Ministers’ group takes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 6, 1999

stand against lottery


Features Editor

Email newsletter signup

Published Oct. 6, 1999

The state of Georgia has pocketed more than $450 million Alabama dollars via its weekly lottery.

Now, Alabama wants to be just like Georgia and institute its own lottery and keep those dollars at home.

But why would Alabama want to be like Georgia when it could be like Tennessee?

The Volunteer State has stuffed its coffers with 648 million Alabama tourist dollars and its residents responded with a resounding, "Thanks, Alabama!"

Given a choice, the Pike County Ministerial Association would much prefer to keep Alabama’s dollars at home the Tennessee way – by promoting the state’s existing tourist attractions and developing others.

Given no choice, the association members still don’t believe the lottery is right for Alabama.

The group met for a round table discussion on the upcoming opportunity to vote on whether the state will or will not have an education lottery. All in attendance were nay-sayers and agreed there is probably little that can be said or done to sway anyone who is already committed over to their way of thinking.

However, there are many voters who are seriously weighing the issue with open minds and the ministers discussed what they are doing and what they can do to convince these voters to say no to gambling in Alabama.

"We can bring about change through prayer and we must marshal people to prayer to vote against the lottery," said Dr. Ed Walter, pastor of First Baptist Church of Troy. "Prayer can make a difference."

The vast majority of Alabamians are moral people," said Don Hatcher, pastor of Hephzibah Baptist Church. "Some people feel like the lottery is a done deal but it is not. We must encourage everyone to vote because that can make a world of difference."

The consensus of the group was that a lottery will open the door for other forms of gambling and bring in the problems associated with games of chance.

"That has happened in other states and it can happen here," said Cliff Allred, pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Brundidge. "Instead of caring for the people, a lottery can become a predator on the people. We must consider this issue very carefully and from all angles. It’s time for Christians to stand up against legalized gambling."

The Bible doesn’t have a direct commandment that explicitly prohibits gambling, however that does not mean that the Bible has nothing to say about it, Allred said.

"The Bible speaks to the gambling issue by the moral principles it upholds as both exemplary and imperative for the believer," he said.

The ministers pointed to two commandments that apply to the issue of gambling:

Exodus 20:15 says, "Thou shalt not steal." Gambling is robbery by mutual consent. Most people would not gamble if there was no possibility of reward. Exodus 20:17 says "Thou shalt not covet." Gambling is a form of covetousness that encourages greed.

Gambling is also contrary to the biblical concept of ownership and stewardship or possessions.

"The earth is the Lord’s, so we are not absolute owners but stewards and managers of what God has entrusted to us," Allred said. "Gambling is contrary to the biblical work ethic. The Bible teaches that we are to live by our own work, not by the exploitation of others. Gambling also violates the law of love that says we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. The Bible teaches us not to exploit the poor, needy or ignorant. We are our brother’s keeper and responsible to him and to society."

The ministers agreed that the Bible definitely teaches against gambling and that Christians, as citizens, should use their influence and vote to prevent the legalization of gambling in Alabama in the form of a lottery.