With A Rod Of Iron: AR-15-Toting So-Called Churchgoers Renew Their Commitment To the Blood-Soaked Lunacy of Our Nation Amen


"Church" "Leaders." Reuters Photo

At This Point Why Not Dept: Amidst the fiery debate about our murderous national landscape comes this: The trooping of about 250 white-clad brides and dark-suited grooms, wearing crowns often made of bullets and clutching AR-15s unloaded and aimed for the sky (whence their God was presumably watching them with some consternation) to the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary of Newfoundland, Pennsylvania, a Moonie-flavored church that also calls itself the "Rod of Iron Ministries" for the Bible's vengeful "rod of iron" in Revelations: "He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels." There, the worshipful couples drank holy wine, exchanged or renewed wedding vows, and received a blessing for their "religious accoutrements" - aka weapons of mass murder - because, argued one of the faithful, "In God's kingdom, you have to protect against evil."

Part gonzo religious gala and part gaudy agitprop for the 2nd Amendment, Wednesday's commitment ceremony was called the Cosmic True Parents of Heaven, Earth and Humanity Cheon Il Guk Book of Life Registration Blessing. Representing an offshoot of the original Unification Church - which distanced itself from the event - it was organized by the church founder's youngest son, Rev. Hyung Jin “Sean” Moon. Given the Southern Poverty Law Center has named him an “anti-LGBT cult leader,” little surprise Moon's press release - issued the day before the Parkland shooting - invited “all heterosexual couples” to come get their AR-15s "blessed." If churchgoers didn’t own any, they could buy them at the ceremony from Kahr Arms, a gun company conveniently owned by Sean’s brother Justin Moon. If people couldn't buy one beforehand for “reasons,” they were asked to bring a $700 gift certificate from a gun stores to demonstrate good faith ie that they'd be armed to the teeth as soon as possible.

The event, visited by baffled, angry, often ironic protesters outside, was part of the church's week-long “Festival of Grace,” which included a “President Trump Thank You Dinner” sponsored by - surprise! - Kahr Arms. Its messy thematic mix of right-wing Christian jingoism and corporate gun fetishism, reflecting a longstanding alliance in America's often tawdry political culture, was much in evidence during the ceremony. Moon 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,” as long as it's not, you know, gay. "Each of us is called to use the power of the ‘rod of iron,’" he intoned, "not to arm or oppress as has been done in satanic kingdoms (but) to protect God’s children.”

Alas, while the faithful were prepping and arming themselves to protect God's children, the area's real-life, happily oblivious, possibly agnostic elementary-age children of the district were being wisely, temporarily moved to another nearby school - "kind of like cousins visiting for the weekend," explained school officials - to keep them safe from America's latest batch of unholy, incoherent, assault-weapon-toting fanatics. Smart move. Maybe, next time, move them to another planet? Can we come too?

"Congregants." Photo by Jacqueline Larma/AP

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