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Author: Dr. Mark H. Creech
Date:  September 10, 2008

Topic category:  Other/General

Churches and Lottery Winnings: A Losing Proposition

According to The Associated Press, Pastor Bernard Crabbe of the True North Community Church in Port Jefferson, New York, announced recently that an anonymous parishioner had donated a winning lottery ticket worth $3 million to the church. A state lottery official said the independent congregation of 650 members would now receive $100,000 annually through 2028.

Only a month ago, however, Robert Powell hit the Florida Lottery jackpot of more than $6 million and then dropped a tithe of around $600,000 into his church's offering. But Pastor David Tarkington of the First Baptist Church, Orange Park, politely declined and told Powell the church wouldn't accept the lottery winnings. But another pastor, Dr. Lorenzo Hall of the El-Beth-El Divine Holiness Church, was quick to say he would welcome Powell's gift to his inner city church.

The fact that churches even consider accepting gifts from lottery winnings demonstrates how the church today has weakened its opposition to gambling. It seems some of God's people have failed to realize gambling is a form of covetousness a violation of the Tenth Commandment of God. Covetousness may be rightly called "the mother of all sins."

Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, has written eloquently on the evils of gambling:

In an editorial penned by Pastor John Piper of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Piper eloquently explained why churches that accept lottery winnings do so in violation of some of the most fundamental truths of Christian living:Christians are to live by high and holy standards, rejecting the values and practices of the world. When they fail in this regard, the credibility of their lifesaving witness for Christ can be irreparably lost. Jesus said: "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men" (Matthew 7:13).

According to Family News in Focus, Pastor Scott Thomas came to understand this principle all too well. He said he faced a very difficult situation some years ago when a deacon in his congregation offered a portion of lottery winnings for a building fund. Thomas refused the gift, arguing: "I've just always believed that God doesn't need to use chance to build his church." Moreover, he added that impoverished people largely play lotteries and the church shouldn't profit on the backs of the poor.

Despite Thomas' opposition, however, the church wanted the money and fired him. They accepted the gift and built the building. As a result, attendance dropped from 165 to fewer than 50 people a week. Thomas said that several members had called him and lamented, "The albatross around our necks is that we are now known as the lottery church."

Churches that accept gifts from lottery winnings should beware of the deal they make with the devil. They are trading power for prosperity, direction for deviation, and reputation for reproach. That's why churches should never in any fashion place their lot with games of chance, unless they're prepared to lose it all.

Dr. Mark H. Creech
Christian Action League of North Carolina (Director)

Biography - Dr. Mark H. Creech

Dr. Creech is a regular columnist for Agape Press, the national news wire of the American Family Association. His columns have also appeared on numerous other sites across the web, including: The Christian Post, MichNews.com, The Intellectual Conservative, Capitol Hill Coffee House, The North Carolina Conservative, The Conservative Voice, Worldview Weekend Network, Renew America, as well as a number of others.

Copyright 2008 by Dr. Mark H. Creech
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