Alabama religious leaders v. state alcohol laws. Who’s winning?

By Kay Campbell | kcampbell@al.com 

Town by town, county by county, Alabama’s laws limiting or prohibiting the sale of alcohol have been falling – usually over the protests of at least some religious leaders.

“The role of any pastor is that of a shepherd — to protect the people in the church, to evangelize, and to never condone or compromise with evil,” said Father James Henderson, a Charismatic Episcopal priest. “We don’t have a choice but to take the view that we have to stand against anything evil. New alcohol sales is one of those evils. I’m not going to say someone who drinks a glass of wine now and then is going to hell, but in a community like Priceville, if you have the choice to adopt it or not – it’s always better to not.”

Even more than the changing laws, what worries the Rev. Joe Godfrey, executive director of ALCAP, the Alabama Citizens Action Program that seeks to be “Alabama’s moral compass,” are the changing attitudes among the people who should know better.

“I’m concerned that many pastors don’t see the problems and are not addressing these problems from the pulpit — so representatives come to Montgomery and they’ve never heard this addressed from the pulpit, so they think — OK it’s good for business. I’ll vote for it,” Godfrey said Tuesday. “But they don’t stop to count the real costs.”

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