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Death and Taxes

Our Country Is Deeply Unwell

NEWFOUNDLAND, PA - FEBRUARY 28: Couples hold AR-15 rifles and other guns during a ceremony at the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary on February 28, 2018 in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania. The controversial church, which is led by the son of the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon, believes the AR-15 symbolizes the "rod of iron" in the biblical book of Revelation, and it has encouraged couples to bring the weapons to a "commitment ceremony" or "Perfection Stage Book of Life Registration Blessing". Officials in the rural area in the Pocono Mountains have reportedly told elementary school parents that their children will be relocated on Wednesday to accommodate the AR-15 ceremony. The semiautomatic rifles are similar to the weapon used in a Florida high school shooting on February 14. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Just read the first sentence of this Associated Press story from today:

Crown-wearing worshippers clutching AR-15 rifles drank holy wine and exchanged or renewed wedding vows in a commitment ceremony at a Pennsylvania church on Wednesday, prompting a nearby school to cancel classes.

All you really need to know that’s not conveyed in that sentence is that some of the crowns were made of bullets. The ceremony was held at the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania, a congregation with a worldwide following that believes the AR-15 rifle—which Nikolas Jacob Cruz recently used to murder 17 people at Stoneman Douglas High School—represents the “rod of iron” in the Bible’s apocalyptic book of Revelation.

The church’s reverend, Sean Moon, is son of the late and infamous Sun Myung Moon, who claimed to be the second coming of Jesus Christ. At the ceremony, the younger 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.” He and his followers evidently forgot about the part in the Bible about not worshipping false idols. Some deeply frightening photos from the event are below.

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A bad political cartoonist couldn’t invent such a heavy-handed visual critique of America’s cult of the gun. These people think the end of the world is coming. Maybe they’re right.