Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo speak at ‘Moonies’ affiliate event, despite controversy in Japan
Former President Donald Trump and former CIA chief Mike Pompeo speak at a Unification Church-affiliated event in Seoul, South Korea.
The Unification Church, formed in South Korea in the 1950s by self-proclaimed messiah Sun Myung Moon, is known to have deep-rooted ties to conservative politicians around the world. Its followers are often colloquially referred to as “Moonies”.
Former CIA Director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich spoke in person at a church-affiliated conference in Seoul on August 12 to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the death of Sun Myung Moon.
Speeches by Pompeo and Gingrich spoke of the value of religious freedom and the dangers of communism — a view they share with the church.
Former President Donald Trump recorded a video message played during the meeting, according to Japanese outlet NTV News 24. During his speech, Trump said Abe was a “good friend and a great man” and praised the Reverend Moon’s widow, Hak Ja Han, who now leads up to the church.
Other invoice speakers included former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former US ambassadors and generals.
According to cult expert and former Moonie Dr. Steven Hassan, the ties between right-wing politicians and the church are due to a shared hatred of communism and the group’s vast wealth and influence.
The Moon Empire has been estimated to be worth billions of dollars and includes ownership of the conservative newspaper The Washington Times.
“It doesn’t shock me that Pompeo, the former head of the CIA and State Department, spoke for them. I’m sure he got a lot of money. I’m sure Trump got a lot of money. ‘money,” Hassan said. Insider, speculating on their speaker fees. “I’m sure they don’t believe Moon was the Messiah.”
Former President George HW Bush donated his speaking fee after being vetted for attending a church-sponsored event in the 1990s, which was about $80,000, according to The Washington Post.
Representatives for Trump, Pompeo and Gingrich did not respond to Insider’s questions about why they appeared at the conference and what compensation they received.
Hassan describes the church as a “dangerous and destructive cult”, citing allegations and lawsuits by former members claiming they were brainwashed. The church has denied the allegations and says the members joined of their own free will.
The group gained notoriety for performing mass weddings, and the church currently claims to have hundreds of thousands of members worldwide.
The Moonies-affiliated network hosting last week’s Seoul conference, the Universal Peace Federation, did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Shinzo Abe’s assassination highlights Japan’s ruling party’s ties to the church
Trump practically spoke at one of their events last year, and other GOP politicians have appeared at their events for decades). This conference comes as the church faces a settling of scores in Japan.
Tetsuya Yamagami, Abe’s killer, told police he believed his mother’s church donations bankrupted her and ruined their family.
He blamed Abe for promoting the group, whose family had ties to the church and last year gave a speech at an event affiliated with them.
In response to Abe’s murder, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) began to reexamine its longstanding ties to the Church. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has reshuffled the cabinet to remove ministers associated with it.
Japanese media actively highlighted the LDP’s relationship with the church, and the church responded by accusing the coverage of being biased.
Hassan told Insider that the steps taken by the Japanese government to re-examine its ties to the group are positive, but wonders why US politicians aren’t doing the same.
“It’s an authoritarian cult. There’s behavior, information, thoughts and emotional control. And there’s a lot of people born in the Moonies of these mass marriages who are now coming out and talking about it. And that’s is awful.”