George Goss, an associate pastor with Victory Baptist Church in Rossville, is one of the organizers of the vote “no” campaign.
Goss recently sent a letter to 55 local churches exhorting the leaders to inform their congregations of the issue and “rally the troops” to the polls.
“Alcohol is already in the community and has been for some time, but we’re fighting against the desecration of the Lord’s day,” he said. “It’s bad enough that it’s sold Monday through Saturday.”
See poll at end of article.
The Sunday sales issue is one of the last bricks in a wall of so-called “blue laws” pertaining to alcohol sales that have been consistently eliminated or liberalized across the country in recent years.
Georgia is one of only three states that ban Sunday alcohol sales.
Across the border in Chattanooga, stores that sell wine and liquor are closed on Sundays, but beer can be pur-chased in most Tennessee counties.
In July the Fort Oglethorpe City Council voted 3-2 to place the Sunday sales question on the November ballot.
The majority of the council members said that they do not drink alcohol, but nevertheless felt that it was an is-sue for the voters to decide.
The Georgia General Assembly passed a law earlier this year that allows local governments to have a public referendum on permitting the sale of packaged beer and wine on Sundays. Since then 10 Georgia counties and more than 100 cities have placed Sunday sales referendums on the Nov. 8 ballot.
The Sunday sales ballot initiative is worded as follows: “Shall the governing authority of the City of Ft. Oglethorpe be authorized to permit and regulate package sales by retailers of both malt beverages and wine on Sundays between the hours of 12:30 P.M. and 11:30 P.M.?”
Goss said he and many fellow pastors take issue with that, saying that church teachings shouldn’t be left out of government decisions. “It should never have been given up to the people to vote on.”
The recent history of the issue shows mixed results.
In 2000 Ringgold voters approved a liquor-by-the-drink referendum, while in Fort Oglethorpe the measure was soundly defeated after church groups and others actively protested against it.
In 2005 the measure was again on the ballot in Fort Oglethorpe, and voters approved it by a wide margin.
In 2009 churches were influential in defeating a liquor by-the-drink proposal in LaFayette.
This year the effort led by Goss, a resident of Tennessee who says he is simply supporting his pastor and his church, includes distributing 1,000 flyers and 200 yard signs that promote the campaign to defeat the Sunday sales measure.
“We are responsible for keeping our members informed,” he said, “and in this case the scriptures teach us about holy living in an unholy world — we are to be separate, and it is a matter of separation as much as it is morality.”
The pamphlets being distributed exhort Christians to stand firm on the moral principal against alcohol saying that efforts to give secular reasons against it will be viewed as a compromise that will come up short against the opposition’s strategy to simply not stir things up.
“The church has remained silent on moral issues for way too long,” Goss said.