[..] “One chilly Tuesday evening, strange things were afoot on Capitol Hill. The U.S. Senate was hosting a ceremony at the request of a wealthy, elderly newspaper publisher who wanted official recognition as a majestic, divine visitor to Washington. The Dirksen Senate Office Building made for an unlikely temple: a formidable seven-story block of white marble, looming on a street corner diagonally across from the Capitol Dome, its marble pediment is inscribed, “THE SENATE IS THE LIVING SYMBOL OF OUR UNION OF STATES.”

On March 23, 2004, U.S. lawmakers were filmed here in a conference room, paying tribute to the enigmatic Reverend Sun Myung Moon, then eighty-four, and his wife, Hak Ja, sixty-four. As the cameras rolled, two congressmen presented the Koreans with matching royal costumes. Wearing the burgundy robes and shining crowns, which crested into jagged golden pinnacles, the married couple smiled and waved for the cameras.

Who was this self-proclaimed monarch? In the 1970s, the evening news had presented Moon, the ranting, middle-aged business tycoon who wore flowing robes on special occasions, as Korea’s answer to L. Ron Hubbard, someone for college students to avoid, luring thousands of young Americans into a cult in which they sold carnations on the street and married spouses he chose for them. But the media had moved on to other nightmares, leaving Moon, forgotten, to reinvent himself. Now time had wizened him into an elderly patriarch, wearing an ashen face for his coronation. An orange Senate VIP name tag remained pinned to his gray suit, peeking out from between rows of curly gold filigree, as he stood on stage at the head of a red carpet.”

(via Alternet)