I suppose one historical claim to fame of Hickory, NC, like that of Grand Rapids, MI, is the furniture industry. Only, that's been decimated by the Chinese furniture imports over the last decade. Another claim to fame may be Lenoir-Rhyne College (soon to be "University"), of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Hickory represents the top end of a crescent of German Lutherans that cuts down through Salisbury, NC, to Columbia, SC, where the ELCA has a seminary. These German Lutherans, living as they do near the buckle of the Bible Belt, rub shoulders with fundamentalists and evangelicals of mostly Scottish and English descent -- as well as, today, an increasing number of Irish, German, Mexican, Hmong and Lahu Catholics, as well as various typical contemporary stripe of postmodern New Agers and professed areligious agnostics.
Recently a couple of Bible Fundamentalists were arrested while passing out literature at a town festival (Hickory Daily Record, July 2, 2008). I know how annoying it can sometimes be to encounter anyone passing out pamphlets of any kind. It's about as annoying as the pan-handling bums can sometimes be here in Detroit. Still ... arrested?
The words of Voltaire suddenly come to mind: "I disagree entirely with everything you say, but I will defend unto death your right to say it." Whatever one may think of Fundamentalists -- and we Catholics have had our share of unpleasant encounters with Jack Chick tracts and their bilious bigotry -- and whatever one may think of Voltaire, I think most of the readers of this blog would echo the sentiments of Voltaire against Big Brother on this one.
[Hat tip to Amy Stickler]