The Resurrection Of Reverend Moon

This is a transcript of a January 21, 1992 broadcast, "Frontline: The Ressurection Of Reverend Moon." Eric Nadler, reporter. Written and produced by Rory O'Connor. Copyright (c)1991 WGBH Educational Foundation. Used with permission.

Rory O'Connor is CEO of Globalvision New Media, producers of MediaChannel.
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(Soundtrack) Rally: "USA, USA, USA!"

Narrator: On February 9, 1991, in Rapid City, South Dakota, more than a thousand people rallied in support of U.S. troops fighting in the Persian Gulf.

Narrator: The rally was sponsored in part by a group of local veterans. Dianne Petersen was the rally's principal organizer.

Petersen: "I'm a vet myself and I have, I had a sister over there and I really just wanted to do something in support of the troops...So I organized what I called the Little Yellow Ribbon Walk...

Petersen walking in parade: "It's great, many more than I expected."

Petersen: "And I was approached by the American Freedom Coalition, who told me they had a rally planned for the same day and wanted to merge with me."

Narrator: The American Freedom Coalition was a group few people in Rapid City had heard of--and one citizen, Marv Kammerer, was curious.

Kammerer: "About the same time I noticed a billboard on the east side of Rapid City that said Support Our Troops, Join the Freedom March, and on that same sign was the American Freedom Coalition...You know when people buy billboards, it takes money, and local groups, don't spend that kind of money...I get to thinking, 'What is this?' I ask my Congressmen and Senators and they don't tell me. They don't give me the information. So I go to the library and I find some interesting things. The American Freedom Coalition is an extension of the Unification Church — Moonies for short."

Mazzio: "And to find out the Unification Church is behind it, that sort of, you know, sort of threw me. Um, I say to myself, 'What are they trying to gain from this?' Because everybody's heard of the Unification Church. We've all heard of the Reverend Moon. What's he got behind it?"

Petersen: "I felt a little bit abused because.... I felt I was used, my influence with the veteran's organizations was probably a little bit used."

Kammerer: "The vets did not know who they were associated with — and that is their own damn fault. One has to be very careful when people start waving the flag, finding out really what is behind it and what are their motives. We have a weakness in this country to almost give away the bank, if someone waves a flag high enough and long enough. Especially if he packs a Bible."

Narrator: The day before the Rapid City rally, the 18th annual Conservative Political Action Conference was underway in Washington. Part cocktail party, part political bazaar, part serious examination of the issues, its sponsors included pillars of the American right, such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Conservative Union. There was also the American Freedom Coalition.

Narrator: Robert Grant, president of the American Freedom Coalition, spoke at a conference banquet. In his remarks, Grant announced that the AFC was sponsoring pro-Desert Storm rallies not just in South Dakota, but in all fifty states.

Grant: "With Governors and Congressmen and Senators and veterans organizations working together to send a message across the seas to Saddam Hussein and the men and women of Desert Storm."

Rev. Jackie Roberts: "Once again, let's say God bless America! (People answer 'God Bless America') C'mon — God bless America!"

Narrator: The American Freedom Coalition's Desert Storm rallies are only the latest effort by Sun Myung Moon to influence American public opinion. Moon's Unification Movement has long supported the projection of American military power overseas.

(Soundtrack) Song: "With a mission to fly and a job to be done. He's missing his wife, and his children."

Narrator: Moon has also consistently promoted a conservative political agenda in the United States. His efforts have not gone unnoticed at the White House. Douglas Wead was a Special Assistant to President Bush responsible for liaison with conservative groups.

Wead: "I'd say right now there are probably two groups among conservative organizations that really have an infrastructure, that have grassroots clout — Concerned Women of America would and the American Freedom Coalition would."

Narrator: During the 1988 election, the AFC printed and distributed 30 million pieces of political literature, including these glossy voter scorecards.

Wead: "I think the scorecards and some of the independent literature published had an enormous effect. In fact, we had huge notebooks filled with published materials from a wide variety of organizations. The best was probably the AFC's. It was by far the slickest and the finest produced material. And when that doesn't cost you anything, and it is not charged against the campaign and is widely distributed to mailing lists across the country, that has a very important impact."

Narrator: The AFC's activities have prompted renewed questions about Sun Myung Moon's involvement in American politics. The AFC calls itself a grassroots organization committed to supporting conservative causes. AFC leaders deny that their group is an "appendage" of Moon's movement, and they are sensitive about the issue. When we asked Robert Grant to discuss AFC ties to Moon, he refused. In a letter to FRONTLINE, Grant stated "I see no point in speaking with you either on camera or off camera."

And when Frontline reporter Eric Nadler visited AFC headquarters, no one would talk.

Nadler: We were just hoping that someone could speak to us.
Receptionist: Not at this time
Nadler: Not at any time, apparently.
Receptionist: Thank you.
Nadler: Have a nice day

Narrator: We had hoped to ask Robert Grant about allegations that the AFC is violating federal law; namely, the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Just before World War Two, Congress passed the act, concerned that Japanese and German interests in the U.S. were influencing American public opinion. The act states that any organization involved in political activities and controlled or directed by a foreign principal must register with the Justice Department. It must also report on its activities and provide detailed accounts of its foreign sources of funding.

Narrator: Is the American Freedom Coalition a foreign agent? In 1989, Robert Grant wrote in the Washington Post that more than $5 million — one third of the AFC's money — came from "business interests of the Unification Church." Church officials say that their money comes from overseas — primarily from Japan.

Narrator: Media analyst Brent Bozell is a member of the AFC national policy board.

Bozell: "If it were to come out that what the AFC is doing is being done at the direction of Reverend Moon, it would lose its fifty chapters overnight. That allegation has been out there since the day that AFC was formed and it hasn't stuck because nobody has come up with the smoking gun that he's done it."

Narrator: But Moon's influence over the AFC is underscored by this 1988 letter FRONTLINE obtained from a source who once worked within the Moon Organization. AFC President Robert Grant, writing to Reverend Moon, thanks him for investing heavily and "helping to bring the AFC into being." Grant concludes by telling Moon, "Without your leadership, vision and the support of your devoted followers, the AFC would not exist."

Narrator: The last time most Americans paid attention to Sun Myung Moon was nearly a decade ago. These are the images many still retain of Moon and the "Moonies," as his followers once called themselves: mass weddings of complete strangers chosen as mates by Moon; flower-peddling in the street; and repeated allegations of mind control and brainwashing.

Parent before Congress: "Who can parents turn to when they realize their children have been innocently enslaved by Moon?"

Young woman at press conference: "Within one weekend I was totally, my mind was totally coerced into leaving home, into leaving my parents, into dropping out of school, into being, thinking that I was working for God."

Narrator: A federal investigation into Moon's finances led to a 1982 trial on charges of conspiracy and filing false tax returns.

Moon/Pak "I must tell you that I am innocent."

Narrator: As a convicted felon, Moon was sent to the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut. During his 13 months in prison, he faded from public consciousness.

(Soundtrack) Moon: "Distinguished leaders, religious leaders..."

Narrator: But Moon has been quietly gaining strength in the United States ever since. He still hints that he is the Messiah — most recently, before five hundred religious leaders in San Francisco in August,1990.

Narrator: While Moon remains a controversial spiritual leader, his Church in America has a surprisingly small following, estimated to be no more than five thousand members.

Narrator: His Movement, once labelled a cult, is now more accurately described as a conglomerate. From media operations in the nation's capital... To substantial real estate holdings throughout the United States... And from large commercial fishing operations... To advanced high-tech and computer industries, a Fifth Avenue publishing house, and literally dozens of other businesses, foundations, associations, institutes, and political and cultural groups... Moon and his money have become a force to be reckoned with.

Whelan: "All we know is they are spending a great, great deal in this country."

Narrator: James Whelan was the editor and publisher of a Moon-financed newspaper, the Washington Times.

Whelan: "Probably more on influence and the obtaining of influence, of power, than of any organization I know of in this country, and that includes the AFL-CIO, that includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that includes General Motors, that includes anybody."

Narrator: How and why did Sun Myung Moon amass such power and influence? The search for answers begins here in Korea, nearly six thousand miles from America's shores...


Narrator: The Unification faith is a new religion. It traces its origins back to Easter Sunday, 1936, when Jesus Christ supposedly appeared and asked the sixteen-year-old Moon to complete God's work on Earth. Moon's evangelical mission eventually landed him in a North Korean labor camp, where he claims he was tortured repeatedly. Moon escaped, and according to Church lore, he marched south for weeks, carrying a wounded follower on his back. In 1951, in this shack made of U.S. Army ration boxes, Moon established his first church.

Narrator: After the Korean War ended, several young military officers, including one named Bo Hi Pak, converted to the new Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity. As the fifties ended, Moon and his missionaries left Korea to spread their faith. Their earliest success came in Japan.

Narrator: There the Church made political alliances and quickly established itself as much more than a religious movement.

Junas: "1960 really represents the founding moment of the Moon organization as a political entity..."

Narrator: Daniel Junas is the author of Moon Rising, a forthcoming history of the Unification Movement.

Junas: "But now grafted onto that you began to have a whole set of political operations, and this is where Moon really developed his theocratic ideology, where politics would be married to religion."

Narrator: 1960 was a pivotal moment in U.S.-Asian relations. The Japanese and American governments signed a treaty allowing the Americans to maintain military bases in Japan and providing the Japanese access to America's capital and technology.

Eisenhower: "The signing today of the treaty of mutual cooperation and security between Japan and the United States is truly a historic occasion."

Narrator: The pact also allowed American forces in Japan to be equipped with nuclear weapons.

(Soundtrack) Newsreel Track: "In Japan, left-wing political and labor organizations step up the tempo of their protests against the Japanese-American security pact."

Narrator: Thousands stormed the gates of the Japanese Parliament, enraged at the military concessions to the Americans.

Narrator: Japanese business and political leaders moved to quell the unrest, as brigades of right-wing students staged counter-demonstrations. Sun Myung Moon's Japanese followers soon took to the streets as political activities on behalf of conservative business interests became central to the Unification Movement.

Narrator: When Moon's missionaries came to America in the Sixties, their activities centered on Capitol Hill and college campuses.

Junas: "When Moon came to the United States, his organization would play much the same role in American society that it was already playing in Japan and South Korea. During the Viet Nam war, Moon worked to build a right-wing student movement as a counterweight to the left-wing student movement that was objecting to American military involvement in Viet Nam."

Narrator: And in America, as he had in Japan, Moon began to move among the political elite: From Dwight Eisenhower Strom Richard Nixon...Moon has gladhanded and corresponded with an astonishing array of political figures.

Narrator: Moon sought to influence the American political agenda by pouring more than a billion dollars into media.

Warder: "Moon looked on the media as almost the nervous system for a global empire."

Narrator: In the 1970's, Michael Warder became one of the most important Americans in the Unification movement. Warder says he had close contact with Moon for six years.

Warder: "Moon was the brain, and the media are to be, or were to be, the communications vehicle for his body politic surrounding the globe."

Narrator: Warder was responsible for managing "News World," Moon's daily newspaper in New York City.

Warder: "Moon wanted total control of the media, so there would be no independent media with journalistic integrity. It would be a media totally loyal to Moon."

Narrator: In 1977, Minnesota Democrat Donald Fraser launched the so-called "Koreagate" investigation, in part a probe into Moon's relationship to the Korean CIA and the buying of political influence on Capitol Hill. Using its own media, Moon's organization struck back, in an all-out effort to discredit Fraser.

"Truth Is My Sword" film track: "Mr. Fraser follows a far-leftist political line and is a well-known opponent of the Korean government. For him, Koreagate was a golden opportunity."

Narrator: One of Moon's media weapons was this film, Truth Is My Sword. Moon's aide Bo Hi Pak led the charge.

(Film Track) Bo Hi Pak: "What if you are an agent of influence for Moscow here on the Hill? If these things are true, then the government of the United States itself is in grave danger. America's very survival and the security of the free world are at stake."

Warder: "Moon wanted a whole series of articles going after poor Congressman Fraser, who was heading up the congressional investigations there. And so we would assign reporters to try and dig up all the dirt we could find on Congressman Fraser, and of course I would say to Moon, I said, 'On one hand, we're supposed to be doing this — but on the other hand, we're competing with the New York Times. And so there's matters of credibility here.' And he would, you know, bluster and get angry at these kinds of things and say, 'Just do what I'm ordering you to do and don't ask so many questions,' and that sort of thing. And of course Colonel Pak would reinforce these messages from Moon."

(Film track) Bo Hi Pak: "I can not help but believe that you are being used as instrument of the devil. You, yes you, an instrument of the devil. I said it. Who else would want to destroy man of God but the Devil?"

Fraser: "I didn't appreciate the accusations they were making against me. They were absolutely false. I think they knew they were false."

Narrator: Donald Fraser is now the Mayor of Minneapolis.

Fraser: "...and the fact they would make them in a public forum like that — I was really totally turned off and disgusted."

(Film track) "So history might remember Donald Fraser, if it remembers him at all..."

Warder: "The Fraser subcommittee investigation in fact in a strange way helped the Movement, because for members it became this cosmic struggle of good against evil, of God against Satan."

(Film track) "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thank you Mister Chairman."

Warder: "From the standpoint of the members, it was Jesus taking on the Roman empire. It was big. It was cosmic."

Narrator: The Fraser Committee's final report said Moon was the "key figure" in an "international network of organizations engaged in economic and political" activities. The Committee uncovered evidence that the Moon Organization "had systematically violated U.S. tax, immigration, banking, currency, and Foreign Agents Registration Act laws." It also detailed how the Korean CIA paid Moon to stage demonstrations at the United Nations and run a pro-South Korean propaganda effort.

Narrator: Michael Hershman was the Fraser Committee's chief investigator.

Hershman: "We determined that their primary interest, at least in the United States at that time, was not religious at all, but was political. It was an attempt to gain power and influence and authority."

Narrator: The Fraser Committee recommended that the White House form a task force to continue to investigate Moon. That never happened. By the time Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, the idea of investigating Sun Myung Moon's political activities was a dead issue.

Narrator: Ronald Reagan's Presidency was hailed as the beginning of a conservative revolution. Activists from all over the United States came to the nation's capitol.

Narrator: Ironically, with the revolution seemingly won, traditional sources of money for conservative politics — such as direct mail fundraising — began to dry up. But Moon, a VIP guest at the inauguration, soon became a major funder of Washington's new conservative establishment.

Narrator: Brent Bozell was one of the young Reagan Revolutionaries.

Bozell: "When the Moonies entered the political scene in the early Nineteen school of thought said that they were a good organization, and that because of their anti-communist commitment, conservatives ought to work with them. "

Narrator: David Finzer was another conservative activist who came to Washington in the early eighties. Finzer says he took more than four hundred thousand dollars from the Moon organization. He recalls one project the money paid for.

Finzer: "When the Left would run an anti-South Africa campaign, we'd run an anti-Soviet campaign. We'd say, 'Okay, you want to disinvest from South Africa? Fine. Let's also disinvest from the Soviet Union.' And it was, it was a successful, it was a pretty successful campaign. We did some neat stuff — they'd build shanty towns, we'd build gulags around them..."

Narrator: Moon's most expensive political project was a newspaper — the Washington Times.

Whelan: "Washington is the most important single city in the world. If you can achieve influence, if you can achieve visibility, if you can achieve a measure of respect in Washington, then you fairly automatically are going to achieve these things in the rest of the world. There is no better agency, or entity or instrument that I know of for achieving power here or almost anywhere else — than a newspaper."

Narrator: The Washington Times had an immediate impact. The President of the United States, seen here with Times President Bo Hi Pak, said it was the first paper he read in the morning.

Weyrich: "Moon had money and he was willing to spend it."

Narrator: Paul Weyrich, a co-founder of the Moral Majority, refuses to take Moon's money. But he hails Moon's newspaper as an antidote to its liberal competitor, The Washington Post.

Weyrich: "The Washington Post became very arrogant and they just decided that they would determine what was news and what wasn't news and they wouldn't cover a lot of things that went on. And the Washington Times has forced the Post to cover a lot of things that they wouldn't cover if the Times wasn't in existence."

CNN Crossfire Open: "From Washington..."

Narrator: Soon Washington Times columnists found even greater exposure — on television.

CNN Crossfire Open: "On the right, Pat Buchanan..."

Bozell: "If the Washington Times did not carry the conservative columnists that they carry — like a Pat Buchanan, like a Bill Rusher, like a Mona Charen — I wonder if the television community would be aware of them and would tap them to use them in television."

Narrator: By 1984, despite his paper's growing influence, James Whelan was unhappy.

Whelan: "When we started the paper there was never any question that it would in any fashion project the views or the agenda of Sun Myung Moon or the Unification Church — all to the contrary. We said, 'Look, we are going to put a high wall in place. It is going to be a sturdy wall. And it will divide us from you.'"

Narrator: But Whelan's wall of editorial independence was often breached.

Whelan: "Moon himself gave direct instructions to the editors...Who in fact calls the shots? Ultimately Moon calls the shots....

Whelan (at press conference): "The Washington Times has become a Moonie newspaper."

Narrator: Whelan resigned. Times spokesmen said the dispute was really over money. Whelan was later replaced by former Newsweek editor Arnaud de Borchgrave, seen here in a Moon-sponsored film.

Deborchgrave: "When I was in Europe recently, I was delighted to hear the Washington Times quoted every hour on the hour on the Voice of America and on the BBC — two worldwide radio networks that happen to reach hundreds of millions of people."

Narrator: De Borchgrave has consistently denied taking orders from Moon. But the man who ran the editorial pages under de Borchgrave tells a different story — William Cheshire.

Chesire: "I protested to de Borchgrave. I went up to his office when I saw this happening, I told him this was unethical, improper, unprofessional, and it ought to stop. Also, it was dumb."

Narrator: Cheshire and four others resigned after de Borchgrave ordered an aboutface on an editorial critical of the South Korean government.

Chesire: "I said, 'Arnaud, we have a problem.' He said, 'What's the problem?' I said. 'The problem is you've conferred with the owners of this newspaper, come back downstairs and demanded a reversal of editorial policy on their say so."

Narrator: Questions about foreign control of the Washington Times have persisted for years. Other journalists, including Lars Erik Nelson of the New York Daily News, have called for a Justice Department investigation to determine if the Times violates the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Nelson: "The Justice Department doesn't seem to want to know, and I've never gotten a clear answer from them as to why they don't want to know."

Nadler: "What have they told you?"

Nelson: "They've said, 'Hmmm, that's an interesting point.' They say, 'Hmmm, we'll think about that.' And they never get back to me."

Chesire: "The real question is why the Justice Department has such an absence of curiosity."

Narrator: Washington Times officials repeatedly refused to comment to Frontline — even when we showed up with our camera to press for some answers.

Nadler: "I've got a film crew here and I'm looking to see if there's anyone that I can interview at the Washington Times for this story we're doing."

Narrator: The answer was no, and when we visited another Moon-funded publication, The World and I, the reception grew even colder.

Security Guard #1: "Yes sir, you all are on private property, you've been told that, you will wait here, the Metropolitan Police will come here."

Security Guard #2: "I'm going to ask you to leave the property."

Nadler: "OK, who are you, sir? Are you with the Metropolitan Police Department or with the security?"

SG #2: "I'm with the security department."

Nadler: "Of the Washington Times Corporation?"

SG #2: "Of the Washington Times, that's correct, and I'd like you to leave right now please."

Nadler: "OK, I'll leave. Why are the police here, by the way?"

Narrator: Later, the Times sent this statement, which said that "the complete editorial independence of the Washington Times is well-known, and envied, throughout the newspaper industry."