The Liquor Evil in Sweden

From an address delivered on Mother's Day, 1929, by 'Bishop Raymond J. Wade, of Stockholm,
at a union Epworth League meeting in St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal Church

BEAUTIFUL Sweden is marred by drunkenness. A charming people is being despoiled by intoxicating drink.

The much-heralded Bratt system of government control led us to expect a country comparatively free from strong drink and the drunkard. We have been disillusioned.

"On the first walk in Stockholm in daylight, taken alone, my wife was greeted by the sight of several policemen carrying off a burly drunken man.

"Two weeks ago today, on Sunday morning, we went into the attractive Gustavus Wasa State Church to worship en route to a later service at our own Saint Peter's Methodist Episcopal Church. Immediately behind us at the door of the Lutheran Church was a staggering, muttering drunken man who had to be directed elsewhere by the usher. A similar disturbance was noted recently at one of our own churches.

"One week ago last night we arrived in Gavle for the two Pentecost days. Following the welcomfest on that night my wife and I decided to take a short walk; but, passing three drunken men in less than three blocks, she became so frightened that we decided to go back and stay in the hotel.

"Last night we walked to the Vaiiadis Park to see the wonderful sunset. From that point we returned by Vanadisvagen, Saint Eriksgatan, and Torsgatan to the Wasa Park. In that short distance in fifteen minutes in one of the finest sections of Stockholm we were compelled to pass seven drunken men-ten before we got back to the Hotel Excelsior. Old and young, students with the white cap, Malmo, Tranas, Gothenburg, Orebro, Nassjo, etc.-ever the same sad story! It is time for an awakening. . . .

"Conditions are not what they ought to be in prohibition in Finland nor in the United States; but the situation is almost unbelievably worse here in Sweden! The last night my wife and I were in the United States we visited two of our churches in New York and Brooklyn and were on the street or in the corridors of the hotel until after midnight but we saw no sights such as these. In November we were in New York during the meeting of the Board of Foreign Missions for four days; and although we were on Broadway, and many of the streets both day and night, it so happened that not a drunken man was noticed.

"Tonight we left our rooms at six-fifteen and walked to this church, stopping to mail some letters at the railroad station. Although it was Sunday, we passed eight men so drunk that they could not walk straight-one just beyond this church. I have been in all the large cities of the United States repeatedly under the prohibition regime, also in Finland-east, west, southern, and central-as well as in many European countries. I am prepared to affirm that prohibition is far superior to any other plan of handling the liquor traffic I have found in any country.

"The Paris edition of the New York Herald one day this week carried a dispatch from Stockholm stating that drunkenness had decreased by one half in Sweden. What must it have been before! The paper did not say that there had been an increase in the per capita consumption of intoxicating liquor for each year during the past five years. I wonder what the provocation must be before a man is to be arrested by the police? I have seen women with children accosted by drunken men; indecent exposure of person; a woman as she was walking quietly along surprised to have a drunk come up behind her and throw his arms around her; men stagger within a few steps of and in sight of policemen.

"Let the people of Sweden be aroused to banish this hideous monster that is destroying the peace and happiness and prosperity of this incomparably beautiful land! This is my Mother's Day plea for a country and people I dearly love."

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