Last week hundreds of couples toting (I believe unarmed) AR-15 rifles attended a “Blessing” – a ceremony sanctifying marriages – in Newfoundland, PA.

This ceremony was conducted by an offshoot of the Unification Church – the Sanctuary Church – that is led by one of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s children, Hyung Jin Moon.

The AR-15s are said by Moon to represent the “rods of iron” referred to in the Book of Revelation.

Needless to say, I watched this unfold in horror. As it was mentioned in an online group I belong to for people who were born and/or raised in the Church. As local friends (I live in PA) sent me local news stories, of how nearby schools were going to be left empty that day. As friends in foreign countries sent me the link, with huge question marks.

Those who have read the prepublication version of my memoir comment that I don’t portray the Church as horrific. I will be the first to say that painful things happened to and around me because of Church teachings, and because of how Church leaders – and members – decided to live based on Church teachings and to interpret and enforce Church teachings. I do remember vaguely knowing that Rev. Moon owned, amongst other things, a factory in Korea that produced guns, or ammunition, or something like that. (It was clearly vague in my mind at the time.) But he was the Messiah, so anything he did was obviously God’s will and therefore beyond good. It was heavenly and divine.

In many ways, joining the Church was – which may be difficult to grasp – a relief and a sanctuary for me based on much of what had already happened to and around me. As completely messed up – and absolutely a cult – as it was. And is.

But I look at it now. I hear these stories. I know that – in my humble opinion and from my experience – Rev. Moon’s children (at least many of them) are understandably way, way, way, way, way screwed up. But I read the news, and my heart breaks, and terror fills me.

I have said many times before. I will say many times again. There is nothing more intoxicating than knowing you have the “Truth.” This “Truth” is what causes people to bring “rods of iron” into a church for a “blessing.” Just weeks after a similar assault weapon killed way too many people (any people would be way too many people) in Parkland, FL. This “Truth” is what could – I repeat could – cause these church members – or any believers in fundamentalist, extremist religions and/or philosophies – to use their weapons for “God’s will” or for “right.”

Any “Truth” that causes us to know that we are more true, or more right, or more divine or deserving…or more anything…is dangerous.

Extremely dangerous.

Which is why I write my blog. Which is why I wrote my memoir. Which is why I speak about this whenever and however I can. Which is why I want to help anyone who has left, and anyone who wants to leave, extremist situations. (And even those who don’t yet want to leave.)

In many ways my childhood in the Church was horrific. And in many ways, I guess it wasn’t. Or at least not only horrific. But any church – or any one – who suggests that shooting someone else may be God’s will? That to me is horrific. And that to me is not God.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash