AR-15-worshipping Christian church opens new private compound in Texas

There was a viral story in 2018 about Christian couples renewing their wedding vows in a group ceremony involved AR-15s. That ceremony was held at the Rod of Iron Ministries Church in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania. The church is run by Pastor Hyung Jin "Sean" Moon, the son of Sun Myung Moon, a Korean immigrant and founder of the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity. The younger Moon formed the church after his father's death, following a schism with his family (he now refers to his own mother as the "Whore of Babylon"). His elder brother, Justin, owns the nearby Kahr firearms manufacturing company.

Moon articulates some of his unique religious views in his book Rod of Iron Kingdom, which is named for a phrase from Revelations 2:27: "And he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father." In Moon's theological view, the "rod of iron" is an unambiguous reference to the AR-15, and thus empowering the notorious firearm with the symbolic power of the divine. (According to NPR, the church makes exceptions for those who can't buy an AR-15 for whatever reason, but still places a strong religious emphasis on the symbolic need to carry a gun in general, as decreed by the Lord.)

Moon's theology has grown increasingly unhinged since he participated in the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol, according to Vice. And fearing for the future of his vision of Christian America, he has now purchased a 40-acre compound in Texas about 40 miles from Waco, which he has dubbed "Liberty Rock."

The new property, known locally as "Running Branch Camp and Marina," came equipped with a general store, fishing equipment, an industrial kitchen, RV hook-ups, cabins, and camping sites.

The purpose of the property, according to a GoFundMe seeking $21,000 for renovations, is to "expand God's Kingdom to the Western and Southern regions of the United States."

After renovations, the church hopes that Liberty Rock will be "home to over 100 sites that will serve our community and Patriots from Texas and around the country." The Rod of Iron Instagram account features photos from the site, including their ribbon-cutting and blessing ceremony, held on April 20. At least one family from the church appears to be living there full-time while renovations are going on. 

Possibly unrelated, Iron Rod Ministries had previously released a draft of a potential constitution for the United States of Cheon Il Guk, "the Kingdom of God (and/or Heaven), a sovereign and actual nation does not yet exist in this world, but is the long awaited culmination of the End of Time as prophesied in the Biblical Scripture," a legal document that breaks down laws for taxes, militias, courts, etc., and formally recognizes Moon himself as "King of the Second Kingship of the Kingdom of God, Cheon Il Guk, as the Crowned Successor and Representative Body of the Cosmic True Parents of Heaven and Earth and full Inheritor of the Kingship of God."


Gun Church That Worships With AR-15s Bought a 40-Acre Compound in Texas for Its 'Patriots' [Tess Owen / Vice]

Locked and Loaded for the Lord [Tom Dunkel / Washington Post]

AR-15s Are Biblical 'Rod Of Iron' At Pennsylvania Church [Scott Neuman / NPR]

The cultlike church behind a ceremony with AR-15s and bullet crowns, explained [Tara Isabella Burton / Vox]