Religious Leaders Oppose, Congregations Back Casino Vote

LOUISVILLE, KY -- Gov. Steve Beshear's bid to bring casino gambling to Kentucky has made for strange pew-fellows, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal in its Sunday edition.

Every major religious advocacy group has united in opposition -- Catholic and Protestant, black and white, conservatives who view gambling as a destructive personal sin and liberals who see an industry that preys on the poor.

Despite religious groups' disagreements on other issues in Frankfort, "this is the one thing that seems to galvanize everyone," said Hershael York, a Frankfort pastor and past president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. "That ought to say something to the political world."

But what it says to the people in the pews is another question. Surveys and other data indicate that while the religious leadership is united against the gambling initiative, lay people's views and practices are mixed, reports the Courier-Journal.

Most frequent churchgoers and evangelical or born-again Christians oppose casino gambling, according to a September 2007 Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll.

But unlike their leaders, more than three-quarters of each of those groups favor putting the casino question on the ballot, the C-J reports.

"If there's any difference between (the religious) leadership and the people in the pews, I would say that's where it is," said Patrick Neely of the Kentucky Equine Education Project, which backs expanded gambling.

The Rev. Bruce Williams, a Louisville minister and member of the African-American Fellowship Against Expanded Gambling, said he wasn't fazed by the large numbers of religious people supporting a casino referendum, the newspaper reports.

"It's not so much they're in favor of casino gambling," he said, maintaining that people he's spoken to see it as a choice between "let the people decide" or "let the casinos decide."

Any gambling bill would need approval by three fifths of both houses -- and Senate resistance is stiff -- before going to the voters for approval as a constitutional amendment.

Already, though, gambling has become a part of the lifestyles of many religious people, reports the C-J.

Even among the most devout anti-gambling group -- evangelical or born-again Christians who also go to church almost every week or more -- 35 percent had gambled at least once in the 12 months before the September survey.

They either bought lottery tickets, bet on horse races or went to casinos. That's below the state average of 54 percent.

But evangelicals and born-again Christians who attend worship less often, as well as the non-evangelical or born-again population that does attend worship frequently, gamble at the same rate as the state population as a whole, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Copyright: The Louisville Courier-Journal

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  • by Note to Smarter Than You on Feb 26, 2008 at 07:53 AM
    I thought about it for a minute and I came to the conclusion that you aren't smarter than me. Go get some facts and you'll find out the casino gambling DID NOT solve Indiana's financial problems; they are still facing budget shortfalls.
  • by Smarter Location: Than You on Feb 25, 2008 at 09:02 AM
    I pray to God that we get gambling passed so Kentucky can have more money to operate on. Gamblers are GOING to gamble, no matter if Kentucky passes casino gambling or not. If it is not passed gamblers will simply gamble in Indiana helping pay for Indiana roads, education, etc... Please think about that for a few minutes!!
  • by ben Location: Lex on Feb 25, 2008 at 07:36 AM
    That sounds like a dream Taylor, where do we sign up!
  • by c Location: fkt on Feb 25, 2008 at 06:25 AM
    The real issue to me is whether or not the people of KY are allowed to vote on this issue. I won't condone gambling nor will I say it's wrong for others to do. However, I would like the chance to vote on the issue. Put it on the ballot & let ALL the people of KY decide this issue once & for all. But perhaps that's what many in the Senate are afraid of, WE WILL DECIDE, then they won't be able to do what THEY WANT instead of what WE WANT! The governor may not like the outcome, many others may not like the outcome, but it is for the people to decide! Too many of our freedoms are decided behind closed doors & it's time we the people get a chance to vote on the real issues! We are not stupid & we can make up our own minds on this & other issues! Just put it on the ballot & let us ALL decide!
  • by Wow Location: RIchmond on Feb 25, 2008 at 04:59 AM
    @david Location: somerset As we all know you people in somerset are great philosphers and have a large city of experience in diversity. Keep your god and your rules where they belong.... in the privacy of your own house. As your freedom ends where it imposes on anothers.
  • by Lou Lou Location: Kentucky on Feb 25, 2008 at 02:57 AM
    Them that wish to live upright before the Lord, Let us do so, them that think they can live contrary to his word, Let them do so. I pray that they don't find out the hard way just how destructive gambling can be.
  • by Tyler on Feb 24, 2008 at 05:57 PM
    I'n response to deborah's question on getting "religious people" banned. There is a way you can get us Christians banned, go elect democrats into office. Go vote for Hilliary or the muslim who are running for president on the democratic ticket. Then go elect an all democrat house and senate (which i believe we've already done), then go elect a democratic governor for this state (which again I believe we've already done; we miss you Ernie) and while you're at it vote democratic in your local elections. Once we've filled the government with dems and removed all republicans, then sit back and watch the demise and persecution of all forms of Christianity.
  • by Chuck Location: Bluegrass on Feb 24, 2008 at 11:03 AM
    The principle is simple: You don't make wins on other people's losses. But more than that they are "taxing" the poor who will ignorantly go to these places hoping to get rich quick. I will never forget when Wally Wilkerson said the lotter was for education. That was a lie and so is this. This time Beshear says it is for education and healthy care. Bologna! We even forget that the gov't sanctions legalized gambling through something they call the stock market. You can rest assured I won't be visiting one of those places. I want to keep hold of what little I have. Get rich schemes help only a few -- a very few. Wake up, idiots!! They're coming after your money!! And in the end they'll raise your taxes anyway. You can bet the farm on that one!
  • by Paul on Feb 24, 2008 at 10:53 AM
    Sounds like abortion guilt.
  • by david Location: somerset on Feb 24, 2008 at 10:19 AM
    what a foolish comment by deborah, these people are just looking out for the best for you,by all means go blow your money if you wish, the state will be there waiting on you with there hand out.
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