Saturday, October 10, 2015

This Week in Texas Methodist History  October 11

Preachers Object to Advocate’s Strong Stand on Prohibition, October 16, 1885

When G. W. Briggs took over the editorship of the Texas Christian Advocate, he unabashedly proclaimed that he intended to use the denominational organ in the political battle over the prohibition of alcoholic beverages.   Texas dries felt encouraged by the added weight of the Advocate stance as they pushed for a statewide referendum to be put before the voters.  Such a referendum was held in 1888, but failed to secure a majority with the all-male electorate in that year. 

There were a few Methodist preachers bold enough to voice their opposition to the new editorial emphasis.   Their opposition was not in favor of alcoholic beverages, but their belief that the church should stay out of secular politics.  

Briggs sent an appeal to Texas preachers, asking them to submit letters to the Advocate on the subject of prohibition.  Rev. Scott of Willis composed a letter criticizing the involvement of the Advocate in politics.  Briggs did not print the letter.  He would have been better off just printing the letter.  His refusal to print letters disagreeing with his position just created more problems.  Rev. John C. S. Baird of Coleman City heard of the refusal to print the Scott letter.   

When Baird’s letter to the Advocate was also denied publication, he sent his protest to the Galveston Daily News which was all too happy to report on the minor Methodist journalistic spat.
Baird’s letter ended this way

Southern Methodist preachers are entitled to all the rights and privileges of American citizenship, but their citizen rights should be exercised as citizens, not as pastors of Southern Methodist churches nor as editors or paid correspondents of Southern Methodist newspapers. As citizens claiming to be quiet and peaceable subjects, we are entitled to such laws as will protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  As members and ministers of the church of the Son of God, we are to remember that “ the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but are mighty through God (not the legislature), to the pulling down of strongholds, and the bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”


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