A church in Joplin, Missouri, held a raffle giving away two Black Rain AR15 assault rifles in an attempt to "get more people to come ... follow Jesus" this past Father's Day. The pastor defended the outreach saying he wouldn't mind giving away 1,000 guns to bring more people to Christ.
"Want to win a Black Rain AR-15?" the Ignite Church asked on its Facebook page. "Dads, you earn an entry for yourself, each child you have and if you bring your dad to church. Those that registered last week get to register again!!! Don't miss this."
The church's lead pastor, Pastor Heath Mooneyham, also posted a video on Facebook, saying, "So get your butts to church, if you're late don't cry to me that you're a pansy and you cannot set your alarm, alright? You're a big boy. You got big balls between your legs, you're a dad right?"
The raffle was to target men between the ages of 18 and 35, according to The Joplin Globe. "That's the biggest black hole in our society," Mooneyham was quoted as saying. "We thought instead of a lot of small things, we'd give away stuff the guys were interested in. We're not trying to put on a show for anybody. We're just dudes."
Responding to criticism, Mooneyham said, "I despise the term 'assault rifle.' Whoever coined that phrase has to be misinformed. The appearance of things - I think that's our story as a church - don't let the appearance of something stop you."
The point is to get people to church, the pastor argued. "If we get people in the door, we get to preach the gospel," he said. "If we can get more people to follow Jesus, I'll give away 1,000 guns. I don't care."
He also cited Cain and Abel in the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament. "People are crazy, period. Murder has been going on since the beginning of time. The first murder recorded in the Bible was with a rock."
If old people can be given quilts, then why can't young men be given guns, he reasoned. "That's how excited our church got about the AR-15 because that speaks our language."
"All experiences at Ignite are comprised of two primary elements: powerful worship and a life-changing message," the church says on its website. "Worship at Ignite is led by a talented live band, and the style is consistent with today's culture. Messages are dynamic and relevant. A weekend experience lasts for one hour. In addition, we spend time engaging, connecting, and doing ministry with the church body throughout the week."
In March, the Kentucky Baptist Convention sought to "point people to Christ" by giving away guns at Second Amendment Celebrations hosted across the state, according to ThinkProgress.
"The number of unchurched men who will show up will be in direct proportion to the number of guns you give away," spokesman Chuck McAlister told The Courier-Journal. "And I can almost tell you the number of men who would show up based on the make or model. There is a huge interest among unchurched men in the state of Kentucky regarding guns and gun rights that is even more of a draw than a toaster or money would be."