The May 9 WORLD magazine has an update on the work of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling — recently re-christened StopPredatoryGambling.org.
The long-time field director of the anti-gambling group is United Methodist clergyman Tom Grey.
“Grey…still runs mini-marathons at the age of 67 but wants to encourage a younger generation to join a movement often dominated by Methodists because of John Wesley’s social reform legacy,” writes reporter Russ Pulliam (full article available to subscribers only).
With a new bill in Congress to repeal the ban on online gambling, Pulliam notes that Stop Predatory Gambling “could capture more public attention, similar to the way Mothers Against Drunk Driving grabbed the public eye in the 1980s and 1990s.”
[I]t’s clear that the anti-gambling movement needs help. Legal gambling has expanded by leaps and bounds since the 1960s, with new state lotteries, Indian casinos, and electronic machines in bars and restaurants…. It has a corrupting political influence that is hard for public officials to resist.
The other scandal is quiet. The consequences of addiction spread slowly. Marriages break; consumer debt soars; bankruptcies climb. White collar crime emerges, as addicted gamblers steal from small businesses and schools.
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., is proposing the repeal [of the internet-gambling ban] and plans to hold hearings this month…. The outcome of Frank’s proposal is uncertain because gambling doesn’t necessarily divide by political party. Some strong opponents have been liberal Democrats….
The Stop Predatory Gambling movement doesn’t have millions of dollars. But the moral authority behind the opposition sometimes wins battles even when predatory gambling advocates have more money and power.
Of course, moral authority doesn’t carry the weight it once did. A 2008 study by Ellison Research found that 70 percent of Americans don’t consider gambling to be a sin.
“The church’s opposition to gambling has not been widely effective,” Mr. Grey told Religion News Service last year, because religion-based moral arguments are considered “not relevant in an irreverent age.” That is why Mr. Grey now couches his case against gambling primarily in economic and quality-of-life terms, using abundant statistics on gambling-related bankruptcy, crime, and addictions.
The United Methodist Book of Discipline (¶163G) describes gambling as “a menace to society, deadly to the best interests of moral, social, economic, and spiritual life, and destructive of good government.”
The 2004 UM Book of Resolutions notes that “gambling is bad economics; gambling is bad public policy; and gambling does not improve the quality of life.” (This resolution was first passed in 1980 and readopted in 2004.)
Last month, Tom Grey was in Indiana, speaking against a proposal to bring casino gambling to Fort Wayne.
Part two of the video is here.
|•||Putting our HOPE in the state lottery|
Related articles and information
|•||A push to legalize Internet gambling | Ben Myerson, Los Angeles Times (May 13, 2009)|
|•||Gambling overview from UMC.org|
|•||Gambling opponents say moral argument no longer a trump | Greg Trotter, Religion News Service (March 17, 2008)|
|•||Board of Church and Society celebrates passage of online gambling ban | Kathy L. Gilbert, United Methodist News Service (Oct. 20, 2006)|
|•||Warrior preacher battles gambling (profile of Tom Grey) | Daniel R. Gangler, United Methodist Reporter (September 1997)|
|•||Final report the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (1999)|