The Kentucky Baptist Convention is organizing gun giveaways across the state in an effort to help “unchurched men” find Jesus Christ.
Chuck McAlister, a former Outdoor Channel hunting show host who is in charge of the effort, told The Courier-Journal that 1,678 men have already made “professions of faith” at “Second Amendment Celebrations,” where they showed up hoping to get guns as door prizes in the last year.
On Thursday, Lone Oak Baptist Church in Paducah was planning to giveaway another 25 handguns and shotguns. And organizers expected as many as 1,000 people to attend.
“The day of hanging a banner in front of your church and saying you’re having a revival and expecting the community to show up is over,” McAlister explained to the paper. “You have to know the hook that will attract people, and hunting is huge in Kentucky… So we get in there and burp and scratch and talk about the right to bear arms and that stuff.”
The Courier-Journal points to an Internet video of McAlister speaking to Silverdale Baptist Church’s men’s wildlife supper last year in Tennessee last year. The 30 minute talk focuses on hunting and opposition to gun control, but makes little mention of Jesus or religion.
“How many of y’all own guns?” he asks the crowd.
“That is awesome,” McAlister responds to the raised hands. “We’ve got an army right here!”
The paper reported that 103 men made “salvation decisions” to accept Christ as their savior after the meeting.
But not everyone thinks that using guns to sell God is great idea.
“How ironic to use guns to lure men in to hear a message about Jesus, who said, ‘Put away the sword,’” Highland Baptist Church pastor Rev. Joe Phelps said, adding that “Giveaways for God” seemed wrong.
“Can you picture Jesus giving away guns, or toasters or raffle tickets?” he asked. “He gave away bread once, but that was as a sign, not a sales pitch.”
New Union Church Pastor Nancy Jo Kemper agreed.
“Churches should not be encouraging people in their communities to arm themselves against their neighbors, but to love their neighbors, as instructed by Jesus,” she observed. “How terrible it would be if one of those guns given away at a church were to cause the death of an innocent victim.”
McAlister, however, defended the tactic, saying that giving away guns is different than giving away cash.
“You have to know the hook that attracts individuals,” he pointed out. “The number of unchurched that will show up at an event will be in direct proportion to the number of guns you give away. And I can almost tell you the number of men that will show up based on the make and model of the gun.”
Watch the video below from The Courier-Journal, broadcast March 3, 2014.
Watch the video below from Silverdale Baptist Church, recorded in 2013.
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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