CAL celebrates moral victories
November 8 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

CAL celebrates moral victories | Friday, Nov 8, 2002

Friday, Nov 8, 2002

CAL celebrates moral victories

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

The Christian Action League of North Carolina (CAL) is replete with causes, victories and enthusiasm but short on funds, according to reports at its annual advisory board meeting Nov. 7 at Caraway Conference Center.

The CAL was founded in the late 1800s as the "Anti-Saloon League." In 1937 the Baptist State Convention (BSC) named a committee to meet with interdenominational leaders to form a statewide organization to oppose traffic in liquor, leading to the "Allied Church League of North Carolina for the Abolition of Beverage Control." In 1958, the organization was renamed the Christian Action League of North Carolina, and the charter was amended so the group could address "other moral and ethical issues facing the Judeo-Christian family," according to the CAL Web site.

The CAL's advisory board draws on different religious groups from the state's 100 counties, but the leadership has remained predominantly Baptist. The BSC's budget for 2002 included a contribution of $7,000 for the CAL, with an increase to $10,000 planned for 2003. The CAL relies mainly on contributions from individuals and churches for support.

Treasurer Russell Capps said the difficult economy has led to a downturn in donations, leading budget planners to propose a 2003 budget of $198,097, just $1,500 more than the budget for 2002.

The advisory board re-elected Coy Privette of Kannapolis, a former executive director of the group, as president. Gerald Primm of Greensboro was elected as vice-president. Three regional vice-presidents are Don Davis of Dunn, Lee Cockerill of Salisbury and Johnny Blevins of Elkin. Kay Alexander of Cary was named secretary, Russell Capps of Raleigh, treasurer, and Steve Daniel of Morganton, legal advisor.

"Field reports" discussed opposition to alcohol initiatives in two counties during the year. Steve LeaShomb, pastor of Midway Baptist Church in West Jefferson, said three pro-alcohol initiatives were successful in West Jefferson, but the same three were defeated in the neighboring town of Jefferson.

Kershaw Getty, pastor of Liberty Grove Baptist Church in Fleetwood, said alcohol opponents learned from the defeat in West Jefferson and turned up the intensity in Jefferson. One campaigner persisted with two elderly women until they agreed to go and vote against the initiatives just five minutes before the polls closed, he said. Two of the three initiatives were defeated by only three votes, and the other lost by nine votes.

David Blackburn, director of missions for the Ashe Baptist Association, described how alcohol opponents used the Internet and database programs to identify potential voters. Blackburn encouraged CAL advisors to call on leaders of the 80 Baptist associations for assistance when their communities face moral issues.

Tim Horldt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Valdese, said town council members there voted 3-2 in February to hold three pro-alcohol referendums, despite overwhelming opposition from citizens who attended the meeting. With assistance from CAL executive director Mark Creech, "Citizens for a Drug-Free Town" was organized and hundreds of yard signs were erected. Forty of 44 downtown businesses opposed the issue, Horldt said, including many restaurants. All three initiatives were defeated with alcohol opponents gaining 55 to 60 percent of the vote.

Capps, a member of the N.C. House of Representatives, offered a short tribute to Ann Frazier, a long time conservative activist and secretary of CAL, who died during the year. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary has agreed to catalog and preserve her papers, he said.

Capps gave a brief report on house legislation in 2003. Having CAL as a watchdog is critical, Capps said, noting that Creech keeps legislators and citizens informed of moral issues such as House Bill 1088, which would have allowed sales of beer and wine, even in communities where citizens have voted against alcohol sales. That bill and a similar bill in the senate were defeated because of Creech's efforts, Capps said. With the house now split 60-60 along party lines, Capps expressed hope that a coalition can be formed to support issues of interest to the CAL.

Capps also noted that the state house approved a bill sponsored by Sam Ellis that encourages the U.S. Congress to require that all pornographic Web sites use a .xxx suffix in their address. Ellis' bill was inspired by Mary Conyers of Wendell, who founded "Protect Every Child" to oppose easy access to Internet pornography.

Bob Carpenter, a state senator from Macon County, expressed concern that video-poker proponents have contributed heavily to candidates who support gambling and alcohol initiatives.

Carpenter sponsored the Infant Homicide Protection Act last year, which allows women who have given birth to unwanted babies to leave their newborns in a safe place without being charged with abandonment.

In Creech's annual report, he said America is engaged in a cultural war, "battling for our spiritual and moral lives." The question before the nation, he said, "is not whether all men are created equal, but whether they are created by God at all," whether they are created under God and accountable to Him. The church has been largely uninvolved in the issues that dictate our moral climate, he said.

Creech cited a string of recent California laws to illustrate what happens "when liberals seize a state." California passed 22 pro-gay laws in the past two years, he said, including requirements that children in grades K-12 be taught to appreciate various sexual orientations, and that children with the potential of being intolerant of homosexuals should be identified for "retraining."

What has happened in California could make its way to North Carolina, Creech said: "More than ever, the Christian community within the Tar Heel state needs to mount an offensive strategy that will repel the evil influences of our society." Whatever that strategy is, the CAL will be involved, he said.

Creech reviewed a string of successful CAL efforts on a variety of fronts.

While new pro-life legislation has been stymied, tight restrictions to the state abortion fund have remained intact, he said, getting the state largely "out of the abortion business." The state has paid for only one abortion in the past seven years, he said.

Lottery proponents expected that this would be their year, Creech said, with budget pressures and a pro-lottery governor on their side. Bills that called for a "non-binding advisory referendum" on the lottery were stalled most of the year as lottery proponents sought more support, however, and the senate version of the bill was finally defeated by a vote of 69 to 50. Much of the credit is due to the CAL motivating lottery opponents to contact their legislators, Creech said.

For the first time in many years, no significant alcohol initiatives were approved on the state level, Creech said, including two efforts to allow beer and wine sales within 100 yards of a "sports club," even if local citizens have voted against alcohol sales. Again, the CAL helped to orchestrate a barrage of phone calls and e-mails in opposition to the bill.

CAL efforts contributed to a deferral of action on several other issues of concern, Creech said, and also helped to defeat alcohol referendums in five of nine places.

"Like a hurricane, the winds of righteousness have swept across our state and wreaked havoc for liberal and godless forces," he said.

Creech likened the calm eye of a hurricane to the evangelical, spiritual center of a believer's personal relationship with Christ. But Christians must also produce winds that impact the world around them, he said.

Creech said "the failure of liberal social action by mainline churches in the 1960s" is that it was "all wind and no center." Today's evangelical churches have the opposite problem, he said, failing to emphasize that one's relationship with Christ should also impact the world. "It's all a calm, warm, fuzzy center, and no wind," he said, that "passes over the land and changes nothing."

To be transformers of society, Creech said, Christians must live out both aspects of the spiritual hurricane.

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11/8/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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