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Couples renew wedding vows while holding AR-15 rifles

02 March 2018

The church, World Peace and Unification Sanctuary, has followers all over the world and couples were encouraged to bring their high-powered rifles to the ceremony. The congregants had brought their rifles in adherence to their belief that a biblical mention of a "rod of iron" is actually a reference to the types of assault-style rifles that have become the weapon of choice for mass shooters in the United States.

At the ceremony, the weapons were safely secured with zip ties and unloaded before the procession began.

The members of Sanctuary Church in Wayne County entered wearing crowns and carrying their rifles. Some even worshippers wore "bullet crowns".

The church, which also calls itself Rod of Iron Ministries, is an offshoot of the Unification Church, founded by Hyung Jin's father, the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

The Unification Church says it doesn't condone the Pennsylvania event.The ceremony which has caused a lot of controversy in the area, prompting an elementary school, Wallenpaupack South, right down the street to bus their students to the north campus location for the day.

The ceremony was held in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania, just two weeks after the February 14 massacre in Parkland, Florida, where a gunman armed with an AR-15 assault rifle killed 17 people at a high school in South Florida.

"We are so grateful that we are receiving these accoutrements of royalty, of kings and queens, of sovereignty, of kingdom, of protection and self-defense", Moon said of the guns. "I like taking the guns early, like in the insane man's case. He returned with a new name", said Tim Elder of Sanctuary Church.

On the same day the president made his surprising comments, Unification Sanctuary members marched into their church for a wedding ceremony.

One woman who attended the ceremony with her husband said: "People have the right to bear arms, and in God's kingdom, you have to protect that".

The Chicago Tribune called the church service, which took place in Newfoundland, Pa., about 100 miles north of Philadelphia, "a religious event that doubled as an advertisement for the Second Amendment".

"I don't care about guns", local resident Bill Duff said. Only thing they're good for is killing.

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

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. "So showing the rod of iron, which represents, for our church, it's the AR-15, and it represents that you can protect against evil with that rod of iron in a sense".

Couples renew wedding vows while holding AR-15 rifles