Target: Paul Chitwood, Executive Director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention
Goal: Condemn the use of free gun giveaway events to attract new church members
Second Amendment Celebrations, held in support of Americans’ right to carry firearms, often include controversial gun giveaways. Private businesses have used free gun giveaways as promotions, and recently the trend has grown to include several churches in the state of Kentucky. Many congregation leaders have criticized the move for supporting violence while sending mixed messages about their faith.
“Churches should not be encouraging people in their communities to arm themselves against their neighbors, but to love their neighbors,” said pastor and former director of the Kentucky Council of Churches Nancy Jo Kemper. The Reverend Joe Phelps also condemned the trend in an interview with the Courier-Journal, noting “How ironic to use guns to lure men in to hear a message about Jesus, who said, ‘Put away the sword.'”
What organizers describe as “outreach to rednecks” comes across in terribly poor taste. A March, 2014 event scheduled at Paducah, Kentucky’s Lone Oak Baptist Church was expected to draw as many as 1,000 people with free steak dinners and the chance to win one of 25 guns. Three children were killed, and five injured, in a 1997 school shooting just down the road from the venue.
Tell the Kentucky Baptist Convention to stop hosting these offensive events, and to focus on using the messages of its Christian faith, good works, and charity to attract new followers.
Dear Mr. Chitwood,
I respect your group’s desire to bring your faith to non-believers. Religion is no doubt an important part of your life, personally as well as professionally, and to want to share that with others is understandable. But I cannot support your use of free gun giveaways to attract potential converts.
Many Americans depend on hunting to provide food for their families. But rather than build affinity between wilderness enthusiasts, your Second Amendment Celebrations come across as “giveaways for God,” according to Rev. Joe Phelps of Louisville’s independent Highland Baptist Church. And are they the best use of your limited resources? Organizer and former pastor Chuck McAlister told USA Today that although 500 people showed up at a recent event, less than 15% decided to seek salvation. The same publication has shared statistics on gun violence, declaring that twice as many children die from gunshot wounds than from cancer.
Churches, whose faith preaches love, peace, and tolerance have no business promoting firearms. Use your conviction in your beliefs and your good works to bring new followers to your faith — not the lure of a shiny, new gun.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Chuckeieio via Wikimedia