In an attempt to reach the “unchurched,” a Kentucky parish offered a free steak dinner and the chance to win one of 25 handguns, long guns and shotguns.
More than 1,300 “outdoor enthusiasts” accepted Lone Oak First Baptist Church‘s invitation Thursday, according to its website
“Our nation’s founders provided for our freedom to worship as we choose and our freedom to protect and provide for ourselves and our families.”
The gun offering is part of a new emphasis on “affinity” evangelism by the Kentucky Baptist Convention, which calls such events “Second Amendment Celebrations,” The Courier-Journal reported.
Former Pastor Chuck McAlister, a spokesman, called the events “outreach to rednecks.”
“In the event of a Second Amendment rally the number of unchurched men that show up will be in direct proportion to the number of guns you give away,” said McAlister, a one-time Outdoor Channel host, telling The Courier-Journal the strategy has been effective, with about 50 such events held last year, mostly in Kentucky. “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.”
Not all agree with the controversial strategy.
“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, according to The Courier-Journal.