OPINION: The day whiskey became essential and church was banned

By Rev. Brad Dancer, Rural Shade Baptist Church

I need your prayers today. My name is Pastor Brad Dancer. A real human being with real emotions and struggles. The title pastor does not make me infallible or immune to discouragement. My beautiful wife and I serve on the front lines every day to help folks in Tarkington, Texas, and Liberty County.

During normal times, non-apocalyptic virus and media craziness, we volunteer 3 to 4 time a week at our school with mentoring and service projects. We love to see the smile on a kid’s face when we serve them a napkin at school or give them a bible at beach club. During this crazy time, we have put our lives on the line to make sure everyone in our area has food and supplies. We have counseled with hundreds of families that have lost their jobs and don’t know how to get through this moment of sadness, and we are grateful for the opportunity to serve our God and our community.

I am a very proud Son of the Revolution. My 6th great-grandfather, Peter Dancer, came to America in 1749 as an indentured servant, a slave to a rich Englishman. He escaped slavery to make a better life for his family. There is a wanted poster for him that my family still has pictures of to remind us of where we come from and what we fought for. His son, John Dancer, fought in the Revolutionary War to end the tyranny of England and for freedom from oppression from the government. I actually have a 4th great-uncle named George Washington Dancer because my 5th great-grandfather, John, named one of his sons after his hero. My 5th great-grandfather who was the son of a slave was given 200 acres of land in Virginia for his service for the cause of freedom.

My discouragement in this current hour comes one day after the Liberty County Judge Jay Knight signed an executive order making liquor stores essential services and banning church services. Don’t get me wrong, I am not writing this against liquor stores. The great philosopher Tracy Byrd said it best: “If you drink, don’t drive to the watermelon crawl.” I am writing this because the church is the backbone of our community. Churches are feeding folks right now. Churches are counseling folks during this difficult time. Churches are paying electric bills and water bills for the folks suffering. Churches are sending food to the hospitals to help healthcare workers. Even the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, acknowledged that churches are covered under religion freedom and are exempt from the states executive order.

Our church met last Sunday. We practiced physical distancing and spread out in a very large room. We even had Sunday School in large rooms with groups smaller than 10. Church is not a social gathering; we are not a club or a team. We gather for the purpose of worshiping the God of All Creation, the God who gives us every breath we breathe.

Before you say that we can have church online, please understand where we live. The Internet in Tarkington is not fast enough in many areas to stream online church. We have folks in our church that do not own a computer or smart phone. We can take every precaution necessary to make it safe. We can even have church outside in our vehicles to keep from contacting or breathing on each other, but not in Liberty County. Not according to Judge Jay Knight.

So, I ask for your prayers for our community and country. May this crazy time end soon and may freedom continue to reign in these United States of America.

John Stuart Mill said in 1867: “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

The views in this article do not represent the views of the church where I serve, its members, or leadership. I, Brad Dancer, take full responsibility for these words as mine and mine alone.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.


  1. I normally do not comment on social media, but I worked in an environment where I, along with my co-workers were constantly ,everyday exposed to diseases, some deadly with no cures.
    Faith in Jesus Christ and common sense prevented me from contracting anything.
    It works, Jesus Christ is the miracle worker and serving and putting your faith in him has no negative side effects.
    The Churches should be our refuge in times of trouble.

    • “Nearly three dozen people who attended a recent children’s event at a church in Arkansas have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to church officials.”
      NBC News

  2. God bless you for your caring, and for speaking out about this horrible government intervention. I am 72 years old and in have never seen churches closed. The one I attend now was closed before it was required, and I am considering changing churches when our churches are open again. I believe we should be very afraid for our children and grandchildren. I went to Rural Shade when I lived in Tarkington. I have been praying constantly for my family, my friends, and my country

  3. Brother I agree with you but you must understand that judge Jay Knight did what he thought was best for the well being and safety of all. Would you still feel this way if the virus started going around your congregation and people you know and love started dying ? My I suggest that your congregation start smaller 10 group gatherings at separate times or places for just a few weeks to give this thing time to pass. Furthermore Brother, we are living in desperate times for many who suffer unimaginable pain and their doctors are no longer allowed to help them without fear of going to jail. so while I personally don’t drink, there are those out there that no longer have any choice and from that standpoint perhaps the liqueur stores are necessary. Just food for thought, May God bless you.

  4. I do not see where it would hurt to have a drive in service I do think the executive order went a little over board by banning these I also listened to the most recent update where this was mentioned and it seamed to me that even though the judge has a religious back ground he doesn’t understand the essentialness of having weekly services there are several options for having parking lot services and still maintain social distancing

  5. My grandparents lived through one of the worst pandemics and had to keep working and worshipping to feed and raise their children. My parents had to do the same when to polio epidemic came around. My generation had to keep on keeping on during all these new epidemics. Viruses have always been around and will, I suppose, always be around. Some are worse than others, but our ability to congregate and provide for our families have never been taken away before. At least, not in my lifetime

    • Dan Patric says that senior’s should be willing to die to help the economy. Personally, I would like to live a little longer. In 1918 Houston also closed down for awhile trying to stem the tide of the flu outbreak so it’s not unprecedented.

  6. John, Your absolutely correct as long as the congregants do not give in to that feeling that they must go over and greet and shake hands with everyone there should be no problem. Perhaps you and the other pastors should take this up with the judge? I trust Christ in all things but I also know if I run in front of a speeding truck I will get hurt. Be safe and let us pray for guidance in this most difficult time.

  7. Go have church in a liquor store on Saturday. Just remember the six foot rule… oh, and no more than 10 at a time. My prayers to all who are facing this first world persecution at this time. It’s not just Tarkington that has this issue, but it’s very close to home.

  8. I do believe this is the same Jay Knight who kicked everyone in FEMA Disaster campers and trailers out and had FEMA remove the units from the county… something about if we still needed them it was our own fault for not finishing our home repairs faster, I was told. Thanks a lot, Jay!@#!@#!@

    I had been in 1 of those FEMA campers for exactly 12 months to the day, and while I was working hard on repairing my flooded home (by myself I never could get any help here!) I still needed that clean dry place to sleep! I had to move back into my sheetrock dust filled home with no bathrooms and not a single working sink and sleep on the concrete floor because of Jay Knight! I can’t say enough bad about Jay Knight, he does not work for the people of this county!

    Why can’t you still do drive-in church services in your parking lot however? In times like this we need to be creative!

    ps. I think the lyric is “If you drink don’t drive do the watermelon crawl”.

  9. The truth is if they try to shut down the liquor stores people will flee to get their liquor before closing. Causing crowds of people which they are trying to avoid. Sadly, not a lot of people are running to the churches. But I sure pray that this is forcing people to reevaluate their lives and choosing God, Jesus Christ as their savior. I’m praying this brings a great revival!

  10. We are not being asked to stop worshiping or to deny our faith but to show compassion/concern/love for our fellow man. It would be one thing to put my life at risk to worship in person but it would be unconscionable to risk the lives of others to do so.

  11. “The great philosopher Tracy Byrd said it best: “If you drink, don’t drive to the watermelon crawl.””
    Wouldn’t that be considered a racist comment? Is your church integrated and what do your parishioners think of your comment?
    Will God hold you responsible if a child dies from catching the virus at your church? Forget about the donations and think about the children. The truly faithful will mail the money too you. Osteen set precedent for that,

  12. God is everywhere Jesus never called us to feed the World his Great Commission was to go And preach this Gospel to the world If you preach the truth God will do the rest Have you forgotten his promises the there for him That Believe that he is and he is a rewarder for those that diligently seek him furthermore God hasten gave too you the Spirit of Fear But of Sound mine and Peace Knowing that he is The Prince of Peace that’s is Why he Sent the Holy Ghost it is the Comforter This to will pass there is more with us than there is with them Amen and Amen

  13. Keep praying, trusting and remembering that we (Christians) are the Church. Read your Bible, pray for understanding and be the example He means us to be. It is our faith in Him and not works or attending a gathering that will save us all. God Bless you.

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