A lengthy SF Weekly article on Rev. Sun Myung Moon and African-American preachers appeared in the February 22-28, 2006 issue. Please review the archives for a more thoroughly researched analysis of this topic:
Moon founded the Unification Church in 1954 (its original name was Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity). 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.
The most controversy surrounding Moon involves his teachings, especially his claim to be the Messiah. The Moon theology doesn't deny Jesus' role in Christian belief as the Messiah, or savior, sent to Earth to redeem mankind from sin. But, according to Moon, that mission could have only been successful had Jesus married and begot children through whom the human race could have been lifted up. He reserves that role for himself, thus the title of True Father and, for Mrs. Moon, True Mother.
Moon formally proclaimed himself the Messiah in 1992. At that time, he declared himself and his second wife, Hak Ja Han (whom he married when she was 17 and who bore him 14 children), to be "the Messiah and True Parents of all humanity." He has never retreated from the claim, making his proselytizing aimed at religiously orthodox -- not to mention traditionally liberal and Democratic -- black ministers seem all the more incongruous.
However, David Bromley, the sociologist, isn't fazed.
"Moon is a classic charismatic figure who sincerely believes in his Messianic mission," he says. "As such, he's shown an interest in reaching out to any group that will listen. Whether or not they accept him, in his mind he's fulfilled his obligation."
Perhaps the most notable such occasion was the Capitol Hill gathering in 2004, at which at least two U.S. senators and a half-dozen members of Congress later complained of being blindsided. After showing up for an Ambassadors for Peace event at which some of their constituents were to be honored, the elected officials were treated to a coronation ceremony for Moon and his wife, complete with long robes, jeweled crowns, and the triumphant blowing of a ram's horn to announce Moon's entry. (The event went unreported in mainstream media for several weeks until San Francisco freelance journalist John Gorenfeld, who has written frequently about Moon, broke the story.)
After seeing what was happening, elected officials and congressional staffers alike began heading for the exits. Those unable to get out in time heard Moon proclaim himself to be "God's ambassador" sent "to accomplish His command to save the world's six billion people." He then told of having spoken with many of the world's now-dead rulers in the spirit realm and disclosed that Hitler and Stalin, among others, had come around to his thinking.
"Would I like to take that one back? Oh, yes," says Congressman Danny Davis (D-Chicago), who came in for ridicule for holding Moon's crown that day. Davis, a deacon in his Chicago-area Methodist church, says he became involved with Moon through clergy friends in the ACLC. "In my mind, I saw the ceremony as merely a sign of respect, and no more significant than if I were asked to crown a homecoming queen," the congressman says. He has broken ties with the ACLC and all other Moon groups. "I wish them well, but quite frankly, I don't have time for the [political] headache it's caused me," he says.
Amos Brown, who also attended the "coronation" that day, isn't wavering.
"Rev. Moon is the victim of a double standard," he says. "Some folks deify the pope and others deify Billy Graham. But you don't see a lot of people shaking their heads over that."
San Francisco Weekly
Moonstruck: What are African-American preachers doing following Rev. Moon and his cultlike Unification Church ?