More than a decade ago, the World Media Association, a front group for Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, invited me to speak in Seoul, South Korea, at a conference on the press.
At the time, I was the 36-year-old editor of the Sacramento Union, the oldest daily newspaper west of the Mississippi – and already creating fits for the establishment U.S. media.
I was cautious about going, because I had heard stories about Moon having declared himself the messiah. I was told by people inside the church that was simply a misinterpretation of his remarks.
In Seoul, participants in the conference were invited to a ballet, sponsored by Moon, in an elegant hall, built by Moon, and to listen to Moon deliver a special address.
As one of the guests of honor in South Korea, I was asked to sit on stage, along with heads of state, dignitaries and other speakers, including Arnaud de Borchgrave, the former editor of the Washington Times, Moon’s heavily subsidized daily newspaper.
Just before Moon was introduced to make his remarks in Korean, an English translation was distributed to the audience and those of us onstage.
Imagine my shock, as I read along in the translation to learn that Moon was saying that night that indeed he was the messiah. I was embarrassed to find myself sitting behind this man, perhaps, even, in some small way, lending credibility to his preposterous claims.
It was a lesson to me at the time on just how easy it is to be compromised.
Dressed in a floor-length cape, Moon was dubbed the king of peace at a ceremony attended by several members of Congress – and several members of the Christian clergy.
“In the context of heaven’s providence, I am God’s ambassador, sent to earth with His full authority,” Moon proclaimed. “I am sent to accomplish His command to save the world’s 6 billion people, restoring them to heaven with the original goodness in which they were created.”
The audacity of this event, brought to my attention by free-lance journalist John Gorenfeld, shocked people the way I was shocked more than a decade ago in Korea. But this coronation ceremony was preceded by events I consider to be even more disturbing. Judge for yourself.
What would you say if you heard that Christian ministers were being persuaded by Moon to take crosses down from their churches and toss them unceremoniously in dumpsters?
Moon says he got the idea for this campaign June 11, 2001, when lightning struck down the cross decorating the front of the Unification Theological Seminary. He considered this a supernatural, miraculous event. But I think he took the wrong meaning.
Instead of assuming, as I would, that God was issuing a warning about the use of the cross over Moon’s blasphemous theology school, the self-proclaimed messiah deemed this to be a sign for him to tear down all the crosses on all the churches in America.
Moon said the cross was a symbol of Satan’s victory, not God’s.
The Unification Church claims hundreds of churches around the country have, for whatever reason, bought into Moon’s undermining of Christian scripture and tradition by making the cross a symbol of Satan’s victory, not Jesus’ triumph.
For example, last year, Rev. John Kingara of the Worldwide Greater Mission Church in Worcester, Mass., followed Moon’s advice and removed a cross from his church, replacing it with a crown, just as Unification seminars for pastors suggest. The cross, long cherished for the role it played for believers in the remission of sin, was thrown in the dumpster.
At Moon’s suggestion, Pastor John Kingara of Worcester, Mass., throws his church’s cross in the dumpster.
Who knows what motivates these ministers to follow Moon? I won’t speculate why so many pastors – particularly those in economically depressed areas – might listen to a billionaire pseudo-messiah.
But I do know this: Moon is not the messiah. I know the Messiah. And Moon is no messiah.