Recently, members of the Southern Baptist Convention (my denomination), refused to hand out water to hurricane victims because the donated water was distributed by Anheuser-Busch. Below, I have included part of the article, a response from the public relations associate from the Alabama State convention, and some of my initial thoughts:
Hurricane victims who wanted water had some difficulty finding it at a relief station in Clewiston Friday. The volunteer group running a supply center doesn't like the company that donated the water, so they decided not to give it to those in line for help.
Twenty-two pallets of the canned water, distributed free by beer company Anheuser-Busch, bears the company's label – and members of the Southern Baptist Convention refused to hand it out to those in need.
Resident lined up for miles to receive food and water at the distribution point. But the water was left on the sidelines by the Alabama-based group.
"The pastor didn't want to hand out the Budweiser cans to people and that's his prerogative and I back him 100-percent," said SBC volunteer John Cook.
The SBC felt it was inappropriate to give the donation out, and they weren't happy when NBC2 wanted to know why.
"Why do you want to make that the issue? That's not the issue. The issue is that we're here trying to help people," Cook said.
No one disagrees with that, but the Red Cross says Anheuser-Busch is also trying to help.
The water has been available all along, but the SBC volunteers set it aside and few people knew it was available.
Keith Hinson responded on Steve McCoy's blog with the following thoughts:
Volunteers working with the Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief Unit honored the request of the host pastor to set aside canned water with an Anheuser-Busch logo. At no time was anyone deprived of water. In fact, there was a huge surplus of bottled and canned water available at the Clewiston relief site. There was never any disruption in the supply of water being given out to members of the public who continued to receive food, water and other types of assistance from Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief workers. It is an absolute falsehood to suggest -- as many irresponsible bloggers have -- that the Baptist volunteers withheld the basic needs of life from Floridians impacted by the hurricane. Contrary to misinterpretations of news reports, no one was denied access to water.One may disagree with the strong stand that many Southern Baptists take against the consumption of alcohol. One may even regard such opposition to alcohol as offensive.But it's impossible to say truthfully that this conviction caused any inconvenience or shortage for victims of Hurricane Wilma. The facts are exactly the opposite.The fact is that virtually all of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers serve selflessly -- taking time away from employment and family to minister in the name of Jesus Christ. Churches such as First Baptist Church, Clewiston, graciously serve as host sites -- providing a place where food, water and other necessities of life may be obtained by anyone in need -- without regard to religion or any other demographic consideration.
Although Mr. Hinson states that the Baptist did not withhold the "basic needs of life from Floridians impacted by the hurricane," a question still remains: would they have withheld the "banned water" if it was the only water available? I am currious to know how you would have handled this situation? Would you have participated in the ban or would you have passed out the water? I believe the volunteers actions relate directly to the SBC's strong "teetotal" stance on alcohol. While I agree that it may be wise to abstain from consumming alcohol in some situations, I do not think that we have any biblical rational for 1. totally banning the consumation of alcohol (Communion anyone?) or 2. refusing to pass out water from a beer company. According to an update on the NBC2 site, at least two of the SBC workers chose to pass out the water with Red Cross workers.