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Miss. Christians reflect after state lifts alcohol ban

Miss. Christians reflect after state lifts alcohol ban

A Mississippi State welcome sign stands along U.S. Highway 61.  | Getty/Tiago Fernandez

Prohibition will officially come to an end in Mississippi next January thanks to a new law signed by Gov. Tate Reeves this week that has left some Christians mixed in their responses to the news. 

Mississippi House Rep. Trey Lamar, a Republican, proposed the bill that essentially flips the current law created in 1972. The possession of alcohol will no longer be illegal by default in all counties across the state. But individual counties can vote to become dry counties once again.

“From and after January 1, 2021, prohibition is renounced as to the possession of alcoholic beverages,” Lamar’s bill reads. “It shall thereafter be lawful to possess alcoholic beverages throughout the state. …”

Until 2021, Mississippi is one of three states that remain entirely dry states by default, joining Tennessee and Kansas. Twenty-nine out of 82 counties in Mississippi are dry counties. However, many dry counties contain municipalities that allow alcohol sales.

For example, alcohol is illegal in Tate County. But in the county seat of Senatobia — Lamar’s home district — alcohol sales are permitted because of a municipal vote.

“I think no matter what you do, someone will always find a loophole,” Allen Lentz, a youth leader at LaBelle Haven Baptist Church in Olive Branch, told The Christian Post in an interview. “It’s not an issue for me, I guess, but when it gets in the hands of young people, it's a problem.”

Lentz has lived in both wet and dry counties. He said the laws have not impacted his life much at all, but he has seen the destructive qualities of alcohol addiction among other Mississippians.

Ron Horner is a friend of Lentz and a deacon at Wyatte Baptist Church in Tate County, just outside of Senatobia city limits in northern Mississippi. Before Horner was devoted to the Christian faith, he was addicted to drugs and alcohol. He described it as bait from the devil.

“It’s so, so sad. When they allowed alcohol in Senatobia, they promised to bring in nice new restaurants and all these great things,” Horner said. “But instead, we’ve probably got the worst Applebee’s on the planet, and the only reason they stay open is the bar.”

Horner became a heavy drinker when he followed his passion for professional wrestling. He would often travel with local wrestlers, party and drink at bars on a nightly basis.

An alcohol addiction soon played a part in Horner’s drug addiction, sex addiction and marital issues. Horner said that some Christians can be OK with alcohol, but he believes it is a terrible thing.

“If I was to sit down at a restaurant and have beer with my meal, I mean, what would that do to my testimony?” said Horner. “I think people glorify drinking, especially in country music. I think if alcohol is involved, the likelihood of something bad becomes much, much greater.”

Horner and Wyatte Baptist now host fundraisers featuring professional wrestling. Horner said he delivers the Gospel during wrestling events, so he can give wrestling back to God and not to himself.

The new bill still strictly prohibits the unlicensed sale, resale and manufacturing of alcoholic beverages. According to The Tax Foundation, Mississippi has the 12th highest beer excise tax in the country.

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