According to the Associated Press, a Pennsylvania school district plans to cancel classes at an elementary school this week, following the announcement that a nearby church will be hosting a blessing ceremony featuring numerous AR-15 style rifles. The World Peace and Unification Sanctuary in Newfoundland, PA, believes the AR-15 symbolizes the "rod of iron" in the biblical book of Revelation, and as a result, the church is encouraging couples to bring AR-15 rifles to the ceremony.
Hundreds of couples are expected to attend the event, which is scheduled to be held approximately less than a mile away from Wallenpaupack South Elementary School. Last week, the superintendent of the Wallenpaupack Area School District wrote a letter to parents addressing the situation. He explained that while "there is no direct threat to our school or community," given concerns about parking traffic and the "nature of the event," children will be forced to go to other schools in the surrounding area for the day.
He says that there will be heightened security at the school all week, and told parents that the board "respects your decision if you choose to keep your children home for the day." The church says they've had the event planned for months now, and that the February 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida has had no influence on its nature. The Parkland gunman, Nikolas Cruz, used an AR-15, killing 17.
Church officials say that the guns will be not be loaded. The Unification Church, from which the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary broke off from, has been criticized and compared to a cult in the past and have attempted to distance themselves from the upcoming event.
The controversial blessing ceremony should add fuel to the gun control debate, which continues to rage on in the wake of the shooting.