Here we go again. Apparently, the Alabama legislature will consider a proposal to call for a popular vote on a state-run lottery. Some observers believe, depending upon how the referendum legislation is worded, that this proposal could include casino-style gambling.
Like a sequel to a really bad movie, we have seen this script before. In 1999, a similar style lottery referendum vote was placed on the ballot, and it was defeated soundly by Alabama voters.
Officials advocating this current lottery vote have surprised many constituents. In years past, numerous elected officials have expressed opposition to gambling in any form to support state government. These sentiments seem to be forgotten promises made by politicians seeking elected office.
Historically, Alabama Baptists and Southern Baptists have opposed gambling on biblical, moral and ethical grounds. Gambling fosters greed and covetousness, as Proverbs 13:11 states. Furthermore, gambling has proven to be very addictive, creating all kinds of personal and societal issues.
It harms the most disadvantaged people among us, disproportionately to the rest of the population. Gambling leads to bankruptcies, disruption of homes and dissolution of families.
With the acceptance of gambling as a way of supporting government, society will inevitably and increasingly deal with the personal difficulties of people caught in the spider web of destruction from involvement in such heinous practices. The lottery has been well called “the crack cocaine of legalized gambling.”
Essentially, gambling is a bad bet for the people of Alabama. Our founding fathers of this state were wise to have a constitutional ban on state-operated gambling enterprises. Alabama should not be in the gambling business. Neighboring states such as Mississippi and Georgia can give testimony to that fact.
The advocates of gambling are masters at over-promising desired outcomes. They will tell you that gambling will fund better education and help for the poor, but those are hollow promises because gambling is a wrongheaded effort to fund state government on such moral and financial quicksand.
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I respectfully call upon Alabama Baptists to contact their state legislators and let them know of our disagreement with any lottery proposal. In so doing, you will be saying no to the lottery but yes to a brighter future for Alabama.
In a day of rapidly-changing culture, Alabama Baptists must be among those who are salt and light, striving to make a positive difference in our day.