Source/Permission: Copyright, The Roanoke Times, republished by permission

Author: Paul Dellinger, Southwest Bureau

Publication Date: March 29, 1992

Summary: This article contains a story where Lineberry discusses his childhood and religion, which provides context for the origin of his view on the case. 

When he was in the fourth grade in Hillsville, J.B. Lineberry had a book taken away from him by his teacher and ripped to pieces.

It was a comic book.

“I’ve had many a comic book torn up,” said Lineberry, a radio evangelist who admits having been difficult for teachers to handle before he dropped out of school in the sixth grade.

Now he believes there are certain books that have no place in the school system – and not just comic books.

In recent weeks he has given the Carroll County school system flak over a novel, “The Floatplane Notebooks” by North Carolina writer Clyde Edgerton, used as supplemental reading in two 11th-grade English classes at Carroll County High School.

Lineberry made copies of the Lineberry six pages in the book that, because of language and descriptions of sex, particularly offended him and some parents. He distributed them to everyone he could.

Twelve years ago, the Rev. Tom Williams, a Baptist minister in Washington County, had done exactly the same thing with excerpts from Sidney Sheldon’s “Bloodline,” which he claimed was too earthy to be in the county library.

The book remained, but the confrontation escalated to the point where Ed Bradley covered it for CBS-TV’s “60 Minutes” and Williams and Sheldon ended up in a shouting match that Joan Lunden could not control on “Good Morning, America.” Lineberry, now 59, is one of eight children. His father died when he was 9 years old. “I was kindly wild,” he said.

He ran away from school so often that eventually even the truant officer and his wife, who was among Lineberry’s teachers, told Lineberry’s mother that she might as well let him quit. He did, at age 13.

He found work in construction, but also discovered drinking and gambling. “I was one of those guys that said I could take my drink and it wouldn’t hurt me,” he said.

It was 27 years ago that he found religion, he said. As he sees it, God showed him what his lifestyle was doing to him.

“Nobody drug me to church. I went on my own,” he said. “But even before I got in touch with God, I had enough morals not to allow cursing around my children.”

He even moved his wife and family away from Beltsville, Md., when the oldest of their six children reached school age because he felt the area had too many corrupting influences and he did not want them attending school there.

“I throwed the television out of my house for 15 years. I wouldn’t have a television in my house until my children were grown and married,” Lineberry said. He said his children tell him that they are now careful about not raising his 14 grandchildren in front of a TV.

He and his family lived in Arizona and New Mexico before returning to Hillsville, where Lineberry now has a radio program on Fridays and Sundays over Hillsville Station WHHV. He said he pays for the air time and never asks for money, although people who appreciate his program do give him cash or checks to support it.

It was on one of his programs that he began objecting to the book. Wade Humphrey, a parent dissatisfied with how his complaint about the book was handled at the school, brought it to Lineberry and asked him to bring it to public attention.

Lineberry started reading the book that afternoon and completed it about 2:30 the next morning, he said.

He said that even high school juniors are not old enough to avoid corruption from such a book. “At 16 or 17 years old, I couldn’t say I was matured. Or I’d have lived a different life.”

“I don’t think that would be comparison to the First Amendment,” Lineberry said when asked about freedom of speech. People would not use the book’s words in public, he said. “Tell ’em to try it out here in front of the courthouse somewhere or in some public place and see what jail you spend the night in.”

If you let kids in school read what they wanted, he said, they would be reading Playboy magazine.

Although he was upset that the parents backed out of the effort to fire the teacher, Marion Goldwasser, and “left me out on a limb,” he continued to attack her on his radio show as recently as Friday, calling her unqualified and saying she should issue an apology.


Dellinger, P. “Preacher recalls confiscated comics.” The Roanoke Times, The (VA), 29 March 1992: A-1. NewsBank. Accessed April 25, 2019.