This sounds too much like a spoof on the gun giveaway in Bowling for Columbine, but no it is for real.

windsorhillsyouthconferenceshooter

photo from video posted at whbcyouthconference.org

KOCO (also posted on CNN): Church Cancels Teen Gun Giveaway

OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma church canceled a controversial gun giveaway for teenagers at a weekend youth conference.

Windsor Hills Baptist had planned to give away a semiautomatic assault rifle until one of the event’s organizers was unable to attend.

The church’s youth pastor, Bob Ross, said it’s a way of trying to encourage young people to attend the event. The church expected hundreds of teenagers from as far away as Canada. . . .

Raw Story: Church lures teenagers with assault rifle

Man alive!

I’m not anti-gun persay (I support the right of responsible gun ownership), but this is just nuts on so many levels. I want to begin though by saying that I could see potentially that shooting sports might be an appropriate activity at a youth camp or organization. I was a boy scout during most of teen years, and shooting sports were certainly one of our more enjoyable activities. I earned the shotgun shooting merit badge (which included being able to shoot a set number of clay pidgeons) and competed in a .22 rifle contest at scout camp. I had a blast, but also learned very much to respect weapons.

For a church though, boy, that’s a bit more complicated. We can’t deny that weapons are a potent symbol for youth today. And an AR-15?! Let’s not kid ourselves here. An AR-15 is the civilian variant of the M-16 used by the US military, and unless I’m mistaken would not be the best choice to use as a hunting rifle. (and let’s not even talk about the insanity of the church spending $800 for a prize like this when there are so many needy, right there in their own neighborhood on NW 23rd)

It seems to me that Windsor Hills Baptist Church is literally pimping itself out, by playing up to a popular media/youth culture that glamorizes gun violence and particularly big flashy guns. Their youth pastor pretty much said as much, when he said the gun giveaway was an attempt to lure youth to come to the conference from as far away as Canada.

I have to wonder though what this “sale gimmic” for the gospel has to do with the real message of Jesus. Jesus was about non-violence and love first and foremost, so I can’t imagine that he would be down with glamorizing gun violence to get out his message. Or for that matter, where is his message in all of this? I checked out the Windsor Hills BC’s website and also the website of the Windsor Hill BC youth conference (they have taken off the info about the gun giveaway), and there is no mention that I can see about caring for the sick, feeding the poor, or bringing justice to the oppressed. I see nothing about non-violence or peace. In fact, I don’t think Jesus’ message is taught at all at the Windsor Hills Baptist Church. The church claims that they will have “red hot preaching” at this youth conference and a “soulwinning blitz” but what about loving people? What about reaching out to those who feel they have no place in God’s Kingdom?

And what does a giveaway of the US military’s rifle of choice at a church, say about Jesus’ message of peace? It seems like a complete contradiction to me, and makes about as much sense as meeting for drinks after attending an AA meeting. (interestingly enough, the pastor emeritus of the church, who according to KOCO was behind the gun giveaway, was a former Green Beret… hmmm?)

On another strange note, it is striking to me that this gun giveaway was going to happen on the week after a very successful Oklahoma City Peace Camp for high school youth (hosted by the Church of the Open Arms and the Oklahoma Peace Education institute).

What an incredible contrast?

Again I am completely mystified about what has happened to much of mass Christianity in Oklahoma. There are some wonderful exceptions, but most Christians in OKC make me almost ashamed to call myself a “Christian” when I see how the term is used and abused. I am offended to see the Christian faith hijacked by folks who aren’t even bothering seek to grappled with what JESUS ACTUALLY SAID.

Explain to me how you can turn the other cheek and love your enemy, while you blow their brains out, and I’ll try to accept the idea of a fighting Christian. Otherwise, I think it is an oxymoron. The terms “pro-war christian” and “anti-war Christian” are nonsensical. A “pro-war christian” is an oxymoron, and an “anti-war christian” is redundant.

I know I’m being judgmental tonight (committing the sin, I attack others for committing), so please understand I’m probably throwing around too much hyperbole tonight, but when you see crap like this gun giveaway, you can’t help but think that the mass form of Christianity today has nothing to do with what Jesus taught.

Or to quote Gandhi, “”I do not like your Christians..they are so unlike your Christ.”