Sunday, July 1, 2007

Southern Baptists Call for Return to Prohibition

One of the causes of the Christian Right which has tended receive less attention than most is Neo-Prohibitionism. Most seem to believe that the principles of Prohibition are long dead because it was a paradigm which proved to be a failure at best, and probably counter-productive. Unfortunately, these are lessons which many in the Christian Right simply have not learned and so they are willing to repeat the same mistakes as in the past.

One example of how this is moving forward is the decision in 2006 by the Southern Baptist Convention to condemn the manufacture and consumption of alcohol. It's not just that they would prefer of Southern Baptists avoid or exclude alcohol from their lives — they would like to see this instituted across all of society.

When the back-and-forth on alcohol finally ended, the messengers passed with more than a four-fifths majority a resolution not only opposing the manufacture and consumption of alcohol but urging the exclusion of Southern Baptists who drink from election to the convention’s boards, committees and entities. Like other resolutions, it is not binding on SBC churches and entities.

The resolution’s supporters contended the action was needed because some Christians believe they may drink based on a wrong interpretation of the believer’s “freedom in Christ.” They said abstaining from alcohol preserves a Christian’s purity and testimony, while drinking can be a “stumbling block” for others and has destructive results.

Opponents argued that the resolution promoted a position based on Southern Baptist tradition instead of Scripture, which describes the use of wine in the Old and New Testaments. ...

In defense of the resolution, committee member Dwayne Mercer, pastor of First Baptist Church in Oviedo, Fla., said while he appreciates “the fact that people become alcoholics because they drink too much alcohol, my parents always taught me, ‘If you don’t take the first drink, you don’t have to worry about taking the last.’”

Source: Baptist Press

Tim Ellsworth has the complete text of the Southern Baptist Resolution against alcohol:

WHEREAS, Years of research confirm biblical warnings that alcohol use leads to physical, mental, and emotional damage (e.g., Proverbs 23:29-35); and

WHEREAS, Alcohol use has led to countless injuries and deaths on our nation’s highways; and

WHEREAS, The breakup of families and homes can be directly and indirectly attributed to alcohol use by one or more members of a family; and

WHEREAS, The use of alcohol as a recreational beverage has been shown to lead individuals down a path of addiction to alcohol and toward the use of other kinds of drugs, both legal and illegal; and

WHEREAS, There are some religious leaders who are now advocating the consumption of alcoholic beverages based on a misinterpretation of the doctrine of “our freedom in Christ”; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006, express our total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing, and consuming of alcoholic beverages; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptists to take an active role in supporting legislation that is intended to curb alcohol use in our communities and nation; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptists to be actively involved in educating students and adults concerning the destructive nature of alcoholic beverages; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we commend organizations and ministries that treat alcohol-related problems from a biblical perspective and promote abstinence and encourage local churches to begin and/or support such biblically-based ministries.

The provision opposing the election to the convention’s boards, committees and entities of anyone who drinks alcohol was added as an amendment. Both this amendment and the general condemnation of alcohol consumption take a very strong stand against Baptists' traditional preference for allowing individuals to make their own decisions about what is and is not morally permitted. This authoritarian stance towards members is reflected in the SBC's authoritarian vision for all of society: just as Southern Baptists shouldn't be free to make their own moral decisions, so should Americans generally not be free to do so either. This is why developments in the SBC are relevant to the rest of us: their attitudes towards members are commonly reflected in their attitudes towards the rest of society.

The Southern Baptist Convention is not the only organization which is pushing Prohibitionism. MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, has been transformed from an advocacy group to inform people about the dangers of drunk driving to an activist group pushing for the elimination of alcohol in society. Even Candy Lightner, the founder and first President of MADD, deplores this change and has been quoted as saying: “it has become far more neo-prohibitionist than I ever wanted or envisioned. I didn’t start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving.”


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