Church Sees Gun Giveaway as Payback, Banks on Uptick in Funerals

TROY, N.Y. — The pastor of Grace Baptist Church is aiming to fill his pews by raffling off a modified AR-15 rifle later this month. Adults in attendance can enter the raffle for free, but the fine print speaks to a larger truth.

“We’re not in it for raffle money,” said Rev. John Koletas. “The real reward comes later, in the form of souls claimed in the Lord’s name and funerals booked in the name of our church.”

An advertisement for the March 23 giveaway cites John 14:27, which reads in full, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

“If you don’t immediately see this scripture as a ringing endorsement of the Second Amendment, then you really do need to attend our sermon for a remedial Bible lesson that will change your life—and the lives of whatever demons are at the receiving end of the AK-15’s 800 rounds per minute,” said Koletas.

A letter on the church website indicates that the high-caliber offering is an attempt 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.”

The letter continued, “It’s also a great way to network with your fellow Christians, including Troy’s own Barbara and Ebenezer Wentworth of Eternal Grace Mortuary who will provide nibbles and discount coupons.”

Brian Olesen, owner of the Oakwood Trading Post that donated the $700 Smith & Wesson semiautomatic, assured reporters that the transaction would be perfectly righteous from start to finish. The rifle’s pistol grip has been removed to comply with the state’s new gun laws and the winner will have to undergo the mandated background check.

“The pastor is a customer of ours and we want to support and promote any kind of Second Amendment activity,” said Olesen.

Asked whether the pastor would, himself, be eligible to win the rifle after having been arrested seven times between 1989 and 1990, Olesen indicated that was in the hands of a higher authority now.

According to the Times-Union of Albany, all charges against Koletas were eventually dropped or dismissed. “But man,” said Olesen, “if I were the good reverend, I’d sure has hell would still hold a mighty grudge against the city and the tabloids that pilloried me. He is a stronger man than I. At least I hope he is.”