By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
October 27, 2023
The recent charging of a North Carolina bartender for serving underage patrons who subsequently were involved in a dangerous crash should spark dialogue within churches and families of the dangers of alcohol, says a pro-family leader.
Bartender Ryan Patrick Henry, 41, of 4118 Kitchen and Bar in Highlands, N.C., was charged for selling alcohol to someone under the age of 21. Two minors who were at the bar that night were involved in a single-vehicle collision with four passengers, according to a news release from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. Three individuals “were taken to area hospitals,” while one passenger “was airlifted for medical treatment due to their injuries,” according to the news release.
The driver was 19. Another passenger was 18. Both were cited.
“It is paramount that law enforcement agencies maintain cohesive relationships with other agencies,” said Highlands Police Chief Andrea Holland. “ALE [alcohol law enforcement] was instrumental in gathering additional information which helped complete the timeline leading up to the accident. We would like to thank ALE for joining our quest to keep Highlands safe.”
The ABC Commission “may choose to sanction 4118 Kitchen and Bar through a fine, suspension, or revocation of the business’ ABC permits,” the news release said.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said the incident “serves as a stark reminder of the challenges posed by underage drinking and its far-reaching consequences.”
“While our state has well-intentioned laws in place, the issue of alcohol use and misuse remains pervasive, in part because we, as a society, have somewhat normalized its use,” Creech said. “Alcohol, despite being a legal substance, is a powerful narcotic that can impair judgment, self-control and physical abilities. It is often used as a means of escape from life’s difficulties, making it one of the most concerning contributors to mental, physical and social issues.”
It is disheartening, Creech said, to “witness the exponential rise in alcohol-related problems, especially when our pulpits remain silent on the subject.”
“As a religious community, we must acknowledge that alcohol is more than just a personal choice; it is a matter of moral and spiritual concern. Our churches, historically pillars of guidance and support, must revisit this critical issue with the same fervor as they did in the past. Alcohol-related problems affect the sick, the poor, the disillusioned and families across our communities. We cannot continue to ignore the connection between alcohol use and these pressing social issues.”
Churches and religious institutions, Creech said, need “renewed attention and open dialogue” on the subject of alcohol.
“Parents, in particular, play a pivotal role in shaping their children’s attitudes and behaviors toward alcohol through both instruction and personal example. Our collective efforts can lead to a safer, healthier environment for our youth, sparing them from the tragic consequences of underage drinking,” Creech said.
“In light of the recent incident involving 4118 Kitchen and Bar, if businesses and servers are indeed guilty of breaking dram shop laws, then they must be held accountable for their role in serving alcohol to underage individuals. The charges against the bartender at this establishment, emphasizes the importance of age verification and responsible alcohol service.”
Society, Creech added, must “remain vigilant in our efforts to combat underage drinking and its associated risks.”
“We hope the authorities will take appropriate actions, and we trust the ABC Commission will consider justly applying necessary sanctions against establishments that willingly flaunt dram shop laws,” he said. “Let us use this unfortunate event as a catalyst for change, sparking a renewed commitment within our communities and churches to address the pervasive issue of alcohol use and misuse head-on. Only through collective action and unwavering dedication can we hope to protect our youth and prevent further tragedies.”