The AR-15 blessing in Pennsylvania

Two days ago I reported that a church in Pennsylvania was holding a Blessing of the AR-15s. That took place yesterday. Reuters reports:

Hundreds of couples toting AR-15 rifles packed a Unification church in Pennsylvania on Wednesday to have their marriages blessed and their weapons celebrated as “rods of iron” that could have saved lives in a recent Florida school shooting.

Women dressed in white and men in dark suits gripped the guns, which they had been urged to bring unloaded to the church in the rural Pocono Mountains, about 100 miles (160 km) north of Philadelphia. Many celebrants wore crowns – some made of bullets – while church officials dressed in flowing bright pink and white garments to go with their armaments.

Reverend Hyung Jin “Sean” Moon, leader of the church after the death of his father and church founder, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, blessed the roughly 250 couples at the service, a church spokesman said.

Students in a nearby school were “relocated” for the day. The ceremony went off without a hitch—or rather, without a death.

Here is a video and some photos of the ceremony, conducted at the Sanctuary Church (a Moonie church) in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania. I can’t think of a better documentation of two forms of lunacy that dominate America: love of God and love of guns.

Why does that older woman in front need an assault rifle? And why are they wearing crowns?

Both photos: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz




  1. darrelle
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    JFCC. That is nucking futs. Please get out and vote because you can bet that these folks do.

    • Historian
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      Indeed. Only the political process can save us from those whom the inexorable flow of Enlightenment values seems to have missed. The cultural divide in the United States is a chasm and the ballot box is the means by which its future will be determined, not only for traditional issues such as economic ones, but by the nature of how life will be lived. The religious right, and its overlapping allies such as the NRA, is far from from finished in this country and as its numbers wane becomes more ruthless in attempting to maintain political power.

      • Posted March 1, 2018 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        I think you have too much confidence in our political process. IMO, change will not come through legislation. Our culture needs to change. When this kind of gun lunacy is seen by Americans as the lunacy it is, as well as being a serious character flaw, then congress may follow. That’s not going to come easily or any time soon.

      • David Coxill
        Posted March 1, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        According to the Guardian newspaper ,gun deaths in America fall by 20% when the nra hold one of their shindigs .

        • Posted March 1, 2018 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

          The study is here;

          They found the number of reportable injuries to firearms fell significantly during NRA conventions;

          …it is often contended that injuries primarily occur in the hands of inexperienced users and that experience and training alone can eliminate or markedly reduce firearm safety concerns. The purpose and motivation of this study was to investigate this possibility using a unique natural experiment, the NRA annual meeting. We hypothesized that firearm users who attend these meetings would be less likely to use firearms during the period of meeting attendance compared to identical days in the weeks before or after these meetings and that, as a result, population rates of firearm injuries might decline due to the brief period of firearm abstinence even among presumably avid, skilled users.

          A few interesting things out of the data (found in supplementary data table S3) was this difference was noted only among men (not surprising) and only among men from the South and the West.

    • Curt Nelson
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      I remember learning about the Nazis as a kid in school and being told it could happen again, that people today were capable of those atrocities (that we all were!), and I found that very hard to believe.

      It’s so easy to believe now. What’s hard to believe now is that it won’t happen anymore.

      • darrelle
        Posted March 1, 2018 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        I know just what you mean.

  2. BobTerrace
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    There has been a 250 year history of rural Pennsylvania and rural upstate New York being the home of a vast collection of nutty people.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      You may be unnecessarily restricting your geographic coverage here.

      • Lee
        Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:38 am | Permalink

        Right. I’m from Utah. Outside a few islands of relative sanity like Salt Lake and Park city, Utah is pretty strange.

    • Terry Sheldon
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      I was born and raised in the latter and now live in the former. Couldn’t agree more! There’s a reason for the name “Pennsyltucky”.

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    You know what I’m going to say :

    Only in Fantasyland.

    • GBJames
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      Just got my copy…

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:01 am | Permalink

        I’m beginning to doubt that I can handle the last sections – getting some fresh air for now.

  4. Posted March 1, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I wouldn’t want any of those people toting guns! This is scary.

  5. glen1davidson
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Moonies who needed desperately to find a way to reduce the respect they’d been getting.

    Glen Davidson

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 2, 2018 at 12:12 am | Permalink

      Good one! 😀

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Read an article on these loons that said they were having marriage ceremonies with the guns as well. Something in the bible about protecting with the Rod. Little did we know that rod means AR-15. Funny how these biblical babbles work out in modern times. Apparently these folks won’t be shopping at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

    • Posted March 1, 2018 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      We all know that “literal” means “means why I want it to mean” …

      • Posted March 1, 2018 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

        Nah, that’d be “correct interpretation”.

  7. Mike
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Insane doesn’t even come close.

    • nicky
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      Yep, if we may paraphrase: “not even insane”…

  8. Laurance
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Ewwwww…I’m embarrassed to say that I was born and raised and live in Pennsylvania…

    Well shucks, I have to do my part to vote and speak out against the nutty stuph here.

  9. Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I would be interested in obtaining fMRI images of their brains. Amygdala’s must be swollen with fear and hate.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted March 2, 2018 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      That’s be amusing to see. Not the MRI results, but the tinfoil hats stuck to the magnet of the MRI.

      • GBJames
        Posted March 2, 2018 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        But tinfoil (at least modern aluminum foil from which the hats are made) isn’t magnetic!

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted March 2, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

          At high field strengths, weird things happen. Even water gets magnetic eventually (something to do with the unpaired electrons on the oxygen? It’s a long time since I had to do physical chemistry.) Aluminium being a trivalent metal, I wouldn’t be surprised if it contained a little ferric iron, and then all bets are off.

          Anyone got an MRI magnet to hand?

          • Zetopan
            Posted March 4, 2018 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

            The water molecule is not rotationally symmetric around the oxygen atom, so the protons in the hydrogen atoms are influenced by the magnetic field causing water to be diamagnetic (repelled by an external magnetic field).

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted March 5, 2018 at 2:48 am | Permalink

              Wasn’t the the basis if the Nobel laureate Andre Geim’s IgNobel? Levitating frogs (on account of their high water content).

              • Zetopan
                Posted March 5, 2018 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

                Yes, and that same trick also works for strawberries, tomatoes, etc. The reason why we don’t see frogs, etc. levitating all over the place is that the Earth’s magnetic field strength is about 65 or less microteslas while that levitation field was 10 teslas (at least 150,000 times stronger). It is currently not possible to make a magnetic field strong enough to levitate a human (infant or adult). At above about 100 teslas a copper coil self destructs because the copper is not physically strong enough to resist the magnetic repulsion.

        • Zetopan
          Posted March 4, 2018 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

          Both aluminum and copper are nonferrous but they definitely respond to varying magnetic fields. Every AC induction motor made demonstrates this on a daily basis. MRIs use both strong DC magnetic fields and varying magnetic fields. The former has no effect on aluminum or copper, as long as the metal is not moving and the field is constant, while the latter does have an effect even with stationary metal.

  10. claudia baker
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Wow. Just, wow.

  11. zoolady
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Even as an avowed atheist for my entire life…my first thought here was “GAWD HELP US ALL.” We can never overestimate the human capacity for self-delusion!

  12. BJ
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    How surreal. Seems like something from a very funny sketch show.

    Mocking extremists keeps getting harder and harder. I pity satirists.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      Exactly. It’s like something you’d see the Monty Python crew do.

      Effing bizarre.

  13. Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Truly, these are still the Dark Ages.

  14. Hempenstein
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    “Could have saved lives.” Churches are places for people with vivid imaginations and no sense of practical reality.

    • W.T. Effingham
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      A practical reality check for these folks might occur if they store their ammo between the incense lighting/smoke break room and the turkey fryer.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      To be sure to have killed the Parkland shooter (I never mention his name) they would have had to shoot him from behind. So all the kids in the Parkland shooter’s sights would be hit by bullets from their precious AR 15s too. Because of the angle being further away, they would probably hit even more people than the killer did.

  15. Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Kinda looks like a weird dream/nightmare. Makes me wonder if those in charge keep adding little extras (like the crowns) just to see how far they can push it before someone says “Nipple clamps? You’ve got to be kidding Pastor?”

    • David Coxill
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      Some of the crowns look like the ones Burger King have for Children .

  16. Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Well, they look completely sane.

  17. Jimbo
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Just 250 people in this militia-of-God? I’m not impressed.

    • Doug
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

      When Jesus started out, he only had 12!

  18. Lee
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Most humans seem to naturally feel a desire to be important, to live a life of significance, and if they don’t achieve it the right way — with hard work, education, and infused with a deep understanding of ethics and the scientific method — they’ll grasp onto whatever nuttiness comes their way. It’s not just the people standing there with their AR-15s, it’s the look in their eyes that says: “I am a weapon in the hands of God. Fear God, and me, of course.”

    • Historian
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Exactly. People who feel they have not achieved enough in life will turn to organizations that give them meaning whether it be religious, militias, or sports teams.

  19. Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Bizarre, even by goddy gun nut standards.

    • nicky
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      And then there are still people that call free masons bizarre!

  20. Robert Bray
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    A neologistic word for members of religious cults: automatonamous. In this case, with the Moonies, it’s not just the guns. Look at the ceremonial dress-up clothes (I especially noticed the white-glove treatment of the AR-15s)and the solemn demeanor of the men dressed in black and women in white. I have to infer that in surrendering selfhood they believe they’ve found it.

    Where I reside we have the Jehovah’s Witnesses who come in every year for a big conclave to do whatever it is they do. Same cultish behavior on the streets (no ‘outsider’ sees them in the rented auditorium): patriarchs marching toward Zion–which I think they believe is located in the constellation of the Pleiades–and trailing behind the wife and (often) many children of the paterfamilias. Each carries a sack lunch, since they won’t patronize any of the restaurants downtown, or for that matter have anything to do with us gentiles.

    And let’s not forget the ultra-scary Nation of Islam. . . .

  21. Taz
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I knew the Moonies where nuts, but I didn’t know they were militant. Does anyone doubt that if the “leader” commands them to start killing, they’ll obey?

    • Zetopan
      Posted March 4, 2018 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” – M. de Voltaire

  22. Hempenstein
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Is the ringleader there the actual (biological) son of old Moon? They all consider that one to be their father.

    Creeped out to be living in the same geopolitical state, but at least they’re on the diagonally opposite corner.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      Yes, the old man had more than one son. A Justin Moon happens to own Kahr Arms, a gun Maker in Pike county. See how nicely that works out.

      • nicky
        Posted March 1, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        If I’m not mistaken Kahr is specialised in handguns, not Armalite-15 type rifles

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted March 1, 2018 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

          Yes, but if you looked at pictures of the crowd of moodies you would see lots of guns besides AR-15s.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

          “It is currently under the Kahr Firearms Group, a USA based firearms manufacturer, which includes Kahr Arms, Thompson, Auto-Ordnance and Magnum Research.”

          And we all know what Thompson and Auto-Ordnance are famous for, no?


          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted March 2, 2018 at 11:28 am | Permalink

            Fortunately, no, we don’t know. Well, not me, on the safe side of the Pond.
            I’m going to guess machine guns and tanks?

  23. Posted March 1, 2018 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    We live in strange times.

    Speaking of strange, there’s a new book out, “The Faith of Donald J. Trump: A Spiritual Biography.” The LA Times this morning had an appropriately titled article on it: “Holy crap: The ‘godly’ side of Donald Trump”

  24. Posted March 1, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I hope these images are seen by everyone in America, especially those who own guns and those who are religious. These images are not only embarrassing to gun owners they can shame believers into not wanting any part of this craziness. A craziness they can no longer deny being a small part.

    Religion doesn’t get to put it’s ‘crazy’ on the mantle of science and the religious don’t get to ignore the ‘crazy’ of their brethren.

    • nicky
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      Don’t hold your breath, of course they are the wrong kind of believers, easy.

  25. Neil Wolfe
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    I love the lady wearing a surgical mask in the ceremony. If her god is not only powerful but also willing do her bidding in blessing those guns, why not ask him to get rid of infectious disease instead?

    • GBJames
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Could be a defense against breathing in an evil spirit!

      • darrelle
        Posted March 1, 2018 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        I wonder if there are any UL, NIOSH or ECE certification standards for that.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted March 2, 2018 at 11:33 am | Permalink

        Considering that every mask-wearing idiot I’ve seen in an airport (I can’t recall seeing one on the bare streets) has left gaping gaps round the side of the mask, rendering them useless, I doubt there would be much effectiveness left at all.
        I wonder how long they use them for, and what their bacterial load is, after the moist incubation.

  26. JohnE
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Complete, utter, loons who belong in a mental hospital. Letting these people have a voice in the debate over gun control is like allowing Jeffrey Dahmer to participate in a debate about cannibalism.

    Between Trump and the gun nuts, I think it’s abundantly clear that we’ve reached the point where the inmates are now running the asylum.

  27. Posted March 1, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Glad I dont live anywhere near nutters like that clearly incapable of inner reflection and how they appear to the sane parts of the world.

    Surely thats a film set??

    Scary. They among us (well, whoever lives there)

  28. Matt
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Religion and ammosexuality is a double whammy mental disorder.

  29. Mark
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    To the people of the United States – we send thoughts and prayers

  30. Jon Gallant
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    My own place of worship, the Holy Thompson Unification Church, is based on an image of Jesus Christ holding a submachine gun. Our sacraments hold that Jesus did not roll the rock away from his burial tomb, but rather blew it up with a charge of C4. After that, He and his enforcer Saul of Tarsus went about making converts with the aid of a Tommy gun, leading to the gunpoint convertion of the Emperor Constantine. In our version of the Eucharist, the bread and wine are mystically converted into .45 ACP cartridges.

    I have to admit, as the above reveals, that the Pennsylvania moonies do make things almost impossible for satire.

    • Desnes Diev
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      Is Rambo Jesus’ grand-grand-great-grand-etc.-son?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

      I assume the Holy Tommy Gun would have been fitted with the 100-round drum magazine?


  31. Mark R.
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    This gives me recollections of the prologue in Delillo’s Mao II. Chilling.

  32. rickflick
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    It was just reported the Putin has invited the Moonies to Russia to bless his new nukes. They were shopping Priceline for tickets when they learned he’s unwilling to wear a crown during the cerimony. The whole thing is off.

  33. Dave
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Here’s another pic of the ceremony…

    • Dave
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Crap…that link didn’t show the pic. I’ll have to go with this one…

  34. Posted March 1, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    “Why does that older woman in front need an assault rifle?
    I point the finger at Daisy May Moses, Jed Clampett’s ma in law, Granny.
    I can still see her running around the mansion wielding a shotgun. That i found funny, but this is ridiculous and a little … insane.

    • Toni Jordon
      Posted March 1, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      A little?!

  35. Glenn McDonald
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Religion is alive and active here in Ky. Kim Davis , the county court clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to gays and lesbians has written a book about that experience called “Under God’s Authority.” It is being promoted by governor of the state Matt Bevins. Also the Ark Park andCreation Museum are lowering their prices for children. Jerry ..why don’t you open a Why Evolution Is True museum across the road?

  36. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    “The ceremony went off without a hitch—or rather, without a death.”

    I’m (almost) maliciously disappointed. Just think – with all those rifles in there, carefully unloaded, anyone who snuck a loaded one in would have had a field day.

    The irony would have been delicious.


    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted March 2, 2018 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Would you like a club with your Schadenfreude?

      There are probably several lunatics thinking exactly the same thing, and planning to attend the next such with a crown and a couple of loaded BigClips

  37. Ronnie Cheah
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    Real life apeing (pun intended) fiction in an old Planet of the Apes where they worshipped a nuclear middle.

  38. Diane G.
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    Onward Christian Soldiers!

  39. Posted March 2, 2018 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Terrifying. Glad now to be living in the US!

  40. dave
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Am I missing something? The school was relocated for the day, why? Surely there was no danger from those AR15s? Aren’t the congregation going to go home and still possess the firearms? Wouldn’t the school therefore need to stay relocated?

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