So the founder and leader of the Unification Church – otherwise known as the Moonies – has died. Believing himself to have divine appointment, Sun Myung Moon was born in 1920 in what is now North Korea. He founded his business empire (because that’s what it is) in 1954 after allegedly speaking to Christ on a hillside in 1936. The religious philosophy of the movement he founded is a mish-mash of Christianity, Confuscism, shamanism and anti-communism, the latter perhaps being the most crucial tenet in the Moonies ideology. As a committed anti-communist, Moon, or the True Father as he styled himself, was comfortable with many of the world’s most repressive regimes.
Of course, that isn’t something that the Moonies like to talk about. The Washington Times , which was founded with Moon’s money, was St Ronnie’s favourite newspaper and is 100% dedicated to the cause. It offers us this panegyric,
The legacy of the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon will forever be tied to the fight to defeat communism, a cause to which he devoted much of his life’s work and, in the process, earned a place in history as a contributor to the end of the Cold War.
It’s as gushing and fawning as a good panegyric ought to be. Ben Wolfgang, for it is he who penned this tripe, quoteth the True Father,
“Finally, in 1989, the Berlin Wall was torn down and on Christmas Eve 1991, the Soviet empire collapsed after having held the world in fear for 74 years. I thank God that the free world prevailed in this historic struggle, which truly was an ideological battle over acknowledging God or not,” he said in 2002, speaking at a banquet celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Washington Times, which he founded.
For Moon, the Cold War was simply a war between good and evil, which was echoed in Reagan’s infamous phrase the “Evil Empire”, perhaps indicating the close proximity of Moon to the White House. Wolfgang tells us that the leaders of the ‘free’ world sought guidance from Moon and paid tribute to his contributions to the collapse of the USSR. Reagan, Thatcher, Pinochet (yes) and Brazil’s exceptionally dodgy Carlos Menem were counted as his friends.
The tendrils of the Unification Church run very deep and are spread very wide. They have global business interests that manufactures a range of goods and are adept, or so they think, at avoiding tax. In 1982, Moon’s magic couldn’t prevent him from being locked up for 18 months for tax evasion. 18 months and it wasn’t in some horrible penetentiary that you see on programmes on Channel 5 either. Still, you can’t keep a good man down and the great and the good of the American Right and a variety of religious groups rallied and fought to free Moon. Once released, he was back up on his feet, jet-setting around the globe and being photographed with all the right people. While the numbers of followers fell, his political influence never waned.
In the mid-1990s Moon moved his base to a remote location in the no man’s land between Paraguay and Bolivia, having purchased land there some time in the early 1980s. Paraguay was once ruled by the bloodthirsty Alfredo Strößner, Pinochet’s pal in Operation Condor . Strößner was overthrown in a coup in 1989. He died in Brazil in 2006 having been Menem’s guest for most of that time. I found this interesting article in The Tablet, a Catholic organ no less! The writer talks of a visit to Puerto Casado in northwest Paraguay.
I asked many questions about that fascinating moment in the Reverend Moon?s history. It was one of six imprisonments, they told me, in various countries, and the excuse for this pure political persecution, they told me, had been that Mr Kamiyama had brought $2 million into the United States and opened an account in the name of Reverend Moon. I should have put in the name of the Church. It was a small mistake, he said. As a result Reverend Moon was accused of evading $7,000 in taxes. Mr Kamiyama confided: I don?t like politicians. They are very complicated. They change their minds very quickly.
What do you believe the real reason was? I asked them. Mr Sano had no doubt: the Moonies had been trying to urge President Carter to be strong in standing up against Communism, so the Democratic Party did not like their movement. Carter had not been supporting the South American governments that had been most determined in making a stand against the influx of Communism in countries like Nicaragua, Chile and Paraguay. Carter had dithered, talking about human rights abuses, but, said Mr Sano, if we have to attack it is the Communist governments we must attack, for they are violating far more human rights.
It was the only moment my blood almost froze amid all that warmth. It confirmed the reports I had received that the Moonies had been linked with the most repressive of the South American dictatorships. A book they gave me to read,The Fruits of True Love: the lifework of Revd Sun Myung Moon, provided further corroboration. God chose the United States to stand up to Communism, I read, and to this end the Moonies founded Causa International, which visited such like-minded campaigners as Pinochet in Chile, Rios Montt in Guatemala and Stroessner in Paraguay.
Moon handed over control of the Unification Church to his son, Hyung Jin Moon in 2009. Moon Jr has reportedly made a visit to North Korea in the last couple of days.
The Moonie that is best known to The Cat is Nile Gardiner, the deeply paranoid, anti-Europe, anti-communist, anti-equality Director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom and member of Mitt ‘The Mannequin’ Romney’s foreign policy team (heaven help us!). The baby-faced one’s been noticeably tight-lipped on the subject of the True Father’s passing and, indeed, his membership of the church. Maybe he’s in mourning but then he found the time to write this typically Dagenham (it’s beyond Barking) piece in Wednesday’s Telegraph that linked to his article in the, er, Washington Times.
Without Communism (because it is big ‘C’ communism we’re talking about here) as the big evil, Gardiner’s focus has turned to the European Union and all its ‘liberal’ values. He hates effete and ‘socialist’ Europe and he hates the suave and metropolitan Obama. Well, you have to someone to hate? Don’t you?
Moon was a delusional man whose religion was a front for a multitude of business and political interests and in that sense, he was more the CEO and chairman of a multinational corporation than a religious leader. Perhaps this is what the likes of Reagan and Thatcher loved about him: his entrepreneurship. The televangelists loved him too. “Jesus” they would argue, “was a capitalist”. I’m only surprised their Jesus industries haven’t started producing posters of a gun-toting, cigar-munching Christ. Maybe I shouldn’t be giving them ideas?