8/20/2005

Moonstruck - Just how easily duped is Curt Weldon?

A billionaire ex-con aiming for world domination plays a local U.S. congressman for a sucker.

by John Gorenfeld

Say you're a congressman who's just been caught attending an event where a notorious cult leader declares himself the Messiah. You say you were fooled into attending the "awards dinner," but you learn that the Messiah has been going from church to church having Christian crosses torn down and offering poor deacons gold watches to switch saviors from Jesus to himself.

Then, you hear that he's been making speeches like this: "If the U.S. continues its corruption, and we find among the senators and congressmen no one really usable for our purposes, we can make senators and congressmen out of our members. ... I have met many famous — so-called "famous' — senators and congressmen, but to my eyes they are just nothing. They are weak and helpless before God."

Is it time to stop attending the multibillionaire's flashy "world peace" symposiums in South Korea? After all, the hosts were probably less interested in your "Beyond Missiles to Global Culture" talk — the one that culled a $3,000 honorarium in 2002 — than in using you to make their family-shattering organization look respectable. Is it time to demand to know why a man who wants to bulldoze traditional Christian values is warmly received on Capitol Hill? And who invited him into the building, anyway?

Well, when it comes to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the office of U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon is speaking with a definitive — uhh, well, not so fast.

While Weldon vows that Moon will never again dupe him, his chief of staff, Michael Conallen, won't rule out Weldon's attending future events held by Moon's front group, the International and Interreligious Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), which apparently tricked several members of Congress into attending the March 23 "Crown of Peace" awards at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

After I broke the story on Salon.com last week, subsequent publicity centered around legislators who claimed they were duped into attending the meeting. (The usual method of the IIFWP and Washington Times Foundation — Moon owns the paper — is to invite VIP speakers for Day 1 of the conference, photograph them and keep them in the dark about what's to be discussed Day 2.)

"I can definitively say," adds Conallen, "the congressman will never speak at any event where anything remotely like what happened on March 23 occurred."

As the leader of the Unification Church, the ex-con's speeches call for a global government with him in charge. Once empowered, he'd cleanse the world of gays — he calls them "dung-eating dogs" — in a Stalinist "purge on God's orders."

By many accounts, last week wasn't the first time Capitol Hill saw its leaders bowing down to Moon, wearing white gloves and bringing him a bejeweled crown on a velvet cushion. (According to the IIFWP, the crowning meant that America has now asked Moon to "please become my king.") Moon's Unification News claimed that another ceremony happened Feb. 4 in the Ronald Reagan Building, involving 40 members of Congress and two senators. His church was recently selling videos of the event online.

If I knew about this stuff while blogging about it from California, shouldn't Weldon have heard rumors that Moon was using Congress members for his world-domination tour? Conallen says they'd never had a single conversation about Moon. Weldon, who represents the suburbs of the 7th District, attended because "they'd asked the congressman to come give a presentation on his most recent trip to Libya," Conallen says. "He was trying to speak to just about anyone."



Moonstruck

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