While wearing white gloves, head bowed, and holding a tassled red pillow upon which a gold crown rested, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) participated in a recent Capitol Hill ceremony where Rev. Sun Myung Moon declared himself "savior, Messiah, returning lord."
The crown bearer was Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), who was among a gaggle of African-American ministers and politicians - including CBC Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and former D. C. Congressional Delegate Walter Fauntroy (D) - who gathered at an controversial "Crown of Peace" ceremony in March at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, which is now getting some serious press play.
"A'int no big deal," Davis, a fourth-term congressman, tells Bet.com. "They asked me if I would do it, so I carried the crown for Mrs. Moon." Moon and the missus were crowned the "King and Queen of Peace."
Davis now distances himself from the Messiah remark made by Moon, saying, "Had I known what his comments were going to be, I would not have wanted to be in that environment."
When asked why he didn't walk out to show his outrage, Davis says he "wasn't raised that way."
Davis, who claims a 10-year friendship with the Korean-born businessman, acknowledges that "10 to 12 Moon followers" contributed financially to his March primary campaign ("I don't remember the exact amount"), says he attended the event to present the Moons with awards for being "ambassadors of peace." When asked to give an example of a proposed peace policy or initiative advanced by the Moon couple, Davis couldn't name one.
Moon, 85, who served a 13-month sentence for a 1982 federal tax evasion charge, now heads a mysterious Asian-based billion-dollar empire (finances are never disclosed) that includes several right-wing foundations and publications, including The Washington Times newspaper, which is well known for bashing programs or polices seen as advantageous to or beneficial for African Americans. Journalism critics have referred to it (along with FOX Cable News) as a "right-wing propaganda organ" that trounces so-called liberal causes. The newspaper robustly endorsed Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and both President Bushes. Its pages have been used as a Republican weapon in congressional battles and election campaigns. The paper has never posted a profit and reportedly costs Moon some $100 million a year.
President Bush has, in the past, accepted substantial fees for speaking engagements from Moon's controversial Unification Church that range in estimates from $1 million to $10 million.
A 1963 CIA report accused Moon's Unification Church of being a "political tool." In the 1970s, an FBI report said Moon designated "300 pretty girls" to lobby members of Congress. Over the years, Moon and his various agencies and front groups have enriched the campaign coffers of innumerable congressmen and senators - and in 1973 bailed out Jerry Falwell's debt-ridden Liberty University to the tune of $2.5 million. In the '60s, Falwell preached from his pulpit that desegregation was evil and the Civil Rights Movement was a communist plot.
It was this history of that sparked an outreach program by the Rev. Moon and his Unification Church aimed at the Black community some years ago - mainly through African American churches.
Among the ministers attending the "peace" ceremonies were Minister Willie Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam Greensboro (N.C.) Mosque #92, self-proclaimed Archbishop George Stallings, Jr., founder of the D.C.-based Imani Temple, and the Rev. Fauntroy who served as master of ceremonies. (Fauntroy, contacted at his Bethel AME Church, did not return calls to BET.com.) Stallings, a breakaway Catholic priest, was married to a Japanese bride during a Madison Square Garden mass wedding officiated by Rev. Moon in 2001.
Among the persons listed as an Ambassadors for Peace co-chair was Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., the young Black Democratic congressman from Tennessee. He has since claimed that he was not in attendance and expressed surprise at Moon's Messiah declaration.
C. Delores Tucker, national chair of the National Congress of Black Women, and Charles Ballard, founder of the Institute for Responsible Fatherhood, were listed in the peace awards program as part of the Invitational Committee. Also listed was Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) reportedly sent a letter of congratulations to Moon praising him for hosting the event. It was sponsored by the Moon-funded International Federation for World Peace; the invitation was signed by Rep. Davis in his role of co-chair of the organization.
"Some of the activities went beyond my expectations," Davis tells Bet.com, "but I did not get up and walk out because I wasn't raised that way."
Davis compared the crowning of Moon and his wife, Hak Ja Han, with selecting the "king and queen of the prom." He also took issue with Moon's anti-gay positions. "I'm for human rights and I support gay and lesbian issues."
When asked about wearing the white gloves to hold the pillow that held the crown for Mrs. Moon, Davis says he wore them because it represented a "high moment."
Did this ceremony represent a "high moment" for those in attendance? Should members of the Congressional Black Caucus been a part of this affair? What are your views on Rev. Moon?