Worshippers wearing crowns made of bullets clutched AR-15 rifles, drank holy wine, and exchanged or renewed wedding vows in a commitment ceremony at a Pennsylvania church Wednesday, prompting a nearby school to cancel classes. With state police and a smattering of protesters standing watch outside the church, brides clad in white and grooms in suits brought dozens of unloaded AR-15s into the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary for a religious event that doubled as an ad for the Second Amendment, per the AP. The church, which has a worldwide following, believes the AR-15 symbolizes the "rod of iron" in the Book of Revelation, and encouraged couples to bring the weapons. An AR-15 was used in the Florida high school massacre on Feb. 14. The Rev. Sean Moon, who leads the church, presided over the prayer service for "a kingdom of peace police."
Moon is the son of the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who founded the Unification Church, which critics regard as a cult; the younger Moon's congregation is a breakaway faction of that church, which distanced itself from Wednesday's event. An attendant checked each weapon at the door to make sure it was unloaded and secured with a zip tie. One of the attendees noted, "People have the right to bear arms, and in God's kingdom, you have to protect that." But the event, which prompted Wallenpaupack Area School District to move students at a nearby elementary school to other campuses, rubbed emotions raw so soon after Parkland. "It's scaring people in the community," one protester told a church member. Another protester, who says she's a gun owner, added: "I don't need a freaking assault weapon to defend myself. ... You want to bless it? Shame on you."