Friday, July 27, 2007

Baptists and alcohol

I'm not Baptist. I'm Episcopalian, and Episcopalians are notorious drunkards. Well, that's not quite accurate, but the Episcopal Church was never pro-prohibition. The Baptists are pretty strict on alcohol, but the church's attitudes may be changing somewhat. Certainly, a lot of Baptists drink. I personally knew one who drunk like a fish. Oddly enough, I know a handful of Unitarian Universalists who abstain completely, and life in a substance-free co-op. Neither the Unitarians, the Universalists, nor the present UUs were known (as far as I know) to be teetotallers on a churchwide basis.

I mention this article as I prepare to attend the Michigan Beerfest tonight, for a night of drunken (or at least mildly inebriated) carousing. Microbreweries from all over Michigan will be serving beer. I intend to start with the ones in the Upper Peninsula, preferably the northernmost ones first.

I will be driving. But I will also be eating in between drinks, spacing out my drinks, and taking a break before driving back. And if I really end up drunk, I'll either bribe a friend into giving me a lift, or leave my car there and collect it the next day.

A growing number of Baptists may have welcomed the New Year by raising a glass of something a bit stronger than iced tea. In recent years, Baptist attitudes toward alcohol consumption have seemed to change, according to some experts.

Consider the debate sparked last summer when messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting approved a resolution opposing the consumption of alcoholic beverages and an amendment disqualifying imbibers from service as trustees of SBC entities.

Messengers passed resolutions on such volatile issues as same-sex marriage, illegal immigration and genocide in Darfur with little discussion, but the call for total abstinence prompted debate on the convention floor and ongoing dialogue on Internet blogs.

“The Southern Baptist Convention is committed to drawing boundaries. It was inevitable this would be one of them,” Bill Leonard, dean of Wake Forest Divinity School, said. “Each year, Southern Baptists try to find ways to set themselves off as different than the prevailing culture. But this time, they discovered that even inerrantists may take a drink every now and then.”

Indeed, some self-described inerrantists and Calvinists kept the issue alive long after the annual meeting, arguing in Internet chat rooms that the Bible condemns drunkenness but does not present a compelling case for total abstinence...

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