A Kentucky pastor is encouraging people to attend a service with guns in holsters, enter a raffle to win a free handgun, and be sermonized by operators of gun stores and firing ranges.
In what's being called an "Open Carry Church Service," Pastor Ken Pagano of New Bethel Church in Louisville (Yes this is actually happening in the state's most metropolitan city and not somewhere in Appalachia!) says that he's just trying to "think outside the box" to grow his flock.
The event, slated for late Saturday afternoon, June 27, is being promoted with online posters, including one using a red font resembling splattered blood with the words: "Open Carry Church Service."
Pagano said the poster wasn't intended to glorify bloodshed and that the lettering was just "a font that somebody developed." And he said he didn't want the event to be confused with regular Sunday worship at the Assemblies of God congregation.
"It's just a celebration we're doing to coincide with Fourth of July," he said. "There are people who own firearms and do so responsibly and enjoy them as a sport, maybe like golfing or bowling."
Win Underwood, one of the owners of Bluegrass Indoor Range, said he would try to attend the event if family responsibilities allow.
"I'm not aware that anybody's ever done anything like this before," he said.
New Bethel members regularly have outings at the firing rang, he said.
"You would be surprised how many churches use shooting for recreation with fellowship," he said.
Underwood said he's a religious person himself and believes the First and Second amendments are closely tied in the nation's Revolutionary War history.
"Guns are the one thing that secured freedom of religion for our country," he said.
Dave Lowley, an elder at the church and a military veteran, supported the event as part of the congregation's efforts to conduct creative evangelistic outreaches.
"We're advocating gun safety and gun awareness," he said.
At the end of the piece, Pastor Pagano explained the Christian justification for all this.
"Not every branch of Christianity is pacifistic," he said. If someone is "not against the First and Second amendments, I'll be glad to sit down with anybody to say, 'How can we do this better?'"
Jesus must be looking down on all of this beaming with pride right now. You just know if he were down here with us he'd be packing, and probably using his heat to murder OB/GYNs who perform abortions.