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Mass weddings! The Washington Times! Thinking that the Holocaust was simply the world's way of punishing Jewish people for having killed Jesus! Tax fraud! Brainwashing! These are the things we think about when we think about the Moonies, if we think about them at all these days. I don't know, they seemed like more of a thing when I was growing up, at least judging by the books of David Letterman's Top Ten Lists that my mom used to buy me all the time.

Well, they're back -- and instead of making headlines with their mass weddings, they are making headlines with gun blessing ceremonies.

Just to be clear, it's the Unification Church, but it's also not the Unification Church. Basically, after Sun Myung Moon died, a bunch of other people started their own splinter groups, including his wife, his eldest son and his youngest son. The youngest one, Sean, is the one in charge of the Sanctuary Church in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania, which is the one doing this ceremony. The official Unification Church, whatever that even is now, has reportedly distanced itself from the event.

The ceremony was called the "Cosmic True Parents of Heaven, Earth and Humanity Cheon Il Guk Book of Life Registration Blessing" (the Cosmic True Parents being, of course, Sun Myung Moon and his wife Hak Ja Han), and a press release issued the day before the Parkland shooting invited "all heterosexual couples" to come and get their AR-15s blessed. Those who didn't own guns were able to buy them at the ceremony from Kahr Arms, the gun company owned by Sean Moon's brother, Justin Moon.

Those who could not get an AR-15 for "reasons," were asked to get $700 gift certificates from gun stores in order to demonstrate their commitment to buying one as soon as they were able to. The ceremony was part of the group's weeklong "Festival of Faith," along with a "President Trump Thank You Dinner" held on Sunday.

The church, by the way, does not just love AR-15s in the way lots of conservative Christians love their guns. In this church, they are an actual part of the theology. They believe the AR-15 is the "rod of iron" foretold in the Book of Revelations:

“And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations— ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—as I also have received from My Father” (Revelation 2:26-27)

So they think God has given them the AR-15, so they can rule over all of us and smash us to bits, like we are pottery? Well, that is just rude. Also, do they even need the ammo if they are just going to hit us with their guns?

This is a good argument for gun control if I've ever heard one. I imagine that I do not just speak for myself when I say that I would prefer not to live in a world in which the Moonies rule over me with AR-15s and smash me like pottery. We should definitely not let them do that.

During the ceremony, the Rev. Hyung Jin "Sean" 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." "Flourishing" is, I guess, a synonym for smashing us like pottery in this context.

While the ceremony attracted hundreds of believers, it also attracted protests from people who felt that maybe now wasn't the best time to see a bunch of people walking around with AR-15s.

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Via Philly.com:

Outside, along Main Street, a small group of protesters gathered, jawing with followers who held a large banner with Trump’s face emblazoned on it. One woman from Scranton carried a sign calling the followers “Stunads” — mentally confused. Another said Moon’s Bible interpretation made as much sense as, say, “Rod of Pickles.” So some carried signs with pickles on them.

One protester, Teddy Hose, said he grew up with Sean Moon and the Unification Church in Tarrytown but left the church with his entire family.

“Sean was a bully,” Hose, 39, said.

Hose said the inclusion of semi-automatic weapons “makes it seem even more like bull—.”

Additionally, the Wallenpaupack Area School sent children from an elementary school near the church to other schools for the day in order to shield them from seeing hundreds of gun-toting Moonies and being scarred for life.

Inside the church, the Rev. Moon told believers, "We pray they would stand as kings and queens with their crown and rod of iron," and he was not kidding. Because the hundreds of members participating in the ceremony were wearing crowns and tiaras to represent the fact that they are our AR-15-holding monarchs.

The church says that the blessing was not merely a blessing for guns exactly, but rather a "marriage blessing" with guns -- which explains why many of the women in attendance wore white bridal attire. It was not unlike like "Say Yes to The Dress... BUT FOR GUNS."

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Also there were crowns. Lots and lots of crowns.

No shade here. If I were ever to start a cult, there would definitely be crowns involved. At least for me. What is the point, even, of going through all the effort of brainwashing people if you don't even get to wear a tiara?

This one guy even had a crown made of bullets that really made me question my decision to not have a Pinterest board.

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There were just some really good cult sartorial decisions being made here. I, for one, am particularly fond of the get-up worn by many involving a shiny pink show choir vest paired with a white shirt with bell sleeves. Sure, the material looked chintzy AF, but they took a risk and I respect that.

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Purple cloaks and nikes are so 1997.

Moonies are BACK, y'all!

[NPR]

Wonkette would also like some tiaras, please and thank you. Drop some money in our tip jar so we can buy them!

Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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