Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 3, 1953
NUMBER 30, PAGE 4-5a

More On The Liquor Fight


For the benefit of quite a number of readers who receive this issue of the Gospel Guardian (former subscribers to Son-Light) but who did not receive the October 15th issue, we think a few words of explanation are in order. Otherwise it might be difficult to understand what is behind, the articles of Brethren Kenneth Fielder and George W. DeHoff which appear in this issue.

Last summer there was a "local option" election in Williamson County, Tennessee, in which the decent and religious citizens in the county tried to outlaw the sale of whiskey. There are only three "wet" counties in the whole state of Tennessee, and the liquor interests put up a terrific fight and spent fabulous sums of money in trying to keep Williamson County on the "wet" side.

Brother Kenneth Fielder, faithful preacher for the West End church in Franklin, took an active part in fighting the liquor evil, and urged all decent citizens to support the crusade being waged against this monstrous traffic. It happened that one of the leaders FOR the liquor crowd was a member of the Fourth Avenue Church of Christ in Franklin, for which congregation Brother J. M. Powell is the preacher.

The battle waxed so hot that the liquor crowd, in a desperate effort to close Fielder's mouth and thus silence his powerful attack, brought suit against him for some $15,000,000 charging slander. One of the parties to the suit was Robert L. Richardson, the Secretary for the wet organization whose name appeared in issue after issue of the local newspaper URGING AND ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO DRINK WHISKEY — but suggesting that it be done "in moderation." Richardson is a member of the Fourth Avenue Church of Christ, and was described by Brother Powell as a "high type Christian gentleman."

After some weeks the suit against Fielder was dropped; and a statement was signed by all those involved declaring that the suit would be withdrawn. It was agreed to by Brother Powell and Brother Fielder that neither of them would go into any of the papers with the matter, but would let it drop then and there, with nothing more said about it.

Fielder kept his promise on this, and wrote nothing at all. But shortly afterward a lengthy article appeared in the Gospel Advocate in which Brother Powell made an impassioned attack on Brethren Fielder and DeHoff for a brief-article which had appeared in a Local church bulletin in Texas, for which neither Fielder nor DeHoff had any responsibility whatever. Seeking space in the Advocate for an explanation and a reply, Brother Fielder was brusquely and coldly refused. In the interest of fair play, the Gospel Guardian then published statements by all three men: Powell, and Fielder, and DeHoff.

In the November 12th issue of Gospel Advocate there appears a statement by the elders of Fourth Avenue church in Franklin, lauding Brother Powell for his great work there, giving fulsome praise in terms of extravagant adulation, describing how "the church has prospered and grown as never before in our past history" under his preaching, etc., etc.; and at the same time declaring that the charges made against Powell by "Yater Tant, Kenneth Fielder and others" are "absolutely groundless and contrary to fact." We are reliably informed that Brother Powell himself wrote the statement in praise of himself, and that the elders and deacons then signed it. If our information in this interesting bit is in error, then the statement itself conceivably might be in error — for our information comes from one of the very men whose name is appended to the statement?

Anyhow, both Fielder and DeHoff have articles in this issue of the Gospel Guardian, and those articles pretty well speak for themselves.

It seems apparent that Brother Goodpasture is afraid to let the readers of HIS journal see either Fielder's or DeHoff's statement. Instead of that he gives a garbled, evasive MIS-quotation from Fielder's bulletin, in which he seeks to leave the impression that Fielder was miffed because Powell wouldn't let him (Fielder) tell him how he ought to preach!

Brother Goodpasture's tricky use of this statement is simply inexcusable. For, you see, he knew when he wrote that he was NOT quoting Fielder, but was giving Fielder's quotation from Powell!!! Fielder's quotation marks, showing he was quoting Powell, are around the statement too clear to be misunderstood, too plain to be ignored. The use made of this statement by the editor of the Gospel Advocate strikes us as being so close to sheer dishonesty that we frankly would not know how to call it anything else. For Brother Goodpasture claims to be QUOTING Fielder; when actually he is giving Fielder's QUOTATION OF POWELL.

The same kind of deceit was attempted in reference to the action of this writer in submitting the original Fielder article to an attorney for an opinion as to whether anything in the article might be libelous. When dealing with unscrupulous men (the liquor crowd) it is wise to be always on guard. The attorney gave it as his opinion that certain statements were definitely slanderous IF NOT TRUE. But the statements WERE TRUE, therefore no slander nor libel was present. We repeat it: The Fielder article contained statements that were slanderous and libelous IF NOT TRUE. (Now watch our brother editor quote that and leave off the last three words.)

For some years Brother Cled Wallace has had a great deal of fun in dubbing Brother Goodpasture with the derisive and ridiculous title: "the scissors and paste-pot editor." He meant by that that his editorial writings consisted mostly of clipping some other man's article, pasting it on his editorial page, and adding a line or two of his own comment — hanging his own tail on somebody's else's kite. Brother Cled held him in rather good-natured contempt for this, and enjoyed many a hearty laugh about it both in the press and among his friends privately. But we think it might not be such a bad idea for our brother to get out his scissors and paste-pot again. For he apparently finds it difficult to write anything of his own until he gets madder than a centipede with the hot-foot; and when that happens, he almost invariably misquotes those he is attacking. Why not revert to type, brother, and get out those scissors and work up some more paste in the paste-pot? It would be quite an improvement over the dishonest kind of thing that appeared in the issue of November 12th.

There is one thing, however, that must not be lost sight of in all this hassle. And that is the responsibility of gospel preachers to oppose with all their strength the wicked and nefarious liquor traffic. It was there that the fight started; this was the issue; and it is still the most important point in the whole matter. Fielder opposed the liquor crowd in the Williamson County fight; Brother Powell did not. If the Gospel Advocate now wants to join the forces of decency and honor in this great struggle, her help will be welcomed — "Johnny-come-lately" though she be. It is the future that counts, not the mistakes of the past.

— F. Y. T.