Georgia Conservative Christians Converting to Catholicism

After reading this article in the AJC, I have concluded that Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson has converted to Roman Catholicism.

Yes, I know, another post about repealing the Blue Laws. Bear with me.

I was particularly interested in these comments from Richardson:

“As a general rule, most people go to church of whatever faith on Sunday,” he said. “And we don’t sell beer on Sundays. It’s just one of those traditions. And I don’t think Republicans are doing anything other than trying to very carefully measure if we want to put that out there and let the citizens end that tradition.”

I find this emphasis on tradition particularly interesting. While I’m sure that Richardson is not a theologian, his emphasis on tradition as the primary reasoning for maintaining the blue laws is an odd justification in a heavily Protestant and Baptist state. (Disclaimer: I am Protestant and grew up Southern Baptist though I now am Presbyterian.)

Protestant theology has long maintained adherence to the concept of “Sola Scriptura”, that is, “by Scripture alone”. Among other things, Sola Scriptura means that the Bible is sufficient as the only source of Christian doctrine. In contrast, Roman Catholicism holds that the Bible must be considered in the context of tradition.

One would think that in a heavily Protestant state like Georgia that most appeals to maintain the blue laws would be couched in Scripture. Yet can anyone recall Sadie Field, Governor Purdue, Jerry Keen, David Schafer, or Glenn Richardson mentioning any verses from the Bible to support their position?

It is a delicious irony that Richardson has chosen to make his argument in Roman Catholic terms, particularly considering the unfortunate tradition of anti-Catholic rhetoric among many Protestants.

I am still waiting to hear the argument against selling alcohol on Sundays that is based upon the Bible but I suspect that I will be waiting a long time.

43 comments

  1. Chris says:

    Will,

    Wasn’t there that part of the bible where Jesus turned the brewers, vinters and distillers out of The Temple?

    If its not, I’m pretty sure Sadie and her ilk can write it in there. Its not like most of her followers have actually read the damn thing.

  2. Chris says:

    Well, Given the history of what happened right after, I could see how Jesus would have negative memories of alcohol.

  3. jsm says:

    “Chris: don’t tell anyone, but the Lord’s Supper aka Communion involves……alcohol.”

    Careful with that one. There is much debate over the level of alcohol and the reasoning behind its presence in the wine. It certainly wasn’t used for recreation or getting drunk at that particular occasion.

    The Bible has plenty to say about wine and “strong drink.” However, it has nothing to say about when to buy it or whether human government should control it.

  4. DougieFresh says:

    If Protestants were truly Sola Scriptura, they would not have irrational fears about alcohol, and would not allow divorce (of major Christian denominations, Baptists have the highest divorce rate). Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana, and marriage is supposed to be a covenant with god.

  5. Will Hinton says:

    jsm: there is no serious debate as to whether there was alcohol at the Last Supper. That position is a fairly recent one with zero basis in Scripture and more basis in selling grape juice.

  6. jsm says:

    Dougie,

    The Bible allows divorce in certain situations, and this can become a pretty deep subject. I’ll just refer you to Deut. 24:1-4, Matt. 19:9, & I Cor. 7:15.

  7. DougieFresh says:

    The only thing that prevents grape juice from instantly converting to wine is the preservatives that are currently heaped in them.

    Yeast is present on the skin of grapes, and the very second they come into contact with the grape juice, the process starts. How long do you think grape juice can sit around before it is noticably alcoholic? How long do you think the biblical people stored wine before they drank it.

    There is a reason they drank wine as a primary beverage. Alcohol at sufficent concentration kills bacteria and other harmful microbes. Even though they didn’t know the scientific reasons, they knew that people who drank water often got sick. No alocohol, no preservative. They were drinking alcohol.

  8. DougieFresh says:

    jsm,

    If they are Christians, and not Jews, the words of Jesus should apply, and he said divorce was only valid due to sexual immorality. I do not think, “I met someone I like better.” or “I am tired of my spouse.” are Jesus sponsored reasons.

    Anyway, I don’t think Erick wants this to devolve into a Biblical discussion, but I will just sum up my position as:

    Baptists are hyprocrits.

  9. Erick says:

    Dougie,

    (1) Yes, we don’t need this to turn into a biblical discussion.

    (2) All sinners, not just Baptists, are hypocrites.

    (3) Wine? Blech. All products derived from grapes are disgusting.

  10. Burdell says:

    Dougie, I agreed with you up until you said “he said divorce was only valid due to sexual immorality.”

    Jesus said divorce was valid only due to marital unfaithfulness. There is a difference there. To me, marital unfaithfulness would be breaking any of the promises made at a wedding, including adultery, domestic violence, verbal abuse, etc.

    But you are right, “I’m tired of my spouse” wouldn’t cut it.

    Would you allow that the accurate position should be “some baptists are hypocrites”?

  11. bowersville says:

    Has anyone given consideration that Fields, Perdue, Keen, Schafer nor Richardson mentioned any scripture for a reason?

    Maybe they believed it would digress into a discussion just as this thread has instead of the issue at hand, Sunday sales.

  12. buzzbrockway says:

    This has to be one of the silliest issues the legislature has dealt with in my lifetime.

    Prohibiting sales on Sunday doesn’t stop drinking but changing the law to allow it won’t change much either so who cares? I sure don’t but this issue is the most talked about issue of the session, sans Peach Care.

  13. drjay says:

    its just one of them things that riles a certain fairly influential group of folks up–frankly the drinking age should not be 21 either–but noone is going to touch that w/ a 20 foot pole…we have a city councilman in my hometown who votes against every liquer license that comes before them and another who only votes yes if they are not going to be open or serving on sundays…

  14. buzzbrockway says:

    Since Will has sort of become the leader of the pro-alcohol Christians, I hope he won’t slip into absolutism on the subject. There are guys like me who don’t drink and as such are in direct defiance of St. Paul’s instruction to “take a little wine for your health.” How would you deal with a guy like me Will? 😉

  15. dingleberry says:

    Buzz,

    I think the reason this has become such a huge issue is because it highlights a much larger problem: The GOP’s acceptance of more and more big-government policies. This issue better than any other shows us that most Republicans only pay lip service to small government and will gladly increase the size of government to buy the votes of the religious right.

    I personally can’t wait to see the votes if this thing hits the Senate Floor. We’ll see how many of those “conservative” Republicans actually believe in limited government.

  16. Will Hinton says:

    bowersville: it is legitimate to question the philosophical and Biblical underpinings of those who believe that alcohol shouldn’t be sold on Sundays. It is legitimate because Sadie Fields, Purdue, etc have said that it is the Christian thing to do. The onus is on them to prove their point.

    They have chosen to avoid mentioning Scripture for two reasons. One is that there IS NO Biblical basis. The second is that we live in a pluralistic society that contains many people who don’t use the Bible as authority in their lives. Yet, while they aren’t using Scripture per se, they are trying to make a religious argument without the religious language. This is ultimately self-defeating and dishonest.

  17. Will Hinton says:

    Buzz: I have no problem whatsoever with those who choose not to drink alcohol. I actually didn’t drink any alcohol until I was 24. And I can appreciate some anti-alcohol sentiments, particularly from those who have been in abusive relationships because of alcoholism

    But this is ultimately a freedom issue. I am very disturbed that some Christians are opposing this bill on grounds that it is against Christianity. Nothing could be further from the truth. While drinking in excess is clearly condemned in the Bible, so is eating in excess. And many other things done in excess. See a pattern?

  18. bowersville says:

    Will, we’re actually on the same page on you’re last 3 comments.

    Sometimes if a question is posed, a reasoned answer, as in this case, is given.

  19. Tommy_a2b says:

    Will, you better be careful. Talking about eating in excess. Many Legislators are on the fast track to hell on that one. We don’t need any new laws or the few of us with our weight under control may go hungry.

  20. DougieFresh says:

    Burdell,
    I was a bit over the top, as I was leaving for lunch and didn’t have time to elaborate. You are right it is some that are hypocrites, but I only pick on the Baptists because they are more aggressive in their codifying of religious beliefs as law of the land.

    Erick,
    You are flat out wrong. Being a sinner does not make you a hypocrite. Excusing your own sins and persecuting those sins in others is being a hypocrite. Setting a goal that is too lofty to reach on every occasion is a commendable practice. Proclaiming that you have reached perfect compliance to that goal by ignoring your own personal failures and then applying that standard with little tolerance in others is not.

    Will,
    Well stated. I support your arguments completely.

  21. rugby_fan says:

    “All products derived from grapes are disgusting.”

    Erick, you are officially on notice. Watch it with your talk of grapes. I’ve warned you once, I shan’t do it again.

  22. buzzbrockway says:

    Yes Will I see the pattern and I don’t think freedom is silly. My point is people are all in a lather on both sides of this issue which blows my mind. Change the law, don’t change the law I don’t really care.

    This isn’t a religious blog so I don’t want to get into a theological debate but it seems to me you’re using scripture to justify what you want to do while accusing others of doing the same.

  23. buzzbrockway says:

    Dingleberry said: “I think the reason this has become such a huge issue is because it highlights a much larger problem: The GOP’s acceptance of more and more big-government policies.”

    I see it differently: The GOP is debating removing this law which Democrats put in place a long time ago. Some Republicans want to change it, some don’t. I don’t think the fact that some want to keep the law means the GOP is suddenly a big government party. Other actions by some might cause one to think so, but not this issue. This issue merely allows some to bash the religious right.

  24. dingleberry says:

    It’s pretty simple, Buzz. If you are pro big-government, then you support the blue laws. If you are anti big-government, then you are against the blue laws.

    The fact that the Blue Laws are STILL on the books over 4 years into the party of “small government” coming to power highlights a larger struggle that the GOP is facing…and the religious right is a large, large part of the problem. Not the solution.

  25. Shakin the bush boss says:

    Jim Beck (Christian Coalition) said in a previous committee meeting on Sunday Sales that “we don’t want people voting on this issue because we might lose”. Its strange that he wants statewide votes on gay marriage, etc. Let’s not let consistantcy get in the way of a great argument.

  26. SpaceyG says:

    You drink enough any day of the week and you’ll have all kinds of “magical” thoughts: people turning water into wine, fairies and sprites cavortin’ with unicorns, Georgia legislators making sense…

  27. Doug Deal says:

    buzz,

    And the religious right bring it on themselves. If they would stop using the power of government to push their religious belief onto others, few people would have trouble with them.

  28. jaybird says:

    I consider myself to of the “religious right” that does not drink alcohol. Having grown up in the Northeast this seems like a silly issue to me. If alcohol is legal to sell 6 days of the week, it should legal to sell 7 days per week.

    I say let the local communities have the say. If the heathens in Atlanta want to drink themselves silly on Sunday, great. If the South Georgia folks want to keep alcohol out of their community on Sunday (or any other day of the week) great.

  29. Demonbeck says:

    Erick,

    Clearly, you haven’t had any good wine. Try the stuff that comes in a bottle instead of a box. I bet with one glass I could change your whole perception on the grape issue.

    Oh wait, I can’t get the wine I want you to sample, because I don’t have a distributor’s license and as a result can’t legally ship wine to Georgia from California.

    As long as we are changing Georgia’s archaic alcohol laws, can we fix this one too?

  30. bowersville says:

    How many of you remember this same anti rhetoric in ’89-90 (?) about the lottery? I do.

    Jim Beck of the Georgia Christian Coalition chose to draw a line in the sand on this issue. He promised to remember each legislators’ vote, which suggests retaliation. Beck, Fields etc. have intensified this issue to a fervor level.

    It seems to me, rather than suggesting individual retaliation, they would have used this as a rallying cry to get out the vote. Do they not have confidence in their community to do the right thing? I do.

    Among other reasons, I suspect this issue is being used by some for political self promotion.

  31. GOPeach says:

    I don’t drink but I do not care if you drink anytime ( Sunday included) as long as you stay at home and pass out. Do not drive while drinking-

    I am an official MADD member!

  32. Doug Deal says:

    GOPeach,

    Religious scholars should not comment on science. A quick read of people trying to disprove the use of alcohol demonstrates their lack of knowledge and the use of half-truths.

    An example is This guy who suggests that yeast is the same thing as gluten. Gluten is a protein in wheat, barely and rye, which aids in leavening bread. He goes on to suggest that this means it produces the CO2 that causes the bread to rise.

    This is a very basic misunderstanding of what is happening. Gluten makes the dough springy and therefore more able to hold in the CO2 released by the yeast (a fungus). He bases his entire diatribe on this misunderstanding. Much like many evolution deniers use a fundamental misunderstanding of thermodynamics as a means of “disproving” evolution.

    The fact is that grape juice will start fermenting immediately and will show obvious signs of fermentation 24 hours later (unless refrigerated). How many refrigerators did they have in biblical times? How many people went to the vineyard and picked grapes only minutes before consuming it? All grape juice is alcoholic to some degree from the moment it is pressed, unless treated with heat (and sealed before it is cooled) or preservatives.

  33. whitemalevoters says:

    GOPeach,

    What to you say you leave the husband at home one night, and go out with a REAL male…

    A WHITE male voter, that is?

    There are plenty of white male voters to satisfy you. 😉

  34. Bill Simon says:

    Doug,

    You appear to describing an “evolutionary process” that occurs that converts grapes into wine.

    Surely you know that religious folks who read this are quite concerned that you are trying to insert the concept of “evolution” into this discussion.

    As all of them know, the concept of evolution is the Work of The Devil…so, anything that is produced via an “evolutionary process” must also be the Work of The Devil…and, therefore, that is why wine and other similar alcoholic-containing beverages are considered to be Drinks of The Devil.

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