EDITOR, The Tribune.
Some weeks back I saw a missive penned by a group of pastors that expressed disapproval of the appointment of a web shop gaming mogul by the Free National Movement government to a diplomatic post. The missive was a reminder of the Bahamas Christian Council’s (BCC) well coordinated opposition to web shop gaming in the lead-up to the 2013 gaming referendum. While the then Progressive Liberal Party government would eventually ignore the results of the referendum by legalizing web shop gaming in 2014, history will prove that the church and its Vote No campaign are right. Gambling is a manifestation of fortune telling. Its addiction is as potent as the addiction Hustler and Penthouse causes among porn addicts. Consequently, the evangelical church’s belief that gambling is demonic is indeed valid. This is underscored by gambling patrons incessantly perusing through the pages of The Best Darn Pick 3, Cash 3, Play 3 Strategy, which supplements their dreams about numbers. The Vote No camp is well aware of Satan’s stealth strategy in utilizing deceptive measures. Indeed, Irenaeus of Lyons said in his Against Heresies that error is craftily decked out in an attractive dress. I believe that the church’s opposition to web shop gambling is being undermined by a group of businessperson who are pastors, who either understand the significance of their decision and don’t care, or are just spiritually insensitive. I know of a few who have rented store and office spaces to two prominent web shop franchises. How can you look at your congregation with a straight face and preach against gambling on the pulpit, while you are profiting from the proceeds of the industry via rentals?
Surprisingly, the clergymen are of the Pentecostal tradition – a tradition that places much emphasis on separation from the worldly system. These individuals are not from any of the mainline denominations which are routinely scorned by Pentecostal Christians for their apparent spiritual inertia. The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:17 that judgment must begin at God’s house. The church cannot preach morality to the secular community if its lifestyle mirrors that of the world. I will not divulge the name of the island these pastors are located on for obvious reasons. Still, very few observers have not failed to miss the glaring hypocrisy of the business transaction between them and the numbers boys. Small wonder tens of thousands of Bahamians (including Christians) have ignored the anti-gambling message given by the BCC and have continued squandering away their hard earned money playing Cash 3 and Play 4. If the church is going to mount an effective strategy against web shop gaming and its attendant gambling addiction, then it will need to present a cohesive message to the Bahamian people, which entails its clergymen, who are landlords, not renting to the web shop franchises. The BCC and the Vote No camp, before they can continue their anti-gambling campaign, must first deal with those members who are helping to facilitate web shop gaming.
Freeport, Grand Bahama,
July 4, 2021.