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Lottery and Gambling

Is it wrong for churches and ministries to receive money that was won through gambling or the lottery? Many believe that gambling is immoral and, therefore, that giving such money to the church would taint its holiness or its work. Others ask what better way to dispose of tainted money than to relinquish it for charitable use. With the ongoing legalization of the lottery in some states, several church leaders have been forced to take a stand. The following articles and essays present both sides of their response.

Articles and Papers

First-Person: The Riches of Integrity
Kelly Boggs. Baptist Press, January 3, 2003.

A man in West Virginia recently won the lottery and pledged large donations to three separate churches that seemed eager to receive the gift. About the same time, a man if Florida won the lottery and tried to give $100,000 to the Salvation Army, a gift that was declined. What are the moral consequences of charities accepted money from the lottery? Pastor Boggs praises the moral strength and integrity of the Salvation Army and encourages other charities to follow suit.

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Churches Start Counting Lottery’s Blessings
Barbara Whitaker and Robert D. McFadden. The New York Times, December 30, 2002.

Gambling is forbidden in the Church of God. Still, pastor Gerald S. Abreu, one of three recipients of former parishioner Andrew J. Whittaker Jr.’s lottery tithe, said, “If God wants to take the devil’s money and give it to us, that’s fine.”

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Some Pastors Would Reject Lottery Tithe
Deb Richardson-Moore. The Greenville (S.C.) News, January 1, 2003.

The debates began when a West Virginia man promised to tithe to his churches on $314 million he won in a Powerball drawing. Does a church have any business accepting money gained in gambling? Dr. Hal Lane, pastor of West Side Baptist Church in Greenwood, S.C., and current president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, believes that though the lottery is legal, it is still immoral and that tithing the winnings is just an attempt to legitimize the way the money was obtained. Lane’s church would not accept such a tithe. On the other hand, we have the Rev. Athon Arant, pastor of Berea Friendship United Methodist Church, who laughingly repeated a line he’d heard an evangelist use: “The devil’s used that money long enough. It’s time to put it to good use.” While the feelings on both side are strong, many clergy are unsure as to what they would do if the tithe where offered to their church. What is the Church’s responsibility in regards to accepting lottery money?

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Salvation Army Turns Down $100G Lottery Gift
The Associated Press; rpt. Newsday, January 2, 2003.

The Salvation Army will not accept a $100,000 donation from a Florida Lotto winner because its local leader didn't want to take money associated with gambling.

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Salvation Army Refuses Lotto Winner’s $100,000 Donation
Ray Parker. Naples (Fla.) Daily News, December 28, 2002.

While it could have used the money, the Salvation Army declined to accept a $100,000 donation from a Florida Lotto winner because “to accept it would be to talk out both sides of our mouth.”

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