« PreviousContinue »
of my family—especially my mother and brothers and sisters—wish to express our deep gratitude to this distinguished committee and to the other members of the 90th Congress and to the present administration for the privilege of adding my words of strong support for H.R. 15758.
Starting in 1951, in a small mountain village in the White Mountains of Northern New Hampshire, an ever-increasing group of competent and dedicated Church people have been planning out a Church program. After ten years in New Hampshire and the neighboring State of Maine, His Eminence Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston asked the religious leaders of the greater Boston area to help sponsor our North Conway Institute program. We plan to do four things :
I quote from Alcohol and the American Churches published by the North Conway Institute in 1967, pages 24-25 :
“We call upon the people of God to join efforts in an ecumenical spirit to attack this major social problem by action in four areas:
(a) The pastoral care of alcoholics and their families in the community where they live. Each congregation must bring to the alcoholic and his family a redemptive ministry based on compassionate understanding and loving concern which seeks to help them withstand the stress, tension and anxiety of modern life by providing hope, acceptance, and spiritual guidance to a reliance upon God. We urge our congregations to take the initiative in offering such a ministry by training some of its members to join with the professional clergy to constitute a fellowship of redeeming love within which the alcoholic and his family may find the help they need.
Included in such a ministry should be the effort to detect those who are beginning to rely on alcohol as a crutch and to help them find new spiritual resources for handling their problem. In addition, to their own direct ministries to the alcoholic and his family, the churches should help stimulate community action to provide adequate treatment facilities for the alcoholic and adequate social services for his family, Clergymen should work as part of a therapeutic team which includes members of the medical, psychiatric, social work, and vocational rehabilitation professions. They should help develop reciprocal referral services between the churches and the public and private welfare agencies of the community.
(6) Alcohol education of the ecumenical community's own constituent members.--We urge all religious bodies to place a new emphasis on the importance of educating their constituents with regard to the personal and social issues involved in drinking. With each communion establishing goals and methods in harmony with their own traditions relating to the use of alcohol, we recommend that the following be among the educational objectives to be attained :
To help the membership understand the role of alcohol in society and the gravity of the problems connected with its use.
To help persons understand their own motivations for drinking or abstaining so that an individual choice may be made free from the necessity to confirm.
To provide better understanding between those who practice the virtue of sobriety through moderation and those who practice it through abstinence. (c) Alcohol education for the public within the community.—The ecumenical community should take the initiative in seeking the co-operation of other community organizations in the sponsorship of educational activities designed to acquaint the total community with objective facts about the role of alcohol in the life of the community, the several problems that grow out of it, and the responsibility of the community to deal with these problems.
We urge that the members of each of our communions engage in conversation with others in the community for the purpose of helping to form new attitudes of responsibility in which all forms of excessive drinking are morally and socially unacceptable.
When there is no satisfactory general alcohol education program in the community notably in the schools and the churches, the ecumenical leadership should initiate the development of one, giving inter-faith support to school officials and offering every possible assistance. Such a program should assist individuals to make mature and responsible decisions about use or non-use of alcohol in keeping with one's own beliefs and individual needs. It should also present scientifically accurate information about alcohol and the nature of the illness, alcoholism. It should foster understanding between persons who follow the abstinence and moderation traditions without seeking to impose either.
(d) Social and legal controls.-We urge the people of God to work constructively for the creation of attitudes which will constitute a social control over the drinking customs of the populace by establishing high values on the virtue of sobriety and strong sanctions against the irresponsible use of alcohol including drunkenness. This should include the enunciation of new norms of etiquette which hold it to be an act of impoliteness to urge anyone to drink against his will and which dictates that when alcoholic beverages are served, non-alcoholic alternatives also be provided as a matter of course.
We urge the appropriate public agencies to enforce the present legal regulations on the distribution and consumption of alcoholic beverages and urge the general public to obey these regulations in the interest of public welfare. At the same time, we urge that new forms of legal control based on scientific understanding be developed. In particular, we urge the courts to expand practices under which chronic offenders for drunkenness may elect to receive treatment in lieu of jail sentences. We note the special need for constructive controls over the increasing problem of alcohol-related traffic accidents."
The Churches, then, to sum up are helping people to prevent alcohol problems through three major avenues of concern:
First, we have a department of research and development headed by David Barton. This is our "learning' arm.
Second, we have a department of pastoral services and training which is headed by a native son of Oklahoma, The Reverend William Sprague. This is our "teaching" or sharing arm of our Institute.
Third, all of us work at therapy or helping folks and communities who are already afflicted with not only alcoholism but many other types of alcohol problems. This is our “caring” or healing arm.
In addition we publish a number of publications and other statements and newsletters.
Eventually, I beileve the major churches and synagogues will also handle problems of drug abuse_including alcohol when it is misused through this three-fold approach of learning, sharing, and caring (i.e. Research, training, and therapy). In 1968 the churches are now beginning to tackle six major areas of concern :
(1) People and alcohol and alcoholism.
(2) People, alcohol and youth education—including in many places increasing emphasis on drugs along with the drug alcohol,
(3) People, alcohol and drunken driving.
(4) People, alcohol, and the liquor and beer control systems. For example, you will note in our paper, The Churches and Alcohol on page five: “In 1966, the Federal government collected approximately three billion, eight hundred million dollars ($3,800,000,000) in beverage alcohol taxes (with an expenditure of about seven million dollars ($7,000,000)]. To this amount should be added comparable tax revenue collected by the States. Obviously no estimates are available as to the losses of tax revenue chargeable to the illicit manufacture, sale, and use of alcoholic beverages.”
The church people are increasingly wondering if this is a fair proportion for a National Federal Program of research, training, and therapy as well as education for prevention.
(5) People, alcohol and the police court problem. Already mention has been made in these hearings of the impending United States Supreme Court decision on “Powell us. Texas." In The North Conway Institute along with the Methodist Board of Christian Social Concerns is one of the Amici Curiae.
Also, since the first of January 1968, a small Task Force of professional people have been meeting in Boston to plan a concerted attack on "police court alcoholic.” We will, however, need funds to help implement this program which we are developing in New England as you in the United States States Congress and in the Lyndon Johnson-Secretary Wilbur Cohen Administration are developing here in Washington.
(6) People, alcohol and the indifference of the two hundred million (200,000,000) Americans.
After almost a quarter of a century of satisfied sobriety, I can state emphatically that people are not so much indifferent to problems connected with alcohol as we are frustrated. The average Episcopal clergyman spends 75% of his pastoral time (i.e. with peopel in trouble or in distress) with parishioners who have alcohol-related problems!
What we need are facilities such as will eventually grow out of the alcoholic rehabilitation Act of 1968. The responsible Churches of America will evidence our long time continuing interest by giving members of this committee our strong support in your attempts to achieve a new enlightened concept.
The North Conway Institute is a product of the Ecumenical Movement which is sweeping the religious community. It is both inter-faith and interdisciplinary. The Institute has serving on its Board of Trustees individuals representative of the three major faiths-Protestant, Catholic, Jewish-and the health, education, and welfare professions and volunteer service groups. A wide spectrum of religious opinion from liberal to conservative is represented by the membership of the Board of Trustees.
One of the notable achievements of the Institute was the endorsement of a statement by prominent church leaders of metropolitan Boston in 1966. The statement was drafted by the Ecumencial Council on Alcohol Programs and was endorsed by leaders from 16 different churches ranging from Roman Catholic to Salvation Army. The key paragraphs read as follows:
We believe that alcoholism and alcohol-related problems are a serious threat to the health, happiness, and welfare of many people and to the stability of families and communities.
Among other consequences of excessive drinking which call for remedial action are the break-up of family life, the stimulation of crime and juvenile delinquency, the mounting of welfare costs, and the loss to industry through absenteeism and inefficiency.
These problems are not new but they are acute and are made more so by an attitude of complacency and irresponsibility on the part of the general public in whose hands the final determination of social policy lies. It is urgent that churchmen and others concerned with human needs and the moral foundations of our society endeavor to create a more responsible public attitude toward drinking.
We believe that we may all unite on the ground of the virtue of sobriety. This can be practiced in two ways. One is by total abstinence from beverage alcohol for religious motives. The other is by true moderation in the use of alcohol, also for religious motives. On this common ground the virtue of sobriety may be practiced both by abstainers as well as by those who drink moderately.
Although differences of conscientious conviction in relation to certain current drinking customs exist among us, the area of our agreement with regard to drunkenness and alcoholism is sufficiently large and significant as to enable us to unite our best efforts for the allviation and ultimate solu.
tion of these alcohol-related problems. As Churches move closer to one another and understanding increases, Congress will find more and more support among their constituents for health measures to help communities help the alcoholic and his family; H.R. 15758 is a major step in that direction.
In conclusion, may I strongly urge you to recommend the passage of a comprehensive National Program to deal with the health problems of families and communities dealing with chronic alcoholism.
The Alcoholic Rehabilitation Act of 1968 represents a real step forward in the beginning of such a program. Again I commend the Democratic Administration for proposing this legislation, for Congressman Staggers of West Virginia for sponsoring it, and I hope you, Congressman Jarman, will get your sub-committee to approve this bill so the Congress can pass it shortly so our President can sign it into law.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for your gracious courtesy in allowing me to testify.
Dr. WORKS. I would like to introduce the Reverend Thomas E. Price, director of the department of alcohol problems and drug abuse, the General Board of Christian Social Concerns of the Methodist Church, who is also a member of the board of directors of the North Conway Institute. I will be glad to answer any questions you have.
Mr. Rogers. Thank you very much, Reverend Works, and we are pleased to have you, Dr. Price.
STATEMENT OF REV. THOMAS E. PRICE
Dr. PRICE. I am director of the alcohol problems for the Methodist Board of Social Concerns. I am here to register the church's concern for the kind of programs called for in H.R. 15758.
Now I of course have the statements of the Methodist Church on alcoholism and the needs.
I would read the final paragraph, the concluding paragraph of my statement, which is to say that the Methodist Church, which has a long tradition of abstinence, and it is not prepared to surrender its conviction that abstinence is an answer for many problems associated with it, not the least of which is alcoholism, but it is prepared to enter the public realm to encourage, to support to cooperate
with community-wide efforts at the national, State, and local levels to treat and prevent drinking problems through the most effective means available.
We consider H.R. 15758 an effective means, because of its provisions to facilitate State and community developments of model programs.
(Dr. Price's prepared statement follows:)
STATEMENT OF REV. THOMAS E. PRICE, DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF ALCOHOL
PROBLEMS AND DRUG ABUSE, GENERAL BOARD OF CHRISTIAN SOCIAL CONCERNS, THE METHODIST CHURCH My name is Thomas E. Price and I am testifying in my capacity as Director of the Department of Alcohol Problems and Drug Abuse, the General Board of Christian Social Concerns of The Methodist Church. I am an ordained Methodist clergyman with a Ph.D. from Boston University. As administrator of the Methodist Church's national program of alcohol education and rehabilitation I am here to register the Church's interest and concern in support of the program called for in H.R. 15758, Title III, "Alcoholic and Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Amendments of 1968."
POLICY STATEMENTS OF THE METHODIST CHURCH
I call your attention to the position of the Methodist Church on alcoholism and narcotic addiction as stated by the 1964 General Conference, the highest policy making body of the Church :
Methodists are called by love not only to abstain but also to seek healing and justice for the neighbor who is victimized. Concern for the alcoholic and for all those in trouble because of beverage alcohol is the clear mandate of the Christian faith.
Abstinence is not enough. We also urge our people to join with those engaged in positive and constructive programs seeking solutions to alcohol problems. These include education in church and school, rehabilitation for alcoholics, strongest attainable legal controls and the stimulation of sound empirical research. Christians who love God and their fellowmen can do no less. (Paragraph 1822, 1964 Methodist Discipline.)
Alcoholics are sick persons. They can be helped. The church has a unique role to play in the healing process which must be physical, mental and spiritual.
Methodists should take the lead in establishing community agencies for alcoholism education and rehabilitation which are inter-faith and inter
professional in nature. (Miscellaneous Resolution 1964 General Conference.) And on narcotic addition :
Society must provide through public and private facilities for the treatment, rehabilitation, and after-care of narcotic addicts and other victims of drug abuse.
The church should support carefully designed plans to control the traffic in narcotics and to rehabilitate the addict. We urge the reform of existing legal barriers for successful rehabilitation of the drug offender. Experimental programs of rehabilitation must be expanded including those involving the administration of controlled amounts of drugs under strict medical supervision.
Churches should assist in developing half-way houses and similar centers to provide a therapeutic and supportive community for addicts. (1964
Methodist Discipline, Paragraphs 1820 and 1822). The provisions of H.R. 15758, Title III, for constructing, staffing, operating, and maintaining new facilities in the treatment of alcohol and narcotic addicts is a basic step toward providing the kind of comprehensive care needed, if society is going to take seriously its responsibility toward those afflicted by alcohol and drug problems. We are grateful for the steps already taken by the Congress and Executive branch of government, and believe that H.R. 15758 will make available much of the necessary funding to implement plans already envisioned.
THE NEED FOR H.R. 15758
Obviously the Congress was aware of the pressing need for facilities to prevent and treat alcoholism and narcotic addiction or this bill would neither have been drafted nor would these hearings have been held. Others will document this need with statistics, so just let me underline the urgency of this legislation by citing one image of the enormity of the problem of alcoholism. According to the report of the Cooperative Commission on the Study of Alcoholism if all the psychiatrists and all the social workers in the United States were transferred to California, they could give only minimum care of one individual interview per week and one home visit per month to the alcoholics and their families in that one state. (I would remind the committee that, even though narcotic addiction is a dramatic and urgent problem, narcotic addicts are numbered in the thousands while alcoholics are numbered in the millions.) This astounding fact calls for a massive effort on the part of the whole nation to provide comprehensive care for the sufferers of this disorder of mind, body, and spirit and an equally massive effort to prevent others from being afflicted. H.R. 15758 is a highly commendable beginning because it provides for both treatment and prevention and specialized facilities such as half-way houses.
We should not fail to see this legislation within the context of the President's Commission on Civil Disorders, as well as the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Justice, because the Commission on Civil Disorders noted the well known fact of the high rate of alcoholism and narcotic addiction in our inner cities. Implementing some of the recommendations of the Commission regarding jobs, education, and housing will get at many of the root causes of these twin illnesses, but in the meantime our urban poor need services. H.R. 15758 is one way of dealing with the crisis in the nation.
THE ROLE OF THE CHURCHES
The sheer size of the problems of alcoholism and narcotic addiction has moved the churches to unite in inter-faith efforts to deal with the problems. No single denomination or religious tradition has all of the resources of insight and competence to provide all the answers, but jointly, in cooperative ways that complement one another, the religious community can provide a relevant ministry to the total community. The National Council of the Churches of Christ said in 1958:
The churches share a pastoral concern for alcoholics, problem drinkers and their families ...
Alcoholics are persons in need of diagnosis, understanding, guidance and treatment. They are especially in need of pastoral care and the divine love which the church can bring them. There need be no condoning of their behavior, but neither should a church permit its antagonism to alcohol to prevent its offering an effective ministry to alcoholics and their families.
(The Churches and Alcohol, 1958.) At the same time the churches have been moving together to form a united ministry, they have been joining with forces in the community, professional and volunteer, to support and take their place on the inter-disciplinary team we know as the care-giving systems of our society-health, law, education, wel. fare, volunteer service groups, and religion. Again I cite the 1958 statement of the National Council of Churches :