A baptist church in Kentucky has given away guns as raffle prizes in a bid to "outreach to rednecks" and convert them to Christ, courier-journal.com has reported.
The giveaway event, held by members of the Lone Oak Baptist Church in Paducah in Kentucky, is part of "Second Amendment Celebrations" adopted by the Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC).
The second amendment, adopted in 1791 and included in the Bill of Rights, grants American citizens the right to keep and bear arms.
According to ex-pastor Chuck McAlister, who is also the Kentucky Baptist Convention's team leader for evangelism, 1,678 men made "professions of faith" at about 50 such events in 2013, most of them in Kentucky.
In Louisville, more than 500 people showed up for a gun giveaway at Highview Baptist Church, and 61 made decisions to seek salvation, McAlister continued.
Kentucky Baptist Convention's executive director Paul Chitwood thinks that this initiative has "been very effective".
Roger Alford, Kentucky Baptist Convention's communication director, described the Baptist Church's work as an attempt to "outreach to rednecks".
"You have to know the hook that will attract people, and hunting is huge in Kentucky," he said.
"So we get in there and burp and scratch and talk about the right to bear arms and that stuff."
Other clerics, however, criticise this method arguing that guns have nothing to do with faith.
"How ironic to use guns to lure men in to hear a message about Jesus, who said, 'Put away the sword,' " said the Rev. Joe Phelps, pastor of Louisville's independent Highland Baptist Church.
"'Giveaways for God' seem wrong," he added.
"Can you picture Jesus giving away guns, or toasters or raffle tickets? He gave away bread once, but that was as a sign, not a sales pitch."
Nancy Jo Kemper, pastor of New Union Church in Versailles and the former director of the Kentucky Council of Churches, agrees with Phelps.
"Churches should not be encouraging people in their communities to arm themselves against their neighbours, but to love their neighbours, as instructed by Jesus," she said.
"How terrible it would be if one of those guns given away at a church were to cause the death of an innocent victim."