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Web Shops: Eliminate Or Regulate

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Bishop Simeon Hall

By BISHOP SIMEON HALL

“The just shall live by faith.”

– Habakkuk 2:4

I DO NOT play the numbers, nor do I encourage others to do so.

While the scriptures do not have a clear statement “thou shalt not play the numbers”, at its core gambling is “chance-living”. It is covetousness and materialism. Believers in the faith community are called to “live by faith”.

However, the reality is that almost half the Bahamian population engages in this practice. Of course, its popularity does not make it right, but it’s time for us, as progressive citizens, to move forward and regulate this practice. Many who have openly criticised me seem to suggest that my support for the Referendum is the promotion of gambling. No one needs to promote this industry, it is here and we should regulate it.

I commend the Prime Minister (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Successive governments have failed to address this sub-culture head on. Prime Minister Christie and his government are to be commended for bringing it to the people. I stand by this until someone can show me a sensible difference.

I believe if the FNM government had won the May election they would have raised the same issue. Perhaps, if not by referendum the decision would have been made autocratically. Rumour has it that both political parties have benefited from number houses; another reason for regularisation.

I take strong exception to those who say because I say I will vote yes I have done something wrong – sinful or immoral. The government of our Bahamas has the right to govern all Bahamians, Christian and non-Christian, and every Bahamian has the right to say yes or no on this issue.

The “Yes” people are still Christians (Matthew 7:2-5)

Am I less a Christian for taking this position? I know I am not! I think pastoral snobbery, religious bigotry and mental asininity should concern us far more than someone taking a position that opposes ours.

Many persons fail to see that gambling does not begin with the proposed referendum. The referendum will regulate this trade that has been underground before I was born.

That’s the choice we must make. I believe the Christian thing to do is to seek to bring some regulation to this system rather than vote no and leave it as it is.

We are not a people given to mature intelligent debate. Any opposition to our personal opinion we demonise the person. That makes us a god and only Almighty God has the last word.

Gambling has been here for many years (Jeremiah 17:9)

I grew up on Farm Road. And more than 55 years ago, I remember hearing about Stokes Thompson in a building on Market and Lewis Streets as a number house.

My point here is that the referendum on January 28, as I understand it, will not introduce web-shop gambling to the Bahamas, but will bring some regularisation to this industry that has been with us for so many years.

The fallacy of a “no” vote (Matthew 23:24)

A “no” vote will allow this practice to remain underground; benefitting only a few. A “yes” vote will cause it to come under the government’s control and the right to properly tax the system. There is no other group that I know deserves some taxation more than web shops.

The position of some pastors with a Victorian puritan approach to 21st century realities cannot and must not eclipse the inalienable right of all Bahamians to say yes or no in a government-led referendum.

Some gamblers are our members

Some of the 140,000 patrons of web-shops are members of our churches. This is undeniable. It is downright naïve and hypocritical for a pastor to say no one in his church plays numbers. How would he reach this conclusion? Also, I am told all the number bosses attend a church.

The playing of numbers by so many church members shows the disconnect between pastoral dogma and members’ practice.

Any pastor, simple and naive enough to believe his members obey everything he says is being foolish.

Eliminate or regulate

My stand on this gambling issue is not to introduce gambling or encourage it, but since it has existed for almost seven decades; and moreover since there are those who will play the numbers regardless if the majority voted yes or no, I say again, let us regulate and tax this obviously lucrative underground business.

No need to denigrate opposition (Luke 6:28/Romans 14:13)

I believe an intelligent discourse on a national debate should and would help us to arrive at healthy conclusions.

Some persons and pastors have sought to approach this issue from a purely moral or biblical perspective, indeed as we all should.

But these leaders disqualify their argument demonising anyone who differs with them. How can someone seeking to make a position on moral or biblical grounds demonise and denigrate other believers who hold a different position?

This is laughable and persons who were apt to vote “no” come January 28 are now saying they will vote “yes” because they can see the fallacy in some of the “no” vote proponents.

Two pastors have damned me and my family to destruction and hell because I support a “yes vote”. Thank God they do not have the keys to the Kingdom and their record clearly shows that they only experience a mental resurrection during the debate on homosexuality and gambling.

I believe the only way to help right this practice, is that since we cannot eliminate it we should regulate it. The only way to tax this system is to regulate and the only way to regulate is to legalise it

Let’s be factual (Ephesians 6:134):

Some pastors and persons speaking on this issue speak about the referendum as the beginning of a new wave of crime, prostitution and social discontent – but can we say gambling has been the root cause of these things in the last 60 years? If we vote “no” all these vices stand a better chance of increasing because there is no regulation.

I have not responded to some pastors who have berated me on this issue because I believe its importance is so serious it should not be pulled down to a jack-leg level.

I am encouraged that the leaders of two of the major church communities in our beloved nation are on record saying “we should educate our people and let them make mature decisions on their own”.

This is a credible position and I also agree with the position of Archdeacon I Ranfurly Brown, who said that “we must be a little careful of any group who seek to legislate Christian faith and practices”.

Many pastors, including some officers of the Christian Council, privately support the Christie administration in its bid to provide the Bahamian people with an opportunity to bring this issue to the forefront.

Mr President (Galatians 6:4)

Finally, the President of the Bahamas Christian Council is on record saying that “no pastor in good conscience could support the legalisation of the numbers business”.

Mr President, what gives us a good conscience? Is it the willingness to speak one’s convictions or the propensity to join the crowd? It is my good conscience sir that encourages me to bring regulation to this practice.

Mr President, what about the almost 4,000 persons who work in the web-shop businesses? Are they without consciences also? Are they not members of our churches?

Mr President, what about the hundreds of church members who work in the casinos? Ought we as pastors to take their monies to support our church work as “filthy lucre”?

Mr President, a new casino is to be opened in another Family Island in a few months – not one word from the Council.

Mr President, I have told you how dismayed I was that you would name two of the major leaders of the Council’s “Say No Campaign” while they are not registered members of the Council. This in my opinion is ludicrous!

Has the Christian Council ever led a national campaign to reach the hearts of people? Not in recent memory.

How is it that we cannot tolerate differences on this issue when the Christian Council is made up of 20 different doctrinal perspectives on God’s Word?

Let the people decide

There are other more serious issues that deserve a national attention by the Council. This august body has done much good, but sometimes it ought to be more ubiquitous in its observations and its “national campaigns”.

In my 45 years of preaching the gospel I have made hundreds of public statements. I try to stand each day with both feet in the word of God and guided by a clean conscience and a pure heart; listening to the people; the saved and the unsaved.

Ninety-five per cent all my public utterances I have done single-handedly because many pastors lack the personal, mental or religious fortitude to speak their convictions for fear of being criticised or left out. My record verifies that if I believe it, I will say it.

I sincerely believe the Christian thing to do is we should regulate this industry and bring it under government taxation and control.

This is a conscience issue and let the people of the Bahamas vote yes or no and let us live by what the majority says.

The views expressed here are my own.

May God bless us all!

• See today’s Insight fro more on the upcoming referendum on gambling.

Comments

jackflash 1 year, 9 months ago

I am a crimnal!

I speed in my car everyday, I can't stop. I hate it when someone is driving slow in front of me so I pass them speeding.

That is against the law.

Everyone else speeds so I think that it should be legalized!

Legalize speeding, we are all doing it anyways....

And the Bible does not say, " Thou shall not speed"!

I want to speed....

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vigilant_citizen 1 year, 9 months ago

The difference is that speeding may result in MVA and your death or the death of someone else. That is why it is illegal. It is a public safety issue. Stop comparing potatoes and tomatoes you'll just show your ignorance.

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BaystreetTrader 1 year, 9 months ago

Can you not replace gambling with homosexuality, prostitution, personal use of weed? These are all personal activities that would not harm anyone else. Do you disagree?

I completely understand Pastor Hall’s stance, however, that is the view of an objectivist like myself. The Word of God does not call us to be rational thinkers, which he stated, believers are called to “live by faith”. A rationale thinker would argue the economic benefits, adhering to popular culture, and having an ever changing perspective; in support of legalizing gambling. Being a follower of Christian is based on Christ-like principles and not on what is rationale, or even monetarily beneficial for a country.

As Pastor Hall suggest, let’s look at his article objectively. Within his first two paragraphs, Pastor Hall uses “however” and “but”, which weakens his stance of “living by faith” and “popularity does make an action right”. As a follower of Christ, I “assumed” one should make decisions, first, based on Christian-principles, and second, based on rationale thinking.

Pastor Hall also assumes that a “no vote” means that we keep the status quo. Although he may be correct based on the history of our past governments, individuals supporting the “No vote” campaign, can also petition the government to shut down the webshops.

Using Pastor Hall’s own words, the same arguments can be made to legalize homosexual marriages and prostitution, personal consumption of weed. For example: • “but since it has existed for almost seven decades” • “I believe the only way to help right this practice, is that since we cannot eliminate it we should regulate it.” • “but it’s time for us, as progressive citizens, to move forward” • “However, the reality is that almost half the Bahamian population engages in this practice”

My intent is to neither support nor argue against the “Yes or No Vote” campaign, but analyze the thought process used by public figures, of the lack thereof.

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vigilant_citizen 1 year, 8 months ago

I know I am a bit late however I would like to point out to you that there are several problems with your statement. Most importantly "The word of God does not call us to be rational thinkers". And the dark ages return where sharia law and the crusades were lawful because it was an understanding of the word of God without concern for Rational Thinking.

Next personal use of weed was never addressed in the Bible and truth be told Asprin and vitamin tables could do more harm to the body than marijuana ever could and it really shouldn't be illegal.

Homosexuals will continue being homosexual, we as a society shouldn't incarcerate them for making a life choice. The issue of gay marriage can be debated but truthfully it doesn't affect my life so it doesn't matter for me.

Prostitution however is a tricky topic. 1) It poses a very real Public Health risk. 2) There is no government on earth that can stop it. 3) It is considered one of the oldest professions. 4) In Amsterdam where prostitution and drugs are legal there are substantially lower crime rates and prostitutes are required by law to have medical clearance to work and as such there are significantly lower STI transference than other countries where prostitution is illegal.

I'm sorry but logically addressing issues and solving problems is the right way to go not blindly saying the bible says no, sticking fingers in our ears and saying la la la la.

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Ironvelvet 1 year, 8 months ago

I do not think it's fair to say that in comparing them, its potatoes and tomatoes. If you want to talk about public safety let's extend it to a public health issue as public safety is a part of that umbrella.

Gambling leads to addictive behavior, as it is an industry that depends on human addictive behavior. It leads to folks spending their entire salaries on it and neglect of the family. This neglect of the family can lead to eviction, starvation, unpaid bills/school fees/healthcare and overall destitution. The destitution leads to depression, which can create homicidal, and/or suicidal thoughts, which also results in death. I mean the list can go on.

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TalRussell 1 year, 9 months ago

Comrade Bishop Simeon needs find a real job cause he's no longer relevant or interesting to read. But that's expected when your ideas on what the bible says and does not say about gambling is beginning to sound bankrupt.

Comrade Bishop I have but one question for you and your other three 'Vote Yes' preacher colleagues. "Was it the loving hands of God who invented gambling, or was it the vulgar horns of the devil who was the chief architect, complete with the many negatives that are always associated with gambling?"

Or, is the devil not mentioned in the bible you four preacher men's preach from on Sundays?

In all your years officiating at funerals have you never once stood behind your mighty pulpit and said words to comfort the bereaved family members and the friends of a Bahamian sister or brother who committed suicide resulting from their gambling addiction?

Did you preachers skip over that part of the bible that tells of how the Roman soldiers gambled for the garments of Christ (Matthew 27:35)?

Maybe we can hear from other pastors who know of what I speak and explain to Bishop hall that each and every sin always involves "two human beings?

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TalRussell 1 year, 9 months ago

The bible was not written to be clear about specifically forbidden commands. Yet, Comrade Bishop Simeon must know that there are "many" mentions throughout the bible which were written to prompt us as Christians not to use our liberty to engage in harmful practices?

Comrades the only way the Bishop son of the late much loved "crab lady Nola Musgrove" can be right, is if the "principle of love" for our brothers and sisters does not take precedence over the freedom of all Bahamians principle of liberty to gamble as they damn well please? 

Paul must not have shared the same opinion as Nola's boy Simeon, cause he would not have preached that not only are we responsible for ourselves but one another's welfare? Yep, it right there in the bible.

And,, so it is also for you four 'Vote Yes' preachers. Free as birds to go before Bahamaland's media to freely oppose your fellow pastors, who "do believe" that engaging in gambling is an unchristian practice, even if it may be debatable if it is specifically forbidden by biblical commands?

Father in heaven I am not going judge what is in the hearts these preachers, for I can but make a guess what maketh them sayeth the 'Vote Yes' things they been sayeth, on behalf of the numbers 'bosses?"

Father we know you to be an all forgiving God. Unfortunately, many Bahamians got's some funny ways and may not be prepared to act as charitable with their forgiveness towards these four turned renegade preachers?

January 28, 2013 is fast approaching. Still time for you Father to deliver these four preachers some awakening divine messages of holy sense, maliciously to they missing some important biblical scriptures brains.

Amen!

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hugo_vlad 1 year, 3 months ago

That is a good question, I guess that I prefer to eliminate! visit link

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alston002 1 year, 1 month ago

The contrast is that speeding may bring about MVA and your passing or the expiration of another person. That is the reason it is unlawful. It is an open security issue. Quit thinking about potatoes and tomatoes you should show your obliviousness.calendarprinting.org.uk

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zarmeda 1 year ago

The difference is that speeding may result in MVA and your death or the death of someone else. That is why it is illegal. It is a public safety issue. Stop comparing potatoes and tomatoes you'll just show your ignorance.

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jasonmccullum 1 year ago

that speech was one of the most talked topics of recent times. Bishop Simon is a famous figure. He is loved by all. we should listen to him.

For past few days I am trying to know this issue in details. This issue is now serious. I am willing to visit link that are connected to this issue. It is not a simple one. He is a man of respect.

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sara10 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Using Pastor Hall’s own words, the same arguments can be made to legalize homosexual marriages and prostitution, personal consumption of weed. gazduire web

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BahamasGamingAssociation 3 months, 3 weeks ago

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bahamas-Gaming-Association/335105436640115

WHICH ON OF THE BELOW REIGNS SUPREME IN THE BAHAMAS?

The Bahamas Lottery and Gaming Act Chapter 387 Section 50 Persons prohibited from Gaming

Or

The Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas Chapter III – Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedom of the Individual. Section 26 Protection from Discrimination on grounds of Race, Place of Origin etc.

The Bahamas Gaming Association stands by the Ideology that all human beings who are 18 years or older should be treated equally in all sectors of the Bahamian Economy which is enshrined in the Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

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norhavic 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Good post, except I disagree on one point. Your comments suggest that we should forgive LGBT for their sins. I don't think that they are sinners, they are merely who they were born to be. I think that this difference (accept them for who they are, rather than forgiving them for their sins) is important. Again, really good post. العاب فضاء , العاب النمر الوردي

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