A Baptist Church in suburban Atlanta has won a battle to prevent retail giant Walmart from selling liquor at one of its stores, which is situated next to the church. A local ordinance in Marietta, Georgia, bans the sale of alcohol within 600 feet of a church or school. Over the past several years, Walmart has been pressing Cobb County to grant it a waiver to sell liquor at a store situated only 200 feet from the 63-year-old Pine Grove Baptist Church. The church has steadfastly opposed the move, and on October 9 the congregation won against Walmart when the Cobb County Commission denied the waiver.
Walmart had tried to get the ordinance lifted for its store in the area, noting that the law allowed for a waiver if a business could show that its sale of liquor did not negatively impact churches, schools, or other properties in the vicinity. Attorneys for Walmart noted that a nearby “Race Trac” convenience store had been selling alcohol for years, with no discernible negative impact to the church or other adjacent businesses.
But church officials pointed out that the Race Trac was further than 600 feet from the church, a point the commissioners noted in their denial of Walmart's request. “Laws are made for a reason,” said Commissioner Joann Birrell, suggesting that approving the waiver for Walmart would set a bad precedent. “Whether they're antiquated or not, that remains to be seen,” she said. “The law is the law. I think we need to look at the 600 foot rule and abide by that today.”
Ministers and congregants of Pine Grove Baptist Church were out in force at the County Commission meeting to push against the retail giant's request. “Kenneth Carroll, a deacon at Pine Grove Baptist, said that Walmart tried six years ago to persuade the church to sign an agreement to let them sell alcohol,” reported Patch.com. Carroll testified to the commissioners that he and other church officials told Walmart that “based on scriptural standards we could not and would not. They seemed pleased with that and went on their way.”
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Photo of Walmart store: AP Images