In the video, Mr. Trump appears to float against a virtual cloud backdrop as he praises the Unification Church, a move that has long courted Republican officials in an apparent propaganda campaign, and has been called cult.
The event was hosted by Hak Ja Han Moon, widow of Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon, who claimed to be the messiah. Within the movement, the Moons are seen as the “real father” and “real mother” of humanity.
The followers are part of a sprawling commercial and political enterprise to promote its goals, which include the unification of North Korea and South Korea into one Christian state.
Mr. Trump appeared at the “Rally of Hope Think Tank” event sponsored by the Universal Peace Federation, a group co-founded by the Moons in 2005 and aligned with the Unification movement.
In his remarks, the former president praised the movement and the late Moon.
“What they have achieved on the peninsula is simply amazing,” Mr. Trump said of the movement. “In just a few decades, the inspiration they have given to the entire planet is incredible, and I congratulate you again and again. … Their example reminds us all of us who strive for peace and a better future, that we must never give up and never lose hope.
In his remarks, he also appeared to take credit for the peace on the Korean Peninsula.
“Looking back today, it’s easy to forget how dangerous the situation was when I was elected,” he said. “Missiles flew, nuclear weapons were tested and powerful threats were issued every day… Under my leadership, the United States adopted a policy of unprecedented force.
He also praised the Moons for creating the conservative media Le Washington Times, which Mr. Trump called “an organization for which I have tremendous respect and admiration.”
In her remarks, Ms. Moon asserted that “a new culture of Pacific Rim civilization will develop throughout Asia and the world” after unification, which cannot be a “secular nation that cannot focus only on human interests ”.
“It must become a nation that assists God as a heavenly parent,” she said. “Not just political leaders. “
The movement – which began in South Korea in 1954 before moving to the United States in 1971 – is known for its mass wedding ceremonies and links to right-wing groups.
Steve Hassan, former member of the movement and author of The cult of Trump, said the former president’s appearance was “quite outrageous even to Trump.”
The history and affiliations of the movement “are well documented”, he said. “There is no ambiguity here. “
Thinkin Project critic Jim Stewartson warned that the group’s apparent staging of a global peace event is “hard to overstate how deeply damaging and misleading.”
“This is presented by a who’s who of establishment extremists as some kind of peace mission to unify Korea,” he said. “In reality, it is dangerous propaganda that whitewashes a dangerous sect. “
Mr. Trump is not the only figure in the GOP with ties to the movement.
Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich also appeared on video at the event. Former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have also appeared at Federation for Universal Peace events.
In May, Mr Pence claimed that Think Tank 2022 “brings wisdom to leaders in government, business, religion, civil society,” according to Mother Jones.
Mr. Pompeo, who has been touted as a “devout Christian,” bragged about Mr. Trump’s dealings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
In the past, Hyung Jin “Sean” Moon, the Moon’s son, has campaigned for Mr. Trump and attended the US Capitol Uprising on January 6.
The independent asked the organization for comments, including whether Mr. Trump was compensated and when he filmed his remarks.
The independent asked Mr. Trump’s spokesperson for comment.
Mr. Trump did not appear at any official 9/11 memorial service on Saturday.
He visited a New York City police station near his Manhattan apartment building, Trump Tower, where he took photos with officers and hinted at a run for the White House in 2024.
He then attended an evangelical Christian concert in Washington DC. The two-day ‘Let Us Worship’ concert is part of an ongoing protest against Covid’s health guidelines.
On Saturday night, the former president commented ringside at a boxing event in Florida.