The Rev. Sun Myung Moon died in 2012, and the changeover in leadership of his Unification Church has been anything but orderly within the Moon family. In a lengthy story at the Washington Post, Tom Dunkel explains that two of his sons have formed their own church in Pennsylvania called World Peace and Unification Sanctuary—it strongly encourages members to arm themselves with AR-15s—while Moon's widow runs a different church of her own. Just how acrimonious is this split between widow Hak Ja Han and sons Sean and Justin? The boys have booted her from their version of the family tree, and Justin told church members in 2016 that his mom's attempt to take over their father's church is a crime worthy of execution. The Post's Dunkel gave him a chance to walk that back, and he declined.
"I love my mother,” he says, before justifying the harsh words by making an analogy to her trying to overthrow the US government. Much of the story focuses on the sons' church in Newfoundland, Pa., near Scranton, of which Sean is pastor and Justin his assistant. (Justin also runs an affiliated weapons manufacturer, Kahr Arms, whose grand opening in 2013 featured a pro-gun speech by Eric Trump.) The brothers preach that God will someday create a new kingdom on earth and that governments will become obsolete. Instead, monarchs from the Moon family will rule, and if this happens in his lifetime, Sean sees himself as future king of the US. "We would refer to it as a libertarian Christian monarchy." Sean also likes a passage in the Book of Revelation about Christ ruling with a "rod of iron," and he sees the AR-15 as the modern equivalent. Read the full story. (Read more Longform stories.)