Guest column: Personal gain, not education, behind LBTD push

Feb. 08, 2013 @ 11:48 PM

As director of a small-helps ministry whose main emphasis has been to render support to other parachurch ministries, to help further their ongoing outreach to those in need, surface involvement in hot-button political issues has generally taken a backseat.

From this ministry’s standpoint, to be actively involved in both the political front and ministry endeavors is often not complementary to one another and can be counterproductive. Many times certain political issues, such as the recent Pigeon Forge liquor referendum, can be divisive, and active involvement in these issues by a ministry such as ours, can have the potential to hinder what has been a cooperative base from business entities, in our service to other ministry organizations.

It was with much soul searching and meditation we decided there was a duty above the congeniality of these relationships, to express a public opinion on this liquor referendum issue. In drawing from personal experiences, a lifetime of bits and pieces of acquired information and these being sprinkled with spiritual common sense, as the scripture concludes, there is only one possible resolution:

“For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”(Acts 4:20)

We first render a special thanks to all area businesses for their past support of our ministry’s efforts to bring about awareness and financial support to these East Tennessee-based ministry organizations that have been the prime recipients of these efforts. Above and beyond this thanks, though, we would like to give a special praise to those businesses of Pigeon Forge that, against all odds and promises of financial gain, stood their ground against liquor by the drink sales in that city.

These folks have taken a moral stand in choosing not to sell themselves out with the potential to line their pockets. They have chosen Godliness and family values over financial gain. In this day and time with money being the prime motivator for most institutions, power structures and much of society, it is a highly commendable attribute to prefer and choose spiritual integrity over hoped for financial gain.

While education is being promoted as a prime beneficiary of the LBTD initiatives, with the rationalization that revenues will support educational institutions, in reality it is the wallets and bank accounts of those involved in the chain of liquor sales who tend to prosper most, as well as select governing bodies and other related entities, who may also hope to prosper as a result of the additional tax revenue.

On the surface, perhaps, the proposed additional income for education might appear to be a positive for the referendum, but in reality if sincere studies were weighed in the balance by those engaged in the pro-liquor efforts, it would be found that the potential adversities of liquor sales would outweigh any conceivable benefits to education.

With the information available today of the cause and effect of alcohol use, of its negative social impact as well as the accompanying financial negatives produced by alcohol use and abuse, it is certain that when the whole picture is viewed, the possible overall detrimental effects to what up until now has been a family-friendly area, outweigh any plausible gains as being promoted by liquor referendum backers.

Most of the entities presumed to benefit from sales of alcohol, most likely will not be directly involved in the brunt of financial responsibilities for alcohol related mishaps such as property damage, physical injuries and even deaths, sometimes as a result of alcohol-induced violent actions and sometimes by alcohol-related vehicle accidents, yet there is a financial outgo that somebody will bear this responsible for.

Whether these responsible parties be insurance companies or some aloof government agency not benefiting from these liquor sales, or other financially responsible entity, somewhere down the line, someone will inordinately pay the price for the benefit of lining the pockets of others.

While the liquor referendum is a local issue, with much at stake, it is typical of many other issues similar in scope that have become more focused on selling moral and social values out to the highest bidder, no matter the consequences. In this day, as it was 2,000 years ago, the symbolism of 30 pieces of silver again seems carry a whole of weight in the wrong places.

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)

— Dave Merrill is with By His Hand Ministries in Pigeon Forge. Email