I realize this is rather long but PLEASE take the time to read it!
An open letter to the Sullivan County Legislature, Representatives in Albany and Washington, Gov. Pataki and The Bureau of Indian Affairs
(A copy has been sent to news papers and radio stations serving Sullivan County.)
As a Pastor and a follower of Jesus Christ I am writing this to provide another perspective on the gambling issue. Jesus said His followers were to be light and salt (Matthew 5:13-16). His message and ours has never been a popular one. Some may choose to call us rightwing, fundamental, bible-thumping, radical bigot conspirators but because this country was founded on Judeo – Christian principles we still have the freedom to speak the truth as we see it.
Article [I.] First Amendment to the US Constitution
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Those who cater to the desires of the flesh would say, “Play Responsibility” or “Support Education” or “Create New Jobs”. Such statements may justify the conscience of some but does little to prevent or heal the harm caused by legalized gambling to individuals, families, children and communities. With all the research proving that gambling causes a multitude of social problems how could anyone believe that it will be different in Sullivan County . Gambling is being forced by state and local government upon Sullivan County, New York. The question is no longer, Do we want casinos? But, “How many do we want?”
Let’s consider for a moment how Christians might view gambling:
I. GAMBLING IS NOT LOVING OTHERS AS YOURSELF
“..."What commandment is the foremost of all?" Jesus answered, "... 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'..., 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'....”. (Mark 12:28-31)
When you gamble or encourage gambling, you do not love your neighbor as yourself. You are trying to take something from your neighbor, for yourself, and he is getting nothing in return. For a gambler to win, others must lose. Where legalized gambling has been proven to play a part in as many as 1/3 of divorces; in one case domestic abuse increased over 300% in a 4-year period; calls to a Women’s Center crisis line in Florida doubled within 3 years after the introduction of Casinos. “Children of compulsive gamblers are often prone to suffer abuse, as well as neglect, as a result of a parental problem or pathological gambling.” (National Gambling Impact Study Commission)
After they legalized casino gambling in the state of Mississippi, pawn shops became the fastest growing business in the state, as people pawned their possessions to pay their gambling debts. In Kansas City, the number of pawn shops increased from 4 to 38 after casinos came to the area .
These are only a few of the devastating statistics. Will Sullivan County defy “history” and benefit while others have not? Can anyone really say, “I love my neighbor when they are willing to contribute to the legal destruction of his life, the life of his children and family and the corruption of the community in which he lives?
II. GAMBLING PREYS ON THE POOR
He who despises his neighbor sins, But happy is he who is gracious to the poor. (Proverbs 14:21) He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him. (Proverbs 14:31)
According to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission:
Those with incomes less than $10,000 spend more on lottery tickets than any other income group. On the national average, lottery gamblers with household incomes under $10,000 bet nearly 3 times as much on the lottery as those with incomes of more than $50,000. High school dropouts spend 4 times as much as college graduates. When the lottery was introduced in Kentucky, the stores in one community reported a 17% drop in grocery sales. Gambling and lotteries in particular, are a tax on those who can least afford it. Why when we should be helping those who are poor do we legalize another way to take what little they have?
III. GAMBLING LEADS CHILDREN ASTRAY
“ And He said to His disciples, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they come!  "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble.” (Luke 17:1-2) The Bible, God’s Word, says that we have a responsibility to teach children correctly, and that those who lead children astray will pay a terrible price. Gambling hurts children.
George Meldrum of the Delaware Council on Gambling Problems says, “This is the first generation of kids growing up when gambling is legal and available virtually nationwide.”
The result: According to a Florida high school gambling survey in 1995: 90% of all teens surveyed reported gambling at some time in their life. 6.6% of them are already problem or compulsive gamblers. Nationally, 1 in 10 teenagers have a gambling problem and 1 in 8 college students do.
If we really want to educate our children perhaps we should consider another way!
“WHAT YOU DO SPEAKS SO LOUDLY I CANNOT
HEAR WHAT YOU ARE SAYING”
IV. GAMBLING IS BASED ON GREED AND COVETOUSNESS
"You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor." (Exodus 20:17) “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang.” (1 Tim. 6:9-10)
Why do people gamble? In a recent national poll, two thirds of respondents stated that the reason they gamble is to win money. The Apostle Paul specifically warns us about the love of money, and God specifically forbids coveting what others own. Gambling breaks both of those commands. In addition, gambling also displays a lack of trust in God’s provision and dissatisfaction in what He has already provided.
As Christians, as those called to be light and salt what do you suppose we should do? May I suggest:
1. Refuse to gamble
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)
2. Vote against legalized gambling
According to the Bible the God-ordained purpose of government is to protect the welfare of its citizens and to suppress evil. State-sanctioned gambling does the opposite. The Bible assumes, however, that the authority being obeyed represents values other than their own.
“ Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.  Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.  For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same;  for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil.  Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake.” (Romans 13:1-5)
3. Pray (talk to the Father) about it
May I suggest that those who represent us take the time to truthfully examine the facts, to consider the people they represent and their wishes, and to ponder the possibility that they too may one day answer to an authority greater than they are? What if the Bible is true?
"Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19)
Is Gambling A Moral Issue? “Nothing is politically right that is morally wrong.”
(Carved on the ceiling of the Missouri Senate Chamber)
Author’s note: Some of the thoughts and ideas expressed in this letter were obtained from a sermon entitled “What Does God Think About Gambling” by Gene Gregory www.sermoncentral.com
http://www.family.org/cforum/fosi/gambling/abp/; http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/; http://www.ncalg.org/_vti_bin/shtml.dll/MAINcontact.htm; http://www.familyfirst.org/capitolwatch/0799.shtml; http://www.dcgp.org/Links.asp; http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/ngisc/reports/fullrpt.html (National Gambling Impact Study Commission)
Judy Thomas, “Pawnshops, Casinos thrive in KC Market,” The Kansas City Star, August 21, 1995, A1
Pastor Robert Paquet
PO Box 285, Callicoon Center, NY
- Submitted by Robert Paquet on 12.25.06