Gambling and the Church

Is gambling an effective means for the financial support of churches and private charities?

Among those who use this argument are some who would not favor gambling on any other basis, but who reel that in this case the end justifies the means.

They argue that since people are inclined to give money to charity anyway (a dubious assumption), we might as well make the process palatable by offering the possibility of a prize.

Besides, they insist, when gambling is controlled by a church or a charity one may be sure that the underworld is not involved, and that all profits will be honestly directed to their intended use.

If there are ethical questions for the state in the matter of gambling for that community, surely the same questions are pertinent for that community which claims to be the people of God.

How can the church, even in the name of supporting the Christian mission, justify an enterprise which contributes to social, economic, and psychological deterioration of people?

The church which uses gambling to fill its own coffers is left in a very compromised position.

Not only does she appear to encourage the weakness of people for her own financial advantage, but she becomes a part of that irresponsible overworld that condones the criminal underworld's associations with legal and illegal gambling.

The case of a compromised Cardinal Cushing of Boston is an example. Some time ago, a CBS Reports program presented a documentary film titled, 'Biography of a Bookie joint.'

Hidden cameras recorded visits to a Boston bookie joint by several members of the city police department in uniform, thus showing the close relationship between gambling and graft, the paid silence of the crooked cop.

Cardinal Crushing's response was to demand that CBS apologize to the city of Boston. This was shortly after the cardinal had declared to an audience at a local police ball: 'In my theology, gambling itself is not a sin any more than to take a glass of beer or of hard liquor is a sin.'

Perhaps the cardinal is one of those who consider graft paid by the underworld a peccadillo, holding that it would not exist if gambling were legal.

The Reporter concluded its estimate of the cardinal's compromise with words of judgment on those churches whose moral witness has been blurred by willingness to let Christians justify the dubious financial means.

Apparently, it is left for mass communications, those reporters who serve it best, and playwrights, to awaken the public conscience.