On Wednesday—two weeks after a gunman killed 17 students and teachers at a school in Parkland, FL—a church in Newfoundland, PA, held a “commitment ceremony” where worshippers brought their guns to be blessed.
Parishioners at the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary brought their (unloaded) handguns and semi-automatic weapons to the ceremony. A nearby elementary school canceled classes ahead of the event.
Some of the attendees wore crowns and tiaras “representing the sovereignty of Kings and Queens.” Some of those crowns were made of bullets.
The Unification Sanctuary is an outgrowth of the Unification Church, which is often referred to as a cult. Rev. Sean Moon, the leader of Unification Sanctuary, is the son of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who founded the Unification Church and claimed to be the Messiah.
The church encouraged couples to bring AR-15 semi-automatic weapons to the ceremony to represent “both the intent and the ability to defend one’s family, community and ‘nation of Cheon Il Guk.’” The church’s leader believes AR-15s are the “rod of iron” mentioned in the Book of Revelations.
The church instructed parishioners to purchase a $700 gift certificate from a gun store if they were unable to buy a weapon for the ceremony:
If unable to purchase and legally transport such a “rod of iron” because of laws barring the purchase of such weapons, or other reasons, couples are invited to purchase a $700 gift certificate from a gun store, as evidence of their intent to purchase a “rod of iron” in the future. Those attending the ceremony on Feb. 28 in Newfoundland with this gift certificate will be invited to participate in a color guard ceremony in the presence of the King.
Here is how Smith & Wesson describes its M&P 15—the type of rifle Cruz used—on its website:
M&P15 Rifles are the ideal modern sporting rifle. Built to perform multiple uses under various conditions, M&P15 Rifles are as versatile as they are reliable. Engineered for a wide variety of recreational, sport shooting and professional applications, M&P15 Rifles are easy to accessorize, but hard to put down. M&P15 Rifles are lightweight and rugged embodying the best combination of function and form.
Normal description. Normal ceremony. Normal country.