The disturbing festival bringing together gun nuts, Trump supporters and a doomsday church

The widespread presence of Republicans at events like these underscores the party's ever-increasing radicalization

Published October 9, 2021 4:30AM (EDT)

Steve Bannon (Getty/Joe Raedle)
Steve Bannon (Getty/Joe Raedle)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

Freedom Festival is a far-right event held in Greenley, Pennsylvania and organized by a combination of fringe Christians and gun manufacturers. The speakers at this year's event will include former National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, and according to Daily Beast reporter Jose Pagliery, their presence at Freedom Festival underscores the ever-increasing radicalization of the Republican Party.

"Few Americans are even aware that the gun company Kahr and a rural Pennsylvania doomsday church — both run by the same ultra-rich Korean family — hold an annual 'Freedom Festival' that attracts gun enthusiasts and the type of people who attach 'Don't Tread on Me' flags to the back of their trucks," Pagliery explains in an article published on October 8. "But in the wake of the failed January 6 insurrection, the event's amalgamation of sovereign citizens and alt-truthers has taken on a new meaning. And now, it's even got an all-star lineup."

Ryan Busse, a former gun industry executive, warns that the presence of a former NRA spokesperson at Freedom Festival is "legitimizing" extremism.

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Busse told the Beast, "It's going to send a message across the country that this is normal, that this is OK. This is American fascism being developed right before our eyes. This is like 1936 Germany in a symposium."

Busse went on to say, "The one that concerns me the most is Dana Loesch. She's treated by gun consumers like royalty, and here she is legitimizing this insanity. That scares me."

Busse finds Freedom Festival's combination of religious extremism, guns, conspiracy theories and Trumpism to be incredibly toxic. 

The former NRA member told the Beast, "It's what I fear: anything that will gin up people to buy more guns, hate people more, and vote for people like Trump. It's all of that on steroids. Doesn't the Klan meet in the dark out back behind uncle's barn? This is right out in the open."

By Alex Henderson

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