Gun Church Linked to Moonies Has Made Alliances With Prime MAGA Figures



The Rod of Iron Ministries is a far-right church based by the son of accused Moonies cult chief. They worship carrying AR-15s.
Earlier this month, an occasion held by the church featured prime MAGA audio system, together with Steve Bannon and Dana Loesch.
Sources instructed Insider that the gun-centric church might be coaching for an impending civil warfare with the “deep state.”

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Carrying his signature crown of gleaming bullets and with a gold AR-15 usually strapped to his chest, the 42-year-old Pastor Sean Moon is a weird spiritual chief. Sean Moon is the founding father of the Pennsylvania-based The World Peace and Unification Sanctuary Church, also referred to as the Rod of Iron Ministries. He’s the son of Reverend Solar Myung Moon, the self-proclaimed Messiah who based the controversial Unification Church, extensively described as a cult. (Its followers are the so-called Moonies.)On October 9, Moon took to the stage at his church’s annual “Freedom Competition,” which introduced collectively a medley of far-right figures and gun fans on the Kahr Arms headquarters in Greeley, Pennsylvania.

Throughout his keynote speech, Moon warned the gang, in a video seen by Insider, {that a} coalition of far-right bogeymen, together with huge tech firms, George Soros and Invoice Gates, aimed to “totally kill America and eradicate freedom from the face of the earth.””If the torch of liberty is snuffed out in America, the world will enter a kingdom of hell on earth,” he stated.The occasion additionally laid naked Moon’s relationship with prime MAGA figures. Different high-profile figures marketed to talk had been former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who referred to as in on a crackly telephone line, and former NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch.The founding father of the far-right group Patriot Prayer Joey Gibson was billed as MC for the occasion’s music pageant and awards ceremony. 

The speeches primarily revolved round widespread right-wing speaking factors; false claims concerning the 2020 election was rigged, anti-vaxx commentary, fervent warnings a few nefarious deep state plotting to remove American liberties.The youthful Moon established the offshoot Sanctuary Church in 2013 following a dispute together with his mom over who ought to assume management of the Unification Church following his father’s demise.He established the brand new church with the assist of his older brother, Kook Jin “Justin” Moon, the proprietor of gun manufacturing firm Kahr Arms.Though Sean Moon’s church is reported to only some hundred followers (a lot of whom are former members of his father’s church), he has widened his base by forming alliances with outstanding far-right figures within the US. The group’s annual Freedom Competition attracts 1000’s of attendees yearly, in line with native information reviews.

Sources instructed Insider that the group’s anti-government rhetoric coupled with their zealous, gun-toting following might be a recipe for catastrophe.”It is a powder keg,” Steven Hassan, a former Moonie, and creator of a number of books about thoughts management instructed Insider. “Whenever you mix fanatics with individuals who personal a gun manufacturing unit, I am very frightened.”MAGA politics, weapons, and impending civil warThe Rod of Iron Ministries bears many similarities to the unique church, however its politics and teachings are extra radical.Moon is a faithful supporter of former President Donald Trump and attended the Capitol rebellion on January 6, which he recorded on Instagram.

A submit shared by Hyungjin Moon (@rodofironministries)
 The brand new church has additionally integrated weapons closely into their spiritual ceremonies. Their identify, Rod of Iron Ministries, is a reference to the AR-15 itself.Sean Moon, who studied theology at Harvard, has usually stated he was impressed after studying a passage within the E-book of Revelation, which referred to Jesus utilizing a “rod of iron” to guard God’s Kingdom, which Moon interpreted to be a gun.

Reverend Hyung Jin Moon, the church’s pastor and the son of the late Solar Myung Moon, participates in a ceremony on the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania on February 28, 2018.

Spencer Platt/Getty Pictures

The church first gained notoriety in 2018 after they held a blessing ceremony in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania, shortly after the Parkland college taking pictures, for married {couples} who had been carrying AR-15s. Armed church officers seemed on whereas clad in fuschia and pink robes.The Moon brothers are staunch defenders of Second Modification rights, and the group affords firearms and paramilitary-style coaching for “patriots” throughout its varied properties. 

In his sermons, which he calls “The King’s Report” and live-streams on platforms like Rumble and

, Sean Moon usually implores his followers to arrange for impending civil warfare with the “deep state.””The internationalist Marxist globalists are attempting to start out a civil warfare right here in order that they’ll carry within the U.N. troops and Chi-Com Chinese language navy to return in and destroy and kill all gun house owners, Christians, and any opposition, i.e., Trump supporters,” Moon stated in a sermon earlier this yr.The church affords programs on gun use and different paramilitary-style coaching as a part of their armed Peace Police Peace Militia. Moon claims that the exercise is solely for self-defense functions.The church has been increasing, this yr buying a number of giant properties across the nation. They purchased a 130-acre property in Tennessee this month, Vice Information found, intending to construct coaching facilities and a divinity college.

The brand new property will function a religious retreat and can practice future MAGA politicians, the outlet reported.It provides to the 40-acre compound the group already has in Texas, referred to as “Liberty Rock,” which is described as a protected haven for “patriots” fearing imminent warfare with the deep state.In his sermons, Sean Moon often invokes fire-and-brimstone imagery, warning his followers of an impending warfare in opposition to “political Satanism.””Our True Father [Rev. Moon] taught us to vigorously defend God’s reward of liberty, at all times to be prepared to die to battle communism, socialism, which he outlined as political Satanism,” Sean Moon stated in his keynote speech.

Thomas Lecaque, an affiliate professor of historical past at Grand View College with an curiosity in apocalypticism, instructed Insider that apocalyptic rhetoric had grow to be mainstream amongst Trump supporters.Apocalyptic imagery raises the stakes, Lecaque defined, turning political variations into an existential battle between good and evil.’Politics makes for unusual bedfellows’ Descending from the so-called “Messiah,” Sean Moon has huge footwear to fill. He echoes a lot of his father’s teachings and calls himself the “Second King.”The controversial Unification Church gained notoriety for arranging mass weddings between strangers. Many former members have since made allegations of brainwashing and abuse.

Hundreds of {couples} participate in a mass wedding ceremony ceremony organized by the Unification Church in 2013.

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Pictures

Reverend Moon additionally constructed a thriving enterprise empire, together with founding the right-wing newspaper The Washington Occasions newspaper, which the Unification Church nonetheless owns. His energy and affect led to him befriending a number of Republican presidents, together with R​​onald Reagan and George W. Bush. At its peak, the church claimed to have hundreds of thousands of followers worldwide, though it’s believed to be considerably smaller at the moment.Earlier this yr, former President Donald Trump spoke at an occasion in reward of the church on the anniversary of 9/11.

The Moonies’ hyperlinks to the political institution and Christian conservatives defy Reverend Moon’s controversial teachings.Reverend Moon claimed that Jesus failed in his mission on earth, didn’t stay lengthy sufficient to provide kids, and that he had chosen Moon to complete his work and grow to be the “True Father” of all humanity.”For lots of Christians, that is greater than heretical. It is profoundly offensive,” Frederick Clarkson, a senior analysis analyst at suppose tank Political Analysis Associates, instructed Insider.Clarkson stated that conservatives have traditionally been prepared to miss the church’s extra unorthodox views due to the affect of the Moon group— and that the identical applies to Sean Moon and his congregation.

Like their father, Sean and Justin Moon proceed to rub shoulders with high-profile political figures, together with the Trumps.Eric Trump attended the grand opening of Justin Moon’s gun store in 2016, and Donald Trump Jr. has additionally attended its occasions. “Sean Moon might look loopy, however alternatively, he is one face of an enormous rich complicated worldwide, political and monetary and industrial empire,” Clarkson stated.Clarkson stated that many who attended this yr’s Freedom Competition are individuals who “function throughout the milieu of anti-governmentists.”

“Politics makes for unusual bedfellows,” Clarkson stated. “The previous aphorisms apply— the enemy of my enemy is my buddy. Should you see a creeping, tyrannical federal authorities that is going to snuff out your spiritual freedom, you are going to be in search of some associates and hopefully, they’ve weapons,” he stated.Stoking the flamesObservers fear that the group might be getting ready for armed stand-offs with the federal government.

The Rod of Iron Freedom Competition 2021: A person holding an automated rifle poses in entrance of a Three Percenter flag, which is a far-right anti-government militia motion.

Aimee Dilger/Getty Pictures

Steven Hassan stated that he was sleep-deprived and brainwashed throughout his time on the Unification Church and instructed by Reverend Moon to arrange for a looming armed battle.

“I used to be educated in my thoughts as a Moonie chief to die on command and kill on command,” Hassan stated.”Moon himself instructed us that democracy was Satanic, {that a} theocracy needed to be put in place. We had been instructed we have to infiltrate the federal government.”Hassan stated that from what he can see, the Moonie splinter cults, together with the Rod of Iron Ministries, are “very a lot nonetheless carrying on the modus operandi of what I knew because the cult.””They apparently are coaching for armed battle within the streets,” Steven Hassan stated. “It is very regarding.”

Thomas Lecaque takes a extra nuanced view, arguing that Sean Moon is aware of higher than to try any armed rebellion.”Sean Moon doesn’t strike me as somebody who desires to both find yourself in jail or lifeless,” Lecaque stated.A extra possible prospect is that the church’s anti-government, apocalyptic rhetoric might radicalize people who’re already vulnerable to conspiratorial pondering, stated Lecaque.”The factor I discover harmful about teams like Rod of Iron is the normalization of this type of rhetoric and beliefs,” he stated. 

“It might then unfold past the precise organized group of this church and provides different folks a spiritual, cultural, mental scaffolding to have interaction in violence they wish to interact in.”It is a reputable concern. Far-right home terrorism has considerably outpaced different varieties of terrorism within the US in recent times, in line with a report by The Middle of Strategic and Worldwide Research.One of many foremost sources of far-right terrorism is anti-government extremists, who view the federal government as corrupt and a risk to freedom and rights, the report stated.Household feudSean Moon and his mom, Hak Ja Han, are embroiled in a court docket case over the management of the Unification Church and its related companies.

Moon doesn’t mince his phrases about his mom— he now often refers to her because the “Whore of Babylon.”Neither the Sanctuary Church nor the Unification Church responded to Insider’s request for remark, however representatives for the Unification Church have beforehand stated they don’t have anything to do with the breakaway church.Former church members who’ve frolicked with the Moons describe the household dynamics are sophisticated.

Reverend Moon and his spouse Hak Ja Han at a blessing ceremony in 1998.

Jeff Christensen/Getty Pictures

Reverend Moon was accused by former church members of sexual abuse, which he denied. The spouse of the eldest Moon son, Hyo Jin, wrote a tell-all guide referred to as “Within the Shadow of the Moons” concerning the abuse she confronted by the hands of her supposed drug-addict husband. One other Moon son died by suicide.

Teddy Hose, who grew up within the Unification Church earlier than deciding to go away as a younger grownup, instructed Insider that he was not shocked to see the “narcissistic” Sean Moon beginning his personal congregation.After they had been kids, Hose stated Sean Moon had a repute for being a bully.”He would lock youngsters in closets till they cried. He would make them battle one another for his personal leisure,” Hose stated.”He was only a complete bully. Mother and father needed to let him get away with it as a result of he was seen as religious royalty.” 

Hose says that it is vital to view Sean Moon within the context of the Moon household and their legacy.”I feel a variety of us might see this coming as a result of they’re simply all poisonous, power-hungry folks, and so they’re doing what they do to maintain themselves,” Hose stated. “It is simply a variety of delusional energy, backed by some huge cash and companies.”