By now, everyone probably knows about the flap in Charleston, South Carolina over the priest being denied access to the jail where he served because of the dangers of sacramental wine and the jail's rules prohibiting alcohol. Unfortunately, the Sheriff's department has gone into lockdown mode because of the bad publicity generated by the internet. Interviews are out of the question.
Our friend Stacy Schwabb is a cousin of an inmate and asked him what he knew about the controversy when she visited him Wednesday. "He said it all started three weeks ago when some of the prisoners were fighting. It turns out that the leader of the Holy White Nation gang was demanding that one of the black Catholic prisoners surrender his stash of wine. It was about a teaspoonful."
So how did this prisoner get the wine? Schwabb said it was done by a switch. "Father Lofton likes to shake the prisoner's hands at the Sign of Peace, so when he was shaking hands with the prisoners at Mass, this prisoner sneaks up to the altar and switches the wine in the chalice with some grape juice in a baggie that he got from the mess."
Schwabb said that the Holy White Nation gang grew jealous of the wild, drunken partying of the black prisoners and decided to do something about it.
In a phone call, Jimmy-Dale (he wouldn't give his last name), a guard at the jail, said that more and more of the the prisoners were coming to Mass, especially black inmates. Besides peeving the all the Baptist, Methodist and Pentecostal chaplains, the guards themselves had had enough. "It's bad enough havin' papists in our jail and lettin' their priest come in here every week. But, by-God, when the colored's all start joinin' up with em' it's just too much. My daddy fought long and hard to keep our home a clean, safe place, free from all these her foreign influences and most of my buddies here are the same way. We ain't gonna stand for some corruptin' Rome-lovin' outsider comin' in here and stirrin' up trouble."
Jimmy-Dale is also a part time minister at the Church of Jesus Christ with Signs Following. He considers himself a prophet in his church and had a revelation that the priest was in league with the anti-Christ. "We let them in here, then the next thing you know we're gonna have them Indians with their turbans and knives and all kinda whatnot. Not in our jail. We love Jesus here and that's enough."