(Free Inquiry - Winter, 1997-98)
By James A. Haught

The Unification Church, the so-called "Moonie" sect, has a huge supply of mysterious cash -- and part of it is going to ex-President George Bush.

The Consortium for Independent Journalism, an on-line Internet news service, says perhaps $1 million has been paid to Bush for public appearances that lend his prestige to the cult.

For example, The Consortium says, Bush recently flew to Argentina to inaugurate a new Hispanic Moonie newspaper, after Argentine President Carlos Menem refused to associate with the sect. The Rev. Sun Myung Moon's religio-political empire is known for supporting far-right causes, and formerly backed military regimes in South America.

"Moon is one of the deepest pockets in right-wing circles," The Consortium said. "His vast spending of billions of dollars in secretive Asian money to influence U.S. politics -- spanning nearly a quarter-century -- has gone virtually unmentioned amid the current controversy over Asian donations to U.S. politicians."

The news service says it's ironic that the Moonie-owned Washington Times vigorously supports the congressional probe into Asian gifts to the Democratic Party, but never mentions the Asian money funneled to Bush and other Republicans by the Moonies.

Mystery and weirdness shroud the Unification Church. "Master Moon" claims that Jesus appeared to him in his native Korea and instructed him to save the world. The Consortium says Moon was charged three times in Korea with having sex with young female followers to "purify" them, but the cases fizzled. After he moved his operations to America, he was jailed for tax evasion.

Earlier this year, Moonie groups around America bought double-page newspaper ads to reprint a bizarre Moon speech in which he said religion must be "in harmony with the sexual organs" and serve as a "love partner" with God. "I suffered through six different prisons to find this path," he said.

In the 1980s, The Consortium says, Moon proclaimed that one of his sons, who was killed in a car crash, "had come back to life in the body of a church member from Zimbabwe." The African was given great power in the church, and became a tyrant who "compelled church leaders to stand before him and engage in humiliating self-criticisms." During one such session, he savagely beat Washington Times Publisher Bo Hi Pak.

After the Pak attack, expatriate Washington Times editorialist William Cheshire wrote in The San Diego Union-Tribune (April 9, 1989):

"Where the Moonies are concerned, it seems clear, we are dealing with something besides just an exotic cult. The Pak beating smacks strongly of Jonestown. And with Moon lavishing hundreds of millions of dollars a year on newspapers, magazines and political action groups in this country and abroad, such occult and aggressive practices give rise to secular apprehensions. If the 'reincarnation' doesn't rock those conservative shops that have been taking money from Moon, not even fire-breathing dragons would disturb them."