Rev Moon Coming to UK Parliament

CORRECTION: It seems that, contrary to the Daily Mail report, Rev Moon did not himself attend the meeting in Parliament, although Mrs Moon and family members were present. Rev Moon instead spoke at the Hilton Metropole. Details in update below.

From the Independent:

This week the Unification Church leader flew into Britain with his son as part of a three-week tour of Europe. It is only the second trip that the preacher has made to the UK since a Home Office ban on his entry was lifted in 2005.

At the church’s headquarters off Lancaster Gate in London there is a flurry of activity as congregants prepare for the new arrivals. The Reverend Moon is staying at a nearby hotel, preparing for a speech and Mrs Moon is visiting the House of Commons at the invitation of David Anderson MP and Labour peer Lord King…

According to Richard Kay in the Daily Mail,

Sun Myung Moon, the head of the Unification Church, will be in the heart of the Palace of Westminster, thanks to his sponsor, Labour MP Dave Anderson, who has booked committee room No?14 for a conference on world peace.

Anderson “has booked committee room No 14 for a conference on world peace”.

Anderson and King have both facilitated Moon-linked events in Parliament before: in January 2010 King hosted a “Genocide Awareness and Holocaust Commemoration” in a House of Lords Committee Room for Rev Moon’s Universal Peace Federation (UPF), and in 2008 a committee room was used for a “Plenary Session of the International Leadership Conference”, which complemented a Unification Church-backed Global Peace Festival in London’s Docklands. The session was opened Anderson and involved Moon’s son Hyun-Jin Moon, known as Preston Moon; attendees included Amjad Al Majid (a Jordanian MP), Ahmad Tejan Kabbah (a former president of Sierra Leone, where Moon has increasing influence), Anton Rop (a former Prime Minister of Slovenia), Ida Betty Odinga (Chair of the League of Kenya Women Voters and wife of Raila Odinga), and Marcus Braybrooke (World Congress of Faiths). The Georgian Times added the detail that “Dalila Khorava, the Minister of Healthcare of autonomous republic of Abkhazia” was also planning to attend.

Anderson and King were also involved in an event in London the year before:

Dr Hyun Jin Preston Moon, son of the Korean religious leader, Reverend Sun Myung Moon, last night addressed a packed audience at an event at Imperial College, London.

…MP Dave Anderson, himself a former trade unionist, implored people to stand up for what they believe and suggested that such a melting pot of participants would ultimately be instrumental in bringing about a more harmonious world.

…Following a welcome from Lord King of West Bromwich, the 43-year-old Dr. Moon Junior, who spoke English with an American accent, described the festival’s origins as being the result of a young country boy who many years ago had prayed for such unity whilst on a Korean mountainside.

“And that country boy was my father, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon,” he said.

Anderson is also part of an international circuit of speakers at events organised by the UPF: in 2008 he took part in a Global Peace Festival in Kenya.

In 2010, King presented “Ambassador for Peace” award certificates, signed by Rev Moon, to a number of individuals, including the Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake; in 2008 Brake also took part in the 2008 London Global Peace Festival, although he told the Guardian that he didn’t “see eye to eye” with the church’s views and that taking part would give him “an opportunity to challenge what Rev Moon advocates”. By accepting a certificate signed by Rev Moon two years later, one might almost be tempted to wonder whether a senior Lib Dem politician might not have consistent political principles.

Preston Moon stepped down from leadership of the UPF late in 2009, and this time Rev Moon has come to London with another son, Hyung Jin (also known as Sean Moon); Preston’s disputes with his family were noted by the Washington Post last September.

So what will happen when Rev Moon enters the Parliamentary committee room? Back in 2004, US Senators who went to see him at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington DC famously found themselves taking part in a bizarre coronation ceremony in which Moon, wearing maroon regal robes, was crowned “King of Peace”. Probably, though, he’ll just give a speech. What could go wrong?

UPDATE: The Universal Peace Federation website reports:

The third day began with a special event in the Houses of Parliament. Mother Moon was the honored guest of Lord Tarsem King of West Bromwich, who led a tour of the impressive public rooms and the Chamber where the Queen opens Parliament and the members of the House of Lords meet to debate legislation.

By 10:45 am they entered the largest Committee Room in the House of Commons, overlooking the Thames, for a gathering organized by Member of Parliament Dave Anderson, who has supported the work of UPF from the Middle East Peace Initiative to proposals to launch a low-cost housing project. In his speech he reported how pressure had been brought to bear on him to try and prevent the meeting:

“I will be very clear, because there have been attempts in the past 24 hours to attack the UPF for what they are trying to do here. I am not, never have been and probably never will be a member of the UPF. I don’t support its political or religious philosophy or believe that the only way of peace is through God, but what I do believe is that it will be one way for some people to support peace, and I believe that that is good thing. I believe that if other people with responsibility in the press and the media and other parts of this country were at least to say what is true, to reach out to people, find and build peace through dialogue, through listening to people and not through attacking people, that this would be only for the good. I believe that is the responsibility of people who genuinely want to find a light for the future. You all know as well as I do the tensions that are in the world today, the only answer is when people of good faith come together and start to find the way forward.”

Next spoke Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, who has responsibility in government for “the whole agenda of community cohesion, in other words faith communities in the UK, working together to identify common ground, and common purpose, and get an understanding of where they stand on different issues, and perhaps dispelling some of the myths that exist around the different religions.” Hence the reason for his presence at the meeting to support the work that UPF is doing through interracial and interfaith dialogue. He wished UPF well for its further development, to make sure that we have stronger working relationships between the faiths, at a time that this is so much needed nationally and internationally.

A welcome address was also given by Lord King, the Patron of UPF in the UK and the first representative of the Sikh faith to become a member of the House of Lords:

“Father Moon has worked all his life to create peaceful situations. The sooner we realize and take advantage of the teaching of the Rev. Moon, the better off we will be. Dr. Moon is very special, and I think he has a unique vision in the world to influence for good what is happening. If the slogan One Family under God really takes off, we will avoid the difficulties that we are going through now.”

At the Hilton, meanwhile:

A water ceremony was conducted by representatives of the faith traditions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Each spoke (or chanted) to share their understanding of the importance of water in their respective traditions, in particular its symbolism of healing and cleansing, a goal shared by all the faith traditions, as was expressed symbolically by each pouring water into a common large vessel.

Participants included Mr. Edwin Shuker, Vice-President of the World Sephardic [Jewish] Congress, who has attended a UPF International Leadership Conference in Seoul, and Anton Rop. There was also “a young male duet from the Lovin’ Life Ministries of Rev. In Jin Moon”:

They performed a new song entitled “Sailing Ships,” followed by a classic romantic ballad from the 1970s entitled “She,” exquisitely performed in a more modern setting.

The entertainment also included Rev Moon demonstrating “his dexterity catching sweets in his own mouth and downing a cup of tea in a single sip”.