President-Elect George W. Bush has a strong personal and financial connection with the cult-like Moonie church, say sources. Critics say the Moonie church opposes Christianity and the American way.
In fact, the Bush family may have received as much as $10 million from the Moonies in recent years. Rev. Sun Myung Moon considers himself a personal friend of our new president, according to newspaper reports.
The incoming chief executive's own father - former President George H. Bush - has been courted by the Rev. Moon's Unification Church since he became vice president in the Reagan administration, says a report by investigative journalist and Newsweek correspondent Robert Parry.
Rev. Moon, now 80, was even a VIP guest at the Reagan-Bush inauguration.
The mega-wealthy South Korea-based church remained an unwavering supporter of the elder Bush's presidency, especially in the Moonie-owned Washington Times newspaper, Parry says.
"The 15-year-old Washington Times doesn't rank among the Top 100 U.S. dailies in terms of circulation," writes columnist Norman Solomon.
"Yet, financied by the Unification Church's deep pockets, it wields enormous influence in the nation's capital. Elevating innuendo to 'news', the paper excels at smearing liberals and centrists."
This influence, writes Parry, "could extend into the next century as the ex-president works to shore up convervative support for his eldest son." The Times endorsed Bush in his election race against Al Gore.
"Sources close to Bush say the ex-president has worked hard to pull well-to-do conservatives and their money behind their son's candidacy. Moon is one of the deepest pockets in right-wing circles, having financed important conservative activists from both the religious right, such as Jerry Falwell, and Inside-the-Beltway right-wing professionals."
When the elder Bush was defeated after one term, says Solomon, the Unification Church in essence handed the ex-president a so-called "golden parachute" - business slang for chief executives' usually hefty severance packages.
Solomon quoted a spokesman for the elder Bush as saying: "President Bush has no relationship with Rev. Moon or the Unification Church." But, Solomon wrote: "The facts tell a very different story."
Parry confirms that the elder Bush could have become a wealthy man merely from the checks for speaking at many high-profile Moonie events on three continents, including the launch of a church-owned newspaper in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
"Estimates of Bush's fee for the Buenos Aires appearance alone ran between $100,000 and $500,000," wrote Parry. "Sources close to the Unification Church have put the total Bush-Moon package in the millions, with one source [estimating] that Bush stood to make as much as $10 million." Bush has consistently refused to answer if or how much he has been paid by Moon.
Shockingly, if the Bush family is accepting all this cash, it's coming from a man who has given speeches calling America "the kingdom of Satan" and vowing "the liquidation of American individualism."
John Stacey, a former Moonie, says: "It's very anti-Jesus. Moon says: 'Jesus failed miserably. He died a lonely death. Rev. Moon is the hero that comes and saves Jesus.' That's why I left."
As President-elect George W. Bush prepares to occupy the Oval Office, critics claim the elder Bush's activities create a clear conflict of interest.
The elder Bush has a "public persona as the happy World War II veteran who is letting the American people see him jumping out of airplanes and being a good family man," says historian Douglas Brinkley of the University of Louisiana. "And the covert persona is going around giving talks with people like Rev. Moon."
Meanwhile, the incoming president has admitted that while his father won't have a formal title in his administration, "of course, I will seek his advice."