Archives For gambling

The Briefing

Seminary president sorry for comments ‘hurtful to women’
Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, issued an apology May 10 for comments he made in sermon illustrations about domestic violence and the physical attractiveness of women. After the comments from 2000 and 2014 resurfaced online last month, more than 3,000 people signed an open letter from Southern Baptist women calling on Southwestern’s trustees “to take a strong stand against unbiblical teaching regarding womanhood, sexuality, and domestic violence.” Another letter in support of Patterson has garnered more than 500 signatures.

Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines addressed the Patterson controversy in a statement to Baptist Press, expressing his disagreement with the comments and noting, “The church especially is no place for misogyny or disrespect for anyone.”

The trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will meet May 22 at Patterson’s request.

Sermon stirs up Old Testament debate
North Point Community Church pastor Andy Stanley’s encouragement to Christians to “unhitch” their faith from the Old Testament revved up debate online about its place in the life of modern Christians. Theologian David Prince countered Stanley’s view, writing “Any attempt to sever Jesus from the entirety of Scripture amounts to fashioning a Jesus for your own purposes, one that changes with the times.”

High court ruling permits sports betting in all states
In a 6-3 ruling May 14, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1992 law that prevented state authorization of sports gambling. The decision — which reversed opinions by lower courts — means all 50 states may legalize and operate betting on professional and college sports.

Willow Creek elders apologize
The elders of Willow Creek Community Church have walked back their initial defense of former pastor Bill Hybels, saying they owe apologies to women who accused Hybels of misconduct. “The tone of our first response had too much emphasis on defending Bill and cast some of the women in an unfair and negative light,” said outgoing elder board chair Pam Orr. “We are sorry.”

Hybels stepped down from his role at Willow Creek in April.

Americans suffering from ‘loneliness epidemic’
A new survey by healthcare company Cigna found nearly half of Americans sometimes or always feel alone or left out. One possible solution: more frequent in-person interactions.

Sources: Baptist Press (2), The Christian Post, Chicago Tribune, Cigna

 

The Briefing

Iceland Down syndrome abortions called ‘a tragedy’
Southern Baptists involved with special needs ministry are lamenting a report that virtually 100% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in Iceland are aborted. According to CBS News, Iceland “has on average just one or two children born with Down syndrome per year” out of a population of 330,000. The reason for the lack of Down syndrome births is that genetic testing leads nearly all mothers whose children are expected to have Down syndrome to opt for abortion.

Illinois town shuts down VFW raffle over gambling
A drawing for a VFW raffle with a prize topping $1 million was called off hours before a winner was due to be picked, with organizers citing a legal snag. The VFW hall in the small town of Morris, Ill., said they “did not get shut down” and will resume ticket sales and the drawing “as soon as possible.”

Banned from Farmer’s Market for stance on marriage
The Tennes family joins a growing list of florists, photographers, filmmakers, and cake bakers who have lost a portion of their livelihood for upholding a Biblical definition of marriage. Last May, Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Tenneses, stating their religious views have no bearing on their involvement in the East Lansing Farmer’s Market and the city violated their constitutional rights.

New president on bringing back Baylor
Linda Livingstone, the newly minted president of Baylor University, inherited more than just the world’s largest Baptist university and its 16,000-plus students when she took the helm in June. A few weeks earlier, a former Baylor volleyball player filed what was then the latest in a long string of Title IX lawsuits against the university alleging she was gang-raped by members of the football team. A previous lawsuit alleged that 31 football players for the Waco, Texas, university were involved in as many as 52 acts of sexual assault against fellow students.

Muslim divorce law in India ‘unconstitutional’
For hundreds of years, Muslim men in India could divorce their wives by repeating the word “talaq,” Arabic for divorce, three times. Now, the Supreme Court declared the practice unconstitutional. A five-judge bench moved to block instant divorce for six months, pending a law banning the practice to be debated in parliament.

Sources: Baptist Press, Chicago Tribune, World Magazine, Christianity Today, Washington Post

The BriefingVideo gambling’s big in Illinois
Add up all the video gambling machines scattered in small venues across Illinois — there are more than 24,000 machines, the equivalent of 20 casinos — and you’re talking real money. The amount of money left over after paying video gambling winners for the first time exceeded $1 billion in fiscal 2016. That’s a 27% increase, making video gambling the hot hand in Illinois’ gaming industry.

Liberty students rebel
Now, Liberty students are opposing their leader’s presidential endorsement, writing in a Washington Post opinion piece, “In January, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed Donald Trump for president of the United States. As Liberty students, we watched as the leader of our school loudly and proudly advocated for a man many of us felt compelled to oppose. Trump’s flagrant dishonesty, consistent misogyny and boastful unrepentance made many of us feel the need to publicly express disagreement with President Falwell’s endorsement.

Refugees resettled at record rate
Last month, World Relief nearly doubled the number of refugees it resettles in the United States in a typical month. In the past 12 months, the evangelical agency handled a caseload of 9,759 refugees—its largest total since 1999. The milestone comes at the same time as major setbacks to the effort to ban Syrian refugee resettlement in Indiana and Texas.

State must fund Planned Parenthood
A federal judge Thursday blocked a Mississippi law that prohibited Medicaid payments to any healthcare provider that offers abortions. Two Planned Parenthood affiliates filed suit against the law, which blocked all Medicaid funding, including payments for non-abortion services such as birth control, to any facility affiliated with an abortion provider.

U.N. to appoint LGBT advocate
The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender agenda is gaining traction at the United Nations, as it organization prepares to vote on appointing an “independent expert” to “assess the implementation of existing international human rights instruments with regard to ways to overcome violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and to identify and address the root causes of violence and discrimination.”

Sources: Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Christianity Today, World Magazine, Baptist Press

Evangelicals coalesce around Cruz in Iowa
The BriefingEvangelical voters in Iowa helped propel Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to victory over business mogul Donald Trump in the Iowa caucuses Monday night, as Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., finished a strong third, officially breaking into the top ranks of a crowded field for the GOP nomination for president.


Cruz, Clinton and ‘Undecided/ preferred by pastors
Ted Cruz is the favorite presidential candidate of Protestant pastors who lean Republican. Hillary Clinton leads among Democratic pastors. And Donald Trump is near the back of the pack. But “Undecided” is by far the most popular choice of America’s pastors according to a new telephone survey of senior pastors from LifeWay Research.


Illinois lawmakers fight for student privacy
State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) introduced the bi-partisan Pupil Physical Privacy Act (HB 4474), which if passed would require school boards to designate each student restroom, changing room, or overnight facility accessible by multiple students simultaneously. The bill defines “sex” as the physical condition of being male or female, as determined by an individual’s chromosomes and identified at birth by that individual’s anatomy.


Americans view sports gambling as moral, but illegal
Less than a week before the Super Bowl, a new study from LifeWay Research shows widespread belief that sports gambling is morally acceptable. Nearly two-thirds of Americans disagree that it’s morally wrong to bet on sports. Yet 49% think sports betting shouldn’t be legalized nationwide, while 40% say it should be. 11% of Americans aren’t sure.


Prison task force mirrors SBC resolution
The recommendations of the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections, a bipartisan congressional task force on reducing the federal prison population, have drawn praise from some evangelicals and parallel at several points the recommendations of a 2013 Southern Baptist Convention resolution on “America’s growing prison population.”

Sources: Facts & Trends, Illinois Family Institute, LifeWay Research, WORLD Magazine

The weekend weatherman surprised us, not with his forecast but with an off-hand remark. Following a news story about the mounting Powerball jackpot that promised to make someone a billionaire, the anchor cheerleading for Lotto asked him, “What would you do if you won? Where would you be the next day?”

“I’d be right here,” he responded, “because I don’t play the lottery.”

Good for you, weather guy. You’d expect Russell Moore and Al Mohler to sound off on the folly of the lottery. And Baptist pastors were certain to preach and blog on the sinfulness of gambling. But the TV meteorologist? And what about the law professor at a secular university who declared this massive state-run lottery “our national disgrace.”

Ultimately three winners split almost $1.6-Billion in what a radio reporter called “a shot at the American dream.”

Really? The American dream once was owning your own home and being able to send your kids to college. But as that dream moves farther out of reach for many people, a new concept of the “dream” has been blown out of proportion by greed. Perhaps it’s greed that’s our national disgrace.

Many would nominate abortion as chief of our national sins, and it certainly qualifies. Or moral decline or child abuse or drug use or racism or gun violence or failing education or our inability to shut down terrorists. But what prompted Colorado attorney and Salon writer Paul Campos to cite Powerball as such a disgrace is the impact it has on those who can least afford to play the “game.”

Americans spent $70-Billion on state lotteries in 2014. That’s an average of $285 per U.S. adult. But only half of the adult population buys tickets, so the average amount spent by actual players is about $570. And, as Campos points out, 20% of the players buy 70% of the tickets. One in eight U.S. adults spends $1,800 per year on the lottery, including in equal proportions households making less that $15,000 per year.

Campos contends “what drives much of the spending on lottery tickets, and especially the spending by poor people, is not some lighthearted search for a cheap thrill, but genuine despair….The eagerness with which almost every state government exploits the desperation of its most hopeless citizens is a national disgrace.”


Quotable: The lottery’s real losers

“…The reality is that, regardless of who wins the Powerball, it is the poorest in our communities that are guaranteed to lose.

Casinos and lotteries are marketed directly to those people who most feel compelled to get more money quickly, and therefore, have less hesitancy to spending part—or all—of their income trying to do so.

It’s not hard to see that gambling is a form of economic predation. Gambling grinds the faces of the poor into the ground.”

– Russell Moore (from russellmoore.com)

“Many economists have noted… that most lottery sales, and most lottery sales outlets, are actually in the most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in American cities.

Governments are targeting the most economically disadvantaged, knowing that they are most likely to buy lottery tickets because they feel they have very little to lose and because they are easily persuaded that there is at least a possibility, albeit a very small possibility, that they will all of the sudden strike it rich.

We need to understand that the state is putting itself in the position of economically exploiting its own citizens. As one major economist famously remarked, a lottery is basically a tax on the stupid.”

– Al Mohler  (from The Briefing, 1/11/2016)

 

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Amid continuing tension in Ferguson, Mo., church members will engage in a block-by-block outreach initiative to promote relationships–and healing–in the St. Louis suburb rocked by violence and protests since the shooting of teenager Michael Brown last August.

The_BriefingJose Aguayo, a Ferguson pastor and chaplain with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, will lead the effort to send out teams of church members tasked with getting to know residents on their assigned block. Eventually, Aguayo told Baptist Press, ministries resulting from the outreach could include “sports teams, community outings and study assistance for children and adults.”

First Baptist Church in Ferguson, led by Pastor Stoney Shaw, is one of the churches participating. He told The Pathway newspaper in Missouri, “We want to join with other churches and minister. Walking the streets and praying is a simple yet powerful plan.” Read more at BPNews.net.


In other news from Ferguson, Christianity Today reports on a dialogue between Franklin Graham and other Christian leaders. Graham, CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, posted March 12 on his Facebook page, “Most police shootings can be avoided. It comes down to respect for authority and obedience.” (Read the entire post here.) But according to a group of 31 Christian leaders who wrote an open letter to Graham, the issue is often more complicated.


Family is the most central factor in how Americans identify themselves, Barna found in a new study, followed by being an American at #2, and their religious faith at #3. But the answers change, depending on how old you are.


On the day marking the Iranian New Year, President Obama issued a statement calling for the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has arrested in the country in 2012. “Saeed Abedini of Boise, Idaho has spent two and a half years detained in Iran on charges related to his religious beliefs,” Obama said. “He must be returned to his wife and two young children, who needlessly continue to grow up without their father.” Read more at ChristianityToday.com.


Texas Senator Ted Cruz spoke about Christianity and liberty at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., where he also announced he will run for President in 2016. Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of the Christian university, introduced Cruz but was careful to note Liberty was giving the candidate a platform rather than endorsing him, The Christian Post reported.


More than $2.5 billion is wagered on the annual March Madness basketball tournament, according to the FBI. But Christians would be wise not to throw any money in the pot, says Barrett Duke, a vice president for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Read the full story at BPNews.net.