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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Sandpoint: An evangelist was run out of town after claiming half of its teens had STDs

Jan. 22, 2021 Updated Fri., Jan. 22, 2021 at 3:53 p.m.

 (S-R archives )
(S-R archives )

A visiting Seattle evangelist was run out of Sandpoint after he spread scurrilous untruths about the town’s young people.

He opined that “50 percent of the Sandpoint High School students are immoral and a large number of them are suffering from venereal disease.”

He apparently uttered these words while preaching at the Presbyterian Church in Sandpoint, where he had been a guest pastor for the past two weeks.

The Sandpoint School Board was outraged and called on the Rev. G.H. Redden to explain himself or apologize, or both. The reverend “offered not a single case to substantiate his remark.” He equivocated and said he based his remarks on a statement he heard from a high school boy.

The board brought that boy in for questioning, but the boy could not back the claim either. The town’s physicians told the board that they had not seen a single case of “social disease” at the school.

Even the resident pastor of the Presbyterian Church had lost patience with his guest pastor.

“You have not apologized or taken back a single thing you have said,” the resident pastor said to a sobbing Redden. “You have done nothing but quibble here and I can’t stand for it any longer.”

The whole town had been “aroused by Mr. Redden’s remarks,” and a group of irate citizens gathered outside the doors of the meeting. In fact, Redden had been “threatened with physical violence.” and some feared what might happen after the meeting.

As it turned out, the board announced to the crowd that Redden had “consented” to leave the city. One of the town’s doctors escorted him through the irate crowd to the depot and put him on board the next westbound train.

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