March 10, 2014

Columnist: Kentucky Baptists lure unchurched with gun giveaways

The Kentucky Baptist Convention thinks it’s found a way to attract non-churchgoing men.

The Kentucky Baptist Convention thinks it’s found a way to attract non-churchgoing men.

Give away guns. At church.

You read that right: According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Kentucky Baptist Convention is staging “Second Amendment Celebrations” at member churches around the state.

As an “outreach to rednecks,” as the convention’s spokesman put it, the churches are giving away guns as door prizes as a way to lure unchurched men and then, if all goes according to plan, convert them into followers of Christ.

More than 1,000 people were expected to show up at Lone Oak Baptist Church in Paducah this month for a free steak dinner and a chance to win one of 25 handguns, long guns and shotguns.

Chuck McAlister, an ex-pastor and former host of a hunting show on the Outdoor Channel, presides at these gunfests in Kentucky churches. He told the Courier-Journal that 1,678 men had made “professions of faith” at about 50 such events last year, most of them in Kentucky.

But the newspaper talked to some pastors who thought the idea was a bit backwards if the goal was to make these men disciples of Jesus — also known as The Prince of Peace.

“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 Louisville’s Highland Baptist Church.

Read the full Courier-Journal story and watch a related video here.

I checked with the state Baptist Convention of North Carolina, whose spokesman, Brian Davis, said he’s not heard of any gun-giveaways by churches in the Tar Heel State.

And Davis said his organization of 4,300 Baptist churches has rules in place that prohibit firearms at its camps and conference centers.

“So it would be difficult for us to endorse that as a convention because of our own policies,” Davis said.

Still, he did not pass judgment on what the Kentucky Baptists are doing.

“That’s a new one to me,” he said. “But the Scriptures do say we should try to engage people where they are.”

In Charlotte, at least one church is going the other way: At Christmastime for the last seven years, New Life Fellowship Center in the city’s Double Oak community has offered gift cards in exchange for people dropping off guns at the church.

The program brought in about 120 guns the first year. The church, pastored by John Kee, turns the guns over to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to be destroyed.

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