Rambling from Congressman-turned-lobbyist-turned-Congressional candidate Matt Salmon, giving his glowing review of an organization founded by an extremely wealthy fellow who's done some prison time, wears a cape, thinks he's the second coming of Christ, and believes crosses on churches are signs of Satan's victory, among other odd things.
That gentleman is Sun Myung Moon, a Korean man who founded the Unification Church -- home to the merry band of "Moonies" -- and has some damn good political connections in the United States.
Moon, who's often regarded as a New Age cult leader, owns an incredible amount of business enterprises around the world, and has even entertained a handful of U.S. presidents going back as far as Eisenhower.
Moon's doings in the United States are described pretty succinctly in a 2006 cover story from New Times' Bay Area sister paper, S.F. Weekly:
His movement was largely unknown in the United States until the 1970s, when he declared that God had instructed him to turn his attention to America. He made headlines by presiding over mass weddings of his followers in the '70s and '80s, and on the political side by urging Americans to forgive President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal. He later ascribed his IRS troubles, which landed him an 18-month sentence in a federal penitentiary for evading more than $160,000 in taxes, to political payback for befriending Nixon.
In 1982, the same year he got out of jail, Moon founded the Washington Times newspaper, which, along with Fox News and radio talk shows, has become a potent force among conservative media in the nation's capital. In 2001, through New World Communications, the same entity that controls the Washington Times, Moon also acquired United Press International. Another Moon entity, Professors World Peace Academy, controls the private University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. As Moon's support for the conservative political agenda has grown, and his movement has gained more mainstream acceptance, white evangelicals, who were once among his fiercest detractors, have become more tolerant toward the movement. Moon has even donated $3.5 million to the Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.
That story -- which can be found here -- opens with one of Moon's speaking engagements in San Francisco, where there were a few featured speakers, including Salmon.
A 2001 Arizona Republic article describes the freak-out caused by Moon's appearance as the keynote speaker to an event sponsored by the Arizona Ecumenical Council -- which was described as representing 700 Protestant churches in Arizona -- as its director said the group would not have sponsored this event had they known Moon was coming to speak.
Salmon's quoted in that one as well. He was out of town at the time, but the Republic said Salmon relayed that "he believe[d] in the spirit of the event."
Internet searches are littered with events and organizations involving Moon (or his son) and Salmon.
The video at the top of Salmon rambling on about Moon's United Peace Federation group is odd enough, but Salmon also gave a glowing review of Moon that got its own spot in a book about Moon:
Over the past fifteen years, I have become intimately aware of the efforts of Rev. Moon to address world peace with a multi-faceted agenda. I have been thoroughly moved and impressed with each meeting I have had with Rev. Moon and his efforts to unite people of all faiths, nationalities, and cultures toward a common goal. In the political arena, it is common to meet people on the world's stage who have hidden agendas. Many people speak, but their actions do not speak those words. Rev. Moon is a refreshing exception, in that I have always believed his motives to be pure, his faith unwavering, and his uncommon work ethic to be unsurpassed.
Again, Salmon's talking about the self-proclaimed new Jesus, who claims he somehow communicated with Stalin, Hitler, and other historical scumbags, taught them his beliefs -- and saved their friggin' souls.
"...I was thoroughly impressed with the commitment by Rev. Moon toward patriotism and freedom and many of the philosophical jewels that I cherished then and value even more now," Salmon goes on to say in his raving review. "I was curious why a religious leader would put such value on things that many in the religious community view as secular. I quickly came to learn how Rev. Moon believes that all things, including political and secular, come under the umbrella of the grace of God. Furthermore, I came to learn that he has a keen understanding that freedom and worship go hand in hand. To work toward the improvement of earthly governments only furthers the work in building the Kingdom of God. Rev. Moon has a deep understanding that character and leadership should be synonymous."
Some of this stuff came up back in the day at the paper formerly known as the Mesa Tribune, when state Representative Mark Anderson came under fire for being a Moonie.
Moon had apparently pegged Mormons as easy targets for converting to his beliefs (Salmon's Mormon, for those late to the party), and the paper quoted Moon's plan for Mormons.
"My earnest hope and desire is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be among the first religious bodies to come before True Parents offering unconditional love and attendance to Reverend and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon," Moon said. "I am privileged to share the new Gospel with all Mormons."
Salmon may not have been converted, but he's apparently still buddies with Moon -- Moon's son Hyun Jin Moon has already donated the maximum to Salmon's campaign.