Johnston County Commissioners approved the Brunch Bill during their monthly meeting today (Monday) but not before three people spoke in opposition to the measure. The vote will now allow the sale and consumption of alcohol beginning at 10:00am on Sunday’s instead of Noon.
Commissioners held a public hearing on July 9th to gather public comments but postponed the vote on the bill until today.
Eddie Jordan of Smithfield was the first of three speakers to voice concern. “The love of money is the root of all evil,” Jordan said indicating that businesses wanting money from the sale of alcohol two hours early on Sunday’s was putting money before serving the Lord.
Jordan said existing alcohol sales on Sunday was not keeping the Sabbath Day holy. “We’ve already done that. Why keep on antagonizing the Lord by allowing alcohol sales from 10 to 12 ? As I Christian I believe we should not do that.”
Kelton Hinton with the Johnston Baptist Association said there are a number of health and safety concerns involving alcohol use and abuse. Hinton said opioid abuse is a $1.3 billion a year problem in North Carolina but alcohol and the related effects is a $6.8 billion a year issue in the state.
“People have blinders on when it comes to alcohol sales,” Hinton told Commissioners as he spoke of the impact of alcohol fatalities, injuries, abuse and addiction on countless families across the state. Hinton said in each state the hours of alcohol sales are increased, there is a direct correlation to an increase in alcohol-related accidents and traffic deaths.
Rev. Mark Creech , Executive Director of the Christian Action League and also a resident of Johnston County, said the Brunch Bill does not respect churches who traditionally meet from 10:00am to Noon each Sunday. Rev. Creech said the measure was “insensitive to religion” and “a general disregard to the pursuit of character and nobility in exchange for profit and pleasure.”
Commissioner Chairman Jeff Carver said the measure was not something the board has taken lightly.
Vice Chairman Ted Godwin said he was not in favor of the bill saying it was part of the overall erosion of family values. Commissioner Cookie Pope also said she was opposed . Pope said she respected fairness for all businesses but said based on her position in her church could not support the bill.
Commissioner Chad Stewart of Four Oaks said he attended church almost every Sunday and called it “a matter of choice.” Stewart said the Bill would not force anyone to drink before Noon on Sunday’s saying it was up to each individual.
Commissioner Allen Mims said it would make it more convenient for people planning a Sunday afternoon gathering to be able to go to the grocery store before Noon and purchase alcohol.
In a 5-to-2 vote, with Commissioners Godwin and Pope voting no, the measure passed and will take effect immediately in all unincorporated areas of Johnston County.