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Diving Drinking Debate

In: Religion Topics

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The Divine Drinking Debate:

Biblical Alcohol Use and How it Relates to Today’s American Culture

Mary Van Winkle

Religious Studies 023

Fall 2004

Temperance as an American Cultural Issue The use of alcohol among conservative Christians in America has been a hotly debated topic for years. It began with the Women’s Crusade in 1873-74, the Anti-Saloon League in 1893 and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, movements against businesses that sold alcohol and the gambling and prostitution that sometimes went hand-in-hand. Their momentum culminated in 1920 as the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified prohibiting the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors. Just over thirteen years later, however, the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed by the ratification of the Twenty-First Amendment, which gave states the rights to legislate their own liquor laws. It appears that the intense stance against drinking may be primarily a phenomenon of the American culture, and particularly limited to Protestants. According to Ruth C. Engs, “Numerous studies from both the United States and Europe have suggested that Protestants consume less alcohol but perceive great problems with the substance. In contrast Roman Catholics consume more alcohol but do not perceive its consumption as problematic.” Also according to Engs, in Northern European countries, where the Roman Empire had little influence, and where agricultural practices would make grain liquor the drink of choice, alcohol is mostly consumed at feast times. During these times of celebrations, out-of-control binge drinking and public drunkenness may be commonplace. Temperance among Protestants in these countries has never developed into a national movement. In Southern European countries where the Roman influence was the...

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