Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 27, 1953

Booze Crowd Sues Gospel Preacher

George W. Dehoff, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Kenneth L. Fielder, minister of the West End Church of Christ, Franklin, Tennessee, is a splendid and capable gospel preacher. He has been doing a good job recently preaching against whiskey on his radio program on station WAGG (950) 12:15 - 12:30 p.m. daily. Recently a group calling themselves "Citizens For Enforceable Law," published a full page advertisement in the Franklin Review-Appeal. This advertisement was false, malicious and slanderous. It called Brother Fielder's name and called him a liar, one whose "tongue drips with venom," etc. This ad called Brother Fielder "official spokesman" for dry forces. The men who wrote the ad knew this was not the truth and the editor of the paper who printed it said he knew at the time it was not the truth. Yet, correction was refused. The ad also quoted a lengthy statement from a sermon preached by Brother Fielder. This was quoted and printed without his permission. This was a violation of the law. "A person may take down the words of a sermon, lecture, or address as it is delivered, for his personal use, but he may not print it." The Pastor's Legal Advisor, Norton F. Brand, Author Brand's Code and Verner M. Ingram, Potsdam N. Y. Bar. (Published by Abingdon Cokesbury Press, 1942, page 186). Cases: Bartlett v. Crittenden, 2 Fed. Case No. 1082.

Brother Fielder was advised to sue the newspaper and Tom Henderson, Robert Richardson and Marshal Morgan who signed this slanderous advertisement. He refused to do so on the ground that as a gospel preacher he did not want to go to court. He published an advertisement calling attention to the facts about the liquor advertisement. On Tuesday, June 30, Tom Henderson, Robert Richardson and Marshall Morgan sued Brother Fielder for $5,001 each for "damages" due to the fact that in the advertisement he had accused them of "stealing" his speech. The summons to appear in court was served on Brother Fielder in the West End church building by the Sheriff, Mr. Ewing Frazier, and his deputy, Mr. C. D. McKee, Sr.

These men suing Brother Fielder are not acting as Christians because God's law forbids a Christian going to law with a brother. "Dare any of you having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?" (1 Cor. 6:1) One of them, Mr. Robert Richardson, claims to be a member of the Church of Christ. He should be promptly disfellowshipped.

Caring for neither the law of God nor common principles of truth and fairness, they are dragging a gospel preacher to court. It is a fight to silence Fielder's fight against liquor. They did not sue the newspaper which printed the ad, nor the West End Church of Christ which sponsored it — just Brother Fielder. The liquor companies, which use these men as mouthpieces, have plenty of money. Brother Fielder is an humble, faithful gospel preacher. Decent people throughout Tennessee should rise up in righteous indignation and see that Brother Fielder is supplied with money and attorneys to defend himself and the cause he represents. They should see that Tom Henderson, Robert Richardson and Marshall Morgan rue the day they ever started this unfair, unjust and slanderous action against a gospel preacher.

Their effort is purely to ruin the reputation of a gospel preacher and to ruin him financially. They can have no hope of getting any "damages" in this lawsuit but they have tied up almost every legal firm in Franklin as lawyers for their case. This will cost them nothing — or if it does they have plenty of money to prosecute (and persecute, too). Fielder stands without funds and without attorneys. At the proper time I shall personally contribute to his defense fund and call up decent people everywhere to do likewise. This is an attack upon the West End Church of Christ, upon Fielder, upon freedom of religion, and upon anyone who stands in the way of the liquor crowd.

I extend my profound sympathy to Mrs. Fielder and their two lovely children who must endure the mental anguish brought on by the men who have started this lawsuit. I assure Brother Fielder, the 30-year old, modest, unassuming ex-GI who has fought for our liberties that we shall not desert him at this time. — George W. DeHoff, minister, East Main Street Church of Christ, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. (Taken from Murfreesboro church bulletin.)