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Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition

I must have missed the memo.

Earlier this month, the Freedom, Faith and Family Coalition sponsored the three-day Save the Nation Conference at the Tommy Gun Warehouse Campgrounds in Newfoundland, Wayne County, about 50 miles northeast of Lehighton.

An estimated 5,000 attendees had a chance to buy tickets to enter a drawing to win a Trump Commander in Chief auto-ordnance custom AR-15 style rifle.

There is no mistaking where this organization falls on the political scale. Its invitation said, “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.”

My intense interest is the fact that conference speakers were made available for media interviews. I would have been there in a heartbeat had I known about the event. You can’t imagine how difficult it is for us in the mainstream media to get access to far-right advocates who are avid Second Amendment supporters.

Most times, we either get a “no comment” from those with this point of view or are ignored when we try to balance off a column or news story.

As you may recall from a previous column, my experience with guns consists of ownership of a Red Ryder BB gun when I was a kid, and it lasted less than an hour, because I shot at and killed a bird sitting on a phone line near my home in Summit Hill. After bawling my eyes out, I never fought my parents who immediately confiscated the gun because of my recklessness. I never had a gun in my hands after that.

As an adult and journalist, I have been fascinated by the near fanaticism that some gun advocates have in opposing even the most logical and modest restrictions, presumably fearing that opening the door, even a crack, could mean the emasculation of gun-owners’ Second Amendment protections.

That’s why I thought that this access to these ultraconservative views would be helpful in my understanding of what makes them tick.

Also known as the Rod of Iron Freedom Festival, this gathering was inspired as a project of Rod of Iron Ministries, founded by Pastor H.J. Sean Moon of Unification Sanctuary, a son of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, legendary leader of the “Moonies.”

Conceived as a nondenominational event to celebrate the Second Amendment, which advocates say “sets the American experiment in self-governance apart from many other nations in the world in that it recognizes our God-given right to defend ourselves against predatory government, based on the experience of our Founding Fathers with the English monarchy under King George.”

The facility in Wayne County was dedicated to the Rev. Moon of North Korea who was “languishing in a North Korean death camp until freed by the invasion led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur at Incheon during the Korean War.” The younger Moon and his brother say their gratitude “speaks to their appreciation for the liberty enjoyed by Americans and the vital role played by our veterans in defending our freedoms.”

This manifested itself in an open-carry, regional festival that would “celebrate these ideals through seminars, exhibits, food and a whole range of fun activities.” Organizers said that after the first year drew about 2,000, participation increased significantly each year after that.

Getting top billing among speakers was Steve Bannon, adviser to former President Donald Trump, who is facing criminal contempt charges for failing to answer a subpoena concerning the Jan. 6 insurrection at our nation’s Capitol.

Bannon was not there in person but addressed the crowd by phone. He was late calling in, the reception was poor, and not many of the attendees could hear what he had to say.

Among the other speakers was Gary Haskell, senior pastor of the Jackson (Pennsylvania) Baptist Church, who detailed the history of the Black-Robed Regiment. He claims the American Revolution would have never happened if it were not for the pastors in New England. “They were the ones who preached freedom and taught their people about their God-given rights. They also taught their men how to take up arms and fight against the British. We are free because of their preaching and leadership. Our schools have not, and do not teach anything about these American heroes,” he said.

Another speaker, George Cook, pastor of the Nehemiah Center for Worship in North Bangor, Northampton County, was portrayed as a “rock-ribbed conservative who battles tirelessly to protect the Second Amendment and defend the Constitution.” Cook warned: “If you are a liberal, expect to be offended.”

Some of the seminars were “The Sissification of America’s Young Men,” “Mental Dynamics of Target-Shooting,” “Holstering Options for Women,” “More Guns, Less Crime,” and “Grassroots Activist Training,” where participants were schooled on how to make an impact in preserving Second Amendment rights in their own municipalities.

By Bruce Frassinelli | tneditor@tnonline.com

The foregoing opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial Board or Times News LLC.