February 28, 2018 3:31 pm
Updated: February 28, 2018 4:48 pm

U.S. church holds blessing ceremony for worshippers with AR-15 rifles

WATCH ABOVE: Worshippers clutching AR-15 rifles hold commitment ceremony

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NEWFOUNDLAND, Pa. — Worshippers clutching AR-15 rifles drank holy wine and exchanged wedding vows in a commitment ceremony at a Pennsylvania church.

The event Wednesday at the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary led a nearby school to cancel classes.

READ MORE: The difference between an AR-15 and handgun can be seen in the bullet wounds

The Rev. Sean Moon leads the church. He said in a prayer that God gave people the right to bear arms. Moon is the son of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a self-proclaimed messiah who founded the Unification Church, often described as a cult.

WATCH: AR-15 rifle has controversial history in deadly U.S. shootings

The sanctuary believes the AR-15 symbolizes the “rod of iron” in the book of Revelation, and encouraged couples to bring the weapons to the ceremony. An AR-15 was used in the Florida high school massacre.

Several protesters held signs outside the church, including one calling the group an “armed cult.”

Here are some photos from inside the church’s ceremony, and resulting protests:

A man with a NRA cap holds his gun while people with their AR-15-style rifles pray during a blessing ceremony.

Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

A woman tries to take out her AR-15-style rifle as people attend a blessing ceremony with their AR-15-style rifles in their cases.

Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

People attend a blessing ceremony with their AR-15-style rifles.

Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

People protest outside the church as worshipers attend a blessing ceremony with their AR-15-style rifles.

Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

People protest outside the church as worshipers attend a blessing ceremony with their AR-15-style rifles.

Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

— With a file from Global News reporter Maham Abedi

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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