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This Week in God

Some Baptist leaders want to improve church attendance, so they're giving away guns to parishioners.
Veetek Witkowski holds a newly assembled AR-15 rifle at the Stag Arms company in New Britain,  Conn, April 10, 2013.
Veetek Witkowski holds a newly assembled AR-15 rifle at the Stag Arms company in New Britain, Conn, April 10, 2013.
First up from the God Machine this week is an unexpected approach to evangelism: Baptist leaders who believe giving away guns will help fill the pews.

The Kentucky Baptist Convention wants to "point people to Christ" by giving away guns at Second Amendment Celebrations hosted across the state. In the words of spokesman Chuck McAlister the strategy is "outreach to rednecks," and 1,000 people are expected to attend the next event. To lure the nonreligious into the fold, the churches are offering a handgun, shotgun, or long gun as door prizes. Winners attend church for a photo-op with their new gun, but they must pass a background check before collecting their prize.

McAlister boasted that "unchurched men" in particular will show up because of the gun giveaways, which will in turn offer evangelism opportunities.
And it's not just in Kentucky. The Rev. John Koletas, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in upstate New York, is raffling off an AR-15 assault rifle at an upcoming service.
"We're honoring gun owners and hunters," Koletas told the New York Daily News. "And we're being a blessing and a help to people who have been attacked, viciously attacked, by socialists and anti-Christian people -- the politicians and the media."
Koletas is perhaps best known to locals as the pastor who's been arrested seven times "on disorderly conduct charges for loud and incessant street-corner preaching." In each instance, the charges were either dropped or dismissed.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* This probably won't turn out well for American Atheists: "Arguments were heard Thursday in a case brought by an atheist group against placing what's known as the World Trade Center cross in the National September 11 Museum."
* This story out of Oklahoma sounds rather alarming: "An Edmond doctor is under fire for allegedly injecting patients across Oklahoma with a mysterious formula called the 'Jesus shot.' Dr. John Michael Lonergan is a former federal prison inmate who was convicted of tax evasion, mail fraud and healthcare fraud in Ohio. Lonergan is also known as 'Dr. Mike'" (thanks to my colleague Nick Tuths for the tip).
* A Capitol Hill first: "The Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, delivered the opening invocation in the U.S. Senate on Thursday, praying 'to Buddha and all' and suggesting that purity of thought will guide humanity's actions. In his saffron robe, the Dalai Lama climbed the few steps to the Senate dais and delivered the three-line prayer, first in the Tibetan language, then in English. He chuckled over his English pronunciation."