For more information regarding the United Methodist Church's stance on gambling, please contact Susan Hunt.
In the upcoming special called session, the Alabama Legislature will address what Governor Robert Bentley calls "problems that have held our state back for decades." Bentley is specifically calling for legislation that would create a referendum to decide whether gambling will be a source of revenue for the state. Although Bentley has apparently forgotten, this is still a bad idea for Alabama.
Bentley suggested that this call for referendum is an attempt to put the decision in the people's hands. However, it feels more like our lawmakers are asking us to do their jobs for them. They know the regressive nature of our tax code. They know that the General Fund revenue is cobbled together with excise, insurance, and sales taxes providing over 40 percent of the revenue. Our lawmakers, the ones who are tasked with the work of making government benefit the people of Alabama, know the need to restructure revenue streams. Instead of directing their political will toward that end, they seem eager to put a band-aid on the wound that they have allowed to fester.
Gambling will not be a Band-Aid. Band-Aids cover wounds and allow healing to occur, encouraging and fostering health. No study links the attributes of healing and health to gambling. Instead, gambling will deepen the regressive nature of our state's revenue structure and create problems for Alabama's poorest taxpayers at a disproportionate rate.
Our hope is that the Alabama lawmakers will do their jobs and find the healthiest revenue streams to help Alabamians thrive.
Rev.Dr. Brian Miller, Aldersgate UMC, Montgomery
Rev. Nancy Watson, AWF Director of Connectional Ministries
When One Wins, Many Lose (04.29.2009)
Expendable People (04.13.2010)
Anti-Gambling Resource for United Methodists in Alabama (2015) (click to open)
Gambling Statement from the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church (2012):
Paragraph 163 G: Gambling — "Gambling is a menace to society, deadly to the best interests of moral, social, economic, and spiritual life, destructive of good government and good stewardship. As an act of faith and concern, Christians should abstain from gambling and should strive to minister to those victimized by the practice. Where gambling has become addictive, the Church will encourage such individuals to receive therapeutic assistance so that the individual’s energies may be redirected into positive and constructive ends.
The Church acknowledges the dichotomy that can occur when opposing gambling while supporting American Indian tribal sovereignty and self-determination. Therefore, the Church’s role is to create sacred space to allow for dialogue and education that will promote a holistic understanding of the American Indians’ historic quest for survival.
The Church’s prophetic call is to promote standards of justice and advocacy that would make it unnecessary and undesirable to resort to commercial gambling—including public lotteries, casinos, raffles, Internet gambling, gambling with an emerging wireless technology and other games of chance—as a recreation, as an escape, or as a means of producing public revenue or funds for support of charities or government."