Some church leaders in Kentucky say guns can be an effective way to beef up the flock.
Organizers of a Baptist church convention said it will use guns giveaways across the state to attract nonbelievers who are more prone to go duck hunting than sit in a church pew, The Courier-Journal reported.
The goal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention's "Second Amendment Celebrations" is to "point people to Christ," the report said.
"You have to know the hook that will attract people, and hunting is huge in Kentucky,” Chuck McAlister, a former pastor and ex host of an Outdoor Channel hunting show, told the paper. McAlister is also the convention’s team leader for evangelism.
'Can you picture Jesus giving away guns or toasters or raffle tickets?'
- Rev. Joe Phelps
He said he can understand how the initiative can draw criticism. But he told the paper that traditional ways to reach out to the community have not been effective.
"The days 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 told the paper.
He insists that the gun giveaway is meant for hunters and for protection only, but that has not stopped critics who called the event a contradiction of the teachings of Jesus.
One of those critics is Rev. Joe Phelps, the pastor of a Louisville Baptist church. Phelps quoted Jesus who said, "Put away the sword."
"Can you picture Jesus giving away guns or toasters or raffle tickets?... He gave away bread once, but that was a sign -- not a sales pitch," he reportedly said.
Organizers point to past events and say there's evidence of effectiveness. They expect about 1,000 people to attend one service at Paduch's Lone Oak Baptist Church, where attendees will be served steak dinners and have a chance to win 25 handguns, long guns and shotguns, the report said. The event has been called an "outreach to rednecks."