The Messiah's Senator
"Reverend Moon is the most remarkable person I've ever met"
On Valentine's Day, Republican state Sen. Mark Boitano, who represents part of Albuquerque's Northeast Heights, joined opponents of gay marriage in a press conference to promote "pro-family" legislation. The Albuquerque Journal photo showed a tense Boitano surrounded by gay rights activists. What the story did not mention is that for 30 years Boitano has been a follower of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who calls gays "dung eating dogs" to be "eliminated" or "burned."
Boitano is so loyal, he helped crown Moon the Messiah in Washington, D.C., last year.
In the Dirksen Senate Office Building, a white-gloved Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) placed jeweled crowns upon the heads of Moon and his wife. Robes of nobility draped their shoulders. Moon was named the king of "the second and third Israels," whatever that means. Rev. and Mrs. Moon were announced as the "True Father and Mother." Supplicants offered jewels on pillows. Moon declared himself to be "none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah and Returning Lord."
Some congressmen in the audience claimed they were "duped" into attending once the event became known to the public. "The Honorable Mark Boitano, state senator, New Mexico" was listed as a member of the invitation committee. In an e-mail exchange last week, Boitano wrote, "Reverend Moon is the most remarkable person I've ever met—he deserves every bit of recognition he receives."
Boitano certainly knows Moon. He co-hosted an event in 2001 welcoming Moon at the Albuquerque Marriott. Using his title as state senator, he has frequently spoken at events for Moon's Unification Church and affiliated groups. In December 2003 in Chicago he discussed the vision for the American Family Party, the United States' counterpart to Moon's Korean Family Party, which seeks to govern the entire Korean peninsula, north and south.
Capitol Hill was an unlikely place to honor Moon, a convicted felon who did federal time for tax evasion and obstruction of justice. Despite his legal troubles, Moon's fortunes did not suffer. Thanks to donations and bequests to his international Unification Church and affiliates, real estate holdings and numerous business enterprises, Moon is a billionaire. He owns The Washington Times, UPI news service and Insight magazine. That sort of clout may explain how Moon's supporters wrangled a U.S. Senate office building for his coronation.
Rev. Moon holds interesting, some might say unusual, ideas about marriage and sex. Though an active disciple for three decades, Boitano disclaims detailed knowledge of Moon's teachings. Boitano did not respond to a question about how he could justify denying to same sex couples who profess mutual love the right to marry when one of Moon's most famous practices is to prearrange the marriage of people who have never met.
In one ceremony in 1995, Moon married 320,000 couples, many strangers to each other. He has reportedly made millions of dollars from his mating services. He prescribes very explicit sexual practices for his newlyweds. His "Three Day Ceremony" involves "The Holy Handkerchief," which must be used to clean up afterwards, but never washed. Moon also dictates specific sexual positions. In the finale, the man "restores dominion" over the woman and becomes a "sinless Adam." Photographs of the Moons preside over copulation.
There are no reported statistics on the staying power of Moon's marriages.
Moon's talks on genitals, body fluids and excrement are pretty shocking. At his training center in Tarrytown, N.Y., Moon lectured on caring for the male "love organ." Without repeating details here, men were instructed daily to use pliers and cutting implements, if necessary, "to make sure our mind and body become one."
Christian conservatives have made common cause with Moon in opposing gay marriage, but seem willing to ignore his threats to their own faith. The ceremony sponsored by Boitano followed a coast-to-coast campaign advocating the removal of church crosses. Moon's websites showed crosses being thrown in the trash. Remarks in the newsletter Unification News described the cross as "divisive" and being "not of God but Satan." Crosses, it seems, frustrate Moon's self-recognition as "the Returned Lord." Moon's ultimate goal is uniting all religions and nations in "God's fatherland." Of course, you won't find gays in the fatherland.
Americans have the right to hold any religious belief. But when an elected official participates in crowning a self-declared Messiah while advocating so-called "pro-family" laws, it's time for vigilance. Because Moon wants the U.S. Constitution replaced by "Godism," to be administered by himself, it's wise to at least question the agenda of all elected officials in his camp. We have every right to ask how they can uphold the Bill of Rights when the man to whom they swear fealty desires dictatorial theocracy.
At issue before the Legislature is not, and must not be, religious doctrine. It is the question whether two adults may form a particular contract. You only need a lowly county clerk to seal the civil contract called marriage. Religious unions, by the same token, are not government's business. If it's holy matrimony you want, the person to see is a minister, priest, rabbi, or even the True Father—especially if you'd rather not choose your spouse.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author. Scarantino is an Albuquerque attorney and served recently as president of Mainstream 204, a national organization of moderate Republicans.