It's Still a Big Deal, and for Me It's Personal
By Rev. Mark Creech
April 9, 2021
A friend of mine, who is an attorney, recently sent me an email saying that he had been reading the Christian classic, In His Steps. He was given the book by his grandmother, who lived from 1872 to 1960. He wrote, "I'm amazed at how much of it is about the saloon."
I wrote back, "We have little understanding of how this one thing (alcohol) has worked to undermine individual and corporate character. Over the years, we have, figuratively speaking, been anesthetized into a drunken stupor…Though the seriousness of the matter is most often minimized, it's still a big deal."
Just how big a deal is it? Well, consider that the U.S. dropped the first atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August of 1945. According to the Manhattan Engineer District's best available figures, approximately 95,000 people died due to the two blasts. The misery left among the living from the cities was unbelievably dreadful.
Most of us would prefer not to think about the horrific destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Today many question whether such force should have ever been used. Still, the American Journal of Medicine says that in 2016 as many as three million global deaths were attributable to alcohol consumption. That's approximately thirty combined Hiroshima and Nagasaki's worldwide.
In America, alcohol-related deaths have doubled since 1999, with over 70,000 fatalities annually. That's more than the number of people killed in the blast of Hiroshima every year, and none of this accounts for the wave of misery always left in alcohol's wake. The deprivations and sufferings are incalculably high.
Just like the second-hand harms from cigarette smoke, alcohol use can also result in what is known as "second-hand harms." This includes being in a traffic crash or being a passenger in a vehicle with a drunk driver, harassment, feeling threatened or afraid, belongings ruined, property vandalized, being pushed, hit or assaulted, family or marital problems, and financial troubles.
Alcohol-related harms are a big deal for me personally.
A couple of years ago, a body was found floating in Crabtree Creek behind Crab Tree Valley Mall in Raleigh. CBS 17 News reported the unnamed man had a drinking problem, was homeless, and lived under a nearby bridge. Witnesses said he had been missing for a few days before his body was found.
That man was my brother-in-law, John Christopher Doumar. His family affectionately called him Chris.
According to what police told my wife, some of the other homeless people said the night he went missing, it was raining, and the creek was swollen and swift. Chris was "fall-down drunk" that evening and fell into the creek, they said. They lost sight of him in the darkness, and apparently, he was too intoxicated to fight the current, get out of the water, and drowned.
Click here to view the news story. The story ran on television before the authorities had contacted the family.
Chris came from a good home. He was one of the most charming, intelligent, and talented individuals I have ever known. All of his family, including my wife and I, tried very hard to help him. We all loved him deeply, but his life was ruined and ultimately lost because of his alcohol addiction.
Chris's story is not unique. Hundreds of thousands of families could tell a similar story.
I think it's notable that the first mention of alcohol in the Bible (Genesis chapter 9) is associated with Noah's intemperance – a sign or a warning of the same connection from that period to the present.
A Jewish legend says that when Noah planted his vineyard, he killed a sheep, a lion, an ape, and a sow pig. He then mingled their blood and poured it on the roots of the vine. Since then, says the legend, the use of alcoholic wine has been attended, in succession, by the placidity of the sheep, the boldness of the lion, the nonsense of an ape, and the filthy brutishness of a sow.
Of course, the standard response to these tragic consequences is to claim moderation is the answer. Moderation may indeed improve matters, but it won't remedy alcohol-related harms.
Drinking in moderation is well-known for increased drowning risk, injuries from violence, falls, and motor vehicle accidents. It's also associated with an increased risk of female breast cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, esophageal cancer, and harmful medication interactions. Moreover, moderate drinking has been linked to the risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in the children of women who consume it during pregnancy.
April is National Alcohol Awareness month, which is a great time to start thinking about the role alcohol plays in our lives. No matter how many times I witness it, I'm always a bit shocked whenever I encounter someone who has yet to discover alcohol is a big deal.
Let me repeat it; alcohol is still a big deal. It's bigger than ever! In fact, I suggest it's the most underestimated social problem of our time.
Click here for a printable copy of this article.
One that got away
JULY 9, 2020
By William H. Perkins Jr.
Editor, The Baptist Record
Journal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention since 1877
House Bill 1087, introduced and shepherded through the Legislature by Republican Rep. Trey Lamar of Senatobia, turned Mississippi liquor law on its head. Previously, every county in the state was legally dry by default, with a local referendum needed to legalize liquor. Lamar’s bill made every county legally wet by default, and requires a referendum to go dry.
It is now legal to possess alcohol in every county in the state.
As stunning as the swift ratification of this new law were the votes in the Senate and House of Representatives. The House passed it overwhelmingly 112-5, and the Senate went for the slam dunk on a vote of 38-11.
“We at the Christian Action Commission (CAC) were disappointed that the Legislature passed HB 1087,” said Kenny Digby, CAC executive director. “Though 1087 only affects possession of alcohol, not sales, we oppose any bill that makes alcoholic drink more available across our state instead of less available.
“We have witnessed numerous bills that have destroyed the Local Option bill passed in 1966. The 10 counties with no alcohol sales will be the most adversely affected.”
Click here to read the full article.
‘Providence? What’s That?’ Belief in it Necessary for Thanksgiving
By Dr. Mark Creech
Christian Action League
November 20, 2018
A millennial, she introduced herself to me as my server at one of my favorite restaurants where I’m a regular. I asked her a few questions about her background to get acquainted, one of which was: “Where are you from?” She said she was from Upstate New York, an answer that prompted my follow-up question: “What precipitated your move to North Carolina?” She replied, “Well, you might find this hard to believe, but I was eager to move away and experience the world. So I closed my eyes, randomly pointed to a place on the map and it turned out to be Raleigh.” “Wow,” I replied, “That was a gutsy thing to do.” I then welcomed her to the Tar Heel state and said, “I’m glad providence led you here.”
“Providence?” she said, “What’s that?” As I was trying to explain the meaning of Providence, she interrupted me, saying, “Oh, now I know what you mean. You’re talking about fate.” I wanted to tell her that providence is more than just impersonal fate, something much more, but the conversation was cut short by her need to serve other customers.
“Providence? What’s that?” Her question was a disturbing reminder of the biblical illiteracy of our times. Providence is such an invaluable concept to know and understand. Merrill F. Unger wrote, “Belief in the providence of God, according to the whole purport of Scriptures, is of the highest importance, because of its connection with a life of trust and gratitude and patience and hope.”
The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us. How can anyone understand this celebratory time aside from gorging themselves on a traditional Turkey dinner, and gathering with friends and family, without apprehending the unceasing activity of a benevolent Creator God? It is from His bounty and goodwill towards us that he upholds and sustains us in an ordered existence, guiding all of life’s events, great and small, directing each to its appointed goal, for his own glory and the good of those who trust and believe in Him. This is providence.
Our lives are not simply the result of chance and unintentional forces. There is meaning behind it all. God categorically rules over everything natural and the human race does only that which He has ordained; yet we are truly free agents, in the sense that our decisions are our own, and we are morally responsible for them. Nevertheless, a good God in his sovereignty is never complicit with evil, but superintends over the whole lot and uses it to accomplish his own gracious and perfect ends.
This is the space we live in – a world of providence – something of which most are completely unaware. J. Wallace Hamilton has brilliantly described our unfortunate common condition, saying:
“Actually we are in the midst of a providential arrangement all the time; every moment is sustained by providence, whether we recognize it as such or not.
‘Oh, where is the sea?’ the fishes cried,
As they swam the Atlantic waters through;
‘We’ve heard of the sea and the ocean tide.
And we long to gaze on its waters blue.’
“All around us are little fishes looking for the sea; people living, moving, having their being in an ocean of God’s providence, but who can’t see the ocean for the water. Maybe it is because we call it by another name. The ancient Hebrews from whom the Bible came were a religious people. They thought in religious patterns, they spoke in religious phrases, they saw in every event the direct activity of God. If it rained, it was God who sent the rain. When crops were good, it was God who yielded the increase. But that is not our language, nor the pattern of our thought. We think in terms of law – chemical, natural law. When it rains, we know that it is the natural condensation of vapor. When the crops are good, we credit it to the fertilizer. An amazing thing has happened in our way of thinking. In a world that could not for one moment exist without the activity of God, we have conditioned our minds to a way of thinking that leaves no room for Him. So many of our wants are provided by what seems natural and impersonal forces that we have lost sight of the great Provider in the midst of providence…thus our sophistication steals away our sense.”
What is behind this prideful sophistication that diminishes our sensitivity to God and his providential ways? It is our unrighteousness. In our rejection of his absolute rule over us, our consciousness of his endless graces becomes dull. Hamilton also notes that “the unrighteousness of men is the bottleneck of providence.” In other words, if we set ourselves against God’s order, then we only work against ourselves. God will overrule our sin to accomplish His purposes in the earth. Nonetheless, we will tragically impede and obstruct the way God’s divine decrees were meant to function for our eternal joy.
True thankfulness depends entirely upon our view of God. As is our God, then so is our gratitude. If we embrace the evolutionary, naturalistic, and secularistic understanding of life, then everything that comes our way is just the luck of the draw, and there is no reason to be grateful. If we think of God as a cold and distant spirit in the cosmos and not actively engaged with a personal interest in our lives, then all we can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst. If we see ourselves as the sole arbiter of our present and future, then we are as limited as human reason and resolve, which more often than not leaves little or no reason for which to be thankful.
But it is the Gospel of Christ which informs us that there is a big God of amazing grace that has always remained upon his throne. His kindness and generosity stooped from His majestic place of holiness and unequivocal power to the humility of the Cross of Jesus Christ. He did this to save us from our sins and harmonize our lives with a destiny of spiritual fortune and eternal bliss.
Whenever we repent of our rebellion to God’s sovereignty, then we are awakened to see His providential mercies in the common and everyday experiences of life, His doting intentions in the dark hours, and His redemptive reign in everything. We see that we belong to Him and He is perfect love. And from this soil of the heart, the truest and deepest gratitude springs.
Unger has also written, “Broad observation and right reason preclude the idea of a government of the world by chance or blind force, and sustains the belief that ‘there is a power in the world that makes for righteousness.’” This power is indeed unlimited and includes everything that takes place in the universe, every natural event, every creature, every person, and every nation. This power can never be defeated and justice and godliness will prevail in the end forever and ever.
This is providence! Belief in it is essential to even the most basic attitudes of virtue and goodness, none of which are more important than Thanksgiving.
Happy Thanksgiving! God is good all the time. All the time God is good.
Legalization of Vice Doesn’t End the Black Market
By Hunter Hines
August 3, 2018
ELIZABETHTOWN, N.C. - This week, WECT News reported a Columbus County man, Jeremy Clark Powell, of Whiteville, was arrested after undercover officers caught him selling illegal alcohol in a Walmart parking lot in Elizabethtown. Authorities say the man also had a liquor still that he was running from his backyard.
Bladen County Sheriff James A. Vicker told WECT the arrest was made after his department partnered with the state’s Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) to investigate the traffic of illegal alcohol in Elizabethtown.
Back in June, WNCN News reported that ALE officers had shut down several moonshine operations. Agents seized setups in Newton Grove, Henderson, Roxboro, Robbins, and Benson. The bust in Newton Grove shut down a 560-gallon liquor still.
Israel Morrow, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the ALE, said, “A lot of people don’t think it’s as prevalent today as it used to be, but it is. We’re seeing a spike of violence at these types of locations where we are finding non-tax-paid liquor.”
A common argument used through the years by those who favor the approval of alcohol referendums in North Carolina is that it will stop bootlegging. The Christian Action League has argued this isn’t true. The evidence vindicates the League’s long-standing position that the legalization of vice never halts its black market, it only makes the vice more accessible. Illegal manufacturing and sales will continue.
This principle is also applicable to claims that the legalization of recreational marijuana will put an end to the Mexican cartels and drug trafficking. Neither has this assertion been proven to be true in states where marijuana is now legal.
NBC News reported in May that “Federal officials allege that legal recreational marijuana in states like California, Colorado, and Washington, where enforcement of growing regulations is hit or miss, have been providing cover for transitional criminal organizations willing to invest big money to buy or rent property to achieve even bigger returns. Chinese, Cuban and Mexican drug rings have purchased or rented hundreds of homes and use human trafficking to bring experienced growers to the United States to tend them, federal and local officials say.”
Mike Hartman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, told NBC News that authorities have increasingly seen what is called “home grow” operations since the legalization of pot in Colorado. “The suspects are targeting states that have already legalized marijuana ‘in an attempt to shroud their operations in our legal environment here and then take the marijuana outside of the state,’” he told NBC News.
Sheriff Bill Elder of El Paso County in Colorado added that Cuban and Mexican-led cartels have “found it easier to grow and process marijuana in Colorado, ship it through the United States than it is to bring it from Mexico or Cuba.” These operations are massive, and authorities believe the seizures they’ve made “only scratch the surface,” reported NBC News.
Bill Bennet, former drug czar to President George H.W. Bush, along with co-author Robert A. White, in Going to Pot: Why the Rush to Legalize Marijuana is Harming America; argue that contrary to common thought legalization does not eliminate black markets.
Bennet and White contend: “As a recent report from the Tax Foundation has found, over 55 percent of the cigarette market in New York, over 50 percent of the cigarette market in Arizona, and nearly 50 percent of the cigarette markets in New Mexico and Washington are black market or smuggled cigarettes from other states. What constitutes the black market smuggling of cigarettes? ‘Counterfeit state tax stamps, counterfeit versions of legitimate brands, hijacked trucks, or officials turning a blind eye.’ The argument that legalizing and ‘taxing the heck’ out of a product – as many legalizers argue for - will end the black market is simply not true.”
Bennet and White also note that recreational marijuana is subject to a tax of 27.9 percent in Colorado. But the tax itself is a strong incentive for marijuana purchasers to get it from the black market.
Kevin A. Sabet, a drug policy advisor to three Presidents, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama, argues in his book, Reefer Sanity that, if marijuana is legalized, the financial incentive to avoid paying the marijuana taxes would be so great, the black market would likely equal or possibly dwarf the underground economy.
“Both alcohol and cigarettes already kill ten times the number of people than all the illegal drugs combined. Vice is progressive and driven by big money. Regardless of what proponents of legalization tell you it isn’t harmless. Once we turn it loose and it’s commercialized, thousands upon thousands of more people will be seriously and permanently injured, while thousands of others will die,” said Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Legalizing won’t end the bootlegging of it. It will only make it more accessible, alongside a criminal element.”
Creech added that he thought pastors and key lay leaders needed to take up this subject with their congregants, as well as get engaged politically on the subject. “I remind my pastor friends, efforts to reach people for Christ are significantly diminished when they are inebriated or under the influence, whether in a lesser or greater degree.”
Click here for a printable copy of this article.
Support for Total Abstinence Projects
The Pennsylvania Prohibition Committee has money available to support total abstinence projects in Pennsylvania. Proposals are invited, from anyone. Some possibilities include: developing teaching materials, campaigning for local option elections, and historical preservation. Grants will be in the range of $5000.
Interested persons and organizations should submit a brief outline of the intended work, the name and qualifications of the project director, and an estimate of cost to the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Prohibition Committee, James Hedges, Box 212, Needmore, Pennsylvania 17238 (or to firstname.lastname@example.org). www.prohibitionists.org
The Foundation for Alcohol Education has funding available for organizations that educate young people about the dangers of alcohol and drugs. Click here for information.
Foundation for Alcohol Education (Massachusetts)
Stephen Walsh, Secretary-Treasurer for the Foundation for Alcohol Education, noted the following articles in his report at the 2013 Annual Board meeting of ACAP.
Foundation for Alcohol Education (Massachusetts) Funds the "Improbable Players" who present performances on the subject of Substance Abuse:
Kentucky League on Alcohol & Gambling Problems
Rev. Donald Cole, Executive Director, presented the following alcohol fact sheet at the 2013 Annual Board meeting. Click here for the report Rev. Cole gave to the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems (ILCAAAP)
Click here for the ILCAAAP report given by Anita Bedell, Executive Director. Mrs. Bedell also gave out the following brochure, Pray for the Children.
ALCAP (Alabama Citizens Action Program)
Dr. Joe Godfrey, Executive Director, gave a report on the 2013 Alabama Legislative Session. Click here for a copy of Dr. Godfrey's report. Click here to be directed to the ALCAP website.
Christian Action League of North Carolina
Dr. Mark Creech, Executive Director, gave a report on the 2013 North Carolina State Assembly. Click here to be directed to the Christian Action League website for a report.