By Victor Ochieng
It was a rare scene on Wednesday when crown wearing worshipers carrying AR-15 rifles filed into a Pennsylvania church, drunk holy wine and exchanged wedding vows, an event that saw a nearby school cancel its lessons out of the fear of the unknown.
The event was a surprise to many and it saw state police and protesters stay guard outside the church just in case something bad happened. The event, which was also used to advertise the Second Amendment, took place at the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary, with brides wearing white, while grooms wore dark suits.
The church, which boasts of a large following across the globe, believes that the AR-15 rifles are a symbol of the ‘rod of iron’ in the Bible book of Revelation and that’s why they encouraged the couples to carry them as they came to exchange their marriage vows.
We can’t forget that an AR-15 was used in the deadly Florida shooting that left scores of students dead and several others injured on February 14. This must have been what made many people uncomfortable with the couples carrying the guns.
The Rev. Sean Moon, leader of the church, prayed for “a kingdom of peace police and peace militia where the citizens, through the right given to them by Almighty God to keep and bear arms, will be able to protect one another and protect human flourishing.”
Moon is following in the footsteps of his father, the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a self-proclaimed messiah and founder of the Unification Church, which many people consider a cult. The younger Moon’s following comprises of a group of worshipers who broke away from his father’s Unification Church, which completely stayed away from the Wednesday event.
Each of the weapons brought into the sanctuary was checked to confirm that none of them was loaded and that they were secured with a zip tie. The event went on smoothly without any hiccups.
Tim Elder, Unification Sanctuary’s director of world missions, informed those in attendance that the ceremony was a special occasion for couples and not “inanimate objects,” referring to the AR-15s as “religious accouterment.” It’s reportedly not the first time the church is holding a ceremony that involves carrying rifles.
Despite the fact that their previous ceremonies remained peaceful, the fact that this latest one came on the heels of the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting rubbed emotions the wrong way.
“It’s scaring people in the community,” one protester told a member of the church. “Are you aware of that?”
Out of fear, Wallenpaupack Area School District moved students at an elementary school to other campuses away from the sanctuary just in case drama erupted.