THE CHRISTIAN AND THE LIQUOR TRAFFIC
By the late Sam Morris
Bible Grounds For Opposing Liquor
I want to discuss this liquor question; first, from the standpoint of the Bible; second, from a scientific point of view; third, from a practical point of view; and fourth, from a moral responsibility point of view. People sometimes say to me, “I think a preacher ought to preach the Bible and stay off the liquor question; that’s politics.” The man who makes that statement is only advertising and publicizing his own ignorance of the Bible. You cannot preach all the Bible and stay off the liquor question. You either have to get on the liquor question or get off part of the Bible.
The Bible Magnifies Total Abstinence
Let us notice first that the Bible magnifies total abstinence. The children of Israel drank no wine nor strong drink for forty years during the wilderness wanderings.
God commended the Rechabites through Jeremiah for the one particular reason that they had kept the tradition of their father, Jonadab, and drank no wine nor strong drink (Jer. 35:1-14).
God commanded the priests to drink no wine nor strong drink (Lev. 10:8 - 9).
God commanded the Nazarites to drink no wine nor strong drink (Num. 6:1-3).
God commanded the mother of Samson to drink no wine or strong drink (Judges 13:4-14). Samson, the strong man of the Bible, being a Nazarite, was a total abstainer.
Samuel, the great judge of Israel, was a total abstainer.
Daniel, the great prophet of the Bible, was a total abstainer who purposed in his heart he would not defile himself with the king’s meat nor with the wine which he drank (Dan. 1:8).
John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, was a total abstainer (Luke 1:15).
Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, wrote, “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak” (Romans 14:21). In I Corinthians 5, I Corinthians 6, in Galatians 5, while writing under divine inspiration, the Apostle Paul wrote a category of the lusts of flesh. In all three categories he lists drunkenness along with murder, stealing, adultery, fornication, idolatry, and other sins of the flesh. Now, what does the Bible say we ought to do with the lusts of the flesh? “. . Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (I Peter 2:11).
So, my friends, when Baptists in their church covenants, obligate every member of the Baptist church, whether North or South, to abstain from drinking or selling intoxicating liquor, the Baptist church is obligating that member in Bible Words. When Methodists call upon their constituency to commit themselves once each year to total abstinence, they, too, are following the light of the Holy Word of God which magnifies total abstinence.
The Bible Records the Tragedy Growing Out of Strong Drink
But the Bible goes further. The Bible very vividly records the tragedies, heartaches, sorrows, disgraces that grow out of the use of strong drink.
Noah’s feet were hardly dry before he was drunk, lying naked before his family to their shame and humiliation.
Lot’s two single daughters, almost before the fire had stopped falling on Sodom, made their father drunk and lay down in adultery with him, then got up to bear children to their own father in a drunken debauch. David’s story of adultery and murder has interwoven in it a story of the tragedy of strong drink. He made Uriah drunk, hoping that under the influence of strong drink he would go down to his home and cover up David’s sin; then David killed him.
Nabal, a descendant of grand old Caleb, died in a drunken debauch with snakes in his boots, a disgrace to his fine old family name.
Handsome young Absalom wanted to kill his half brother Amnon. He first made him drunk and while he was so drunk he did not know what he was doing, he struck him through with a sword. Ahasuerus dethroned good queen Vashti because she would not put on a strip tease or a floor show at his drunken party.
Belshazzar, with a thousand of his lords and concubines, drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver. And that night a hand wrote on the wall, “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting” (Dan 5:27).
John the Baptist got his head cut off at a drunken birthday dance. The church in Corinth was humiliated and embarrassed by some of its members having observed the Lord’s Supper when they were so drunk they didn’t know what they were doing, and did not properly discern the body of the Lord, and Paul had to write and rebuke them for it.
And since these Bible stories are in the Holy Word of God, telling how strong drink played its part in family infidelity, in family murders, in family disgrace, in church humiliation, down to this good hour strong drink has played its part in the murder within the family, in the murder of people who are not in the same family, in the wrecking of homes and the blighting of lives.
The Bible Warns Against Use of Strong Drink
The Bible not only magnifies total abstinence, it not only portrays the evil consequences related to the use of strong drink, but, ladies and gentlemen, the Bible in no uncertain terms warns us against the use of strong drink. “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink” (Hab. 2:15). That is Bible. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Prov. 20:1). It’s in the Bible. “Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!” (Isa. 5:11). It’s in the Bible. “Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!” (Isa. 5:22, 23). In the Bible! “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine” (Prov. 23:29, 30). And then in direct, emphatic, undeniable, inescapable admonition, we are admonished to let it completely alone. Listen to what the Bible says. Language could not be more emphatic. “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things” (Prov. 23:3 1- 33). Language could not be plainer. “Look not upon it” could mean but one thing -- let it completely alone! Shun it as you would a snake or avoid it as you would a poisonous adder. Listen again: “It is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted” (Prov. 31:4-5). “It is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink.” If the Bible writer were writing today, he would say, “It is not for presidents to drink wine, even if they claim to be Baptists! It is not for senators to drink wine. It is not for Secretaries of State to drink wine.” Did you know that for more than ten years the Congress of the United States has appropriated over half a million dollars from the taxpayer’s money just for the primary purpose - - to buy liquor to entertain foreign diplomats? And at Cairo, Teheran, Yalta, Potsdam, where the state of the world was involved and where agreements were entered into out of which have largely come the Korean conflict, our American diplomats drank booze until their brains were in a whirl, and at least one of them had to be carried away completely incapacitated! “It is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law.”
These Scriptures which I have quoted, first showing the magnifying of total abstinence; second, showing the tragedy growing out of the use of strong drink; and third, emphatic warnings against the use of strong drink, would convince any open-minded, clean-hearted person that he ought to let liquor alone.
The Bible Shows Drunkenness is a Sin, Not a Disease
There is a sickly, sentimental, mushy, nonsensical theory being promoted and advocated by the liquor interest and accepted by thoughtless people to the effect that we should not blame the alcoholic or drunkard for his drunkenness. They say he is a sick man, that he has a disease, that his drunkenness is not due to personal fault on his part but due to dietary deficiencies, mental frustration, and psychological quirks; therefore he is not responsible. We should not blame him, nor criticise him, nor condemn him, nor abuse him. We should treat him as we do a cancer patient, a man with heart trouble, or a polio patient. We should put him in a clinic or, a hospital and hospitalize him.
The Bible is as clear as the noonday sun. The drunkard is personally responsible for his sin of drunkenness.
The Bible classifies drunkenness in the same sinful category with murder, adultery, stealing, idolatry, extortion, and other sins of the flesh. The Bible blames the drunkard or alcoholic for being a drunkard, just as it, blames the murderer for killing his fellowman, the adulterer, for committing adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the thief for stealing his neighbor’s property, or the extortioner for his conduct of extortion. The Bible emphatically declares in no uncertain terms that the kingdom of Heaven is shut to the drunkard on the same basis that it is shut to the murderer, the thief, the adulterer, the idolater and the extortioner.
Listen to the Word of God:
“But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” - -I Cor. 5:11.
Listen to the Word of God:
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived:- neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor-revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” --I Cor. 6:9, 10.
Listen to the Word of God:
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness , revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” --Gal. 5:19-2 1.
The Use of “Wine” at the Lord’s Supper
Now I want to answer three arguments that the wets use to justify their booze drinking from the Bible. First, the use of wine for the Lord’s Supper; second, Paul’s admonition to Timothy, “Use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake”; and third, the story about where Jesus turned water to wine at the wedding supper in Cana of Galilee. Here are three Scriptures or Bible matters that wets use to justify their booze drinking. I believe it was Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt who published in the papers such a response to a question, in her column, “My Day.” One of her readers wrote to her about the question of drinking and she answered back after this fashion, “Why, we use wine for the sacrament, and if it is all right for the sacrament, it ought to be all right for our personal use in the home.” Well, Mrs. Roosevelt is pretty good in politics, but she, is a million miles off base in the Bible.
Bible Use of “Wine”: Arguments Answered
The word wine is not used anywhere in the Bible in connection with the Lord’s Supper. The New Testament makes no mention of wine in connection with the Lord’s Supper. The word “cup” is used; the words “fruit of the vine” are used, but the word wine is not used. And, ladies and gentlemen, fermented, intoxicating wine should never be used for the Lord’s Supper. Communion bread is to be unleavened, not to contain any yeast because the bread symbolizes the body of Jesus, which was perfect and sinless. It is yeast that causes grape juice to ferment into intoxicating wine. If the bread should be unleavened, then the part that represents the blood should be unleavened because the blood of Christ was as sinless and pure as was the body of Christ. Fermented, intoxicating wine is a putrid, decaying substance, and when you use that for the Lord’s Supper, you are taking a decaying, putrid, contaminated substance to represent the pure, sinless blood of our Lord, and it is a blasphemous disgrace to the blood of Jesus Christ. But if you take the unfermented, pure, fresh, uncontaminated sweet juice of the grape, it is a perfect symbol of the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us from all sin. So that is the answer to that argument.
Wine for Timothy’s Weak Stomach
Now: “Brother Sam, what about Paul advising Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach’s sake?’ You will find that over in the book of Timothy where Paul was writing to a young preacher. “Drink no longer water” (marginal reading “.. . no longer water only”) “but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities” (I Tim. 5:23). Now I do not believe that he was talking about fermented, intoxicating wine, but let us pass that up just for the moment.
Is there any difference in the use of a product for medical purposes and for pleasure purposes? Indeed there is. A difference as wide as the sea. Did you ever go to a hospital and have the doctor roll up your sleeve, sterilize your arm, then take a hypodermic needle and stick it in your arm and shove morphine or cocaine or some other habit-forming narcotic drug in your arm and you drowse off to sleep while he performed an operation? Why, certainly. He was using it for medical purposes. The very fact that he used that for medical purposes and you submitted to it for medical purposes did not mean that you were in favor of some old quack doctor standing down here on the street in a darkened doorway with a hypodermic needle in his hand, and that to every old dope-head that came along and wanted a shot and had the price, that the doctor should give it so the doctor could get revenue to build schools or pay old-age pensions! See it, my friends? Paul specifically says, “... for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” If you could prove it was intoxicating wine he was talking about, you would have to limit its use in that Scripture to sick people for medical purposes and not for beverage and indiscriminate pleasure purposes.
The Wine at the Wedding Supper
“Yeh, but Brother Sam, doesn’t the Bible say that Jesus turned water to wine at the wedding supper in Cana of Galilee?” Sure does! I knew you were going to bring it up, so I loaded my gun at that point, too. Your Greek students of course understand that the New Testament was not written in English, but primarily in Greek. But a word in the Greek language, like the English language, often had more than one meaning.
We left Dallas this morning and drove up here. I say we drove fast. Do you know what I mean? Don’t tell any patrolman about it!
We got to, a bridge where a car and truck had collided, and there we were, stuck for about a half hour while they were towed up the road. We were stuck fast, couldn’t get away. We were drifting along up through Durant, Oklahoma, and a great big old shiny sport model coupe came along and in it was one of these faded, jaded janes with a cigarette dangling between her fingers--she’s a fast woman, no doubt. And you know, one time-we didn’t eat anything for three days and nights, and then we broke the fast.
Four different uses of the one word fast. Just to take the word fast, by itself, you couldn’t tell what it means. You have to use it in the light of the context to get the meaning.
Now the story of the wedding supper in Cana of Galilee. The Greek word oinos had more than one meaning, both in the Bible and in classical Greek. Oinos meant either fermented, intoxicating wine or it meant non-fermented, non-intoxicating fruit juice, syrup, or even preserves. When the Bible says that Jesus turned water into wine, I cannot take that Scripture by itself and prove that it was not fermented, intoxicating wine because the word oinos could be interpreted fermented, intoxicating wine. But you cannot prove it was, because the same word permitted the meaning of non-intoxicating, unfermented juice. But wait a minute. That is not all the Bible. My Bible says, “No scripture is of any private interpretation” (II Pet. 1:20), meaning that we must interpret all Scripture in the light of all other Scripture.
Now, let me ask you a question. Did Jesus ever contradict the Old Testament? Did He? (Audience: “No”) Will you stand right up like a tomcat spitting tobacco juice in a brindle bull dog’s eye and say He didn’t? Got your mind made up? Well, you are right! I will agree with you.
Jesus never, contradicted the old Scripture. He always reaffirmed, upheld, magnified it. In fact, He said, “One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt. 5:18). “I am not come to destroy” (Matt. 5:17). All right. Now let’s see where we get.
The Old Testament very plainly said, “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink.” Now, if you say because the word oinos (the Greek word for wine or grape juice) permitted it being intoxicating wine; if you say, ‘Well, that means He turned it into intoxicating wine,” then you have the Lord Jesus Christ pulling the curse of Almighty God down on His own head. “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink.” If you say it means intoxicating wine, then you have the Lord Jesus Christ utterly ignoring the plain, the plain, emphatic warning of the Old Testament, “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.” Am I right about it? If you say that it is intoxicating wine simply because the Greek word oinos would permit that interpretation, then you have the Lord Jesus Christ denying, abrogating and destroying the plain, unvarnished admonition, “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red.” Such a position is wholly untenable. And I will stand anywhere, before any group anywhere on top side of God’s earth, and say, “No sir! My Lord did not turn water into intoxicating wine, and the Bible does not teach that He did.”
With these facts before me, my friends, I oppose the liquor traffic on Bible grounds.
Scientific Grounds For Opposing Liquor
Let us turn from Bible grounds over to scientific grounds. It is an established scientific fact that alcohol in beer, wine, or whiskey is a habit-forming, narcotic, poisonous drug. It befuddles the brain, it depresses the nerves, it distorts the vision, it retards muscular reaction, it releases the inhibitions. Now that word “inhibitions” is a sort of a highfalutin, high-browed university term. It simply means that it takes the brakes off in people’s lives and they play the devil while they are under the influence of it. You can take a man that is a perfectly safe driver while he is sober and put him under the influence of alcohol and he becomes a murderous killer on the street or highway. Why? Because the alcohol in the beer, wine, or whiskey that he drank beclouds his brain, numbs his nerves, and slows down his muscular reaction.
Not long ago two boys came back from the Korean battlefield. They landed in Charleston, South Carolina. One of them was a young married soldier. He rushed to the telephone, called his wife and told her and the babies in New York, “I am catching the next bus. It’s leaving in just a few minutes. I’ve gotten back on American soil! I’ll be home at such and-such a time.” He walked out of the telephone booth, started back across the street to the bus depot and drunken driver roaring down the street pinned both of those soldier boys against a telephone post and killed them, and the little family in New York was without a father. What the communists in Korea could not do, a drunken driver on the streets of Charleston, South Carolina, did to a soldier boy. Why? Because that driver’s brain, was wholly under the influence of alcohol. His muscles were slow. His nerves were agitated. His vision was distorted.
Eight thousand people are killed each year, and a quarter of a million people injured each year in America by drinking drivers! (Editor’s note: Now there are more than 50,000 killed each year by drinking drivers) If Russia were to send a bombing squadron to America tonight and those bombers were to fly over our nation and kill 8,000 people and wound a quarter of a million other people, Congress would meet in joint session before noon tomorrow. Douglas MacArthur and Harry Truman would bury the hatchet. The Republicans, the Democrats and the Dixiecrats would all get together and they would declare war on Russia before noon tomorrow. And if necessary, they would sink this nation 500 billion dollars deeper in debt and kill off five million of our young men to conquer a nation completely around the world that would kill 8,000 of our citizens and wound a quarter million more with a bomb. Yet here is the New Deal, raw deal, repeal liquor traffic that kills that many people and wounds that many people every year on the highway alone!
Don’t you think it is time somebody was getting together and declaring war on this, the greatest internal enemy of America today?
Alcohol, a Habit-Forming Drug That Causes Crime
Alcohol is a habit-forming, narcotic, poisonous drug that befuddles the brain, depresses the nerves, distorts the vision, retards muscular reaction, and releases the moral brakes in people’s lives. Here is what I am talking about.
A doctor’s wife in St. Louis, Missouri, went on a boat ride. She got tangled up with another man who wasn’t her husband. He kept coming to her apartment room in St. Louis. Her husband found out about it, followed him to Cedar Rapids, stabbed him to death in a hotel room, was tried, convicted, and sentenced to seventy years in the penitentiary. He appealed his case. He went to Houston where he grew up as a boy, to wait the decision of the upper court: The upper court affirmed the lower court’s decision, and the doctor committed suicide in Houston. There’s the picture of the husband committing suicide after killing another man over a relationship with a woman. How did it all start? She said, “On the boat ride I drank too much.”“I drank too much.” The alcohol befuddled her brain, set moral impulses running in the wrong direction and caused her to become involved in a humiliating scandal she will never live long enough to get over. Last Christmas at Dwight, Illinois, a husband, a wife, two little boys and a sweet little girl decided they would visit the husband’s brother in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They got into the automobile and started on their journey. They drove on down by Joplin, Missouri, then into Oklahoma. Away down the highway a man was standing with his thumb out. They had never seen him before. Why should they pay any attention to him? The milk of human kindness was in their veins and brotherly love was in their souls. They slowed down the car. The little boys moved over to make room for that hitchhiker. He had hardly gotten in the car when out came a six-shooter and for three or four days at the point of a gun he drove that little family around over Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri, then killed them, put all five bodies in an abandoned mine right up in Joplin, Missouri. He went on to the West Coast and killed two other people, was apprehended and brought back to Oklahoma City, tried, and sentenced to 365 years in the penitentiary. What would cause a man to pull a stunt like that? He told his own story. He said, “I thought I would celebrate Christmas. I got me a bottle of liquor and went on a drunk. It’s a horrible nightmare! It’s a nightmare! I don’t remember much about it.”
Ladies and gentlemen, the alcohol had so upset his mental proclivities, had unstrung his nerves, had taken the moral brakes loose in his life so that he murdered the innocent and helpless. That is what alcohol does! A scientific fact which nobody can dispute.
I visited the penitentiary in Eddyville, Kentucky. Nine men were in the death cells, eight of them there for crimes they committed while under the influence of liquor. I walked up to the first cell, put my hand through the bars, introduced myself, shook hands with the man, quoted him a Scripture, and had prayer with him. I walked up to the second cell, to the third cell; again and again I repeated the performance. When I put my hand through the bars of the next to the last cell, a young man with a clean-cut face--not a hardened criminal’s face at all; he was hardly old enough to be sentenced to die in the electric chair-- gripped my hands with both of his and I could feel his whole frame shake in the semi-darkness of that old death cell. After a bit his emotions were under control and he gasped at me through the bars. “And you’re Sam Morris! Sam Morris, that man who talks over the radio against liquor!“
“Yes, Son, that’s who I am.”
“Oh, I wish to God I had listened to you. I do wish I had listened to you!” And he broke down and cried. He said, “When I was just a little boy my mother would make me sit down in front of the radio and she would say, ‘Son, you listen to that man. He’s telling you the truth about liquor. That’s what the stuff does. He’s telling you the truth.”
(I’ve been on the radio nearly twenty years now against liquor.) He continued to talk. “I’d get mad at Mother and I thought you were an old crazy and Mother was an old fogey; but under the influence of liquor I killed a man and I’m sentenced to die in that big chair in just a few days.”
Just a few days after I had prayed and talked to him, he went across the aisle, they put him down in that big chair, put a metal clip on his head and one on his ankle and threw a switch. There was the smell of human flesh burned by many, many volts of electricity and his soul went out to meet God. He wasn’t mad at the man he murdered. What caused him to do it? The alcohol had affected his brain, had affected his nerves, had loosened the moral brakes in his life.
Alcohol, a Different Product
I never heard of any of these things happening to people because they drank buttermilk. Have you? I never heard of a man killing another one because he was full of red beans, corn bread and turnip greens. I never heard of a woman being untrue to her husband because she had filled up on ice cream. I never heard of a man beating up his wife, running his little children off in the darkness of the night and the next morning coming all tuned up, weeping and saying, “Wife, I’m so sorry I beat you and the babies last night. Please don’t leave me. Please don’t divorce me. But really, Wife, don’t blame me because it wasn’t I; it was those old biscuits you cooked for my supper that made me do it.”
Well, ladies and gentlemen, I want to ask you a question: Why haven’t you ever heard that eating bread, beans, turnip greens, ice cream, candy cause people to do this? Because bread, beans, ice cream, candy, turnip greens, shoes, hats, coats do not have alcohol in them to affect the brain, the nerves, and the moral brakes in people’s lives. It is because alcohol is a habit-forming, narcotic, poisonous drug that makes it do this to men who use it. Am I right or wrong?
Liquor Makers and Sellers Unworthy of the Respect of Respectable People
Now we have come to a very important place and I hope God will give me the grace to sink this in your souls until you will never be able to get away from it. If what I have said is true, then the man who makes or sells beer, wine, or whiskey is not to be placed on the same level of respect as the man who sells bread, groceries, meat, potatoes, shoes, hats, clothes, automobiles, furniture, hardware, dog food, because the man who sells groceries and milk or clothing or automobiles or furniture is helping his fellow man by selling a useful product that is needed by his fellow man and is a blessing to him and does not harm him. But the man who manufactures or sells beer, wine, or whiskey, is selling a product that degrades, debauches, is detrimental and in many cases destroys his fellow man. He is not entitled to the respect of respectable people.
No Good Men in Liquor Business
But somebody says, “Well, there are good men in the liquor business.” I deny it. There never was a good man in the liquor business and never will be one. And I will prove it. Can you have a good man running a bad business? Make up your mind. Get down off the fence. Either the liquor business is not a bad business or there are no good men in it - -one or the other. You cannot have a man that is a good man and have that man carrying on a bad business at the same time. The very fact that he is intentionally in a bad business keeps that man from being a good man. Oh, he may go to church on Sunday morning and pray loud enough to be heard four blocks. He may sing like an angel in the heavenly choir. He may put $25 on the collection plate to give his preacher the lockjaw on the liquor question, but that won’t make a good man out of him. Now let us make up our minds and get off the fence. Either the liquor business is not a bad business and we ought to quit lying on it and quit fighting it, or else there are no good men in it- -one or the other. Make up your mind!
Men Cannot be Separated from the Business They Operate
That is the reason Sam Morris for sixteen years, without apology to men, angels, or devils, has not only condemned the liquor business but condemned the men who are in the business.
Every once in a while some pious, weak-kneed, thin-skinned, spineless, yellow-backed, white-livered, thumb-sucking, toe-kissing, -pusillanimous, pussy- footing, fence-straddling, pie-eating, biscuit-hunting, ham-and-egg preacher gets up and says, “Well, now, it’s not the men we’re fighting. It’s the business. God bless you, brother, I fight the man as well as the business and if he doesn’t want me to kick his shins, let him get out of the dirty, old low-down, lousy wicked business he is in. You can’t separate a man from the character of the business he operates.
When the Lord Jesus Christ walked into the temple and saw that bunch of hypocrites sitting around those money tables and that bunch of stock up there, He didn’t knot up that rope, look pious and say, “Now boys, it is not you but the business you are in that I am opposing.” My Bible says that He knotted a rope together and began to beat those calves over the back. He kicked those money tables over and He called them a bunch of thieves. He said, “You have turned my house which is a house of prayer into a den of thieves.” He got rough with them. He did not apologize and say, “It is just the business you are in.” He condemned them personally for being in a wicked business. God help us to stand up on the Word of God. In the twenty-third chapter of the book of Matthew, when Jesus looked at that bunch of Pharisees He did not say, “Now, boys, really, I have nothing against you. It is not you but it is your practices that I am condemning.” Brother, He called them a bunch of scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites, white-washed sepulchres, snakes, vipers; Man alive! He got rough with them. Ladies and gentlemen, God help us to condemn the sinner as well as the sinner’s sin! Now we have gotten down to that point. It is a scientific fact, and being a scientific man I would oppose the liquor business on scientific grounds if there weren’t any Bible to speak against it, for the simple fact that this is a product that is detrimental, degrading, debauching, and destructive to our fellow man and it must be condemned by good men and women who love to help their fellow man.
Practical Grounds Opposing Liquor
Now I want to come to another point. I oppose the liquor business on practical grounds. First, I oppose it on Bible grounds; second, On scientific grounds; and third, on practical grounds.
I got a letter from a preacher who said, “Brother Sam, I like to hear you. I think you can say more against liquor in fifteen minutes than anybody I ever listened to. But you waste an awful lot of time beating, banging, pecking, mocking the brewers and distillers and beer-joint owners, and wet newspaper editors, and wet magazine editors, and wet radio station managers. They won’t listen to you, and if they did, they wouldn’t pay you any attention. You’re just wasting your time. Why don’t you forget all about them? Just get up on the radio and preach Christ and Him crucified. Lift Him up as the only hope of the sinner. Get the poor old drunkard under the blood, born again, regenerated, saved. That would solve the liquor traffic.”
Now brethren, don’t all of you look guilty at the same time. How many of you have been guilty of saying it?
Saving A Drunk Won’t Solve Liquor Problem
Will getting the old drunkards converted solve the liquor problem? Well, let me ask you a question. Could you solve the polecat problem around your hen house just by fumigating the chickens after the cat had been there? No, sir, brother; you have to do something with that cat or he will come back and you will have the whole stinking business to do over again. Could you solve the rattlesnake problem in your yard where the children play simply by taking the child that the snake bites to the hospital and putting him under the care of a doctor? No sir, brother; you have to get your shotgun down out of the closet and blow the snake’s tail off right behind his ears or he will bite another child while you have gone to the hospital with that one.
And, ladies and gentlemen, if God gave me the grace and power tonight to lift my voice to reach every drunkard in America and they would be converted; born again, regenerated, made a new creature and if they never touched another drop of liquor as long as they lived; yet if the distilleries, the breweries, the beer joints, the night clubs, the honky-tonks kept running; if the big newspapers and magazines kept carrying quarter page, half -page, full-page, double -page, leader-page advertisements, playing up, glamorizing, advertising, popularizing the drinking; and if television and radio kept coming into the home by the fireside where the little children are, with the cans jiggling and juggling across the television screen- and the cans singing and all that glamorization- -if that kept going on, though I converted every drunkard in America tonight, in fifteen years we would have another crop of drunkards just as big as the crop that I got converted tonight.
Now don’t misunderstand me. I believe in —reaching down and getting the drunkard and pointing him to Christ as the only way of salvation. Over six thousand people have written me personal letters telling me that my talks on the radio have turned them from drinking to the Lord Jesus Christ, and they have been saved.
Last Sunday morning a man came up to me in a town in Alabama and said, “Brother Morris, seven years ago I was a drunkard. I cursed you I wouldn’t listen to you on the radio. I would get mad at my wife, yet she kept making me listen to you. I was converted sitting by my radio. Now I’m a Methodist preacher, preaching the gospel of Jesus.” Sunday afternoon in Florals, Alabama, a man came up to me and said, “Brother Morris, I’m the man who wrote to you.” Then he told me what he said in his letter seven years ago: “It’s been nearly ten years ago that I was a drunkard and wasted everything that I made, made my family miserable and starved them. I got to listening to you and was converted by my radio. I gave my heart to the Lord. Now I’m a Christian and our home is happy.”
Last Sunday night, after speaking to thousands of people in the great ballpark in Andalusia, Alabama, a man came up and said “Brother Morris I’ll never cease to thank God that I heard you on the radio.”
I am for preaching the gospel to lost men. I am for pointing them to Christ for salvation for the drunkard. But brother, you cannot solve the liquor problem in ten million years by preaching the gospel to the drunks, because you have to do something with the traffic, as well as do something with the drunkards the traffic makes. That is the unfortunate weakness of Alcoholics Anonymous. A lot of people have gotten completely pie-eyed over this secret organization known as Alcoholics Anonymous. And a lot of pious preachers who do not have the backbone and the intestinal fortitude to stand up on their two hind feet and oppose the liquor traffic, try to justify their conscience by talking about Alcoholics Anonymous. Thank God; we are for anything that will save a drunkard. But did you know that most of Alcoholics Anonymous serve liquor in their own homes, at their own tables? They don’t advocate total abstinence for anybody but an alcoholic. You cannot get one in a thousand to take part in a local option liquor election. You cannot get one of them to speak against the distillers, and the brewers, and the beer-joint business. “No, we will rescue the old alcoholic”; and he ignores the traffic that makes alcoholics.
He goes around and digs out the alcoholic, but lets the brewers and distillers and beer joints keep on making alcoholics. I repeat: you have got to do something with the traffic, as well as something with the victims made by the traffic.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, that is the unfortunate weakness of this Yale School of Alcoholic Studies in New Haven, Connecticut, that a lot of people have been duped by in this country. The first $80,000 put in to that thing was from a malting firm! If the liquor crowd doesn’t finance it, they ought to: it is the best agent, they have in this country. You can’t get the Alcoholic Studies group to say a word against the liquor traffic. They will go around and hold alcoholic studies; they will talk about the alcoholic-- “the alcoholic - this,” the alcoholic that”“What makes, them sick is mental frustration, dietary deficiency; they didn’t take enough vitamin pills.”“He’s got, a disease; he’s a sick man. We’ve got to build a clinic, a hospital, and put him in it and rehabilitate him.” And they’ never open their mouths about what they are in favor of doing with the brewer, the distiller, the beer joint, the night club, the honky-tonk, the wet newspaper, the wet magazine, the wet radio station. It is all dealing with the victim, and tolerating, condoning and almost positively supporting the liquor traffic.
When I hear a preacher say, “Well, I believe in preaching the gospel and getting the old drunk born again; I am not much on this fighting the liquor business”; when I hear an Alcoholics Anonymous saying, “Well, we have no fight on the industry; we just want to help the alcoholic”; or when some of these Yale school boys who have been up there come back and talk about vitamin pills and clinic, they all remind me of the story of the fellow who sat down to eat breakfast. About the time he forked into his ham and eggs, some water ran down through the ceiling. The bath room was up over the breakfast room. It broke into a stream. He looked up, his wife looked up. She looked at him, he looked at her. They both looked hurriedly at that stream of water. “Husband, did you shut off that faucet like I told you, in the bathroom?”“Wife, I forgot it.”
He dashed upstairs as fast as he could go, taking three steps, at a time. He jerked the door open. There the water faucet was running wide open, the tub overflowing, and the water spreading over the floor. He gathered up his robe, tiptoed through the water, went by the tub, went by the faucet and got over to the corner, to the closet, jerked open the door and got the mop. And with the faucet still running wide open and the tub still overflowing, he started swinging the mop. Oh, he just swung the mop! The water flowed, the tub overflowed—mopped, and mopped, and mopped! How long would it take him to clean up his bathroom? Ladies and gentlemen, let us tonight realize we have got to shut off the faucet as well as swing the mop. We have got to do something with the traffic as well as do something with the victim of the traffic. That is why I am for prohibition—it screws down the faucet. The first full year of repeal, the American people drank approximately eight gallons of liquor per person. Do you know how much they drank last year? Not eight gallons, but across America last year the American people drank approximately twenty gallons of beer, wine, and whiskey for every man, woman, boy and little girl in the land. That is how much this flood has deepened since the repeal of prohibition. While the rest of America drinks one gallon of hard liquor per person, in Washington, D.C., where we need the clearest brains, the steadiest nerves, the soberest hearts, they drank four gallons of hard liquor per person. That is the result of the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment. And across America people are waking up to the fact that you have got to shut down the faucet as well as swing the mop.
Local Option Prohibition
In the state of Massachusetts there are about eighty towns, with populations ranging from 40,000 down, which have gone back to prohibition option.
In the state of New Hampshire there are a hundred such towns. In the state of Vermont, 120. In the state of Maine, over 300. In the state of Wisconsin, there are about 350 precincts, voting political units, where you can’t buy a legal bottle of beer, wine, or whiskey.
In the state of Ohio over 500 precincts, towns and townships have all local elections and have outlawed the sale of liquor by local option prohibition. In the state of Pennsylvania over 700 towns and townships have voted dry in local option liquor elections.
In the state of Illinois, over 1,000 towns and townships, road districts, have voted back prohibition by local option. They not only swung the mop, but they screwed down the faucet.
We get into the South where they have countywide elections. In the state of Arkansas you have 39 whole counties where you cannot buy a legal bottle of beer; wine, or whiskey. The only place where you can buy legal liquor on the highways between Little Rock, Arkansas, and Dallas Texas, is in the county where Texarkana is on the Arkansas side.
In the state of Mississippi where they never did legalize whiskey but legalized 3.2 beer like Oklahoma, fifty-three counties have now outlawed the sale of beer as well as whiskey. And if today when people went to the polls, the county in which Andalusia, Alabama, is, voted dry- as I trust it was - that means that out of sixty-seven counties in Alabama, forty-eight of them are bone dry, and you cannot buy a legal bottle of beer, wine, or whiskey anywhere in them.
In the state of Georgia, sixty-four whole counties have outlawed the sale of beer, wine, and whiskey. In the state of North Carolina, there are forty-three counties that had previously outlawed the sale of whiskey, that in the last three years have outlawed the sale of beer and wine. Listen to this. Kentucky makes half the whiskey made in the United States. Fifty-one percent of the whiskey made in America is made in the one state of Kentucky. Seventy-three legal distilleries and six legal breweries are running day and night. The old Glenmore Distillery in Owensboro, Kentucky, just one distillery in the state of Kentucky, when running at full capacity produces five thousand barrels of whiskey in one day- -not in a week, but in one day. In the state of Kentucky that makes half the whiskey made in America, there are 120 counties. Ninety-three of the counties have voted countywide to go back to prohibition and outlawed the sale of all beer, wine and whiskey.
In the state of Texas from which I come, we have 142 counties where you can’t buy a legal bottle, of beer, wine, or whiskey. As you come into Texas at Texarkana, the minute you hit Texas territory, you hit prohibition. And you won’t find any legal beer, wine, or whiskey until you get to Dallas County. You go through Dallas County and Tarrant County, go on up Highway 80 through Ranger, Cisco, Abilene, Sweetwater, Big Springs, to Midland, Texas, and you will drive all the way from Fort Worth to Midland, Texas - -over 300 miles --without being able to buy a legal bottle of beer, wine, or whiskey anywhere along the line. In Abilene, Texas, where three fine colleges are located, a city of 50,000 population, you cannot buy a legal bottle of beer, wine, or whiskey within fifty miles in any direction of the city.
Lubbock, Texas, is the hub of the plains, a thriving, growing, great section of the south plains. In 1940 Lubbock had 31,000 population. In the 1950 census, Lubbock had 73,000 population- -it had more than doubled in ten years. The liquor crowd says, “You have to have liquor in the town or grass will grow in its streets. Business won’t come to the town, and people will move away so they can get their liquor.” Lubbock is the direct refutation of that lie. You can’t find a legal bottle of beer, wine, or whiskey within one hundred miles of the city of Lubbock in any direction. Directly north to Amarillo, out in New Mexico, to Hobbs, down to Midland, east to Wichita Falls before one finds legal liquor: and as you start back south you have to go all the way to San Angelo, Texas, to find legal beer; wine, or whiskey. Praise God, some people have come to realize that you have to screw the faucet down as well as swing the mop!
I am opposed to the liquor business on Bible grounds, I am opposed to it on scientific grounds, I am opposed to it on practical grounds. I believe in screwing down the faucet as well as swinging the mop. I believe in dealing with the traffic as well as dealing with the victims of the traffic.
THE FENCE OR THE AMBULANCE
‘Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,
Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant;
For over its terrible edge there had slipped
A duke and full many a peasant;
So the people said something would have to be done
But their projects did not at all tally.
Some said, “Put a fence round the edge of the cliff”
Some, “An ambulance down in the valley.”
But the cry for the ambulance carried the day,
For it spread through the neighboring city;
A fence may be useful or not, it is true;
But each heart became brimful of pity
For those who slipped over the dangerous cliff,
And the dwellers in highway and alley
Gave pounds or gave pence, not to put up a fence,
But an ambulance down in the valley.
“For the cliff is all right, if you’re careful,” they said,
“And if folks even slip and are dropping,
It isn’t the slipping that hurts them so much
As the shock down below when they’re stopping.”
So day after day as these mishaps occurred,
Quick forth would the rescuers sally,
To pick up the victims who fell off the cliff,
With their ambulance down in the valley.
Then an old sage remarked: “It’s a marvel to me
That people give far more attention
To repairing results than to stopping the cause
When they’d much better aim at prevention.
Let us stop at its “source all this mischief,”cried he,
“Come, neighbors and friends, let us rally;
If the cliff we will fence, we might almost dispense
With the ambulance down in the valley.”
Better guide well the young than reclaim them when old,
For the voice of true wisdom is calling:
“To rescue the fallen is good, but ‘tis- best
To prevent other people from falling.”
Better close up the source of temptation and crime,
Then deliver from dungeon or galley;
Better put a strong fence round the top of the cliff,
Than an ambulance down in the valley.
--Joseph Matins, in the Protest
Moral Grounds For Opposing Liquor
I am opposed to it on moral grounds. I have a moral responsibility in this fight. My Bible teaches me, “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is, sin” (James 4:17). In our Sunday school lesson last Sunday, the man with one talent was condemned, not because he had only one talent, not because he misused it but because he did not use it at all. My Bible tells me that when Jesus comes back and gathers the nations to judgment, He will say; I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick and in prison, and ye visited me not.”
They will say, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a
stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee ?” He will answer, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”
It is the sin of omission. It is just as black a sin in the sight of God not to do what you know you ought to do, as it is to do what you know you ought to do. When you as a preacher, or layman, or laywoman sit around and twiddle your thumbs with these booze dives all around you and people going to Hell, and little children in the condition they are in--when you sit around and look pious and say, “Well, you know it doesn’t bother me; I never touched a drop in my life,” brother, you are guilty of sin in the sight of God. You have a responsibility. “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” Do you agree?
Bootleggers and Legal Dealers in Same Dirty Business
But somebody says, “But under prohibition you had the bootleggers, and it is better to have legal dealers than it is to have bootleggers.” I wouldn’t spit across this microphone for the difference between a bootlegger and a legal liquor dealer. If I should spit in either direction, it would be toward the bootlegger. Do you know why? The legal standing of the man who makes the liquor and the legal standing of the man who sells the liquor does not have a thing in the world to do with the chemical nature of alcohol and what it does to the man who drinks it. You can take a bottle of moonshine liquor, made against the law in the river bottoms or up in the hills and sold in a fruit jar in the back alley against the law, by a bootlegger; you can take a bottle of Seagram’s Seven Crowns, Four Roses,- Johnny Walker, Cream of Kentucky, Schenley’s “Black Label,”or Budweiser, Falstaff, Matz, Schlitz or Pabst’s Blue Ribbon--you can take a bottle of moonshine liquor in a fruit jar, sold against the law, and a bottle of legal beer, wine, or whiskey, made according to law and sold according to law, put them in a chemical laboratory, analyze the contents of the two bottles, and the alcohol in both bottles will be identically the same.
Didn’t you ever notice that legal liquor will make a man wreck his car the same as bootleg hooch? Didn’t you ever notice that legal liquor will make a man tomcat around after any kind of an old alley cat he can pick up in a petticoat at a beer joint the same as bootleg hooch?
Didn’t you ever notice that legal liquor will make husband and wife fuss and fight like cats and dogs, separate and let the little children go to an orphan’s home, the same as bootleg hooch? Didn’t you ever notice that men, drunk on legal liquor, commit every crime in the catalog? They murder, steal, rob, rape, go to the penitentiary and die in the electric chair for deeds committed. Why? Because the alcohol in legal liquor is identically the same as alcohol in bootleg liquor. It has the same effect on the brain, the same effect on the nerves, the same effect on the eyes, the same effect on the muscles, and the same effect on the moral brakes in people’s lives. The bootleg liquor may have some burnt cork, or some lye, or potash, or something else in it that the legal liquor doesn’t have; but, brother, the alcohol in both bottles is the same. So if the alcohol in both bottles is the same, why argue about whether it is sold by a legal dealer or a bootlegger? Brother, I don’t want to be bitten by either a water moccasin or a rattlesnake. It is the poison in their fangs I am opposed to, not the spots on the rattlesnake’s back, nor the rattles on his tail. One will kill you the same as the other.
“Yeah, but it is better to have a legal dealer, regulated and controlled by law, than it is to have--” Is it? If you pay your money to the bootlegger and buy and drink his liquor, he will make a drunkard out of you and send your soul to Hell. And there is not a legal dealer in America tonight that will not do the same identical thing. Just start paying your money to him and buying and drinking his liquor, and he will keep taking your money and selling you liquor and will send your soul to Hell just as quickly as any bootlegger who ever wobbled down the back alley after dark. And if your son goes to a bootlegger and puts down the money, the bootlegger will take his money and make a drunkard out of him, and embarrass you, and shame you, and break your heart. But if instead of going to a bootlegger, your son goes up to these night clubs, these swank cocktail lounges and legal stores where the owner and manager is a Chamber of Commerce man, who goes to the Rotary Club, to the Kiwanis Club, to the Lions Club, to the Exchange Club; is on the school board, heads the Red Feather Chest campaign, and buys luncheons for the Boy Scouts-- that dirty old buzzard will make a drunkard out of your boy just as quickly as any bootlegger who ever wobbled down the back alley after dark.
If your girl goes to a bootlegger in the back alley and puts down the cash, he will sell her liquor, and as he shoves it across the dark space between him and her, he knows that he is selling her a product that will throw her brains out of gear, unstring her nerves, and take the moral brakes loose; and before morning, under that befuddled condition, she may be subject to the evil passions of men and eventually become an unmarried mother and die a scarlet woman of shame. But if instead of going to a bootlegger, she walks up to the legal dealer who goes to church on Sunday and prays and sticks his chest out and says, “I am regulated and controlled. I am a law-abiding citizen. I am a member of the church. I love the Lord.” That is what he says on Sunday, but he walks down to his booze dive on Monday, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday until midnight he sells booze and ruins girls just like that bootlegger in a back alley. He never sold a bottle of liquor across his legal bar to a woman that he didn’t know as he shoved it across that under its influence that girl might lose her virtue, become an unmarried mother, and go through disease and disgrace to death and Hell. I would not spit across this microphone for the difference between a bootlegger and a legal dealer.
When somebody says to me, “It is better to have legal dealers than it is to have bootleggers,” I look at him and say, “Mister, is it better to have polecats or skunks? They are both in the same stinking business!”
Voters Equally Guilty
There is one difference between the work of bootleggers and legalized sellers of alcoholic drinks. Here it is. What the bootlegger does in the back alley, under the cover of darkness, without my knowledge or consent; against my will, over my protest, and in spite of my vote--what he does under those conditions, I am not a party to and no intelligent person can blame me with it. Right or wrong? But if, on election day, I sit at home, too lazy and sorry and good for nothing, or afraid that if I go and vote somebody won’t buy groceries at my store, or water their horse at my trough, or won’t buy peanuts from me, or won’t invite me to their shindig, or won’t like me as I want them to, and I sit at home in neglect and do nothing about it, I am a party to his dirty business. Or if I walk up and shove my ballot in the box, voting to legalize liquor, and a man builds a legal brewery, a legal distillery, a legal beer joint, a legal whiskey store, a legal night club and operates it on the front street legally, lawfully, regulated, controlled, never breaks the law, pays revenue to the government, I am guilty of his sin. Whom did I say he paid revenue to? Oh, the government! Who is the government? I am. That liquor store man is paying money to me just as much as he is paying it to anybody in America. Am I right? The bootlegger in the back alley can’t advertise his wares, he can’t get on the radio, can’t get in the newspaper, can’t get in the magazines, can’t use great blazing billboards and neon signs; he can’t play it up and fantastically picture it as an essential to success. He has to operate on a limited scale, in the back alley, and they have to hunt him up and buy it on the sly, and I don’t know anything about it, and he does it in spite of me, and against my will. But the man I voted for operates on the front street, uses the billboards, newspapers, magazines, the neon signs, the, radio, the television, and he operates with my endorsement, my approval, my support, by my authority and he pays money to me--I am as much a part of his liquor dive as he is.
Now I have enough sense to know that when I work and talk and preach and pray for prohibition, I am not going to stop everybody from making liquor, and I am not going to stop everybody from drinking it. But, thank God, I can keep from being a guilty party in their dirty, rotten, lowdown business. If no other being in all the world ever stood for prohibition, Sam Morris would fight just as hard as he does right now. Eighteen long years you have heard Sam Morris coming up from down on the old Mexican border because radio station network managers in America were sold out to the liquor traffic and would not sell time to the Temperance Union nor the League, and Sam Morris had to go to another nation to buy time. A lot of preachers have sat back with a sneer on their faces and gotten up in Bible conferences and in other preaching places, nudged each other and said, “Sam is just sawing on one string. He’s got off the gospel and on the liquor question.” But God bless you, brother, I have told God Almighty’s truth and I have awakened thousands and millions of people in America to the fact that this is a moral responsibility and you can’t stand in your pulpits or sit, in your pews, or live in your homes and let it go on and not lift your voice and not be guilty of the dirty, rotten, low-down traffic around you.
Men may go and buy liquor from a bootlegger; women may lose their virtue; men may wreck their marriage vows and desert their families and let their babies go naked and hungry; young men may go to the penitentiary; but, thank God, no man on topside of God’s dirt nor under God’s canopy of Heaven, nor on the golden streets can ever blame Sam Morris for his tragedies, because I did my best to keep them from happening. But if I sit around and do nothing, or if I fail to warn them, or if I vote wrong, if I vote to legalize liquor, if it is legalized either by neglect or by my endorsement in the ballot, every man who becomes a drunkard, every woman who loses her virtue under the influence of that liquor, every boy and every girl who sheds a scalding tear because of sorrows of that liquor--God Almighty will make me responsible for my part in that tragedy and sorrow. I have a moral responsibility to oppose the liquor traffic.
Can prohibition be enforced? The wets would have you believe that it cannot. While riding one day on a Greyhound bus from Louisville to Lexington, Kentucky, I was sitting in the front seat with the chair reclined, my hat over my face, and the window open to blow the cigarette smoke back. I had talked with the driver of the bus when I got on I had been on the 50,000 watt radio station in Louisville for the previous three winters, and my voice was familiar to most of the passengers on the bus. Consequently my presence provoked a discussion, pro and con, of the liquor question. It got as hot as a firecracker. I sat on the front seat and said nothing --can you imagine that? Until an old wet in the back of the bus, on that long seat that goes completely across the bus, spoke up in a garrulous voice loud enough for everybody to hear, and with scorn, sarcasm and disgust in his voice declared, “I get sick and tired of hearing these preachers, who ought to be preaching the gospel, getting up-on the radio, in their pulpits hollering and screaming for prohibition. If they had any sense, they would know you can’t enforce it. Too many people like their liquor and don’t like prohibition, and you can’t make a man obey a law he doesn’t like.”
I looked back and three or four other old wets sitting there by him were nodding their heads affirmatively and chiming in
“That’s what I think!”
I looked back. Don’t think I was disturbed. Don’t think that I was grieved or hurt by such a sneering reflection. Boy, I am telling you--if the Lord had called down from Heaven and said, “Sam, come up on High; your work is through,” I would have felt bound and compelled to have answered back, “Just a minute, Lord. Wait until I get through nailing these old dirty hides to the barn door.” Do you know how I felt? I felt just like a man on a cold, frosty morning in duck season, with a double- barreled shot gun, who creeps up behind a tank dam and, peeping over the dam, spots a big bunch of green headed mallard ducks bunched close together swimming in the same direction. Now of course he is going to be a good sport and shoot at them on the wing. But incidentally, he is going to fire the first shot at them on the water to put them on the wing. I knew I had a pot shot coming, up on that back seat in that Greyhound bus; so I arose, levelled my gun and pulled the trigger. I said, “Mister, did I understand you to say you can’t enforce prohibition because too many people like their liquor, don’t like prohibition, and you can’t make a man obey a law he doesn’t like?”
The old wet, thinking that he had accomplished his purpose, which was to involve me in a public controversy, arrogantly replied, “Yes, Sir; yes, Sir. That is exactly what I said. You can’t make people obey a law they don’t like.”
I smiled at him and waited long enough for the interest of everybody to become intense, then with a twinkle in my eye I said, “How about the income-tax law?” A look of consternation went over his face. He started sliding down in the seat, and an uproar of laughter shook the bus.
Ladies and gentlemen, a government that can make 60 million people obey an income-tax law can make them obey a prohibition law, if the government wants to.
A government which in the public interest can make 130 million people stop buying sugar, coffee, shoes, can make them stop buying booze, if the government wants to.
The young men of America from eighteen to twenty- eight years of age do not want to be soldiers. There is not a shadow of a doubt in the world about it. They will not volunteer, in spite of all the high-priced, high - paid publicity and propaganda of the government depicting and describing the advantages and adventures of men in the armed service. I repeat: the young men eighteen to twenty-eight years of age do not want to be in the armed service of the United States, and I will prove that--they will not volunteer. If they wanted to be in there, all they would have to do would be just to volunteer. But they will not volunteer. So what do we find? Ninety-six senators, 435 congressmen and the President of the United States at repeated intervals pass and sign a draft law, and whether these young men want to become soldiers or not, they are forced to become soldiers, and under that draft law, passed by 532 political leaders and enforced by the powers at their command, multiplied millions of young men and their fathers and mothers have been subject to the law, and multiplied thousands of their dead bodies are scattered all over the world. And, ladies and gentlemen, don’t tell me that the political leadership of America can prepare and enforce a draft law and make the teeming millions of young men and their parents obey that law, but that those same, political leaders can’t make a few thousand bootleggers stop poking fruit jars through knot holes after dark! And when the political leadership of America want to save this nation from the curse of the liquor traffic, as they say they want to save it from the curse of communism, they can pass a prohibition law and enforce it just as easily and just as efficiently as they pass and enforce the draft law.
Prohibition Tried Once
Somebody says, “We tried prohibition once and it didn’t work.”
My friends, we have tried world peace three times and it hasn’t worked yet. We fought World War I, whipped old Kaiser Bill, threw our hats in the air, and said, “Now the world is safe for democracy”; so we disarmed, sank our, ships, settled down.
Then up arose Adolph Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo, and we went in all over again in a bigger and bloodier conflict than ever before, to make the world safe for democracy and end war. Again we were triumphant, but the-booze-soaked diplomats had hardly gotten through signing secret agreements and making secret concessions when the Korean situation developed. And now multiplied thousands of boys are bleeding and dying in Korea in the third to make the world safe for democracy. Why? Because freedom and liberty from oppression and tyranny are worth fighting for over and over and over again.
And ladies and gentlemen, freedom from the curse of the wicked, abominable liquor traffic and liberty from its bloody ravages upon innocent citizens, helpless and wives and innocent little children is worth working and talking, preaching and praying and fighting for over and over and over.
I come now to the last concluding thought. Liquor breaks up more homes, causes more husbands to leave their wives, more wives to be untrue to their husbands, and more little children to go hungry than all other things combined. Two big judges of the divorce courts in Louisville, Kentucky, say, and it was published in the papers, that at least ninety-five per cent of the divorce cases coming before them involved liquor in some way.
Do you know what a broken home is? Did you have a good father? And a tender mother? And a happy family? And those who loved you? Well, there are a lot of folks in life who didn’t have. Let me tell you of one. In Childress, Texas, in 1906, there was a Christmas tree service in the Methodist church. That was in the pioneer days --forty-five years ago. The house was packed to the windows and doors. The tree was loaded with beautiful toys. Just before the service started, a woman slipped into the back door with three little children; two little boys and a little girl. They sat down way over in one corner of the house. That woman’s husband had deserted her six years before, two months before the youngest boy was born. He had been gone six years; she did not know whether he was living or dead. Christmas time had come, and they went into the Methodist church for the Christmas tree. She washed for a living down west of the courthouse, in the poorer section. They had built a little box house, took in other people’s dirty clothes.
The man portraying Santa Claus began to take the toys from the tree. As the name of a little boy or girl was called, up would go a hand and a little childish voice would say, “Here am I! Here I am!” Many gifts were piled around some; not so many around others. Somehow they didn’t get back into the corner where that woman was who washed for a living, who eked out a miserable existence over an old rub board to support herself and babies.
Directly old Santa pulled a little toy doll down off the tree, one of these little talking dolls. As he turned it over, it said, “M-a-m-m-a.” The little girl got all excited and her feet began to sway; she looked at her mamma and said, “Mamma! Mamma! That’s it!, That’ s the doll! That’s the doll in the store on Main Street. That’s the one I wanted! Is it going to be for me, Mamma?” The woman looked off as the tears trickled down.
The doll went to another little girl in another part of the house.
Pretty soon he pulled a little cap pistol down and began to shoot it. As he shot that little cap pistol, the little boy six years old who had never seen his father, got all excited and jumped up in the seat and his eyes bugged out as he looked over the heads of people. He went into a spasm of delight. He looked at his little sister and said, “That, that ... that. . . that’s what I want. I’ve been keeping my eye on that! I sure hope it’s for me!”
It went to another little boy.
When the toys were all gone, and the tree stood stripped and bare, they reached at the foot of the tree and got a little mesquito-bar sack and inside of it was an apple, an orange, a few nuts, and a stick of lightning-rod candy. They took one each to those little children, and some others like them. Crowds went home and children’s voices rang out in the night air, firecrackers boomed, Roman candles zoomed, toy pistols fired. The people went their way to warm, comfortable homes where lights glowed brightly, where fathers, and mothers, and children sat together at Christmas time. That woman walked out of the Methodist church with her little children, each with a little mesquito -bar sack- -no firecrackers, no Roman candles, no toys --wended their way down by the nice homes, to this little box house she had paid for over the rub board. That night no cookies were in the cookie jar, no coal in the scuttle. A widow in the pioneer days knelt by her bed. She didn’t know much about God, nor the Bible, but she believed every Word in this blessed Book. She asked God to bless her little children and to help her feed them.
Do you know who that woman was? Ladies and gentlemen, that woman was my mother. That was my little sister. Those little boys were me and my brother. I never laid eyes on my father until I was nine years old. That is a picture of a broken home. And while liquor was not primarily responsible for my home being broken, the home picture is the same story of want and degradation. By God’s grace I will fight ‘till I die to keep the heartbreak of broken homes from others. And remember that liquor breaks more homes, wrecks more lives, and damns more souls than any other curse in America.