grace baptist

The pastor of a Lansingburgh Baptist church plans to give away an AR-15 assault rifle to the winner of a free raffle at an upcoming Sunday service.

A provocative flier he distributed rallied supporters of gun rights and stirred controversy among anti-gun advocates and some who considered it un-Christian.

The Rev. John Koletas, pastor of Grace Baptist Church, said the service and gun raffle are aimed at “honoring hunters and gun owners who have been so viciously attacked by the antichristian socialist media and antichristian socialist politicians the last few years,” according to a letter he posted on the church website.

Reverend Koletas is free to preach as he sees fit, and part of his community outreach is to give away a New York-complaint AR-15 modern sporting rifle after a March church service. There are no strings attached to the gun give-away, but attendance is required and a background check is required of the winner before he can pick up the rifle.

For those of you who are curious, the rifle is a Smith & Wesson M&P variant, and does not need to be registered under the NY Safe Act’s “assault weapon” registration scheme.

The article goes out of it’s way to find someone upset about the giveaway (of course), and finds a hackish anti-gun minister who doesn’t really seem to understand the Good Book himself:

“The fact a church would offer some type of weapon to anyone strikes me as ludicrous and goes against everything the Bible teaches,” said the Rev. Willie Bacote, pastor of Missing Link AME Zion Church in Troy, who has organized gun buy-back programs in the city. “The only thing we’re supposed to arm citizens with is the word of God, not guns.”

The poorly misinformed Reverend Bacote is dead wrong. The Old Testament is full of stories where God sent men to fight. In the New Testament Jesus himself advocated armed self-defense, telling his disciples to buy enough swords to defend their group.

Protestant denominations have taught through history that not defending one’s life is a form of suicide, and is sin. The Vatican concurs:

Legitimate defense

2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not.”65

2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:

If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.66

2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.

There are strong arguments to be made that armed self-defense is both a right and a duty for Christians.  This is a belief shared among many other faiths, and is shared among the agnostic and atheist as well.

A strong culture of armed self-defense is healthy for every society, whereas citizens denied armed self-defense fall prey to criminals and government alike.

Don’t be a victim.

Photo credit: Lori Van Buren / Times Union