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Gambling

By J.J. Haley


      The world moves, and it is gratifying to know that it sometimes moves in the right direction. Perhaps the most scandalous thing in modern church financing is the worldly methods employed to get money. When the ecclesiastical exchequer runs low, it is tacitly understood amongst churchman that the end justifies the means, and that money must be obtained by the most promising method to hand, downright stealing only excepted. Hence bazaars, lotteries, raffles, fairs, and such like are gotten up in the most attractive style to entice money from the pockets of all and sundry. The Church of England, with the exception of Rome, has sinned the most grievously in the use of these un-Christian methods to raise cash, and it is with pleasure, therefore, that we record the fact that the consciences of some of the Anglican clergy have begin to be exercised on the subject. At the late Church of England Synod, a motion was submitted by Canon Potter, condemning the practice of raising money for church purposes by lotteries and other games of chance, as demoralising and scandalous. Quite a number of well-known clergymen spoke in favour of the proposition. Only two speakers advocated lotteries, and one of them showed the luminousness of his intelligence by remarking that "not a single text of Scripture could be cited condemnatory of games of chance." The Bishop approved the spirit of Canon Potter's resolution but objected to the terms in which it was couched. He considered that the words "demoralising" and "scandalous" should be excised, and the milder word "inexpedient" substituted. The motion was ultimately carried in this form. We believe that the adoption of the Bishop's suggestion very much weakened the motion. The condemnation of sin in mild language and soft words takes away at least half its sinfulness. Gambling in connection with churches to get money, is demoralising and scandalous, and why should there be any objection to saying so? It is something to be thankful for, however, that the matter has been taken up, and it gives us great pleasure to note this indication of improvement in a much-needed direction.

      On Gambling. No Other Foundation: A Documentary History of Churches of Christ in Australia: 1846-1990, ed. Graeme Chapman. [Mulgrave, Victoria: Privately published, 1993]. P. 443. Reprinted from Australian Christian Witness, 1883, p. 34.

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