Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 3, 1953
NUMBER 30, PAGE 2,3-5b

The Liquor Fight Again, "Mine Answer To Them That Do Examine Me"

Kenneth L. Fielder. Franklin, Tennessee

In an effort to extricate Brother J. M. Powell from the position into which he has fallen by surrendering to and defending the liquor crowd, the hit and run editor of the Advocate has published a "statement" signed by the Fourth Avenue elders and deacons (but which was written by J. M. Powell himself!) and has added his own remarks, in which he misquotes me, garbles Brother Tant's statements, and smears the whole editorial page with misrepresentations. The reader should remember that this is the same editor who has used my name THIRTY-TWO TIMES in two articles in the Advocate, but refuses to allow me one line of space to reply. And yet he has the face to talk about my "bitter attack"!! But thinking brethren are aware of this warped sense of justice which led to the unfair editorial policy of the Advocate. That brethren are weighing the editor's articles in the light of this unfair advantage; and that they are wondering about the motives of some of the articles is evident in the following letter from Brother Granville Tyler, which is typical of many I have received from those who know the facts:

September 21, 1953

Dear Brother Fielder:

I have read the article in the Advocate by Brother Powell and want you to know that I think it misrepresents and does you a grave injustice in the eyes of the brethren who do not know you. I was with you in a meeting during the time you were putting on what I thought was a valiant fight against liquor. No doubt at times in the thick of the fight you said things that in calmer moments you would not have said; but I believed then, and I believe now, that you were honest and sincere in your efforts. I cannot conceive of a faithful gospel preacher trying to defend or justify men in their efforts to provide means whereby intoxicating liquors can be sold to the young and old of our generation. Therefore, I believe you had the right, in fact, it seems to me that it was your duty, to speak out against, and do everything you could, within the bounds of right, to stop this evil and diabolical practice.

Surely Brother Powell will see to it, at least honestly try to arrange, that you have as much space in the Advocate to answer his article as he used in presenting his side of the matter. This it seems to me would be fair play; and surely Christians, to say nothing of gospel preachers, should deal honestly and fairly with one another. I have always highly esteemed Brother Powell as a gospel preacher and feel that surely he does not intend to hinder the Cause in Franklin and injure your good name and character in the brotherhood, but I am awfully afraid that this is just what is happening.

If you don't mind I shall send Brother Powell a copy of this letter.

Yours in Christ, Granville W. Tyler

It should be remembered that Brother Tyler wrote this to me on the basis of having seen Brother Powell's article "Anything Can Happen" in the Advocate. Brother Powell should know that all brethren are not going to swallow his stories, especially when they know he is unwilling to let them read the other side.

I, Too Have Some Statements

Since "statements" seem to be the order of the day, the following ones are offered to show the reaction to my fight and the lawsuits of those WHO OPPOSED liquor. This first one was made immediately after the suits were filed against me. It is signed by over two hundred (the membership is two hundred twelve) members of the West End church. Some were absent the day it was signed.

"We wish to make known that the West End Church of Christ sponsored, paid for, and endorsed every speech Brother Kenneth L. Fielder has made relative to the liquor issue. He was speaking the sentiments of the West End congregation. Any charge against him for what he said is a charge against the West End church. We are solidly behind him, morally and financially. We are underwriting any expense he may have as a result of standing against the liquor evil. We will stand behind him in this wicked lawsuit which has been instigated against him. Brother Fielder is being persecuted for preaching the truth, but he is not alone. The West End church, along with hundreds of other citizens of this county, is with him, and we shall not desert him."


Members of the West End Church of Christ

The following statement is an official one by the Dry Forces, defending me, though I had not spoken officially for them.

"We thank God that this is still America and not the 'Communist reign of terror,' and that honored citizens may still exercise the 'blood bought right' to speak their sentiments on questions that concern the general welfare of our people. WE STRONGLY PROTEST AGAINST ANY METHOD TO STIFLE THE VOICE OF ANY MEMBER OF OUR BOARD OR ANY CITIZEN WHO EXERCISES HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO PUBLICLY EXPRESS HIS CONVICTIONS (emphasis theirs KLF)."

The "wets" circulated letters designed to kill my influence and to ruin the effect of my speeches. The Dry Forces then sent the following letter to each board member:

Incidentally, you may have received a letter from Capt. Tom Henderson, Chairman of the Wets, condemning one of our members for statements made over the radio.

Evidently, Mr. Henderson misinterpreted our statement on policy to mean that the board would attempt to stifle the expression of conviction by its members. This, even Mr. Henderson should know, is not possible in a democracy.

Even though, Brother Fielder was not officially representing the Board, yet we feel that he had a right to express his conviction. If this were not true, referendums would only be a farce.

May we suggest that this letter from the opposition be taken as an attempt to divide our Board and that we be on guard for possible further attempts to undermine our forces.

Respectfully yours, Signed: Acting Officers

After the election was over and the lawsuits withdrawn, I received the following letter from the Chairman of the Board:

September 15, 1953

Kenneth L. Fielder

West End Church of Christ

Dear Brother Fielder:

May I take this opportunity of expressing to you our sincere appreciation for your invaluable assistance in our recent campaign against the legalized sale of whiskey and wine in our town.

Although, you did not at any time speak as an official representative of our board, yet we feel that the courageous fight made by you and your fine congregation was an inspiration to those of us who had assumed the official responsibility for the campaign... When the smoke of the campaign is over and the participants stand before the sane and more reasonable judgment of a settled public opinion, the men who stand for their religious conviction will lose neither prestige nor respect.

When more of our community leaders accept the challenge to take a firm stand against the increasing evils of the popular trend, then and only then will our victory be won.

Most cordially yours,

Signed: W. C. Yates Chairman of the Board

Let it be remembered that these statements were made by those who were in the fight against liquor, while the statement written by Powell and signed by the elders and deacons was written by him who wanted to "stay out of it." In a speech on August 13, 1953, two days before the election, Marshall Morgan, Publicity Chairman for the "wets," over radio station WAGG, gave thanks that all churches did not oppose legalized whiskey. He used Fourth Avenue Church of Christ as an example, calling attention to the fact that they publicly (in the REVIEW-APPEAL) repudiated responsibility for a little temperance article which had appeared in the REVIEW-APPEAL. (Two men had put the ad in the REVIEW-APPEAL, paid for it, and signed it Fourth Avenue, but the "wets" at Fourth Avenue raised such a howl about Fourth Avenue "taking sides" on the liquor, issue, that the elders ran a correction the following week, disclaiming it.) Any person who thinks this is "without foundation" can get copies of the REVIEW-APPEAL and look for himself.

The editor of the Advocate says that there are "citizens in the county who think that the 'fight' of Fielder against the whiskey interest was a liability to the 'dry forces' in the county." No doubt. And there are many citizens in the county who attribute the loss of the election to the "surrender" of Powell and the soft and compromising spirit of the elders at Fourth Avenue.

The Wrong Man

Brethren Powell and Goodpasture are using the wrong man to try to fight me. George DeHoff is not the man they need. And Brother DeHoff has not repudiated anything that any of us have said. He fought as often and as hard as I did throughout the battle. After the suits were brought against me, Brother DeHoff said, in an article called "Booze Crowd Sues Gospel Preacher":

"Kenneth L. Fielder is a splendid and capable gospel preacher. He has been doing a good job recently preaching against whiskey on his radio program. 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."

Concerning the suits, he said:

"One of them (the men suing me KLF) claims to be a member of the church of Christ. He should be promptly disfellowshipped. Caring neither for the law of God nor common principles of fairness and truth, they are dragging a gospel preacher to court. It is a fight to silence Fielder's fight against liquor .... Their effort is purely to ruin the reputation of a gospel preacher and to ruin him financially .. . . At the proper time I shall personally contribute to his defense fund ... 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 assure Brother Fielder that we shall not desert him at this time."

For several days Brother DeHoff opened his radio program with a prayer that God would "put it in the hearts of J. M. Powell and the elders of Fourth Avenue to withdraw from the ungodly brother who has sued Brother Fielder" and that God would "put it in the hearts of Tom Henderson, Marshall Morgan, and Robert Richardson to withdraw the iniquitous lawsuits they have brought against Brother Fielder." After the suits were withdrawn, Brother DeHoff wrote another article in his Christian Magazine called "Booze Crowd Withdraws Lawsuit." In this, he said: "He (K. L. Fielder) did not call the name of any person but dealt in principles, though he did say that to legalize whiskey was to legalize sin .... He stated a legal opinion which these lawyers did not share so they sued him for $15,003.00 . . . His effort in Franklin was good. For one thing, it let the members of the church know that the church must stand against sin ... We congratulate Brother Kenneth L. Fielder in his fight against sin."

Brother Powell tries to leave the impression that DeHoff thought these men who sued me were "high type gentlemen," but Brother DeHoff says in his article in Christian Magazine, "Marshall Morgan impressed me as a foulmouthed smart-alec." No wonder DeHoff has charged Powell with misrepresenting him!!

I appreciate Brother DeHoff's support, and I do not like to see his stand misrepresented.

My "Attacks" On Powell

I have not tried to dictate to Powell "how and what to preach." That is his own impression. I have criticized him, first privately, and sometimes publicly, for his soft, compromising attitude and his open opposition to my preaching against sin. Paul withstood Peter, because "he was to be blamed," and that "before them all." He announced to the world that Demas had forsaken him, "having loved this present world." Of course, I have criticized him, like I would anyone else, or like I would expect to be criticized. Is he above criticism? Does he not, and has he not criticized me? Isn't he trying to tell me "how" to preach when he disagrees with "how" I opposed the liquor crowd? The following will serve as an example of the many things Brother Powell has done for which he needed to be criticized:

Brother Powell is "Chaplain" for the Firemen's Club. Annually, this group of volunteer firemen have a barbecue supper and beer party. This year their party was held at a local beer-joint, "Custer's Last Stand." Powell attended, knowing full well the nature of the affair. Although the men "carried their whiskey outside to drink it," beer flowed freely inside. Even the owner of the place was not a little surprised to have a preacher at such a place and affair but suggested that he "admired Brother Powell's broad-mindedness." Three years ago, I would have been a "little surprised" at him. I still haven't brought myself to where I "admire him for his broad-mindedness." In fact, I criticized him — good. If the elders, the editor or anyone else wants to call my carrying out my orders to rebuke, "attacks," then let it be so. No man can get big enough or important enough to be immune to criticism when he lends moral encouragement to the liquor traffic.

Denies Being "Wet"

If Brother Powell does not favor legalized liquor, weare glad. But we are left to wonder, if he does not favor it, just why:

1. He uses the "wet's" language? For instance, he talks about prohibition thus, "turning it over to the bootleggers." You never heard a prohibitionist in your life talk about prohibition in those terms. They do not believe that we must "turn it over to the bootleggers" if it is not legalized.

2. He did not vote in the liquor election here on August 15, 1952! He may say he was out of town. Well, so was I — one hundred fifty miles away in a meeting. But I arranged to vote, and so did every other person who wanted to. If Brother Powell doesn't know by now how to vote when away from home, some school child ought to tell him!

3. He defended the Secretary of the Wets, calling him a "loyal and faithful member of the church" only two or three days after said Secretary had sued me, and while said Secretary was signing his name to every advertisement that appeared defending liquor??

4. He was commended by the "wets" for not opposing them like the rest of us?? Remember, "He that is not for me is against me."

5. He has the backing, right now, of those who fought us so bitterly?? Jesus said, "The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you." Is Powell greater than his Lord, that he can oppose evil and have its promoters thank him for it? This silly idea that has invaded the brotherhood in some places, that we can oppose the devil and make him happy about it is simply saying that we are "greater than our Lord." Paul said that the devil is our "adversary." And I for one believe that the devil will show his teeth anytime a man really opposes him. Jesus said so — "They will persecute you."

Yes, we wonder just why these things, if Powell is against legalized liquor. Jesus said the world loves "his own." Let us hope that the world is just misplacing "his" love by bestowing it upon Brother Powell. Let us think that the world is mistaken in thinking Powell is "his own." Better still, why doesn't Brother Powell just tell the world he is not "his own"?