Missouri Church Gives Away AR-15s


It’s not every day that a church gives away two AR-15 rifles for raffle ticket winners, but the Ignite Church in Joplin, Missouri has done just that. The Christian faith is generally not one that invokes the image of the firepower of the AR-15. However, Heath Mooneyham who is the head pastor of the Church presented his parishioners and members of the community with something that they apparently could not resist.

Heath apparently came to the decision to give away the weapons as raffle prizes because the small prizes were simply not grabbing the attention of the public as he told the Joplin Globe. Mooneyham, no stranger to the internet, also used a YouTube video to promote the raffle tickets and the giveaway of the AR-15s. The video itself was certainly an attention-getter as it featured in the tease a rather incongruous liberal indie rock band known as Modest Mouse telling how they were going to give away two “stinkin guns” because they could. The Smith & Wesson AR-15 is powerful enough to kill a rather weak zombie, but the grand prize itself was the more powerful version that helped boost the success of the raffle as Mooneyham certainly could predict.

Mooneyham’s unique approach worked pretty well for the Joplin area and his enthusiasm helped him garner attention in other parts of the country as well. According to Mooneyham, if he could get more people to follow Jesus by giving away 1,000 guns, he’d do it.

Certainly, Mooneyham’s views are fitting with many in the region who believes in gun rights and that people kill people, not guns. Citing the Biblical story of Cain killing his brother Abel, Mooneyham stated that people are crazy and that the first murder recorded in the Bible was committed with a rock. Since the idea of banning rocks seems a little crazy to Mooneyham, the idea of banning firearms belongs in the same boat.

The idea of churches giving away guns is not as uncommon as you might think. Recently, a Baptist church in Kentucky held a steak and gun giveaway in March, 2014. In the same month, a Baptist church in Troy, New York also had a AR-15 giveaway as well which means that such giveaways are not limited to southern states.

In many states firearms such as the AR-15 are perfectly legal to giveaway to all qualified raffle ticket holders. Considering that people who participate must be legal gun owners, many in the religious community strongly stand behind the practice as it helps them raise funds for their church or specific projects, it is legal and appealing to many of their members.

There is little doubt that promotional tactics of Heath Mooneyham have drawn more attention to the issue, but in many states the practice is certainly legal and law-abiding when performed in the proper manner. Given the success that many of the churches have had with this type of raffle prize, there will no doubt be more of them in the future.



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