Bush's ties to the religious network of Sun Myung Moon is hardly defensible in strict terms of evangelical Christianity, but the connections between Moon and the Bush family run deep. On the surface, an association with Moon, who dismisses Jesus as a failure and considers himself the true Christian messiah, might shake Bush's acceptance among American evangelicals, but for whatever reason, the connections have not disturbed many, if any, of Bush's Christian followers. The elder Bush has known Moon since his 1976 tenure as CIA director; Moon's Unification Church, which arrived in Washington with the private backing of Bush and other Republicans, is widely believed to be an arm of the South Korean intelligence community. Moon bought the Washington Times in the 1980s and converted it into a strong mouthpiece for Republican and conservative thought, mounting impassioned defenses of Reagan and Bush during the Iran-contra investigations and piling on as part of the Clinton smear campaigns. The elder Bush has praised Moon as a "man of vision," and dismisses the charges from observers that Moon routinely "brainwashes" his followers and poses a dire threat to mainline Christianity. Perhaps the fact that Moon pays Bush $100,000 per speech he makes to Moon audiences has something to do with Bush's acceptance of Moon.
The younger Bush has his own ties to Moon's empire. On January 19, 2001, Doug Wead organized a Moon-sponsored Inaugural Prayer Luncheon that drew over 1,700 political figures, ministers, and conservative activists. Some attendees were angered when they found out that Moon had sponsored the event, and were shocked that Moon propaganda was disseminated during the event. Steve Hassan, a journalist specializing in religious cults, is puzzled by conservative evangelicals' tacit acceptance of Moon: "Here's a man," he writes, "who says he wants to take over the world, where all religions will be abolished except Unificationism, all languages will be abolished except Korean, all governments will be abolished except his one-world theocracy, yet he's wined and dined very powerful people and convinced them that he's benign." -- Kevin Phillips