Capitol Hill, home to America’s lawmakers, is well known as a place where strange things happen. Few have been as strange, however, as the recent “crowning” of the Rev Sun Myung Moon, eccentric head of the “Moonies”.
Republicans and Democrats alike are in damage-limitation mode after it was revealed they were guests of the Korean-born businessman at a ceremony during which he declared he was the Messiah. Video footage of the event, in which the politicians can be seen bowing their heads to the 84-year-old, is on the internet.
In the footage, Congressman Danny Davis, a Democrat from Illinois, can be seen carrying a pillow bearing one of two ornate crowns that were placed on the heads of Mr Moon and his wife Hak Ja Han Moon. Amid growing controversy about the event – which was billed as a “celebration of peace” and took place in March – Mr Davis told The New York Times yesterday that he had been “a bit surprised” by the comments Mr Moon made after receiving his new headgear.
No wonder. Mr Moon had declared: “In one sense, I am a human being living with a physical body like each of you. But in the context of Heaven’s providence, I am God’s ambassador, sent to earth with His full authority. I am sent to accomplish His command to save the world’s six billion people.”
Mr Moon, head of the Unification Church, owns the Washington Times newspaper and the UPI wire service and he mingles with senior politicians. One of his church’s offshoots is the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, which organised the event in the Dirksen building on Capitol Hill.
An inquiry is under way to see if there was a breach of rules on who can hold events in the building. The Senate’s rules and administration committee, which approved the event, has declined to name the Senator who acted as sponsor.