Foy Valentine: A Friend For The Ages
By Patrick R. Anderson, CET Board Member
Lakeland, FL

The first time I met Foy Valentine was on the telephone. I was in my faculty office at Louisiana State University late one afternoon when the call came. When he identified himself I knew the name, remembering his valiant leadership of Southern Baptists during the turbulent Civil Rights Movement era. I could not imagine why he had called a criminologist like me, and I could not imagine how he got my name and number. I was not at all involved in Baptist life at that time, but I remember feeling honored to receive a call from someone so important.

He told me that my pastor, Doug Cheatham, had given him my name with a suggestion that if he ever needed a criminologist at the CLC to give me a call. So, I asked, "What do you need a criminologist for?" He replied, "Do you know anything about gambling?" I said, "Well, I know a full house from a straight. What do you want to know?" We both enjoyed the moment, and I believe from that first conversation we became friends.

Out of that conversation came a grant for me to study the impact of legalized gambling on crime and other social problems. I worked with Larry Braidfoot in the CLC office to use the scientific data to make the case against the expansion of legalized gambling in America. I became a strong opponent of the gambling industry, and Foy Valentine`s Christian Life Commission led the fight against the gambling industry`s intrusion in our society, a hard-fought fight largely lost. He used to laugh and say, "Doc, you never lost a debate and never won an election!"

Foy was ahead of the curve, ahead of his time. He saw years before the first legalized lottery in America the terrible potential for harm legalized gambling posed. I caught up with his intuitive antipathy for gambling after my study, but I agreed with his prescient knowledge that gambling, especially state-sponsored gambling was bad-it was wrong, it was the antithesis of moral behavior, the opposite of what the government should encourage.

Our friendship lived beyond the gambling fights and his retirement from Southern Baptist life. His retirement marked a terrible transition in Southern Baptist life. He had led the Christian Life Commission to assist Southern Baptists to espouse the very best in moral and ethical behavior, addressing the pressing issues of race, poverty, war, and gambling. He understood Baptist principles, especially the separation of church and state. When he retired, or more accurately when he was pushed out of the way, Southern Baptists watched as the SBC leaders changed the CLC into a partisan, political member of the Religious Right Movement. An early casualty of that change was opposition to gambling, and we have seen state lotteries, televised poker, casinos, and sports betting spread like wildfire.

The change was tragic for Foy, and for his friends. We talked about it often at various board meetings, CBF gatherings, and on the telephone. I loved to talk with him on the phone. His soft East Texas twang and his rich humor made every conversation a pure delight. I encouraged him to publish in book form his recent writings in the journal he founded, Christian Ethics Today, and when that book was produced he was a pleased as punch. If you do not have that book, order one through

I really miss Foy Valentine. I wish I had called him more often, talked longer, laughed more. He was one great man, one great Baptist.

NOTE: Foy Valentine`s final book, "Whatsoever Things Are Lovely," is available as a gift to new subscribers or to anyone contributing $50 to the budget of Christian Ethics Today-Foy printed at his own expense extra copies to raise funds for the Journal. Multiple copies may also be ordered.
Previous book offers-Homely Joys by Henlee and Jim Barnette, and Putting Women in Their Place by Audra and Joe Trull (contributors and compilers) may also be ordered. Contact us for details.

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