A few weeks ago I came across an article on the Internet that promised to provide a list of the ten states with the greatest percentage of smokers and the smallest percentage of smokers. Without scrolling down to look, I knew - I absolutely knew - that Kentucky would have the greatest ratio of citizenry of any state who smoked. And I was right.
Not only does the Commonwealth of Kentucky grow much of the nation's tobacco crop, it also employees thousands of people in the manufacture of cigarettes, and dumb asses, being dumb asses, feel some sort of perverse compulsion to be tobacco consumers as well. Smoking is almost a religion in the Blue Grass State.
I used to live in Kentucky - and I know this stuff.
Another thing that I know about Kentucky through first-hand experience, is that the Commonwealth has more than its fair share of bigots. While it was technically a "border state" in the American Civil War, those folks think they live in the heart of Dixie. The racism has grown more subtle over the years, but it is still very much in evidence.
That is why I was not in the least surprised when I came across an article, again on the Internet (my primary source of news overseas) that stated the membership of the Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church in Pike County, Kentucky, has voted to deny membership to interracial couples and to ban interracial couples from participating in some of the church's activities.
It seems that some in the small church got their tails in a knot last June when 24-year-old Stella Harville, daughter of the church's secretary and clerk, showed up at the church with her black fiance, 29-year-old Ticha Chikuni, a native of Zimbabwe. They performed a song for the congregation.
Melvin Thompson, a former pastor at the church who must have been fuzzy on the teachings of Christ, then told the young lady's father that she and her fiance could not sing at the church again. Mr. Thompson proposed that the church go on record as being open to all people to attend worship services, but opposed to the concept of interracial marriage. The church ultimately barred interracial couples from being members of the church and from being involved in any public worship services except funerals.
Reverend Randy Johnson, the president of the Pike County Ministerial Association, said that the action of the Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church was "not the spirit of the community in any way, shape, or form."
And it doesn't sound very Christian either.
(Oh, and the state with the lowest percentage of smokers is Utah. Of course, there is some research indicating that Utah leads all states in the consumption of Internet pornography. A question of priorities, I suppose.)