Faith Leaders Statements Opposing Expanded Gambling

Gambling with the Good Life announces the formation of a Faith Leaders Coalition to urge people to vote AGAINST Initiative Measures 429, 430 and 431.

At our news conference with many faith leaders, one of the presenters was Femi Awodele, founder of Christian Couples Fellowship. He stated his opposition to the expansion of casino gambling in Nebraska is because of the negative consequences that result from gambling addiction. “My next door neighbor developed a gambling addiction and was able to hide it from many people until he became so depressed with his losses that he committed suicide.”

Mark Bonkiewicz is a board member of NEBRASKANS FOR FOUNDERS’ VALUES who was the coordinator of this news conference for Gambling With the Good Life. He read excerpts from a Faith Leaders Coalition Statement Against Expanded Gambling which is endorsed by Bishop Brian Maas of the Nebraska Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Whereas, many social ills result from gambling, including broken families, child abuse, sex trafficking, spouse abuse, job loss, and suicide.  These costs – estimated to be 3 times larger than casino benefits – puts an additional burden on churches, charitable organizations – and on governments, which have been shown to charge higher taxes in casino states than in non-casino states as a result.”

The document continues, “Though we represent many faith denominations, we all know that God has given us the commandment to love our neighbor. Today we are concerned about others — our neighbors — when we consider these ballot issues before us.  And we are concerned about justice – treating others fairly. We unite with other faith communities across Nebraska to inform our members of the threat that commercial gambling poses to the lives of the people of Nebraska and to defeat the 2020 ballot initiatives 429, 430, and 431.”

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Faith Leaders Remarks from Tom Venzor, Executive Director, Nebraska Catholic Conference October 8, 2020 (Omaha) 

A wise Jewish man once said: “Every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.” This wise Jewish man, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. It is by His divine life, human witness, and Church that He established that we can look out into the world to determine what are good fruits and what are bad fruits. In the context of public policy, we can determine, through faith and reason, what policies best serve our families, the poor, our minority and elderly communities, our children and young adults—in short, what best serves the common good?

Today we gather as faith leaders because Nebraska is being confronted with a public policy that will usher in countless social ills and evils. Using both our faith and reason, it is readily apparent that this public policy—expanded gambling—will tear down families, lead to addiction, propel financial instability and bankruptcies, and increase crime. As Jesus often did, we must pose the question to our fellow citizens: What does it profit a man? How does a ballot initiative which seeks to legalize unlimited, unfettered, unregulated casino gambling profit our community?

The simple fact of the matter is this: far from enriching our communities, Initiatives 429, 430, and 431 will hurt them. Rather than fulfill their illusory and empty promises of increased revenue projections, unrestricted casino gambling will bring decay to communities.

Initiatives 429, 430, 431 are not consistent with Catholic social teaching on gambling. The fruits of the gambling industry reveal a bad tree that is destined to produce bad fruits. It cannot profit a man, woman, or child in Nebraska to expand gambling—doing so only risks moral, financial, physical, and spiritual welfare.

As Nebraskans begin the voting process now through Nov. 3rd, we urge all Nebraskans-especially those in our Catholic community—to vote AGAINST Initiatives 429, 430, and 431. Let’s not gamble away the good life!  

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Pat Loontjer, Executive Director of “Gambling with the Good Life” said today, “We have successfully prevented expanded gambling in Nebraska for 25 years and this is the worst proposal we have ever faced. The Ho Chunk’s have put up millions of dollars to change our Constitution and allow unlimited casinos all over Nebraska. This permits all forms of Casino gambling – including sports betting and internet gambling to addict our children & grandchildren.”

Loontjer went on to say, “The Faith coalition made up of virtually every denomination in the state have pledged today to actively work to inform their members of the devastating effects #429, #430 & #431 will have on Nebraska families. The casino interests have the money to spread their lies about keeping the money in Nebraska. But we have the truth, and the Faith Leaders are united in their efforts to spread that truth to every community.”