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Monthly Archives: February 2018

Prayers and Action: A Preacher’s Position on Another Mass Shooting

I do not even know where to begin, I am so heartbroken. The latest school shooting in Parkland Florida is terrible, but what I find most tragic in all these mass shootings is the incredible lack of action. Let me say as a pastor, for the first time I am not excited about thoughts and prayers, I want action. I want somebody to do something. I want people to stop screaming at each other at what won’t work and what won’t prevent mass shootings, and let’s just try something. I am ready for a trial and error approach. Try one person’s plan, and if it doesn’t work, move to the next, and the next, and the next, so one day we will not have a school or concert or church or job place marred by horrific tragedy. The one truth we know in all of this is doing nothing is accomplishing nothing. Doing nothing is preventing nothing.

I cannot think of any other mass tragic events in America that takes dozens of lives per tragedy where our leadership and our nation says, “Bad people will do bad things,” and then takes zero action. Let’s examine our government’s response to other acts of terror on our soil.

Timothy McVeigh bombs the federal building in Oklahoma City and we acted. Congress and the President passed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 and the Victim Allocution Clarification Act of 1997. Also, the purchase of ammonium nitrate has been heavily regulated, and is now monitored by the Department of Homeland Security. No one said it’s just fertilizer.

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7.2% And Sunday Alcohol Sales: A Preacher’s Position to Maintain the Ban

This morning (2-13-18) the Stephens County Board of Commissioners voted to put on an upcoming ballot a vote to maintain or end the countywide ban of the sale of alcohol on Sunday. It is my prayer that our county will unite and vote overwhelmingly to maintain our current Sunday ban on the sale of alcohol.

The abuse of alcohol statistics are truly frightening in this country. The Center for Disease Control estimates there are 88,000 deaths a year from excessive drinking making it one of the leading causes of preventable death. The Bureau of Justice reports that 19-37% of violent crimes in America involve the defendant drinking alcohol and occurs most often in the evening and on the weekends.  The Department of Transportation informs us that drunk driving kills 29 people a day or over 10,000 people a year many, many of whom were not drinking.

This measure to allow the Sunday sale of alcohol is clearly about money. Nothing that kills 10,000 random people a year, again many who were not drinking, can be described as wholesome or moral. This is a money grab plain and simple. The Board of Commissioners want to make money for purveyors of alcohol and for the Stephens County government, but will Sunday sales do that? The Center for Disease Control’s latest study estimates that alcohol consumption drains 249 billion dollars annually out of the American economy: in accidents, deaths, health care, court and criminal costs, and lost wages. That adds up to taking $2.05 out of the economy for every alcoholic drink consumed, and that burden falls mostly upon the tax payer. There is significant doubt to whether this will generate an economic boost at all for the county.

But the most important fact in all of this comes from a direct comparison of Stephens County which now bans the sale of alcohol on Sunday, and our neighboring Habersham County which allows Sunday sales. According to County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, over the last 4 years, there were 35 drunk driving deaths in Habersham County and 19 drunk driving deaths in Stephens County. Taking population into consideration because Habersham County has more people, using the 2016 Georgia Government estimations, there is 1 drunk driving death annually in Habersham County for every 5,057 residents. In Stephens County, there is 1 drunk driving death annually for every 5,421 residents. Across four years of data, Stephens County has a better drunk driving accident death rate than Habersham County. In fact, you are 7.2% more likely to die in a drunk driving accident in Habersham County than in Stephens County. 7.2% safer is not insignificant.

The biggest difference between Habersham County and Stephens County in regards to alcohol is the issue of Sunday sales. Habersham County allows it, and Stephens County does not. This ban works. This ban saves lives. 7.2%, remember and share that number. You are 7.2% more likely to die in a drunk driving accident in Habersham County than here in Stephens County. We must vote to maintain the ban.

Also, this ban gives our community a bold and important statement each week to the dangers of alcohol consumption that the words “drink responsibly” in small lettering in a funny commercial could ever give. It gives parents an important platform and staring point to warn their children of the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption.

Lastly, when laws were passed regulating smoking, in how cigarette companies can advertise and restricting where people can smoke, we have learned these regulations work.  The Center for Disease Control when comparing 1988-1991, when cigarettes were less regulated, to 2011-2012, when cigarettes were more regulated, they discovered that there was a 62.6% decrease in exposure to second hand smoke. Regulating cigarette consumption protected society and non-smokers. Regulating alcohol consumption similarly will also protect society. These laws protect the public.

Voting to allow the Sunday Sale of alcohol in Stephens County will endanger our residents and visitors, and it will cost lives. Even if it will boost our economy, which is questionable according to the CDC, is it worth our public safety? Again, you are 7.2% more likely to die in a drunk driving accident in neighboring Habersham County than here in Stephens County. Let’s maintain that 7.2%. The ban protects our community, and our neighboring county proves this.

Join me and share these facts. Let us unite to protect our roads, our communities, and our families. Let’s get out and vote to maintain the ban, and encourage others to maintain this ban.

Thanks for sharing, and thank you for voting to maintain the Sunday ban of alcohol sales.

Preacher Jesse Colbert


The math used to obtain the statistics shared above.

Habersham County had 35 drunk driving deaths from 2014-2017 (a 4 year span).  In 2016, the Georgia Government estimated the population of Habersham County at 44,246.

35 total deaths/4 years = 8.75 drunk driving deaths a year.  44,246 residents/8.75 deaths a year = 5,056.68, which rounds to 1 drunk driving death per 5,057 residents annually.

Stephens County had 19 drunk driving deaths from 2014-2017.  In 2016, the Georgia Government estimated the population of Stephens County at 25,751.

19 total deaths/4 years = 4.75 drunk driving deaths a year.  25,751 residents/4.75 deaths a year = 5421.26, which rounds to 1 drunk driving death per 5,421 residents annually.

Finding the percentage of increased risk.

The Percentage Increace = 100 * (5421 – 5057)/5057

The Percentage Increase = 100 * 364/5057

The Percentage Increase = 36400/5057

The Percentage Increase = 7.1979 which rounds to 7.2% increased risk.