Whom would Jesus riddle with bullets?

Jesus, obviously, would NOT. But a certain Pennsyltucky church with no sense of irony would:

Yes, that’s right. They’re blessing murder weapons now.

A church in the Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, is inviting worshipers to bring AR-15-style rifles to be blessed in a ceremony next week. The World Peace and Unification Sanctuary in Newfoundland is located just a short distance from an elementary school.

Church leaders expect over 600 people to attend the blessing next Wednesday morning, in which worshipers have been asked to bring their own AR-15 gun, or, as the church refers to the weapons, the “rod of iron.”


Tim Elder, the Unification Sanctuary’s director of world missions, said Tuesday that the church believes that the gun symbolizes the ‘rod of iron’ that is mentioned in the Bible’s apocalyptic Book of Revelation.

The church website advises parishioners: “If unable to purchase and legally transport such a ‘rod of iron’ because of laws barring the purchase of weapons, or other reasons, couple are invited to purchase a $700 gift card from a gun store, as such evidence of their intent to purchase a ‘rod of iron’ in the future.”

Elder told the Associated Press the weapons will be checked at the door, unloaded and secured with zip ties. However, he stressed that last week’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School only strengthened his conviction that the blessing should go ahead.

“Now more than ever, good people need to stand up and claim for themselves the tools that can be used to stop that kind of evil,” he said.

Well, Mr. Elder, it can’t honestly be said that you were at the front of the line when Jesus was handing out the brains now, can it?

Meanwhile, the parents of local schoolkids (the church is near a school) have expressed some concerns which are rather understandable in light of how “the rod of iron” actually works. Here’s what a doctor who treated the victims of the Parkland school shooting found, and why she thinks AR-15s (and other “rods of iron” like them) should be banned:

Routine handgun injuries leave entry and exit wounds and linear tracks through the victim’s body that are roughly the size of the bullet. If the bullet does not directly hit something crucial like the heart or the aorta, and they do not bleed to death before being transported to our care at a trauma center, chances are, we can save the victim. The bullets fired by an AR-15 are different; they travel at higher velocity and are far more lethal. The damage they cause is a function of the energy they impart as they pass through the body. A typical AR-15 bullet leaves the barrel traveling almost three times faster than, and imparting more than three times the energy of, a typical 9mm bullet from a handgun. An AR-15 rifle outfitted with a magazine with 50 rounds allows many more lethal bullets to be delivered quickly without reloading.

I have seen a handful of AR-15 injuries in my career. I saw one from a man shot in the back by a SWAT team years ago. The injury along the path of the bullet from an AR-15 is vastly different from a low-velocity handgun injury. The bullet from an AR-15 passes through the body like a cigarette boat travelling at maximum speed through a tiny canal. The tissue next to the bullet is elastic—moving away from the bullet like waves of water displaced by the boat—and then returns and settles back. This process is called cavitation; it leaves the displaced tissue damaged or killed. The high-velocity bullet causes a swath of tissue damage that extends several inches from its path. It does not have to actually hit an artery to damage it and cause catastrophic bleeding. Exit wounds can be the size of an orange.

With an AR-15, the shooter does not have to be particularly accurate. The victim does not have to be unlucky. If a victim takes a direct hit to the liver from an AR-15, the damage is far graver than that of a simple handgun shot injury. Handgun injuries to the liver are generally survivable unless the bullet hits the main blood supply to the liver. An AR-15 bullet wound to the middle of the liver would cause so much bleeding that the patient would likely never make it to a trauma center to receive our care.

One of my ER colleagues was waiting nervously for his own children outside the school. While the shooting was still in progress, the first responders were gathering up victims whenever they could and carrying them outside the building. Even as a physician trained in trauma situations, though, there was nothing he could do at the scene to help to save the victims who had been shot with an AR-15. Most of them died on the spot, with no fighting chance at life.

If that’s not proof that it’s a murder weapon waiting for a chance to kill someone, I don’t know what is. But then again, since when is the gun cult swayed by logic or rationality, much less the gory medical specifics of how murders happen?

Oh, and apropos “cult”: Yes, this church IS a cult. The word “Unification” in there should be a dead giveaway. Yup, it’s the far-right, loony-toony Moonies again! When a church infamous for its cultic recruiting tactics gets behind a murder weapon, that should tell you what kind of “religion” would “bless” a “rod of iron”.

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