The Kentucky Baptist Convention has embraced a controversial strategy for opening the hearts of non-believers to Jesus Christ - giving them a free steak dinner and a chance to win a free gun.
A spokesman for the KBC's "Second Amendment Celebrations" - where 25 handguns, shotguns and rifles are given away as door prizes - said the events are intended as an "outreach to rednecks," and that they've experienced success, pulling much larger crowds than regular Sunday services.
An event in January managed to attract 500 attendees, despite snowy conditions, and 61 people "made the decision to seek salvation."
Some clergy members, like pastor Nancy Jo Kemper, former director of the Kentucky Council of Churches, aren't sold on the wisdom of using free guns to bring people into the fold, calling it a "travesty" of the gospel.
Churches should not be encouraging people in their communities to arm themselves against their neighbors, but to love their neighbors, as instructed by Jesus... How terrible it would be if one of those guns given away at a church were to cause the death of an innocent victim.
But ex-pastor Chuck McAlister, the KBC's evangelical team leader and former host of an Outdoor Channel hunting show, says he's just trying to meet the people where they are.
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... You have to know the hook that will attract people, and hunting is huge in Kentucky... we certainly don't advocate violence. We are advocating guns for hunting and protection only.
When asked by media if he thought Jesus would approve of the gun giveaway, McAlister responded equivocally:
I don't know, but he was pretty handy with the whip when he ran the money-changers out of the temple.