Gun-toting religious organization buys East Tennessee property
Rod of Iron Ministries, a religious group known for using AR-15s in ceremonies, has purchased a Grainger County property in East Tennessee.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A gun-centric religious group known for its politically-charged commentary and use of AR-15s in ceremonies has purchased a 130-acre property in Grainger County to serve as a retreat center.
Rod of Iron Ministries, also known as World Peace and Unification Sanctuary, is a Second Amendment-focused church preparing to lead a hypothetical nation dedicated to becoming the new Kingdom of God. The Rod of Iron website likens AR-15 assault rifles to the rod of iron mentioned in the Bible and uses them in worship and religious ceremonies.
“As coheirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), we are to love God and love our neighbor through protecting God’s Kingdom with the Rod of Iron,” the website’s about page reads.
Rod of Iron Ministries was founded by Hyung Jin Sean Moon, who calls himself the “Second King,” and provides hours-long daily broadcasts on spirituality and politics while wearing a crown made of bullets. According to the Rod of Iron Ministries website, Hyung Jin Sean Moon is the son of Sun Myung Moon, who is the founder of his own church, the Unification of World Christianity Church, also known as the controversial Unification Church.
The younger Moon founded Rod of Iron Ministries after his father died and he had a falling out with his mother, Hak Ja Han. Moon claimed that his mother corrupted the “theological foundations of the church’s Christian teachings.” Following the falling out, Moon and his brother, Justin Moon, moved to Pennsylvania to establish Rod of Iron.
According to the website, Justin Moon is also the owner of Kahr Arms, a firearm manufacturer. Justin Moon is listed as Kahr’s lead designer on the company’s website.
Moon is also the author of The Constitution of the United States of Cheon Il Guk, a hypothetical nation described as the “kingdom of God.” The constitution outlines the founding principles of Cheon II Guk and focuses on religious purity and individual freedoms. Moon’s constitution is similar to the American constitution, even in wording, with the exception that it establishes Moon as the sole ruler of the nation as a holy king. It also specifically calls out Moon’s mother for her “failure at the final hour” and blames her for the world entering “a period of judgment instead of blessing.”
According to a deed obtained by WVLT News, the Grainger County property was purchased by CIG Properties, Inc., which is a Delaware-based company. While Delaware-based, CIG Properties shares a PO box addressed to the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary. CIG are also the initials of Cheon Il Guk, the nation described in Moon’s constitution.
WVLT News spoke with Gregg Noll, a representative with the group, about what they plan to use the land for. According to Noll, Rod of Iron Ministries chose East Tennessee for the scenery, the people and the state’s conservative values.
Moon releases daily videos called “The King’s Report” where he gives spiritual and political commentary while wearing a crown made of bullets and carrying an assault rifle. The Rod of Iron Ministries website claims that the videos are uploaded to YouTube, but the channel the website links to has been taken down. According to an error popup from YouTube, the channel was banned for posting content “designed to harass, bully or threaten.”
Moon’s Sanctuary Church also has a YouTube channel, however, and it is still active. Moon appeared in a video posted in September with the spelling-error riddled title “Sunday Service 2nd King’s Messege in Tnneeses 2021 09 26.″ The video includes his signature bullet crown and rifle as he explains his visit to Tennessee, describing the area as a “holy land” and calling it Cheon II Guk.
Rod of Iron Ministries also promotes conspiracy theories. The group’s website has direct links to Infowars, CNS News, the World Tribune and Alex Jones’ Prison Planet, all of which are known far-right conspiracy theory media outlets. Alex Jones, host of Infowars, recently lost a legal battle where he was found liable for damages after repeatedly making claims that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was a hoax.
Moon is also the organizer of the Rod of Iron Freedom Festival, a yearly conference featuring conservative speakers and religious events. A flyer for the 2021 Freedom Festival also promotes the theory that Joe Biden stole the 2020 presidential election.
“All Americans who love America and want to preserve it as a free nation watch in dread as they see the aftermath of the stolen presidential election and the takeover of our federal government by hardcore leftists. What can we do to be used by God as His hands and feet to restore this nation?” the flyer reads. The festival also featured a series of speakers, one of which was Daryl Brooks, a former senate and congressional candidate, and a giveaway for a custom Donald Trump-themed AR-15.
Rod of Iron Ministries gained national attention in 2018 after holding a blessing ceremony where participants carried AR-15s and wore crowns.
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