The Kentucky Baptist Convention is embracing a controversial tactic in an effort to reach non-believers: handing out firearms during gun-rights events called "Second Amendment Celebrations," according to the Kentucky's Courier-Journal.
Lone Oak First Baptist Church in Paducah, Ky., for instance, will host a "Second Amendment Celebration" on March 6, where they'll offer a free steak dinner to the first 1,000 people who show up. And according to the church's website 25 "hand guns, long guns and shotguns" will be given away.
"Award recipients will be given a voucher for the item redeemable at Paducah Shooters Supply," reads an online advertisement for the event. "Recipient must complete all required state and federal applications and background checks at Paducah Shooter Supply prior to taking possession of the firearm. If an award winner is under 18 year old, the award will be given to a parent or legal guardian."
Image source: Lone Oak First Baptist Church
Lone Oak First Baptist Church is also advertising March 9 as a "camo" or casual attire Sunday -- a worship service during which no one needs to "dress 'churchy.'"
These "Second Amendment Celebrations" -- like the one at Lone Oak -- feature Chuck McAlister, 60, a former pastor, storyteller and an ex-Outdoor Channel hunting show host.
McAlister serves as the Kentucky Baptist Convention's evangelistic leader. He said that 1,678 men became Christians at 50 of these "Second Amendment Celebrations" last year, according to the Courier-Journal.
And Paul Chitwood, executive director Kentucky Baptist Convention, said these events -- referred to as "outreach to rednecks" -- have "been very effective," though others have concerns over the inclusion of guns.
"How ironic to use guns to lure men in to hear a message about Jesus, who said, ‘Put away the sword,'" the Rev. Joe Phelps of Louisville’s independent Highland Baptist Church told the Courier Journal. "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."
While McAlister understands why some critics have concerns, he told the outlet that the guns are being offered up for protection and hunting only -- and that there's a deep need to reach people in new and innovative ways.
"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," he said. "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."
With a focus on the Second Amendment, these events take a political tone and focus on gun rights to help rally outsiders. Take, for instance, the description offered by Lone Oak First Baptist Church. Rather than focusing only on the Bible and Christianity, the nation's founders and the right to bear arms are invoked.
"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 description reads. "The Second Amendment Celebration (formerly Beast Feast) recognizes the rights and responsibilities of those freedoms while celebrating both through appreciation of the outdoors and God's provisions with the purpose to point people to Christ."
Read more about "Second Amendment Celebrations" here.