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New York Church Spurns Critics, Raffles Second AR-15 Rifle

Thumbing his nose at critics who slammed an upstate New York church for raffling an AR-15 to a parishioner last weekend, Rev. George Koletas of Grace Baptist Church near Troy decided to hold another rifle giveaway Monday.

The church was hammered in the media after Koletas awarded an AR-15 — which was modified to comply with the New York SAFE act — to Ron Stafford, 42, who drove 25 miles to sit through the three-hour sermon last weekend for his chance to grab a free AR.

In a report by The New York Post, Stafford was described as a “gun nut” and a “zealot,” but Stafford told the paper he believes “the church and our God-given rights and our rights to follow the Constitution go hand in hand.”

"The fact a church would offer some type of weapon to anyone strikes me as ludicrous and goes against everything the Bible teaches," Rev. Willie Bacote, pastor of Missing Link AME Zion Church in Troy, told Timesunion.com. "The only thing we're supposed to arm citizens with is the word of God, not guns."

Reverend Koletas launched the so-called “Gun Give Back” program in order to honor “hunters and gun owners who have been so viciously attacked by the anti-Christian socialist media and anti-Christian socialist politicians the last few years.”

The AR-15 — which has no pistol grip and is fitted with a fixed stock separate from the buffer tube — was transferred to Stafford through Oakwood Trading Post in Troy, which announced on its website that “due to some criticism, false reporting in the press, threats and a handful of complaints [Koletas] decided to not go through with the give away as planned,” but will instead give away two rifles.

Koletas has not responded to Grand View Outdoors for comment, but he told Timesunion.com the rifle raffle is in keeping with Christian values, and he’s “just trying to be a blessing and a help to the gun owners and the hunters and give away a free AR-15 … It's the right thing to do.”

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