Pubdate: Thu, 24 Jun 1999
Source: Modesto Bee, The (CA)
Copyright: 1999 The Modesto Bee.
Author: Mary Nella Bruce
Note: Original:


In response to Jill Jepson's piece on fighting drugs ("The Evil of our Day",
Opinions, June 9), Jepson trivializes the well-meaning but "misled" women of
Prohibition as harbingers of our government's current failed efforts to
criminalize drug addicts.

I think the comparison is a good one, but for different reasons than Jepson.

Prohibition grew out of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (late 1800s),
the largest and most influential international women's movement the world
has ever known.

Francis Willard in 1898 was a hundred years before her time when she stated
that "alcoholism is a disease to be treated and that the flask in the pocket
should be replaced with the Bible."

That progressive attitude led to compassionate activism that started with
prayer meetings and transformed the world.

Temperance women opened up inner-city missions, homes for the homeless, and
industrial trade centers for urban youths and impoverished women and children.

They fought to improve city services, and reform the police force, prisons
and public health concerns. They established orphanages, nursery schools,
refuge houses, medical clinics for addicts, transitional housing for
alcoholics, dormitories for working women, and replaced industrial beer
breaks with our indispensable coffee breaks.

If only the government would spend its millions on drug rehab, not prisons.
If only the church could once again be the transforming agent for those in

If only we knew that real change begins with a renewed spiritual reality.

If only we really cared.

Mary Nella Bruce, chaplain, Emanuel Medical Center Patterson, CA June 14 

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