Following the high school mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, a sanctuary church in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania, encouraged couples to carry unloaded AR-15 rifles to a commitment ceremony, where they drank wine and exchanged or renewed vows.
The church that has scores of followers from across the globe believes the AR-15 rifle, which was used by the Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz, symbolizes “rod of iron” as stated in the book of Revelation.
The ceremony, which prompted nearby schools to cancel classes, had some brides wearing crowns made of bullets. It also saw protestors stand outside the church, as police stood guard to avoid any violence in the premises. Before the ceremony, an attendant checked each weapon at the door to make sure it was unloaded and secured with a zip tie, as brides and grooms carried dozens of AR-15 rifles into the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary, which many critics regard as a cult.
Reverend Sean Moon, who leads 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,” USA Today reported.
While the church pledged their allegiance to the Second Amendment, which allows Americans the right to bear arms, two of the country’s biggest gun sellers Walmart and Dicks announced Wednesday they will no longer be active participants in the country’s gun culture they have inadvertently supported.
Walmart and Dicks announced they will no longer sell assault style weapons and added it will not be selling any weapons to people under the age of 21.
In a statement Dicks said, “We support and respect the Second Amendment, and we recognize and appreciate that the vast majority of gun owners in this country are responsible, law-abiding citizens. But we have to help solve the problem that’s in front of us. Gun violence is an epidemic that’s taking the lives of too many people, including the brightest hope for the future of America – our kids. ”
Folks at the church might beg to differ with the statement made by the store, due to their devotion to the assault weapon. Tim Elder, Unification Sanctuary’s director of world missions, called the weapon a “religious accoutrement.”
Sreymom Ouk, 41, an attendee at the ceremony who believes weapon is useful for defending her family against “sickos and evil psychopaths,” attended the ceremony with her husband, Sort Ouk,
“People have the right to bear arms, and in God’s kingdom, you have to protect that,” she said. “You have to protect against evil.”
Not everyone was thrilled at the prospect of celebrating the kind of assault weapon that took the lives of children during the shooting rampage.
Armed with a sign “armed religious cult,” Lisa Desiena from Scranton protested outside the church.
She said, “I don’t need a freaking assault weapon to defend myself. Only thing they’re good for is killing. Period. That’s all that weapon is good for, mass killing. And you want to bless it? Shame on you.”
Another protestor who wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of having gun trotting worshippers in the premises said, “It’s scaring people in the community. … Are you aware of that?”