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God and Guns

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Attracting new members to any church often proves to be a difficult task.  In the last couple of weeks, however, one Kentucky former church pastor has found a way to appeal to the sportsmen and Second Amendment advocates in his area.  Are guns and God mutually inclusive?  

“Kentucky Baptist Church Gun Giveaway Draws People To ‘2nd Amendment Celebrations’

Posted By: Michele Wright, CBS 12 News Anchor

KENTUCKY (CNN)– A Kentucky church, Lone Oak First Baptist Church, has hit on an unconventional way of attracting nonreligious people to their services– by offering them a free steak dinner and a chance to win a gun.

Billing these events as a celebration of “faith and firearms,” the church will hold the next 2nd Amendment Celebration and Dinner on March 6, 2014, with former pastor and avid hunter Chuck McAlister as the guest speaker. McAlister serves as the evangelistic leader of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

The churches seek to draw in young “unchurched” men who are passionate about hunting and their second amendment rights. The Courier-Journal described the atmosphere at these events as a mix between a political rally and a prayer meeting.

“We have found that the number of unchurched men who will show up will be in direct proportion to the number of guns you give away,” McAlister said to the Courier-Journal. He claims that 1,678 made “professions of faith” at some 50 events last year, most of which took place in Kentucky.

Not all churches approve of this tactic for spreading Jesus’ word. Rev. Joe Phelps, pastor of Louisville’s independent Highland Baptist Church, commented, “How ironic to use guns to lure men in to hear a message about Jesus, who said, ‘Put away the sword.'”

Pastor Nancy Jo Kemper of New Union Church in Versailles called the events a “travesty,” adding, “How terrible it would be if one of those guns given away at a church were to cause the death of an innocent victim.” She said that the giveaway verges on bribery and “makes a mockery of what evangelism, to my way of thinking, ought to be.”

McAlister defends his gun-promoting strategy as simply, “affinity evangelism,” with hunting as a hook to catch Kentucky men. “So we get in there and burp and scratch and talk about the right to bear arms and that stuff,” he said.

By throwing his support behind a hot-button political issue, McAlister is able to appeal to his audience on a more religious level as well.

“There is only one path to know the God who made the great outdoors, and that is through his son, Jesus Christ,” he says”

via WPEC-TV CBS12 News :: News – Top Stories – Kentucky Baptist Church Gun Giveaway Draws People To ‘2nd Amendment Celebrations’.

Federal Judge Says “No” to Religious War Memorial

memorial

This story comes from an online article printed by The American Humanist Association.  A planned war memorial at a baseball park in Lake Elsinore became the target of a lawsuit because many members of the community along with organizations interested in civil liberties voiced outrage for the narrow depiction of a single faith to be depicted on the face of the monument.  An attorney had previously warned the council that the design would be interpreted as unconstitutional, but the city moved forward as a symbolic show of support for their Christian principles.  Were this monument privately funded would the court have reached a similar ruling?       

“(Los Angeles, CA—Feb. 27, 2014)—A federal judge has ruled that a planned religious war memorial by the city of Lake Elsinore, CA at the city-owned baseball stadium can’t be built because it “violates both the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause and California’s Establishment and No Preference Clauses.” The planned monument depicts a soldier kneeling in prayer before a Christian cross.

The suit was filed by the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center in May 2013. A preliminary injunction against the city was issued by US District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson in July 2013 and stopped activity until the final ruling was handed down. Among other things, the judge ruled that the planned monument lacks a secular purpose and has the unconstitutional effect of endorsing religion over non-religion.

“I’m pleased Judge Wilson decided to uphold the valuable principles contained within the First Amendment,” said Appignani Humanist Legal Center Director David Niose. “I hope that if members of the city council still want to honor veterans, they will move forward with a monument design that represents everyone who fought for our freedoms.”

The suit and an earlier letter sent to the city contain details about the times several city officials and supporters of the proposed monument publicly declared the Christian symbolism was at least part of the reason they supported its construction. Despite the clearly sectarian motivation for spending public money—and a warning from the city’s attorney that the monument as approved is likely unconstitutional—the city council unanimously voted to approve the monument anyway, saying that they were “taking a stand” for Christianity and against the separation of church and state.

Officials from the City of Lake Elsinore have the option to appeal the ruling.”