Would your church accept gambling proceeds?

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There was one winner of the $315 million lottery the other day. The fella took a lump sum of some $111 million. When asked what he was going to do with the money, one of beneficiaries of his generousity was his church and I believe, a couple other churches. He is giving $17 million to his church for a new church that is already on the planning board. I am sure there is one happy pastor. The question is, should a church accept a contribution from the proceeds of gambling?" It will be interesting to see what his pastor will do. There are a lot of pastors on this Board. What would you do if one of your members presented you with a $17 million check this Sunday?

Bob McCain

-- Anonymous, December 27, 2002


Last year our church hosted a missionary who said he knew a businessman who buys buildings for churches. The missionary told us to look around because he was recommending us for a building. We found an old bowling alley with 39,000 square feet valued at over $2 million, which the businessman purchased on our behalf for $1 million. We got the keys Friday, and we hope to have it in shape for services by Easter.

It's on the second busiest corner in town, and we expect to have 300 there the first service. Right now we're 3 years old and running 120.

Our phase 1 plan is to wall off half the building and start with a 300 seat sanctuary. Phase 2 will be additional offices, and phase 3 will be a 950 seat sanctuary. BTW, we'd previously purchased 20 acres on our own. That property is on the edge of town now, but it's in the direction the city is growing. I guess when we outgrow the 950 seater we'll use the 20 acres for something REALLY big. It'll take a few years, but we'll get there.

If you think this is a blessing (and it is), the businessman who gave us our building purchased a $9 million facility for a church in Hobbs New Mexico that same month.

-- Anonymous, December 28, 2002

Interesting question. I will accept on behalf of my church any donations that are legally own by the person(s) who makes the donation. To me it is a question of need. We are trying to get a loan to complete our sanctuary and rehabilitate the old building into a ministry to the city so based on that need, I accept. Contact me privately for the details on how to make the the donation.

BE Blessed

Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, December 28, 2002

I'm not a pastor but since Bob's important question addresses issues which interest me (economics and ethics) I would be remiss not to respond. First, playing the lottery is an innocuous activity provided it does not result in ruinous and reckless behavior on the part of the ticket buyer. No one should take funds earmarked for essentials (housing, food, transportaion, utilities, etc.) to subsidize a lottery fix. Second, playing the lottery is actually a good way for people to understand the importance of probability and mathematical game theory. Some of the most important statistical concepts derived from playing lotteries, e.g. St. Petersburg Paradox, probability density functions and Nash equilibria. Contrary to what many think, statistics and probability are critical tools for effective decision-making activities. Finally, playing the lottery is akin to playing bingo, or playing a slot machine @ Ceasar's Palace Hotel in Las Vegas or savvy investors playing (investing) in the options market or other fancy derivative type contracts. The objective for all is the same: expected payoff given assumed level of risk. As long as the proceeds are not connected to the Gambini Crime Family, or the Cali Drug Cartel of Columbia, S.A. I see no reason why the funds should be looked upon as immoral or filthy lucre. On a related note, isn't it ironic that the states which successfully sued the big tobacco companies several years ago didn't have any moral objections to spending the money of the companies which their lawyers decreed as corrupt and immoral? QED

-- Anonymous, December 28, 2002

In a previous post I related to you how the biography of the Reverend David Smith relates that God gave him his freedom from Slavery though lottery proceeds. This biography also states that the church sold the lottery ticket, which his benefactor won.

In this same post, however, I also said that the Doctrine and Discipline of the A.M.E. Church is that it is offensive for any of its members to participate in games of chance as they teach dependency on something or someone other than God. In times past, members were expressly forbidden to sell or buy raffle tickets. More recently, however, the lottery is also named. The Reference below is to the Lay but it also applies ANY member of the church and therefore applies to the clergy as well.

We often ask what is the official stance of the A.M.E. Church. On this issue the stance of the A.M.E. Church is clearly spelled out, uncompromising, and unapologetic in what it states.

The reference is found in the 2000 Book of Discipline on page 342 under Judicial Administration, PART XI, Section XV- Offenses Chargeable to the Lay, Letter C. - Improper Conduct and it reads as follows:

"Private reproof shall be given by the class leader or the minister in charge whenever a member shows disobedience to the order of THE DOCTRINE AND DISCIPLINE OF THE AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOAL CHURCH, neglects duties of any kind, Indulges in quarreling, speaks evil of ministers, deals in lotteries or policies, attends dances or horse races, engages in playing cards or pursues such other games or diversions as cannot be carried on the name of our Lord Jesus."


While I will certainly not tell you that I don't have dreams of winning the lottery and given a large sum to Morris Brown College, If and when I do this the words of the Discipline are clear. Therefore, I am not certain if I will be tried or forgiven by the church???

-- Anonymous, December 28, 2002

The question was not about a pastor participating in the lottery but about a pastor accepting the tithe for example from someone who had won the lottery. The Discipline does not address this question.

BE Blessed

Pastor paris

-- Anonymous, December 28, 2002

Rev. Paris,

If an A.M.E. pastor knowingly accepts money from the lottery, according to our Discipline that pastor is encouraging a practice and policy which the A.M.E. Doctrine and Discipline expressly forbids its members to participate in. Therefore that pastor, as a member of the A.M.E. Church, is in violation of the Law of the Church.

The statement is clear and applies to all. Try as we may there are no loopholes in its message or intent.

Whether we individually agree or not it all boils to the simple fact that it is in violation of what we, as a corporate Body of Christ, have stated that we believe. Therefore it is unacceptable for AMEs until such time, if ever, that our thinking, beliefs and laws are changed.

-- Anonymous, December 29, 2002

Let me be brief...."Yes!"

-- Anonymous, December 29, 2002

This is indeed a thought provoking question. For me as a clergy person I would have to go to God in prayer first and seek his will. One of the things that I find most interesting is that the man who won the lottery is tithing his money back to the church! When I heard that I was excited as a pastor. For I wonder how many people would tithe a million dollars or any amount to their church if they won. I do not know this gentleman but from news accounts he is very active in his church and wants to do kingdom and hopefully with the money he has one he will do just that.

-- Anonymous, December 29, 2002

Yes, I will take it for the Ministry. A question was raised in a local church meeting by a pastor whether to accept a major donation from the shebeen owner (someone who sells liqour from home after hours)! One member stood up and emphatically encouraged the pastor to take the money, saying "take it pastor, because it is our money!" implying that even members are buying from the shebeen! Well, for the past decade the Purity AME Church has dreamed about erecting a church building but our members are unemployed and underemployed, being a church in the poorest residential area. If anybody offers me lottery money, I am going to take it and put it to good use. In Afrikaans we have a saying "die doel heilig die middele", meaning more or less that 'the purpose sanctifies the means by which it is achieved'. My Official Board has been discussing launching a vehicle competition in 2003, and plans are underway to do so. Whosoever comes up with the moral issue should also come up wth the financing. These are hard realities.

-- Anonymous, December 29, 2002

Rev. Hanse the church that I pastor is also poor. Everyone in my church works two to three jobs. I live in the state of Montana that ranks no. 1 where people work two to three jobs. And in terms of earned income we rank no. 48 out of 50. Alcoholism is a big problem in our state along with gambling; there are mini gambling casino's at each gas station in town plus they are all over town. As a pastor God has called me to attend the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of my congregation. Scripture has also set clergy apart and set us to a higher standard. Because of the poverty of our state I am working on developing economic programs for my members. Many of my members cannot come to church on sunday for they have to work. I schedule private bible studies and or go to their workplace so they can have a bible study. I have to speak out against gambling and spending money in a bar. For these things keep them poor and living in a world of darkness. If I accept something that is not of God, it makes it easier to accept the second thing that is not of God. And then I am no longer walking with him. I think those of us pastoring poor congregations have an added responsibility to help empower our people to turn to God. Taking money from someone who is selling alcohol is like taking the hand of satan it will bite you and take your soul. I have sent info to Rev. Biwas regarding an international grant for people in Namibia and S. Africa for economic development. I will send it to you also. Stay in the light of the Lord and God will provide. When you get weary email me or post on the board. God is with you. I said previously I would have to pray about accepting the lottery money because I am weak and I know I need the strength and guidance of God.

-- Anonymous, December 30, 2002

I am not a pastor, but I think the Discipline spells it out clearly about lottery and gambling. It's forbidden. People that play the lottery and gamble, do not trust God to provide for them. God will supply all your needs.

-- Anonymous, December 30, 2002

What does the Bible say? Bottom line, it doesn't matter what a "Discipline" says. The Bible is the final word!

We can all come up with great and wonderful things that we could do in the church with a million bucks. Just having many good and Godly things to spend the money on does not justify the acceptance.

And the saying, "the purpose sanctifies the means by which it is achieved" is certainly not biblical. If we follow that saying then accepting a sizeable donation from Usama Bin Laden or the KKK should be no problem.

Honestly, at the moment I straddle the fence on this question. Is it gambling or the over indulgence that is so evil? Is it the gun or the person behind it that is so evil? We need to back up our answers to this question based on the bible. Give me some verses! They cast lots in biblical times to help make decisions. That wasn't gambling. I don't think the soldiers at the cross gambled with Jesus’ clothing. They put nothing up front to loose. What about your 401k, stocks etc? Regardless of what you plan to do with that money in your 401k, you put a little in hoping to get a lot out. It’s a risk. Is that gambling? The past two years it feels like I went to a casino and lost a bunch of money. I took a chance, built my 401k savings up, and the past two years the “ole’ wheel of fortune” has spun right past me and I have lost a big chunk of my savings.

So, my challenge is this, if you have an opinion or answer to the question, back it up with some scripture. What ever side of the fence you are on; back it up with Gods Word. I need answers quick, this will be up for debate in my Sunday School class this coming Sunday. I need help getting off the fence! My crotch is getting a little sore. ;)

May God Bless you all and have a Happy New Year!

The Deacon

-- Anonymous, January 01, 2003

Dear Deacon welcome to the board. Bro. Bob did provide a thought provoking question for us. Thank you Bro. Bob. The Bible does not speak out against gambling perse but does address some of the ingredients that make up gambling, love of money, coveting something that is not your own, not providing for your own household and taking care of the poor are but a few. You asked for scripture references. I found an article that is interesting and also has scripture passages that will lend to a great sunday school class. (Please let us know what happens this sunday)

Here is the web address of the article


-- Anonymous, January 01, 2003

In today's news, January 1, 2003, there is a headline that the Salvation Army in Florida has refused a $100,000 donation from a winner of the Florida Lottery. Their position is that any money acquired by gambling is wrong.

Even though I indicated that I have occasionally(in my weskness) purchased a lotto ticket and dreamed of giving some of the proceeds to my favorite charity, thank God that some of his shepherds still stand up and say this is our standard and we believe that you are wrong. In 2003 the people of God seriously long for a shepherd of the flock , not merely hirelings, bought with a price.

Judas also longed for money to give to those in need. The result of his longings and desire is that he even took "blood money" and sold the Lord. For God is truly able to supply all our need but the love of money is root of all evil, indeed.

-- Anonymous, January 01, 2003

I am glad Robert shared the story regarding the salvation army. It also made me think of an article I read about Pat Robertson head of the 700 club. Here is an excerpt from the article on Ethics.com

What do raising thoroughbred horses, peddling age-defying shakes, mining gold in Liberia and mining diamonds in Zaire have in common?

The answer is Pat Robertson, the same one who headed the Christian Coalition and hosts the “700 Club.”

In late April, the New York Times reported that Robertson had invested $520,000 in a race horse named Mr. Pat, who Robertson hoped to race in the Kentucky Derby. Mr. Pat was not his first race horse, however. Robertson had had other horses running on the gambling tracks.

-- Anonymous, January 01, 2003

The answer to the question here are so general, and know one answer the question yet and God word have shown me if I over indulge that I am out of his will,especially if i let it control me.The question is not to address the amount of money spend,how many hundred or even thousand dollar. It not really talking about a great chance or a risk. It simply not askng for extreme. I want to know if I spend 0ne dollar am i sinning. If a member of the church spend one dollar and win are they sinning against God and if so what scripture are we using to back that up. There no room for opinion here but what the word of God states. Now according to Rob Harison:" there is the law of labor, earning money for the labor expended(Ephesian 4:28) proverb 31:16, luke 14: 12-14, 1 timothy 6: 9-11.

Now the question that i further have if this is all so, then i cannot plan for the future thru 401k. because this is a form of gambling. Because my stock fail and I have been hurt.The statement give the idea that gambling is anything that is done by chance or risk and I make a wager. It is gambling and that wrong in God eyes. I have got to ask this question about the talent that was given in scripture , was it wrong that a man hid his one talent , and the other two made a good business decision and improve on there talent , . God said well done that good an d faaith servant , was implying this because of the faith that move with. Becauae the bible suggest with out faith that it impossible to please God.

-- Anonymous, January 03, 2003

I have an update to my report at the top on our church's receiving a gift of a $1 million building (valued at 2-3 million).

With 125 people (140 last Sunday PTL) we don't have the funds to operate, let alone renovate the building. Just turning on the power requires a $3500 deposit.

When the businessman who bought the property checked on our situation he said he didn't buy us the property so it would be a noose around our neck, sitting vacant for a year. He wants us to have church in there!

He's sending his construction man out tomorrow to do a survey, and will send his construction crews out to take us up to phase 1 of our plan. That's a 300 seat sanctuary, which uses only one third of the building's capacity.

Praise God! We have big expectations of a mighty move of God. Why else would he have given this property? Remember, we weren't looking for anything like this. It just happened.

One correction: The $9 million project was not in Hobbs New Mexico. That was in another city. A Hobbs church did receive a building from this same man though.

-- Anonymous, January 13, 2003

Churches across America take money from pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers, child molesters, homosexuals, and drunkards every Sunday.

Churches across America take money from Caesar in the form of grants and donations every year.

Our schools accept lottery money so that inner city children have a shot at competing in today's marketplace.

What's the difference in these examples and taking lottery proceeds? Why are we acting pious now?

Just a thought............

-- Anonymous, January 15, 2003

If the moneys won from the lottery or other form of gambling is ill gotten gains then why not put that money to good use? Take that money and make some good out of it! The idea is to spread the word and grow your flock, what better way to take money won in a lottery, a gift from GOD and put it to use for Him and not ones self.

Denis Brady

-- Anonymous, January 20, 2003

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