By Staff, Baptist Message
ALEXANDRIA (LBM) – Philip Robertson and Clay Fuqua, senior pastor and campus pastor for Philadelphia Baptist Church in Deville and Alexandria, respectively, led a host of local pastors and community leaders in testifying before the City of Alexandria Alcohol, Beverage and Drug Abuse Commission to oppose an alcohol beverage permit to the Grand Theatre of Alexandria – and won.
The movie theater had applied to serve low and high alcohol content drinks at its 14 screen facility as a means to improve profits and avoid closing in light of changing movie-going habits of the public.
Its representatives also argued that it operated other movie theaters in the state that served alcohol and did so “without a single incident.”
But its representatives admitted, when asked, that it was operating profitably now with ticket and concession sales. Likewise, they revealed that there have been some problems at the Alexandria location, which is dry, with underage youth sneaking in alcohol.
Interestingly, the Grand Theatre representatives also offered that most of its best attended features are family-friendly films that allow adults to bring their children with them to enjoy a night of entertainment.
Robertson raised this point in his comments to the Baptist Message, saying the victory with the Commission means “the theatre remains one of the last family friendly entertainment options in Cenla.
“Parents can continue to bring their teenagers and children without having to worry about all the possible problem issues that can be associated with alcohol consumption,” he said. “We are very grateful the local alcohol licensing commission heard our concerns, and those of the community, concerning the sale of alcohol in our only theatre.”
Fuqua echoed these sentiments, offering that “the Grand is one of the last places in Alexandria where one can bring a family and have family entertainment without alcohol served. We were glad to see the council was wise in their decision in a 4-1 vote.”
During his testimony to the Commission, Fuqua took issue with testimony suggesting the movie theater could not make it without adding alcohol sales.
“I owned a restaurant for 21 years in Marksville,” Fuqua testified. “I had a guy come to me and tell me you’ll never sell catfish here without also selling beer. It’s never going to work.
“We ended up as the No. 1 seafood seller in the parish. We would sell 21 cases of catfish a week, 15 pound cases,” he declared. “God blessed my business because we did not serve alcohol.”
In his comments to the Baptist Message Fuqua made it a point to underscore how important it was that people of faith took a public stand at the hearing.
“I think if the Grand would have had more people on their side at the hearing it might have gone the other way. I am pleased with the crowd that showed up in support of this,” he said. “This showed we can make a difference by coming together. We need to make more stands and say not on our watch. We may not win every time but we can make our voice heard. I can go to bed saying I fought the good fight.”
Will Hall, director of the Office of Public Policy for Louisiana Baptists, also testified before the commission, offering research about the negative impact on youth (underage drinking, binge drinking and problem drinking as an adult) of being exposed to positive imaging of alcohol consumption.
In comments to the Baptist Message, he reaffirmed Fuqua’s observation about Christians getting involved in “public square” issues.
“The faith community did a wonderful job of putting out the word and getting people to attend the hearing,” he said, “and it made the difference. Our side filled the Council Chamber, and only the lawyer, the spokesman and the general manager for the Grand Theatre spoke in favor of granting the permit.
“There are good men and women on the Commission and with our help they made a good decision to deny the movie theater’s request.”