Issues and Controversies

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Entries - Entry Category: Issues and Controversies - Starting with J

Johnson v. State (1942)

Six months before the United States went to war with Japan and Germany in 1941, but as war hysteria was building, Joseph Paschall (Joe) Johnson, a farmer with eight children in the St. Joe (Searcy County) community, went to the county courthouse at Marshall (Searcy County) to get food relief for his family. He refused the county welfare commissioner’s demand that he salute the American flag in the commodities office because doing so would violate his Christian beliefs about swearing fealty only to God. He was denied commodities, arrested, and convicted of violating a 1919 state law prohibiting desecration of the flag. In the case of Johnson v. State of Arkansas (204 Ark. 476), the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld his …

Jonesboro Church Wars

The Jonesboro Church Wars were a series of early 1930s religious conflicts within the Baptist community of Jonesboro (Craighead County), comprising attacks on the mayor and the police chief, public gunfights, and the calling of the National Guard to restore order. The conflict attracted national attention and poisoned relations among some townspeople for generations. At the center of the Jonesboro Church Wars was Joe Jeffers, an actor-comedian turned traveling evangelist who, at the invitation of the First Baptist Church and Jonesboro Bible College, began a series of tent revival meetings on June 29, 1930. Jeffers proved to be so popular as he preached through July that, when First Baptist pastor A. W. Reaves resigned in early August, the congregation elected …