Waco, TX

A Gun Toting Preacher, a Cult and a Small Town Near Waco, Texas. What Could Possibly Go Wrong

Robert Turner

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Reverend Yeon Ah Lee-moon of the Sanctuary Church holds a gold AR-15 during a ceremony to rededicate marriages.Photo: EPA-EFE

The Moonies are back and this time they come bearing gold plated AR-15's

You wouldn't even give the 40 acre compound in Thornton, Texas a second glance if you drove by. The Running Branch Camp and Marina looks like a peaceful community intent on having a little me time next to their RV’s, catching a couple of fish for dinner, and buying a few beers for the afternoon from the local store, conveniently located on the property. Sounds ideal.

According to a recent article in Vice, the property, located in the small community of Thornton, 40 miles from Waco, was listed at just under $1 million. It’s been dubbed “Liberty Rock’’ by its new owners, which doesn't sound at all foreboding, unless of course…

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The new owners move into Liberty RockRod of Iron Ministries

The truth, however, of what lurks behind this pleasant little camping community is far more sinister. The property is home to a dangerous cult called the Rod of Iron Ministries, run by a radical preacher, Hyung Jin “Sean” Moon. His followers refer to him as King. He preaches to a congregation clutching their AR-15’s in one hand and a bible in the other. He is inciting people to violence and educating his flock on how to prepare for the coming “false flag” deep-state war.

In case that doesn't have you worried, Moon isn't just your average crazed power-hungry, deluded messianic figure. He’s had a lifetime of training in crazy. His father was none other than Sun Myung Moon, a self-proclaimed messiah, and accused cult leader. You may be more familiar with the term given to dad Moon’s followers, who were dubbed “Moonies.”

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The Moonies, King seated front leftReuters

The Rod of Iron website looks more like a conscription page for a private army than anything remotely related to peace and harmony and screams conspiracy from every corner of its questionable digital content. The entry text on the front page reads “We’re looking for Leaders” and is surrounded by images of AR-15’s, Trump, and other MAGA branding. The text below it reads;

We believe in America. You know, the America our Founding Fathers originally intended, not this “America” our biased media wants us to believe in. We think for ourselves. We believe the 2nd Amendment applies to all freedom loving individuals — across the planet. We believe it’s time to stand together — against tyrants and the destroyers of freedom. Freedom is fragile. Freedom is under attack. Freedom must be defended immediately. Now, are you with us?

Apparently, you need to be with them as their plans to liberate America appear to have run into a slight cash flow problem. Who knew running a revolution cost so much? In a highly amusing turn of events, The Rod of Iron appears to have run out of funds. They're trying to raise $21.000 dollars on GoFundMe, so clearly, Sunday contributions must be a little slow at the moment.

Their bid for global domination is ticking along slowly, with $6.770 donated to date. Maybe, with hindsight, they should have gone for the gunmetal finish on their AR-15’s, rather than the flashy gold. Just saying.

So is Moon just deluded or does he pose a real threat to public safety? He cannot be dismissed out of hand. People follow him, soaking up his radical rhetoric like grateful sponges, all the time clutching their AR-15’s to their beating MAGA bosoms and his followers' number in the hundreds.

Freedom or death, or maybe a BBQ later, next to the RV. Electrical points may not as yet be fully operational across The Running Branch Camp and Marina. Campers please refer to the funding issue above.

The real question here is how happy Moon’s new Texan neighbors are going to be when they discover the real purpose behind the supposed Marina compound in sleepy little Thornton. The camp sure isn't about selling fishing weekends and the idea of having homegrown extremists who are armed to the teeth, pottering around next door planning revolutions won't appeal to most Texans.

This isn't about extremism or religion though, not really. It’s about Moon and family building a sustainable business, a religious con with a political twist, to extort money out of armed, misguided armchair freedom fighters who feel they've been robbed somehow. The same individuals who bought into Trump's lie of a rigged election and boast Marjorie Taylor Greene bumper stickers.

Moon plays to their emotions, panders to their fears, and feeds them a nauseating stream of anti-American sentiment dressed in an ill-fitting cloak of liberty and freedom.

This makes him no less dangerous. Almost on a daily basis, America faces new mass shootings and Texas hasn't been spared. Governor Abbott continues to normalize the possession and carrying of firearms, despite repeated pleas from law enforcement. HB1927 may be the final nail in the coffin and just the encouragement groups like Moon’s “Rod of Iron” need to take things up a notch.

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Crown of Bullets, Church ServiceReuters

According to the Vice article ;

‘Moon, who set up shop in 2017 in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania, follows the doctrine of his late father — with a twist. Moon says he was inspired by a biblical passage in the Book of Revelation that talked about Jesus using a “rod of iron” to protect himself and others. He concluded this was a reference to AR-15s, and integrated high-powered firearms into regular church services, including wedding ceremonies. He founded the church with the support of his brother, Kook-jin “Justin” Moon, the CEO of Kahr Arms, a gun manufacturing company headquartered nearby.”

In case you think Moon and brother Kook (you can’t actually make this stuff up) are without influence, think again. Their MAGA ties run deep as does Moon’s infatuation with Trump himself. Moon told VICE News in late 2019 that he believed God was working through Trump to rid the world of “political satanism” (for example, the “deep state” and “the swamp”) and restore Eden.

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon spoke at a recent event hosted by the church. Pennsylvania state senator and “Stop the Steal” organizer Doug Mastriano was also recently billed as a special guest at another church event. The video below was posted by Moon, showing him attending the January 6 riots at the Capitol.

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A founder of Medika Life, We are driven to providing actionable and accurate health information for patients and professionals. We pride ourselves on highlighting patient needs and issues that directly impact access to care. I travel frequently and divide my time between Asia, England, and the US. Health fanatic, tech addict, and occasional surfer.

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