Aeons ago, when your faithful, intrepid reporters Lester & Charlie were wee lads, we asked the nuns in charge of us at school: Does God have a sense of humor?
Those nuns, not ones to be out-sassed by sassy toddlers, were prepared with an answer. After the obligatory, “Of course he does. He made you, didn’t he?” the nuns were more thoughtful: God couldn’t give you anything he didn’t have himself, they said.
The wisdom of those nuns has seemed in sharp relief these days. Just last week, we told you about that guy in Michigan who shot himself in the head trying to demonstrate to his girlfriend that guns aren’t that dangerous. And we told you about the man in Iraq who blew up an entire class of suicide-bomber wannabes while trying to show them how to use explosives to kill a whole bunch of unsuspecting people. Which, we suppose, is exactly what he did.
If God really does have a sense of humor, we’re pretty sure he’s laughing his ass off.
Naturally, we don’t expect modern-day Christians to recognize any of these stories as proof of God’s divine and hilarious intervention in the daily lives of us mere humans. That’s saved for things like hurricanes and floods that hit states that happen to vote Democratic. (When they hit Red States, it’s the Devil’s work.)
But if it’s true that God can’t give us anything he can’t give himself, can he also give himself a coronary from laughing too much?
That’s the question we’d love to ask those nuns after reading about the Baptist church in Kentucky that has an ingenious idea about how to lure more Kentuckians into church to hear the word of God: Free guns!
Yes, guns. In what the Lone Oak Baptist Church in Paducah is calling an “outreach to rednecks” (really!), the 1,000 or so godless citizens who show up at the event will get a free steak dinner and a chance to win handguns, long guns, and shotguns in an awesome raffle. And a chance to convert. Because, of course, the church insists its “main goal” isn’t really to arm more citizens of Kentucky — what it really wants is “to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Which struck some other church people as… odd. “How ironic,” said the Rev. Joe Phelps of Louisville, pointing out the Biblical message of “putting away the sword.” “The churches should stay out of the ways in which people can kill each other,” said another Kentuckian, Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper, ignoring what the people at the Lone Oak obviously know: If the Prince of Peace isn’t enough to draw the heathens in, you gotta get creative!
And, apparently, it works! Last year the Kentucky Baptist Convention, which is sponsoring the event at the Lone Oak, converted nearly 1,700 people with similar giveaways — sometimes called “Beast Feasts.” At one raffle, they gave away Four-Wheelers. “You have to know the hook that will attract people,” said the spokesman for the Kentucky Baptist Convention. (And by “people” we suppose he means “beasts.”) “We have found that the number of unchurched men who will show up will be in direct proportion to the number of guns you give away.”
Well, whatever works, we suppose. But are guns (and Four-Wheelers, and steak tartare) the only things that these unchurched “rednecks” like? And, more importantly, after they get their freebies, what’s to keep them coming back to keep hearing Jesus’ all-important message of forgiveness and turning the other cheek?
It seems to us that it’s not enough just to get people to show up for one event. If you REALLY want them to stick around for all that Bible-learnin’, you gotta plant their butts in the pews and keep them there. So let’s give these Baptists a hand! After the free steak and guns, what other ideas will the Lone Oak Baptist Church have to keep these Kentucky “rednecks” coming back? What do YOU think?