Church gives away AR-15's to attract young men to the flock

John Pliler and Dan McCain, AR-15 winnersFacebook

A controversial giveaway has landed a Missouri non-denominational church in hot water. Ignite Church gave away two semi-automatic rifles on Father's Day to encourage dads to bring their children and fathers to worship service.

The men received one raffle entry for each child they brought, and an additional ticket if they brought their own father to church with them. The contest was intended to attract men ages 18 to 35.

Pastor Heath Mooneyham said the AR-15 giveaway was the best way to reach that population.

"That's the biggest black hole in our society," he told the Joplin Globe.

"If we get people in the door, we get to preach the gospel. If we can get more people to follow Jesus, I'll give away 1,000 guns. I don't care."

Mooneyham also disagreed with the term "assault rifle" to describe the weapons, and is of the belief that guns don't kill people – guns in the hands of the wrong people, kill people.

"People are crazy, period. Murder has been going on since the beginning of time. The first murder recorded in the Bible was with a rock," he said, referring to the story of Cain and Abel.

Others, however, called the church giveaway hypocritical and irresponsible.

"Your raffle was disgusting," one person wrote on Facebook. "I cannot believe your nerve after all the shootings that have gone on in this country that you would PROMOTE guns."

"There are other ways to attract young people," Joplin Diversity Fellowship Pastor Steve Urie told the Joplin Globe. "If it takes an assault rifle to hunt, that's not a sport."

Ignite is not the first Christian institution to give away guns. The Kentucky Baptist Convention promoted "Second Amendment Celebrations" in March, in which churches across the state raffled off weapons. Grace Baptist Church in Lansingburgh, New York also raffled off an AR-15 in March.