Rod of Iron Festival in Pennsylvania Shows How Dangerous and Deranged This MAGA Cult Is

The festival, a two-day carnival of MAGA dripping madness, offered an unfiltered look at the Republican Party's present and future.

The Rod of Iron Festival in the woods of Greeley, Pennsylvania, sure knows how to put on a show: a 50 person choir flown in from Japan, firearm giveaways, and a bonfire. Too bad it’s all organized by a cult that “worships” guns and was started by one of the sons of Reverend Moon, the founder of the Unification Church who claims to be a messiah. 

Since 2020, the Pennsylvania Sanctuary Church, a sect of the Unification Church (aka The Moonies), has held a festival in October celebrating firearms, the 2nd Amendment, and of course former President Donald Trump. The former President has never attended, but they have been able to pull in conservative names like Dana Loesch, Alan Gottlieb, Steve Bannon, and this year Sebastian Gorka and Jack Posobiec. 

The festival was a two-day carnival of MAGA dripping madness. 

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Right-wing radio broadcaster and former deputy assistant to President Trump Sebastian Gorka opened the festival with a wild speech that blamed fentanyl deaths on immigrants and claimed that President Joe Biden had open borders from the moment he took office. The fact that President Biden has continued many of Trump’s nightmarish border policies, while his border apprehensions and expulsions were higher in 2021 than in any year of the Trump administration, didn’t seem to matter. 

He then moved on to use the tragic killing of a Brooklyn activist, saying: 

“We live in a nation where a pro-antifa activist can be stabbed to death in front of his girlfriend on camera in New York. And what does the lunatic girlfriend do? Do you see this story this week? She refused to identify the murderer who stabbed her boyfriend in the heart because he was Black.” 

The activist’s girlfriend didn’t refuse to identify his killer, she identified a different person than the police had as a suspect in the photo-array.  

Gorka, who has his own connections to far-right and Nazi related organizations couldn’t help but bring up the old punching bag of the World War II childhood of billionaire donor George Soros who has donated considerable sums to Pennsylvania district attorney races. 

Out on the festival midway people scurried from tent to tent in the rain. It seemed that to be a vendor here you needed to sell wares that either had something to do with guns, or Trump. Even better if it had both. 

The right-wing hate gang the Proud Boys, whose leadership attempted to hold a minor coup after Biden was elected, had their own booth right next to the vendor selling thermoses shaped like bullets. The Proud Boys were selling J6 Prisoner of War mugs and tshirts. 

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10 07 2023 RodofIronGreeleyPA Edited DayOne Web 93 - Bucks County Beacon - Rod of Iron Festival in Pennsylvania Shows How Dangerous and Deranged This MAGA Cult Is

Back inside the big tent the “Friends of NRA” was holding a fundraiser in the form of a gun auction. It wasn’t going well, people were not bidding for the guns in the amounts that they needed to break even according to the auctioneer Eric Zettlemoyer. The firearms varied from a Tommy Gun to hand guns with Charlton Heston’s “From my cold, dead hands” quote etched into the grip. There was also, of course several AR-15’s. One bidder in the front row went home with three firearms. 

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Nearly all the speakers spoke about election conspiracies; Toni Shuppe from Audit the Vote PA of course was no different. Shuppe gave her standard stump speech about Patriot Academy’s Biblical Citizenship curricula, which I wrote about earlier this year after her appearance at the Pennsylvania Patriot Coalition’s gathering for the Beacon. One worrying note that she added at the end of her speech was that she thinks that “civil disobedience” may be required. While that’s normally not troubling – when you’re saying it to a crowd of people where a good percentage of them were at the Capitol on January 6th – and own firearms – it’s not good.

Leah Hoopes, a continued 2020 election denier, spoke next in a wild speech that will very possibly get her back in trouble due to the continued defamation lawsuit that a Pennsylvania voting official put against her after Rudy Giuliani’s infamous Gettysburg state GOP hearing. She also couldn’t help herself to work in a Soros conspiracy.

The evening’s musical act was none other than the chosen heir to Reverend Moon, the Second King … Sean Moon aka King Bullethead. Over the last couple years he’s been working on his rapping and even though the lyrics were truly vile and conspiracy-filled, the performance was incredibly intense. The main stage tent was packed with hundreds of devotees, some who even stage-dived.

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10 07 2023 RodofIronGreeleyPA Edited DayOne Web 327 - Bucks County Beacon - Rod of Iron Festival in Pennsylvania Shows How Dangerous and Deranged This MAGA Cult Is

Day 2

Pastor Sean Moon’s Speech opened the second day. 

“The Communist Party under Mao and China funded the destruction of traditional marriage through bars and strip clubs funded by the state,” said Moon. “In Germany, the Nazis created the first homosexual rights organization and groomed soldiers into abominable homosexual practices. In America, the Communist forces funded sexual liberation, LGBTQ rights and drag queens, shows books, schools and a multibillion dollar genital mutilation industry.”

Far-right political operative and Steve Bannon friend Jack Posobiec was the headliner for the second and final day of the Rod of Iron Festival. If you’re not familiar with him you might be familiar with his conspiracy theory, PizzaGate. 

Posobiec knows how to terrify his MAGA fanbase. He began his speech by claiming that the Democrats were planning to put Trump’s voters into gulags: 

“Yeah, we know what those are called. Those are called internment camps. Okay. That’s what that is. They’re called gulags. Go ask the Uyghurs in China about that. Go ask the Japanese how they were treated during World War Two about those camps. All right. We’ve done that before. Okay? It’s happened. Now. We’re being and now we’re being told that it’s going to be done domestically against our own population.”

Building on the genocide talk, he like several other speakers called upon the Great Replacement theory, claiming that MAGA voters “must prepare to call upon the Sword of Saint Michael” to defend their “culture.” He added that didn’t want violence, but was prepared for it.

The audience was listening and getting the message. During the Q&A portion of the talk a woman stood up and told Posobiec that she was prepared to be beheaded because “her kids were grown,” but she wanted to know how to get through to people not in this tent. Posobiec answered her with polling data, saying that Trump was winning, and that Biden was “like a rotted piece of wood that you have to remove.” There was no answer on how to win over the non-red-pilled, just that Gavin Newsom or Hillary Clinton was going to replace Biden in a shadow primary. “That’s why she’s talking about throwing us all in camps,” he added. 

Other speakers took the stage and laid out their version of conspiracy theories, one more unhinged than the next. Mel K, host of the Mel K Show, presented her talk “Agenda 2030: The Great Reset and the Hidden Hands of Power,” which was like a 20 minute version of the Pepe Silvia meme from Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Her speech was basically this slide, but in audio form. 

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The terribly surreal nature of the two days reached its peak at the closing ceremony. For the final hurrah there would be a bonfire, songs, and a reading by Pastor Sean Moon. 

With the sun setting and the temperatures dropping the 50-person Japanese choir returned all wearing red “Trump 2024 I’ll Be Back” hats and began marching in place, singing God Bless America and the ​​Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Pastor Greg, a member of the Rod of Iron Ministries walked out to the mic while ushering the choir away, telling the crowd, “Every year they look to me to do something incendiary before the bonfire.” He was holding a pansexual flag. After discussing the Bible and how God created only man and woman, he handed the flag that a former “witch” tenant of his left behind to two congregants to hand to the 2nd King (Pastor Sean Moon). 

Sean Moon and his brother Justin, the owner of Kahr Arms, the sponsor of this whole thing, lit the flag on top of a tower of wooden pallets. A couple minutes later it was ablaze, and the choir began singing God Bless America once again. 

God help America if these people seize power. 

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Zach D. Roberts

Zach D. Roberts is a freelance photojournalist who has covered protest and activism around the country. He covered the 2017 Unite the Right rally and is a Puffin Artist Grant Recipient. His film on voter suppression in Georgia, Vigilante: Vote Suppression Hitman will be released nationally on Nov. 2.

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