While Dan Quayle attended an 80th birthday celebration for Rev. Sun- myung Moon on Seoul, South Korea, Feb. 12, questions resurfaced about Moon's influence on Republicans, specifically George W. Bush's presidential campaign. George W.'s father, former President Bush, received an estimated $1 million from Moon's Unification Church after he left office. As recently as 1996 the elder Bush called Moon "a man of vision" and has spoken on his behalf in front of groups in Washington, Tokyo and Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Last October, MSNBC reported that Democrats were trying to find a link between the younger Bush and Moon, who owns The Washington Times newspaper, as well as Bridgeport University in Connecticut, a recording studio and travel agency in New York, and a cable network, the Nostalgia Channel.

A Bush spokesman dismissed the influence talk. "This is the first I've heard of that," campaign spokesman Brian Jones said. "The campaign has not received funds [from Moon] of any note."

Moon has indicated recently that he is disenchanted with the country that has been his main base of operations since the 1970s.

"America doesn't have anywhere to go now," he said in a speech in New York last year. "The country that represents Satan's harvest is America, the kingdom of extreme individuality, of free sex."

Moon's critics say that his view is growing harsher because of the decline of his influence in the United States, where he was imprisoned for a year after being convicted of tax evasion in 1982, and where he has been the subject of embarrassing books and news reports that his son and heir was addicted to cocaine and abused his wife. Moon claims about 30,000 adherents in the United States, but critics say the true figure is only one tenth that number.

Financially hurt by the money crisis in East Asia several years ago, Moon has invested $30 million on what he is describing as a "Kingdom of Heaven on earth, a new Garden of Eden" in central Brazil. The site near Jardim in Brazil's Mato Grosso do Sul state has become his headquarters.

The festivities in South Korea last week included a mass wedding of 10,000 couples, including couples from North Korea, whose photos were matched by Unification Church officials in China for inclusion in the ceremony.

Moon's followers see him as completing the ministry of Jesus Christ, who "failed" in his attempt as Messiah, according to Unification Church theology.

--From The New York Times News Service, MSNBC and The Guardian.

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