As the nation is in the midst of serious debates over gun control following the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school last week, one church in Wayne County, Pennsylvania has announced it will be holding a “gun-blessing” ceremony next Wednesday.
The Times-Tribune in Scranton reported on the controversial scheduled event:
World Peace and Unification Sanctuary in Newfoundland, also known as Sanctuary Church, said couples who can’t purchase an AR-15 rifle or similar weapon before the Feb. 28 service should buy a $700 gift certificate from a gun store to show they intend to purchase one.
“All of the weapons in the ceremony will be checked to make sure they are unloaded, with a zip tie so that no bullets can be inserted,” Richard A. Panzer, Sanctuary Church president, said in an email. “We are inviting local and state police to be on the premises, so that everything goes safely.”
Sanctuary Church is led by the Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, whose late father, Sun Myung Moon, founded the Unification Church in the 1950s. The church espouses a social conservatism, including a division of the sexes and opposition to alternative lifestyles.
Moon, who refers to himself as the “Second King” and anointed heir to the “True Father,” also called on his followers to arm themselves to defend their families, their communities and “the nation of Cheon Il Guk,” the kingdom of God the church believes is prophesied in biblical Scripture.