By Luanne Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
January 16, 2014
BLADENBORO — A new political action committee formed to fight the sale of beer and wine in Bladen County called first on the Christian Action League to help arm citizens with information about the nation’s most accepted and most harmful drug.
“Alcohol is a drug that claims more addicts than any other in America. Alcoholics outnumber drug addicts 10 to one, and alcoholic deaths outnumber drug overdoses three to one,” Executive Director Mark Creech told a crowd of more than 125 at Sandy Grove Baptist on Tuesday night. “Alcohol causes more deaths than AIDS, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and crack combined.”
Dr. Creech had earlier in the day met with a group of pastors at White Oak Baptist in White Oak about how to form a campaign to defeat the beer and wine referendum set for May 6. Beer and wine are already sold in Elizabethtown, Clarkton and East Arcadia, with wine on the shelves in White Lake. Some 40 outlets in those areas sell alcohol. But in August of last year, the Bladen County Commission voted to place a countywide beer and wine referendum on the primary ballot.
“Our county residents, if this referendum passes, will dictate to citizens of a local town that they will be mandated to allow sales and beer and wine even though the overwhelming majority of residents in that town wish it to remain dry,” said the Rev. Bruce Cannon, director of missions for the Bladen Baptist Association and a lead organizer of the new PAC.
“We defeated this issue in the town where I live, Bladenboro, in 2001 by winning the vote by a margin of 65 percent to 35 percent.”
Hoping for a similar result this spring, Churches Against County-wide Sale of Beer and Wine called on Dr. Creech to set the stage for their campaign. The Bladen Journal called his 30-minute speech “a sustained cascade of factual information, Biblical references and historical quotes that continually hit their mark.”
Among the facts he shared:
• Excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for an average of 80,000 deaths and 2.3 million years of potential life lost in the United States annually, according to a CDC report issued last year.
• Alcohol is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death.
• According to a recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the cost of excessive alcohol consumption was $223.5 billion in 2006, with binge drinking accounting for over 75 percent of the total economic cost.
• One in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about eight drinks per binge, a 2010 study revealed. While binge drinking is more common among those aged 18–34 years, binge drinkers aged 65 years and older report binge drinking more often—an average of five to six times a month.
Dr. Creech said it’s no wonder that Solomon warned in Proverbs 20 that, “Wine is a mocker. Strong drink is a brawler. And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”
Admitting that abstinence from alcohol is not a popular stance even in the church, where half of all ordained ministers drink, he said many defend the licensing and selling of alcohol because of tax revenue, though it never brings in enough funds to begin to pay for the damage it does.
“Here in our own state, the Alcohol and Drug Council of North Carolina reported that for every one dollar generated in tax revenue from alcohol sales, there is a corresponding expenditure of $21.42 due to the cost of alcohol related problems,” he said.
Rev. Cannon said understanding the economic issue is critical to voters
“The thing we most want people to know about our countywide beer and wine referendum is that the sale of alcohol countywide will not help our local economy,” he said Thursday morning.
“It will not produce new jobs; with the exception of possibly a few part-time clerk positions for those stores wishing to sell beer and wine. And, a local town will not be able to opt out of selling because a countywide referendum takes precedence over a local townships wishes.”
Rather than an economic boon, Dr. Creech said greater access to alcohol always creates greater consumption levels, resulting in greater alcohol related problems. He cited a Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center study showing that the higher the concentration of outlets, the more relaxed an attitude people had toward alcohol.
Churches Against County-wide Sale of Beer and Wine is calling for “community captains” to keep their neighbors informed on the issue and ask them to help vote it down. Rev. Cannon said Dr. Creech’s speech was a good start.
“Brother Mark did a superb job Tuesday evening by staying on point with what the referendum would do and would not do,” he added.
Related Story from the Bladen Journal: PAC Begins Fights Against County-Wide Beer, Wine Sales