Heat-Packing Parishioners Attend Church Service

Service praises the Second Amendment and raffles off a gun

By Emily Feldman
|  Sunday, Jun 28, 2009  |  Updated 2:00 PM EDT
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Heat-Packing Parishioners Attend Church Service

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pastor Ken Pagano preached the importance of the right to bear arms to a congregation of 200 heat-packing parishioners.

A pastor in Kentucky invited his parishioners to bear arms in prayer this weekend during a service aimed at celebrating gun ownership.

About 200 church-goers, many toting unloaded firearms, arrived at the New Bethel Church in Louisville to attend the "open-carry" service.

Pastor Ken Pagano fended off criticism from church leaders and protesters who objected to a religious figure promoting deadly weapons, according to The Courier Journal of Lousiville, Ky.

"We love God, we love our country," he told his congregation. "Without a belief in God, without a belief even in firearms, I don't believe this country would be here the way it is today. There's nothing to be ashamed of."

The service was intended to promote gun safety and the Second Amendment and featured the usual songs and prayers as well as few special additions.

Former Marine and police chaplain Pastor Pagano led church members through the Pledge of Allegiance, "God Bless America" and "America The Beautiful," before showing anti-gun control videos and raffling off a gun.

Camouflaged members of the Ohio Freedom Fighters, a small private militia, were among a handful of out-of-towners who made the trek to check out the highly publicized event.

"I don't see anything wrong with persons defending themselves," Bill Koernke, who drove 40 miles to attend the service, told the Courier Journal.  He added that a church is often a target for violence because there's an expectation that everyone at a church is unarmed.

A month ago, controversial abortion doctor, George Tiller was gunned down in a Kansas church, and in March an Illinois pastor was shot dead while leading as Sunday morning service.

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