Health Care

Hundreds gather at church hosting blessing ceremony featuring AR-15s

Hundreds gather at church hosting blessing ceremony featuring AR-15s”

Those unable to purchase and legally transport an acceptable semiautomatic rifle to the ceremony "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", the church states.

The sanctuary believes the AR-15 symbolises the "rod of iron" in the book of Revelation, and encouraged couples to bring the weapons to the ceremony.

Moon is a son of the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who proclaimed himself a messiah and founded the Unification Church.

"In essence, you know, we believe in a peace police, in a peace militia", said Kyle Toffey, a helper at the ceremony wearing a metal crown. He said in a prayer that God gave people the right to bear arms.

There was a lot of media attention on this ceremony, mainly because of the involvement of the same weapon used in recent mass shootings across the country.

The church has held at least one other ceremony featuring assault-style rifles.

At the entrance to the church, an attendant checked each weapon at the door to make sure it was unloaded and secured with a zip tie.

"Jesus did return in 1920. It is not a blessing of inanimate firearms", said Tim Elder, the church's director of world missions.

The sanctuary was packed. He and his wife are known as the king and queen.

"OK, you may be able to sit in the back and receive the blessing like the ungrateful punk that you are, the ungrateful piece of shish that you are", he tells his followers.

The Unification Church, however distanced itself from the Wednesday event, noting its theology and teachings do not call for weapons.

Through its Rod of Iron Ministries affiliate, the church also was among the sponsors for a pro-gun-rights "President Trump Thank You Dinner" this past Saturday in Matamoras, Pike County.

"If you don't have a rod of iron then, unfortunately, you can come into a situation where your life can come to an end".

A dozen protesters gathered outside the event on Wednesday, holding up posters that read "Worship God, Not Guns" and "God Does Not Bless Guns".

Students from an junior school near the church were relocated for the day to distance them from the gun-toting couples at the ceremony, according to the Wallenpaupack School District website.

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