Hundreds of couples toting AR-15 rifles attended a committment ceremony at a Unification church in Pennsylvania on Wednesday to have their marriages blessed.
Women attending the ceremony dressed in white, while men wore dark suits. Participants also donned crowns, some of which were made of bullets.
The 250 couples had been asked to bring their unloaded AR-15 guns to the church in the Pocono Mountains, some 160 kilometres north of Philadelphia, where Reverend Hyung Jin “Sean” Moon blessed their marriages.
The church believes the AR-15 symbolises the “rod of iron” in the Bible's Book of Revelation.
The blessing ceremony came on the heels of the Florida school massacre on February 14 in which 17 students and staff were killed.
An AR-15 rifle was used in the attack.
In a statement, Moon — who became leader of the church after the death of its founder and his father, Reverend Sun Myung Moon — said staff of the Florida school should have been armed.
“Each of us is called to use the power of the ‘rod of iron’ not to arm or oppress as has been done in satanic kingdoms of this world, but to protect God’s children,” he said.
“If the football coach who rushed into the building to defend students from the shooter with his own body had been allowed to carry a firearm, many lives, including his own, could have been saved."
Students from a school near the church were relocated for the day to distance them from the gun-toting couples.