Bartlett: Moon Event ‘Much Ado About Nothing’
FREDERICK, Md. — Rep. Roscoe Bartlett says there was nothing peculiar about his assisting the Rev. Sun Myung Moon during a coronation ceremony at which Moon declared himself the Messiah.
Videos of the March 23 event in Washington show Bartlett holding Moon’s robes, bowing to Moon and his wife, and participating in a four-way handshake with the couple and Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill.
Bartlett told The Frederick News-Post on Thursday he had gone to the event to accept a peace award from the Washington Times Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Moon’s Washington newspaper.
He said he was unexpectedly asked to participate in the ceremony.
“What was so strange?” Bartlett asked. “I’m not rude, and if I was there and asked to do something that was benign, handing a robe to an old person and honoring him for his contribution to world peace and fundamental morality, now why wouldn’t I do that if I was asked to?”
More than a dozen lawmakers attended the congressional reception, in which Moon declared himself humanity’s savior and said his teachings have helped Hitler and Stalin be “reborn as new persons.”
Bartlett said the furor surrounding the event was “much ado about nothing,” and that at the time it “didn’t impress me as anything.”
He said the crowning ceremony was similar to coronations of homecoming kings and queens.
Bartlett said he didn’t know Moon would be at the ceremony. Many of the congressional members in attendance have said they felt misled into making an appearance that was later used to promote Moon’s Unification Church.
On Wednesday, the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, a Moon-connected sponsor of the event, held a news conference in Washington to answer critics.
The group denied tricking congressmen, saying those invited knew that Moon would be there.
Recent news reports have elaborated on Moon’s conviction for tax evasion and on some of his beliefs, including his call to replace church crosses with crowns and a 1997 sermon in which he likened homosexuals to “dirty dung-eating dogs.”
Bartlett said the only thing he knew about Moon was his advocacy for world peace. “I’ve no idea what his religious beliefs are,” Bartlett said.