I’ll get off this lottery kick, but I just wanted to post a few more thoughts on lotteries before I moved on . . .
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America opposes state-run lotteries. Here is a link to the ELCA’s social statement on economic life, approved in 1999 by the churchwide assembly. This statement, which covers numerous aspects of the economy and its impact on society, calls for "opposition to lotteries and other state-sponsored gambling because of how these regressive means of raising state revenues adversely affect those who are poor."
Here’s a link to a 6-week congregational study on gambling from the ELCA (I believe this study was developed in preparation for the above-mentioned statement on economic life). Especially for churches in Pennsylvania, where 14 multi-million dollar slot machine parlors will open in the coming years, this study might help congregations in their calling to be "communities of moral deliberation" (from the ELCA’s statement The Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective). To purchase print copies of the gambling study, click here.
My opposition to lotteries is simple: the state has a duty to protect, uphold and improve the quality of life of its citizens. Gambling doesn’t do this. A lottery is anywhere from pointless recreation activity to idle waste of money to false hope for thousands of people mired in poverty. I’m not sure our government needs to be involved in any of those activities. And, as our social statement above says, it is a regressive means of raising state revenue that adversely affects those who are poor. Surely there are better ways to pay for and provide state services.
Well, I will write to my representatives in Harrisburg and see what else I might make happen – perhaps I can get my synod to send out copies of the study on gambling to its congregations, keeping in mind the current dialog about gambling in this state? Who knows what can be done?