On October 15, 2008 the Associated Press ran story by Eric Gorsky titled “Finding God at a beer festival.” It began:
In the beginning, there was a long line for Judgment Day ale.
Shortly after the doors opened on the 27th Great American Beer Festival, a crowd congregated at the booth offering that and other pours from The Lost Abbey of San Marcos, Calif., where the tap handle is a Celtic cross and the legacy of beer-brewing monks endures.
Since then the story’s been splashed across a hundred newspapers and websites, as well as the topic of more than one discussion in the blogosphere (No, really: check it out). A great story for us Abbey-ites (and Russian River, and He’Brew, et al), but we’ve all been really let down by the total lack of backlash to the story.
I mean come on, a wayward alter boy, a non-religious guy and Jew are all using God to sell beer. There’s got to be something there that someone is offended by. (Could also be a great setup to a joke.) But no one was.
At least not until a couple days ago.
Turns out that the Right Reverend Jim Sickmeyer and the Worthington Baptist Temple in lovely Worthington, MN, are “appalled” by it and have determined that The Lost Abbey is a “blasphemous business,” thereby making all of us blasphemers, I suppose.
Blaphemers. How cool is that?
Check out the letter to the Worthington Daily Globe here. (Warning: minorly irritating free registration may be required.)
In his letter the indignant Reverend Jim (why is that name familiar?) tosses out some Bible quotes as evidence. Of course, as my lovely wife, Beer Molly, a recovering Jehovah’s Witness, likes to say “Satan can quote the bible more accurately and effectively than any man; that doesn’t make Satan good or right,” so I’ll discount them for now.
For those not so easily swayed by the use of random words from God, the Reverend gives us good hard facts:
Alcohol has destroyed more lives and ruined more marriages and families than most other issues. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 100,000 deaths occur each year due to alcohol.
I’m gonna give Jim the first one, since the total number’s kinda hard to determine. (I’m sure right after war, famine, disease, motor vehicles, drowning, drug overdoses, firearms, lightning, English football hooligans, peanut allergies, Chinese toys, etc., etc. it’s right up there.) But that second statement I need to check out.
…Over 100,000 deaths each year due to alcohol.
Okay, since the NHTSA only tracks highway-related deaths, lets assume the Reverend is talking about 100,000 highway deaths each year.
And over at the NHTSA website, what do we find? A press release about the number of DUI fatalities from August 28, 2008! And what does the headline say?
DUI Fatalities Down Nationwide and in 32 States, Says U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters
And further down:
Secretary Peters noted that last year an estimated 12,998 people were killed in crashes where a vehicle operator had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. She said that represented a 3.7 percent decline from the 13,491 fatalities in 2006.
12,998 isn’t exactly 100,000 is it? In fact, there weren’t even 100,000 total traffic fatalities last year. (Never has been.) And the percentage of alcohol-related traffic fatalities has been falling steadily from around 35% in 1982 to 20% in 2005.
That’s okay. Reverend Jim shouldn’t feel bad for fabricating facts (aka lying) for the purpose of a good religious statement. Oh wait, his letter also admonishes alcohol for bringing out “hypocrisy” and giving everyone “situational ethics.”
Alcohol, Reverend? Me thinks it’s not the alcohol that makes men hypocrites.
Also, I don’t know where he came to the conclusion that The Lost Abbey calls good, evil and evil, good (we certainly didn’t fabricate statistics), but Damnation and Salvation are certainly not attributable to The Lost Abbey. As the article notes, those are Russian River beers (and
damned blessed fine ones too).
Certainly everyone is entitled to their religious opinion, but if they’re going to argue it in a public forum and do something cool like label people blasphemers, shouldn’t they at least get the minimum of facts straight first?
I mean, otherwise you just come off sounding like a street-corner bible thumper screaming about how the Smart Cars and McDonald’s lattes are the final signs of the end of days. Makes labeling people “blashphemers” about as powerful as a degree from Fern and Fred’s online college.