Back in March, U.S. Representative Danny Davis (D-Chicago) participated in one of the most bizarre public events I've ever heard of. And that's saying something.
During the event, held on federal property, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon proclaimed himself the "Messiah" and "Returning Lord." Congressman Davis spoke at the ceremony and, wearing gleaming white gloves, solemnly carried a golden crown that was placed on Moon's head. Moon, whose followers are often derisively referred to as "Moonies," is the founder of the Unification Church and owner of the Washington Times.
I am not making this up. You can see Congressman Davis carrying the crown in a photo I've posted on my Web site: (http://www.capitolfax.com/davis.jpg).
"The five great saints and many other leaders in the spirit world, including even Communist leaders such as Marx and Lenin, who committed all manner of barbarity and murders on earth, and dictators such as Hitler and Stalin, have found strength in my teachings, mended their ways, and been re-born as new persons," Moon told the assembled group at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on March 23.
The crowd included numerous members of Congress and several diplomats, many of whom were apparently under the impression that they were gathering to watch people, including Davis, receive special awards for "peace." House Speaker Dennis Hastert reportedly sent a letter of congratulations.
The peace awards ceremony did take place, but Moon, clad in regal purple robes, had something else on the program: his declaration that he is the new Messiah.
Reverend Moon, speaking of himself in the third person, declared that "kings and presidents who enjoyed opulence and power on earth" had now, from the grave, "declared to all Heaven and Earth that Reverend Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord, and True Parent."
After that, Congressman Davis brought up the crown.
This isn't the first time Davis has participated in a Moon event. Back in 2002, Davis attended a three-day, Moon-sponsored "God & World Peace" conference along with several other dignitaries. He's also listed as a co-chairperson of one of Moon's organizations, and he gave a speech on the House floor praising Moon.
Congressman Davis, reached last week at his Washington, D.C., office, distanced himself from Reverend Moon's declaration that he was the new Messiah. "There are things that ministers sometimes will say and characterize, but I'm not necessarily in agreement with everything that they said," Davis explained.
It's one thing to quibble over biblical interpretations. Isn't it another to ignore it when a guy announces that he has converted Hitler and Stalin and then declares himself to be the "Returning Lord" right before you bring him a crown?
Davis wouldn't budge, comparing the elaborate ceremony to a "fraternity or sorority meeting," or rituals performed by the local Elks lodge. "That's kind of the way I regard these ceremonies.
"I don't know if he was comparing himself to Jesus the Christ or anything like that," Davis said, adding, "and if he was, then that was his conceptualization of himself." But Davis stressed that Moon was not his messiah. "Jesus the Christ is my guy."
Davis said he "probably" met people associated with Moon "at some black church event or something with ministers, and the relationship has probably grown over the years.
"Generally, whenever I'm around them, they're talking two things, peace and family values. Both are things that I have a great deal of interest in, although I probably disagree with many of their social positions."
Moon's "social positions" include a strong anti-gay agenda. Reverend Moon referred to gays as "dung-eating dogs" during a 1997 speech. The day after the March "coronation," Moon said homosexuality is "worse than an animal lifestyle."
"I'm totally pro-gay," Davis insisted last week. "That's obviously a position that we disagree on." Davis pointed out that many black churches are also very anti-gay, but said that wouldn't stop him from going to church.
"I'm a live-and-let-live kind of person," Davis said. "I go to their banquets and we talk peace. They've never asked me to do anything, other than give a speech, anything that I find offensive."
John Gorenfeld has been following Moon and his organizations for quite a while and has pushed the Moon coronation story for weeks, but no mainstream media organization has yet to touch it. If you're interested in this topic, head to his site, (http://www.gorenfeld.net).
Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter. He can be reached at (http://www.capitolfax.com).