Kentucky Baptist churches are giving away guns in an effort to lure new followers to Christ.
A spokesperson for the Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC), which organized the “Second Amendment Celebrations,” called the effort “outreach to rednecks,” according to the Courier-Journal.
As many as a 1,000 people are expected to attend the next gun giveaway at Lone Oak Baptist Church in Paducah on Thursday. Attendees will receive a free steak dinner and chance to win one of 25 shotguns, handguns, and long guns.
On a church flier it says the event is meant to “point people to Christ.”
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Chuck McAlister, an ex-pastor and former Outdoor Channel hunting show host, told the Courier-Journal that more than 500 people showed up to a January gun giveaway in the snow at Louisville’s Highview Baptist Church. He said more than 800 turned out last September at the Christian County’s Crofton Baptist Church and 101 claimed they found Christ that day.
“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,” said McAlister.
"You have to know the hook that attracts the individuals," he said. "The number of unchurched men that will show up at an event, will be in direct proportion to the number of guns you give away. I can almost tell you the number of men that will show up based on the make and model of the gun."
While the executive director of the KBC, Paul Chitwood, called the giveaways “very effective,” not all the clergy is on board with the effort.
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“How ironic to use guns to lure men in to hear a message about Jesus, who said, ‘Put away the sword,’” said the Rev. Joe Phelps, pastor of the Highland Baptist Church in Louisville.
“Giveaways for God” seem wrong, Phelps said. “Can you picture Jesus giving away guns, or toasters or raffle tickets? ... He gave away bread once, but that was as a sign, not a sales pitch.”
“Churches should not be encouraging people in their communities to arm themselves against their neighbors, but to love their neighbors, as instructed by Jesus,” said Nancy Jo Kemper, pastor of New Union Church in Versailles.
“How terrible it would be if one of those guns given away at a church were to cause the death of an innocent victim?” she asked.
When asked what Jesus would think of the giveaways, McAlister said, ““I don’t know, but he was pretty handy with the whip when he ran the money changers out of the temple.”
The KBC made headlines last month when Chitwood declared same-sex marriage was forcing the state to decline into “moral chaos.”
U.S. District Court Judge John Heyburn ruled that the state of Kentucky must recognize same sex marriages performed out of state.
"As Heyburn declares that the Commonwealth must recognize gay marriages performed in other states, the Constitution of Kentucky is being undermined," Chitwood wrote. "This decision moves us down the slippery slope toward launching Kentucky into moral chaos and depriving children of their innate need of both a father and a mother."