Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 15, 1953
NUMBER 23, PAGE 1,12-13

It Did Happen

Kenneth Fielder, Franklin, Tennessee

liquor crowd, which abuse we knew would come. I let them use my name, although I did not make a single official speech for the Dry Forces. The West End church paid for our regular daily radio program. I made my speeches over this program, and in every speech I emphasized that I was not dealing with a political issue as such, but that I was interested in it from a moral standpoint. When people began to get "stirred up," they began to wonder why Powell was not speaking out. They began to press him. This irritated him. He implied that I was "foaming at the mouth," and that he would have no part in "innuendos and villification." I was disgusted with him, and told him so. He didn't like that.

I realize that the foregoing is mostly personal. However, it may serve to show why Brother Powell gets such a "genuine pleasure" out of opposing me.

What I Preached Brother Powell says that the liquor crowd objected to my "abusive language, and rightly so," because it showed "that I did not live up to my 'agreement'." The part of my speech that he quotes is only a small part and a summary of several speeches I had made in which I had proved all those accusations. I told of the illegal sales of the "legal" liquor stores. I proved cases in which they sold far over the legal amount to their bootlegger customers; I told of their loading airplanes down with case after case of whiskey to be flown to dry areas; of as many as eleven and twelve cases being loaded into cars right out the doors of the "legal" liquor stores. I told about the empty whiskey bottles around the court house and the law enforcement officers winking at the situation. It was shown how that the organization calling itself "Citizens For Enforceable Law" was interested in doing away with law, and therefore was trying to legalize sin, and to protect the law violator, and hence could not be "high type gentlemen" as Brother Powell claimed. I offered time after time to meet any or all of the liquor crowd on the public square to prove my contentions and to furnish witnesses to substantiate my accusations. In the face of this, Brother Powell said my accusations "were without foundation." I did not violate my agreement, but

(See HAPPEN, page 12)

(Elsewhere in this issue of the Gospel Guardian is an article by Brother J. M. Powell, entitled "Anything Can happen." We suggest that you read Brother Powell's article before reading Brother Fielder's review of it. — Editor.)

Brother Powell says it gives him a "genuine pleasure" to "set forth the facts" in the situation. I confess that it gives me no pleasure at all to have to oppose a brother in Christ. I would much rather stand shoulder to shoulder with every gospel preacher and "fight the good fight of faith." Unfortunately, I am forced to oppose Brother Powell and answer his article defending the liquor crowd. Many are asking me how Brother Powell could stand against me and with the liquor crowd, and how he could get a "genuine pleasure" out of writing an article in a medium (the Gospel Advocate) through which he knows I cannot answer back. Perhaps the following will show why.

1. When I moved to Franklin, Brother Powell, when he found out my position on the "institutional" issue, reported that I and all who stand with me on that issue were "warped." He circulated Brother Brewer's tract on "Childhaven" over town. I preached my convictions on the issue again and answered the tract. Brother Powell didn't like to be opposed in any such manner.

2. I asked Brother Powell to cooperate with me in exposing the denominations and condemning worldliness. He was extremely hurt. Said he didn't believe in "calling names" because "you can't find the names of the denominations in the Bible"! I showed him how ridiculous his statement was. He didn't like it.

3. Recently, he announced to his "Young Married Couples" Sunday School class that he wanted to make an announcement "that can't be made from the pulpit." The announcement? That the "weekly social" would be held at Willow Plunge, a local swimming pool, and swimming "will be free." Many of his class were very shocked. I criticized him. So did other preachers of this area. Of course, he didn't like it.

4. When the prospect appeared of getting a referendum to get liquor voted out of town, I immediately began to emphasize my preaching against liquor, and the sale of it, legal or illegal. The Dry Forces asked me to be one of twenty-two men on their "board" so that no one man in town would have to be the object of the abuse of the only preached what any gospel preacher would have preached under the same circumstances.

Brother Powell leaves the impression that the booze crowd sued me for "abusive language." If you will read the suits, you can see that they sued on a point of law, viz., whether or not it was "stealing" to use my speech without my permission. If they had had some "abusive language" that was not true, do not think that they would not have used it! I had not said a thing about them that was not the truth. Therefore, they sued on a technical point of law. The suits were brought about for:

Two Reasons

1. The liquor crowd had deliberately misrepresented me in a full page ad in the REVIEW APPEAL, a weekly newspaper. I called this to the editor's attention, pointing out that he was laying himself wide open for a libel suit by printing everything the liquor crowd sent him. Of course, I had no idea of bringing any such suit, but the editor thought I did. He rushed to the liquor crowd and told them what I had said and they, when "they had gone aside and taken council," decided to sue me first.

2. The liquor crowd thought if they would face me with a $15,000.00 lawsuit it would scare me into silence. I was hurting their cause. Robert Richardson, secretary for the liquor crowd (also on the "welcoming committee" at Fourth Avenue Church of Christ) even boasted that he would get everything I owned, if it was "no more than a chicken coop." He is the "splendid Christian gentleman" Brother Powell refers to in his article.

It is significant that they did not sue me for any of the "abusive language" Brother Powell thinks he saw in my speeches. Do you wonder why? There wasn't any. They had to use a technical question of law.

What It Took To Get Him Mad

The liquor crowd called me a "malicious liar," said my "tongue dripped with venom," and that I stood "in a pigsty of slander." They littered my yard with empty whiskey and beer bottles. They circulated false reports and anonymous letters designed to ruin my character. "None of these things moved" Brother Powell. When did he become indignant? Why, when I began to defend myself and tell the people what was going on. It hurt him so for me to use such "abusive language" against such "high type" and "splendid Christian gentlemen."

When He Took Action

Brother Powell says that he and the elders "began at once to have all three suits withdrawn." This is simply not so. The fact is, even after the West End church sent a request to the Fourth. Avenue elders to discipline Richardson, they said they would not "have anything to do with it." It was not until pressure was brought to bear from several quarters that Powell began to see that they must do something. Since he apparently does not believe in church discipline, saying that "we cannot afford to draw the line," he saw he must get Richardson to withdraw the suit to avoid disciplining him, I will not let him take honors for helping get the suits withdrawn when he did what he did to get himself off the spot, and not because he wanted to help me. If you think he was interested in helping me, read his article again.

Defends Liquor Crowd

Robert Richardson is described as "a splendid Christian gentleman." This comes as quite a surprise to those of us who have seen Richardson leaning on the pinball machines, have heard him curse so elegantly, and who have heard him defend the drinking of whiskey as well as the sale of it (Powell refers to him as "a teetotaler.") This will also make us wonder just what Brother Powell's concept of a Christian gentleman is! Wonder what his idea of a "stinker" would be? Richardson was secretary for the liquor crowd. His name was signed to every paper advertisement and to every radio speech that was made in behalf of liquor during the campaign. These ads and speeches advocated "moderation in drinking." Yet, he is a "teetotaler"!!

It is a well known fact that the liquor crowd received large donations from breweries and distilleries to fight us. We expected the distilleries to support them but we did not expect Brother Powell and the Gospel Advocate to do so!

Dehoff's Statements

The statements about Brother DeHoff will be a joke to anybody who has read DeHoff's articles in his church bulletin, the Christian Magazine, or who has heard his radio program, or known anything about his activities in a liquor fight. In fact, in the current issue of the Christian Magazine there is an article by DeHoff which he calls "Booze Crowd Withdraws Lawsuits" in which he emphatically defends me, congratulating me on my "fight," and says my "effort was good." Brother DeHoff spoke for at least fifteen days on the liquor referendum, urging the people to vote dry, telling them where, when and why. Much of my material came from DeHoff's personal file. In fact, he was in my office when I framed the statement for which they sued me, and encouraged me to print it, showing me the law which supported my accusation that they were guilty of "stealing my speech." DeHoff has figured in several "Prohibition" fights, notably at Crossville, Tennessee. He denies telling Powell that Powell was following "the scriptural course" by not "getting involved in the political end, as Fielder was." Brother DeHoff was "involved in it" himself. He is glad of it and will have a statement shortly. He says that "every statement attributed to me (in the Powell article) is misleading and leaves a wrong impression." Brother DeHoff did the same things that I did for at least fifteen days over his radio program. In fact, he and Brother Leonard Jackson, (Jackson was preacher for the Fourth Avenue church for twenty years) spoke on my program on the evils of legalized liquor! Brother DeHoff has personally been to see Brother Powell since the article and has charged him with knowingly misrepresenting him. Let us hope that Powell will correct his misrepresentations.

The "Last Straw"

I was away in a meeting and was called home to consider signing the joint statement. I had nothing to do with drawing it up. At first, I refused to sign it, fearing that the liquor crowd would use it to try to make it appear that I had compromised on the liquor issue. Powell assured me that he would see that they did not. They pledged, on their honor, that they would make no reference at all to the withdrawal of the suits, but would simply print the joint statement in the local paper and allow all to form their own conclusions. The last statement that Brother Powell made was, that we would not write in any of the gospel papers about it, that the "church has been hurt enough already" by the situation. He said that we would just tell the congregations involved about it and never bring it up again. Upon this, but still against my better judgment, because of the use of the word Christian and other loose wording in it, I finally signed the statement. I was not much surprised, a few days later, to have the liquor crowd go on the air, making reference freely to the suit and claiming that it was a victory for them. Of course, I came home again and answered them. But I was greatly surprised a few days ago to pick up the Gospel Advocate and read Brother Powell's article. Did somebody say that somebody "did not live up to his agreement"? I was six blocks away from Brother Powell as he wrote that article. Not once did he call me to inform me he had changed his mind about his pledge not to go to the papers with the thing. Let us hope he forgot his promise and did not deliberately violate it.

I realize that here in "Middle Judea" it is unpopular to stand against sin. I might even agree that it is "indiscreet" to do so. Brother Powell knows it is too. He wants us to be "dignified" and not to "run people off." By that he means to "refrain from name calling" and "criticizing others." But the price is too high for me to pay. Maybe some day my conscience will be that cheap, but not yet. Even if I could slide around the truth and blame it on "my style," I'd be afraid — afraid my style would soon be determined by what is stylish)