Blessed are gun-toting couples: Pennsylvania church to host AR-15 ceremony

Blessed are gun-toting couples: Pennsylvania church to host AR-15 ceremony
A Pennsylvania church is inviting gun-toting couples to bring their AR-15 rifles to a special blessing ceremony, symbolizing the intent and ability of worshippers to defend their family and community.

The blessing is being initiated by the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary in Newfoundland and will take place on February 28, just a half-mile from an elementary school, according to AP.

An AR-15 rifle was allegedly used by Nikolas Cruz in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 14, according to police. Details of the ‘gun blessing’ were posted on the church site the day before the deadly attack.

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A statement from the church refers to the AR-15 as a symbol of the "rod of iron" mentioned in the Bible’s apocalyptic Book of Revelation. It advises those unable to bring the weapon to bring a gift voucher from a gun store instead.

“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,” the church advises.

Tim Elder, the Unification Sanctuary's director of world missions, told AP that the weapons will be unloaded, secured with zip ties and checked at the door. He said the church didn’t consider canceling or moving the ceremony. "Now more than ever, good people need to stand up and claim for themselves the tools that can be used to stop that kind of evil," he said.

“There is no blessing of guns,” the church wrote on its Facebook page responding to numerous media reports. It’s a blessing of the couples not the weapons, the church insisted.

Newfoundland Sanctuary Church is an offshoot of the Unification Church and is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment. It has about 200 congregants who attend services on Sunday and another 200 who watch online programs.

Its leader, Reverend Hyung "Sean" Jin Moon, is the son of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon – a self-proclaimed messiah who founded the Unification Church. Jin Moon’s brother Kook-Jin Justin Moon is the founder of Kahr Arms, a US gun manufacturer.

READ MORE: Trump suggests arming teachers & staff could prevent school massacres

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