In the wake of a mass shooting in a Florida high school by a killer armed with a modified, rapid-fire AR-15-style rifle who killed 17 students and teachers, a religious ceremony inviting church members to bring their AR-15s drew national controversy.
But the ceremony at the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary in Newfoundland, Pa. was a peaceful event for members of the religious sect which has been dubbed in popular media as the "Moonies," based on the name of their founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon. (The Newfoundland church is led by Moon's son, Pastor Hyung Jin Sean Moon.) Some 250 couples with weapons were blessed during the ceremony.
Church officials told Metro that the ceremony was meant to honor the weapons as a tool of protection for good people against shootings like those which have recently happened in Florida, Las Vegas, Orlando, Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut.
“This is an excellent way to honor the memories of the 17 people who were massacred,” said Tim Elder, director of the church. “Now more than ever, good people need to stand up and claim the tools with which we can deal with that kind of evil.”