Rev. Sun Myung Moon's latest assault on democratic institutions has come in the form of a takeover of the financially troubled University of Bridgeport (UB), in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Moon, with his Unification Church, seeks a global theocracy under his tutelage. He says he requires a "world university system," and the hub is to be UB.
The attempted takeover has generated enormous controversy in Bridgeport and around the country. The catalyst for much of the opposition is a remarkable group of civic leaders called the Coalition of Concerned Citizens, who understand that if they do not stop the takeover, the theocratic Moon empire will have established a permanent presence in their community. They also recognize that, at minimum, this represents a threat to the academic and religious freedom of the faculty, students and staff of the university.
At this writing, the UB board has signed an agreement with a Moon front group, the Professors World Peace Academy (PWPA) which would cede majority control of the board to PWPA in exchange for an infusion of funds, largely in the form of student tuition from students recruited by the Moon organization. But there is more to this putative "financial angel" scenario. While the secret agreement states that "recruitment initially will focus on students from the Soviet Union and from nations of the Far East," it has been reliably reported that prospective students must attend a 30-day Moonist indoctrination as a condition of their scholarship. The agreement also says that PWPA will integrate UB programs into the "broader Unification Movement."
This came as a shock to some, who accepted the notion the PWPA, while admittedly funded by Moon, is nevertheless "independent". However, PWPA, and its ostensibly non-Moonie academic front men, like Morton Kaplan of the University of Chicago, and Richard Rubenstein of Florida State University, have been deeply involved with a variety of Moon fronts since at least the mid-1970's, and have enjoyed numerous free trips, honoraria and publication of their work by the interrelated Moon groups.
At the founding conference of PWPA in Seoul, South Korea in 1983, participants adopted a resolution to "applaud the bold, daring and innovative mission of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon" and to "proclaim our resolve to work with the Rev. Moon towards establishment of a God-centered world." Morton Kaplan chaired the event.
Afterwards, Kaplan and Rubenstein shared the podium with Moon on a speaking tour of Korea, then a brutal military dictatorship. In his stump speech, Moon assured audiences that "the more democratic a society is, the more serious the collapse of its traditional values."
The Moon organization has always used front groups adorned with seemingly legitimate, even prominent people to accomplish their goals. Indeed, one of the people PWPA brought in to lobby the UB board was former U.S. Rep. Richard Ichord (D-MO). As a veteran, retired member of Congress and a lobbyist for major defense contractors, Ichord would seem an unimpeachable witness to the integrity of PWPA. No doubt unmentioned, was Ichord's co-chairmanship of Moon's main political front, the American Freedom Coalition.
Contrary to some press accounts, the Moon organization does not seek "legitimacy". It wants power. Legitimacy is one useful tool in obtaining power, but as Kaplan, Rubenstein, and Ichord demonstrate, the appearance of legitimacy can be purchased.
Similarly, if Moon ultimately acquires UB, he will be no more legitimate than he was before. Only more powerful.