GREELEY, PA — Guns, God and Trump.
Thousands of Second Amendment supporters turned out for the second annual Rod of Iron Freedom Festival in Pike County this past weekend. The largest open …
GREELEY, PA — Guns, God and Trump.
Thousands of Second Amendment supporters turned out for the second annual Rod of Iron Freedom Festival in Pike County this past weekend. The largest open-carry festival in the country, the event was centered on the celebration of gun ownership but underpinned by politics ahead of this year’s General Election.
Dubbed “Pennsylvania’s version of Woodstock” on its website, the event looked more like a rally for Donald Trump than a music festival. The president’s likeness was everywhere: on clothing, on flags, on cardboard cutouts, on 30-foot high banners, and at least once as an inflatable head.
Held behind the corporate headquarters of firearms manufacturer Kahr Arms, vendors set up booths across the grounds providing a variety of foods (from barbecue to sushi) and a variety of information (from the National Rifle Association to Preparedness Peace Survival Classes).
Some attendees shot at “tyrant targets” with specialty Kahr guns at a 50-foot shooting range, while others took in educational seminars. Over Saturday and Sunday, the seminars covered a range of topics—several focused on Marxism and communism—others covered topics like “Understanding the Threat of Islam,” “The Leftist Attack on American Identity” and “What is Unique about America’s Founding Principles.” A “Second Amendment-themed” art gallery allowed gun enthusiasts to portray their passion for firearms and conservatism through various mediums.
A slate of conservative personalities and religious pastors took the main stage over the weekend, including Amanda Suffecool and Rob Campbell, a brother-sister duo who host Eyes on the Target Radio. On Sunday, Suffecool and Campbell sat down with Frank Scavo, a Republican political candidate who unsuccessfully ran for the PA State House in 2018 to discuss the “erosion” of gun-owning rights throughout U.S. history. They said that the misuse of firearms by “criminals” had needlessly restricted the rights of all gun owners.
“How do you legislate evil?” Suffecool asked. “You can’t. But you can counteract evil with firearms,” Scavo responded.
The trio also told the crowd that President Trump’s Supreme Court pick of Amy Cohen Barret would be good for Second Amendment protections and that it was vital to “keep Republicans in charge.”
The Rod of Iron festival is directly connected to the Newfoundland-based religious groups, World Peace and Unification Sanctuary and Rod of Iron Ministries, both founded by pastor H.J. Sean Moon.
Moon, whose brother Justin Moon is the founder and CEO of Kahr Arms, has garnered national attention in recent years. In 2018, he made headlines when his church held a ceremony in which “hundreds of crown-wearing worshipers clutching [unloaded] AR-15 rifles drank holy wine and exchanged or renewed wedding vows… prompting a nearby school to cancel classes,” soon after the school shooting in Parkland, FL took place.
Moon and his followers subscribe to a belief rooted in a passage from the Book of Revelations: “and he will rule them with a rod of iron.” Moon, who studied theology at Harvard University, says that this informs a religious duty to own firearms. He opened the ceremony on Saturday morning, where he said that the Bible depicts Jesus an “assault weapons manufacturer” and that the U.S. is under attack by “radical leftists” and “communist China.”
“God’s kingdom depicts a decentralized, armed society that is in the image of the chief shepherd. The shepherd’s hook staff is to catch and reign in his sheep from harm, and the shepherd’s rod is to punish the wolves and predators that seek to kill his sheep,” Moon said to the audience. “In the same way, the rod of iron that is given to the believers in Christ, allows the good guys to have arms to defend the sheep, and to punish the wicked when needs be.”
Attendees did not have to abide by any COVID-19 guidelines. Festival organizer Greg Noll told local media that those who wished to could social distance and wear masks, but it was not mandated.