmakers stated that the "primary program sponsor" would be the "Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, founded by Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon, who will also be recognized that evening for their lifelong work to promote interfaith cooperation and reconciliation."

Use of the Dirksen building requires a senator's approval. Dayton said he gave no such permission, and Stallings said the question of who did so is "shrouded in mystery."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.