Key Founding “Family Values” Leader Joins the Choir Invisible

From the NYTimes:

Rev. Sun Myung Moon, Self-Proclaimed Messiah Who Built Religious Movement, Dies at 92
… Mr. Moon courted world leaders, financed newspapers and founded numerous innocuously named civic organizations. To his critics, he pursued those activities mainly to lend legitimacy to his movement, known as the Unification Church, although his methods were sometimes questionable. In 2004, for example, he had himself crowned “humanity’s savior” in front of astonished members of Congress at a Capitol Hill luncheon…

Building a business empire in South Korea and Japan, Mr. Moon used his commercial interests to support nonprofit ventures, then kept control of them by placing key insiders within their hierarchies. He avidly backed right-wing causes, turning The Washington Times into a respected newspaper in conservative circles.

An ardent anti-Communist who had been imprisoned by the Communist authorities in northern Korea in the 1940s, he saw the United States as the world’s salvation. But in the late 1990s, after financial losses, defections and stagnant growth in the church’s membership, he turned on America, branding it a repository of immorality — “Satan’s harvest” — and repositioned his movement as a crusade for moral values…

Mr. Moon struggled against bad publicity. He was sent to prison on tax evasion charges and accused of influence-buying and of maintaining ties to the Korean Central Intelligence Agency. He denied both allegations. In the late 1970s he was caught up in a Congressional investigation into attempts by South Korea to influence American policy. There were battles with local officials over zoning for church buildings and tax-exempt status.

As his church grew more prominent in the 1970s and ’80s, it became embroiled in lawsuits over soliciting funds, acquiring property and recruiting followers….

In the United States, Mr. Moon had interests in commercial fishing, jewelry, fur products, construction and real estate. He bought many properties in the New York area, including the New Yorker Hotel in Midtown Manhattan and the Manhattan Center nearby.

At one time or another he controlled newspapers including Noticias del Mundo and The New York City Tribune; four publications in South Korea; a newspaper in Japan, The Sekai Nippo; The Middle East Times in Greece; Tiempos del Mundo in Argentina; and Últimas Noticias in Uruguay. In 2000, a church affiliate bought what was left of United Press International.

The extent of his holdings was somewhat of a mystery, but one figure gives a clue: Mr. Moon acknowledged that in the two decades since the founding of The Washington Times in 1982, he pumped in more than $1 billion in subsidies to keep it going….

I am not qualified to judge whether Reverend Moon was a good person and/or sincere in his religious beliefs, but his influence on American politics has been an unmixed evil. When Moon was indicted for tax evasion in 1981, he said “I would not be standing here today if my skin were white and my religion were Presbyterian…I am here today only because my skin is yellow and my religion is Unification Church.” That may well be true, but he was still a malign influence. Not only did the billions of dollars he extracted from his followers support the nascent post-Watergate “redesign” of the Republican Party, but his much-ballyhooed success at mixing religious showmanship and old-fashioned political graft at the highest levels has been an ongoing inspiration to other “new religions” like Scientology, to mainstream would-be “spirtual” powerbrokers like Joel Osteen and Rick Warren, and to old-fashioned all-American political grifters like Ralph Reed, Tom DeLay, and Mike Huckabee. Whatever happens in the upcoming succession battles within the Unification Church, and however much his devoted global followers will miss him, America is just a little better off now that Moon’s no longer going to be personally meddling in politics.

36 replies
  1. 1
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    I usually feel a bit more sympathy/understanding for people who actually lived under Communism and became kinda nutty right-wingers as a result. (This applies to some Polish family members and elderly Cuban neighbors.) With Moon, the sympathy dries up, well…pretty quickly. If I ever found myself as rich as him, I hope I could find something better for humanity to do with all the money.

  2. 2

    From where will the Washington Times get their political direction now?

  3. 3
    hhex65 says:

    Harold Ford, Curt Weldon and all them must be grieving hard for their King of Peace.

  4. 4
    LosGatosCA says:

    Well, no doubt if he had founded his own city-state and his officials were molesting little boys, he would have received more respect.

  5. 5
    Mart says:

    At a very vulnerable time in her life my sister was brainwashed into the cult. My mother wanted an old fashioned kidnap an un-brainwash intervention but that had mixed reviews in the press. We talked mom down. Sister was married in the famous Washington wedding ceremony where hundreds of couples were wed sight unseen. Sis’s husband was a nasty, abusive prick, who stole many tens of thousands from the family. She finally broke from the church and the prick. I am atheist, still have a tiny bit of hope Moon and the Unification Church burn in eternal hell.Sis is doing great now BTW, fantastic husband and life.

  6. 6
    Suffern Ace says:

    Learn something new every day I suppose. I had always heard that the Manhattan Center and the New Yorker Hotel were owned by the Marcoses at one time, and actually have repeated that misinformation to others. I had my villains mixed up.

  7. 7
    Anne Laurie says:

    @LosGatosCA: The “Moonies” were important to the current American crop of self-styled Family Values(tm) religious-political grifters because it demonstrated that, in Ronald Reagan’s America, you didn’t need fifteen hundred years of history to whitewash your new cult into respectability. Give the right — and I do mean Right — politicos and their business supporters their cut, and you can start selling your deluded followers into slavery and sexually molesting their children within a few business quarters!

  8. 8

    @Anne Laurie: Have you read Don DeLillo’s Mao 2?

  9. 9
    Redshift says:

    @The prophet Nostradumbass: I don’t think we’ll have to worry about it for too long. The Times is already a shadow of its former self, and if his heirs are as greedy as most rich people’s, they probably won’t throw much more down that rat hole.

  10. 10
    jheartney says:

    Forget political direction, where will the Mooney Times get the funds to fill their operating deficit?

    The bad news is that the slot for DC wingnut rag has already been filled, and it’s with Katherine Graham’s old joint.

    I’m waiting for Rupert to kick off; then we can see if death will have done the U.S. polity any favors.

  11. 11
    PeakVT says:

    … turning The Washington Times into a respected newspaper in conservative circles.

    Ah, the soft bigotry of low expectations…

  12. 12
    Maude says:

    He gave New York a difficult time. The Moonies were a problem.He was an awful man and I’m not sorry he’s gone.
    He had enough money to buy what he wanted and hire lawyers.

  13. 13
    Dennis SGMM says:

    Thank you for letting us know that your sister’s life worked out for the better. The time when it wasn’t must have been hell for you and the rest of the family.

    My own sister attached herself to an abusive biker. My father, when cancer ate him up, had charged me with putting everything he had into a trust that provided sis with a good income for a long time. First thing they did was break the trust and spend all of the money.

    My story didn’t end quite as well. I went to shoot the biker dead and my sister told me “Go ahead. I’ll just find another one.” That was when I finally learned what it was to be powerless.

  14. 14
  15. 15
    Dennis SGMM says:

    Thanks, Maude.

    In the desert
    I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
    Who, squatting upon the ground,
    Held his heart in his hands,
    And ate of it.
    I said, “Is it good, friend?”
    “It is bitter – bitter,” he answered;
    “But I like it
    Because it is bitter,
    And because it is my heart.”
    -Stephen Crane

  16. 16
    piratedan says:


    I’m for it…nothing like getting a feisty old broad up to speak on behalf of your current President to show that not all oldsters have been body snatched by Faux News

  17. 17
    Carolinus says:

    Total ABC News journalism FAIL. They have a story titled:
    “Iowans’ message to Obama: We did build this”

    It’s about a building near were the President landed yesterday that had a banner which essentially read: “Obama SUX — We did build this!”

    Turns out that building is owned by Hepar Bioscience LLC whose President & Owner is a man named Mark Nylen:

    According to OpenSecrets Nylen is a hardcore republican, having give over $50,000 exclusively to GOP candidates and PACs over the last 10 years. Nylen has also donated to Romney this cycle. What should be the especially embarrassing to ABC though is that Nylen isn’t even an Iowan, he’s a resident of South Dakota.

  18. 18
    Mart says:

    So sorry for your pain Dennis, understand where the rage comes from. Rage is so difficult to control, thank goodness you did.

  19. 19
    Djur says:

    I hope he likes the weather in Hell. Unfortunately the damage he did won’t heal for a long, long time.

  20. 20
    Dennis SGMM says:

    Thank you. Having walked down that road yourself you know. It did take a piece out of me.

  21. 21

    @Dennis SGMM:
    The legal system saved me from doing something that would have landed me in prison for a very long time. The only time in my life I’ve been that angry and it lasted months… yes it would have been cold blooded and I’d have had no defense.

  22. 22
    piratedan says:

    @Dennis SGMM: Dennis…. know that you are going through troubling times and perhaps more than a few desperate hours… sometime soon, I’m hoping that this song will apply to you. Can one song fix a heart? I can’t say that I have the answer for that, but believe and who knows, sometime when your heart is done grieving it will be open to someone new who may hope to be special to you….

  23. 23
    Cermet says:

    About time that low life moon departed for his ‘reward’. That pile of shit screwed not just his foolish followers but the amerikan people as well. Hope the whole fake and rotten structure fails, then falls as well … not likely since it is still a cash cow.

  24. 24
    Cermet says:

    Dennis, you can’t save anyone but yourself. In time, your sister may discover a way to heal. You, however, should look after yourself because then you can best help when and if that time comes. Best of luck!

  25. 25
    double nickel says:

    He’ll be back in 3 days, unless he sees his shadow.

  26. 26
    debbie says:

    I was accosted by a Moonie at Rockefeller Center during lunch hour in the late 1970s. I said no thanks to his request that I buy a red rose and tried to walk on, but he grabbed my arm and insisted I listen to him. Being bigger than me, I wasn’t able to pull away. So there I was, trying to yank my arm away, while he creepily smiled and insisted I needed to hear what he had to say. It being New York, it wasn’t long until a couple of guys stopped to help me, but back then, Moonies were as much of a pestilence in the city as cockroaches.

  27. 27
    jurassicpork says:

    It’s right wing nutbags like Moon & his followers is what led me to write my post, In the Beginning, the Romans Got it Right.

  28. 28
    Donut says:


    For a second there, I thought you were talking about Penn State’s athletic dept, not the Vatican.

  29. 29
    Chris says:

    @Anne Laurie:


    Always thought Reverend Moon’s status was the ultimate proof of Republicans and fundiegelicals’ cynicism and the extent to which it’s all about the money. We’re talking about a cult whose leader claims to be a God. That should be blasphemy of the highest order, but they ignore it and choose to be best pals anyway.

  30. 30
    Mike in NC says:

    Everyone I knew in the DC area who subscribed to the Washington Times was a member of the Cult of Reagan. Moon knew how to push the idolatry button.

  31. 31
    JR in WV says:


    Well, but don’t adherents of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints also have some novel beliefs about who God is?

    Doesn’t Mr. Romney expect to become a God in his afterlife, with his own opportunity to rule somewhere, provided his tithes are kept up properly?

    Moon was an evil, evil man who somehow was able to devise a method to attracting millions of followers, all working for the Unification Church, all thithing to him so he could use their money for good works.

    If there is any truth to any of the god-botherers cant, Moon is nearly crispy already. Taint so, he’s just gone, but one can hope.

  32. 32
    Schlemizel says:

    In the early days converts here in America were made to live in communal houses. They were sent out to get jobs or beg on the street and donate 100% of their income to the church. In return they were fed & clothed.

    This allowed the church to avoid a lot of income tax for its members & maximize income for Moon. It was slavery for the 20th century. Hell would be too good for him.

  33. 33
    Gus diZerega says:

    Moon’s ‘religion’ was eerily reminiscent of explicitly totalitarian forms of Christianity that had earlier plunged China into incredible violence and bloodletting, with millions killed.

    Check out the Tai Ping Rebellion and find similarities galore between them and the now departed Moon.

  34. 34
    kindness says:

    I grew up in Tarrytown just north of NYC. When I was about 12 the Unification Church bought a huge estate on the edge of town adjoining Irvington there. Everyones local taxes went up because the entire property became church property and that had been a fairly significant chunk apparently. So my exposure to Sun Myung Moon has always been tainted. A couple old friends ‘converted’ years ago. Haven’t heard from any of them since.

    Ah, what ever. We all face the end our journey at some point or other. Not an end so much as a new beginning.

  35. 35
    priscianusjr says:

    @Suffern Ace:

    I had always heard that the Manhattan Center and the New Yorker Hotel were owned by the Marcoses at one time, and actually have repeated that misinformation to others.

    Marcos owned the Crown Building on 5th Avenue and 57th Street.

  36. 36
    priscianusjr says:


    if his heirs are as greedy as most rich people’s, they probably won’t throw much more down that rat hole.

    They can always sell it to some prestige-seeking squadrillionaire.

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