BISHOP Simeon Hall said he believes the government made the right decision in putting the gambling legalisation question to the Bahamian public.
Pointing out that while some commentators speak as though the industry was just beginning to take root, Bishop Hall said “we all know” numbers has “been with us for decades”.
“We should expect the church to have some strong opposition to this habit which has the potential to cause harm to persons and family,” he said.
“My issue is, this activity has been here for more than 50 years and the church is just now mounting a crusade against a vice that is deeply rooted in the Bahamian culture.
“The church, however, has said nothing about the Clico debacle. It has been quiet on issues such as teenage pregnancy, abortion, abuse and a myriad of social problems.”
Having recently retired as the head of the New Covenant Baptist Church, Bishop Hall said that he does not play numbers, but rather worked his whole life for a living.
“If in a population of 350,000 we have 130,000 persons playing numbers then it is clear some of these people are church members, so that is where any crusade should begin.
“I do believe that this activity should be completely eliminated from our country and if we can’t eradicate it, then it should be regulated,” the bishop said.
“The persons who play numbers will engage in this habit regardless of what the vote is in January (28). I say eradicate, or regulate.”
On November 14, Bahamas Christian Council vice-president Bishop Victor Cooper called the government’s decision to postpone the gambling referendum, originally set for December 3, a “good gesture.”
Announcing the delay, Prime Minister Perry Christie said he had realised the electorate lacked a good knowledge of what a majority “no” or “yes” vote could mean for the country.
Dr Cooper said: “I think it’s a good gesture and you never want to rush into anything without being sure that all the relevant information as it relates to what is being proposed is made clear.
“Rather than rushing the process, it’s good that the Prime Minister is taking the opportunity to ensure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed – so the public is aware of what is happening and then they are able to make a sensible decision.”
He said the Council’s own campaign to educate Bahamians on the ramifications of a “yes” vote will continue until January 28.
“It’s important that people are educated on this whole process and the church is making an endeavour in making sure that people are educated so that they make the right choice and, of course, the choice, for the church, is no,” he said.