I've lived in America too long to find this surprising:
In an effort its spokesman has described as "outreach to rednecks," the Kentucky Baptist Convention is leading "Second Amendment Celebrations," where churches around the state give away guns as door prizes to lure in nonbelievers in hopes of converting them to Christ.Does anyone in these communities find this upsetting? Yeah, some people:
As many as 1,000 people are expected at the next one, on Thursday at Lone Oak Baptist Church in Paducah, where they will be given a free steak dinner and the chance to win one of 25 handguns, long guns and shotguns.
The goal is to "point people to Christ," the church says in a flier. Chuck McAlister, an ex-pastor, master storyteller and former Outdoor Channel hunting show host who presides at the events as the Kentucky Baptist Convention's team leader for evangelism, said 1,678 men made "professions of faith" at about 50 such events last year, most of them in Kentucky....
McAlister, 60, who pastored churches in five states before taking on the role of traveling evangelist, concedes that neither guns nor gun rights are part of the Gospel. But he said he uses the love of guns and hunting in Kentucky as a "bridge to unchurched men so they will hear what we have to say." ...
"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." ...
At Paducah's Lone Oak Baptist Church, which will host Thursday's event, the Rev. Dan Summerlin said there has been some "push back" from people who are opposed to firearms....This is one of things about gun lovers that makes me crazy: Yes, I understand the desire to own and use guns. But is there ever a point at which you truly register the number of people who've been harmed by guns and develop a tiny bit of sensitivity to their pain? If there were actual chainsaw massacres taking place on a regular basis in America, year in and year out, would you march through the streets brandishing chainsaws, the way some open-carry advocates marched through the streets of Grand Rapids, Michigan, yesterday, brandishing their guns? Would you be that insensitive? No? Then why don't you recognize that the gun issue isn't all about you?
Summerlin said he has received some calls and notes from people who lost loved ones at Heath High School, 12 miles to the west, when Michael Carneal opened fire on a group of praying students in 1997, killing three and injuring five others.
"My heart aches for those people," Summerlin said.
One of Carneal's victims, Missy Jenkins Smith, who at age 15 was left paralyzed from the chest down down, said she was "shocked" when she found out about the event from a reporter.
Smith, who has two children and works as a motivational speaker and counselor for at-risk students, said that while people have a right to bear arms, "I would have really thought they would have come up with other ways besides this."
But I know: white men feel like the victims in this society. And to some extent I agree: rural non-college-educated whites really have been screwed by an economy that once offered good union jobs with middle-class wages and benefits, and now offers next to nothing. I don't blame heartland white guys for being upset that those jobs are lost. When I read in today's New York Times about a Democratic county chairman in Michigan who's trying (mostly in vain) to reach out to white men, I think about the fact that Democrats really aren't doing a damn thing to bring good jobs to these guys (or to any women or non-whites in similar economic straits).
Republicans are still worse. Republicans actively want to take even more from workers so the wealthy can get wealthier. But Republicans claim to want to help working-class whites and want to give less aid to, y'know, those people. (Says one guy quoted in the Times story: "Democrats are for a bunch of freeloaders in this world as far as I'm concerned. Republicans make you work for your money, and try to let you keep it.") Oh, and Republicans love guns. And if the jobs aren't coming back, at least white guys have those.