MACUCC Resolutions on Gambling

The Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ, frequently approves resolutions related to current issues of concern.

Following are three such resolutions related to Gambling.

195th Annual Meeting (1994):
Resolution on Gambling 

The text of this resolution is based on and quotes extensively from a policy statement of the Massachusetts Council of Churches "Gambling and Government: Some Ethical Concerns" issued by Protestant and Orthodox religious leaders in 1993.

The word of God calls us to "trust in the Lord with all your heart" (Prov. 3:5, NRSV) and our Lord Jesus Christ commands us to "strive first for the Kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33, NRSV) in the knowledge that, if we do so, all that we need will be given to us. Our understanding of God in Christ convinces us that life has meaning and purpose; that we should make decisions about our future based on reasonable, prayerful judgements, exercising due care for ourselves, our families, and the common good; that labor is a worthy enterprise; that God gives us grounds for disciplined hope.

WHEREAS the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is becoming increasingly dependent on gambling as a source of revenue. In addition to the many forms of gambling sponsored by the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission in past years, the Commission has recently launched a pilot project placing electronic games called Keno, in bars and racetracks; and

WHEREAS a number of new proposals are being considered by our governor and the legislature, which include plans for casino gambling, video poker and electronic slot machines, and off-track betting; and

WHEREAS whether state sponsored and promoted, or state regulated and taxed, the seductive lure of these proposals is the hope of "easy money" for government operations, cynically assuming that with the right advertising approach, people easily can be manipulated to part with their cash. Such an attitude shows a callous indifference to the real needs of the poor and the whole citizenry and the build up of an idolatrous dependence on the unreliable false god of fortune; and

WHEREAS poor and working class individuals and families are disproportionately affected by the gambling industry - the people that can least afford to gamble being the most affected; however any family is at risk if addictive behavior arises. As opportunities to gamble increase so does the risk of addictions and related problems affecting family life; and

WHEREAS publicly sanctioned and sponsored gambling also creates problems for communities; there is the need for increased law enforcement, the dangers of illicit enterprises accompanying the legal, the expenses of increased demands on infrastructure, and the increased need for social services;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 195th Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ opposes any further reliance on gambling as a source of revenue by the government of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and in addition, urges a gradual weaning of dependence from gambling as a source of revenue and a fairer formula in the distribution of current lottery revenues to cities and towns that favors communities with concentrations of the poor; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 195th Annual Meeting urges the elimination of all funds dedicated to advertising the lottery, and the devoting of all existing lottery revenues to funding government efforts to meet human needs; and in addition, urges banning the use of Keno; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that in anticipation of a possible November ballot question asking voters whether they approve expanded gambling in Massachusetts, the 195th Annual Meeting asks MACUCC congregations to initiate study groups on the issue using materials such as "Gambling and Government: Some Ethical Concerns", a statements by Massachusetts religious leaders; and in addition, the meeting urges local MACUCC church members to vote against the expansion of gambling in Massachusetts if there is such a question on the November ballot; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 195th Annual Meeting asks MACUCC congregations to encourage the writing of letters and the sending of petitions to the governor of Massachusetts and their state senators and legislators voicing their opposition to the expansion of gambling in Massachusetts; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 19th Annual Meeting requests MACUCC congregations to refrain from any forms of gambling for fundraising such as raffles and asks that MACUCC congregations encourage their members to refrain from participating in the lottery and engaging in any other forms of gambling; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 195th Annual Meeting requests the United Church of Christ Pension Boards, United Church Foundations and the Massachusetts Congregational Fund to fully divest of any gambling related stocks; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the 195th Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ requests its Minister and President to send a letter to the Governor of Massachusetts and to every Massachusetts state legislator voicing the opposition of this body to any expansion of gambling in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

188th Annual Meeting (1987)
Resolution on Teletrack Gambling 

WHEREAS the first Commandment calls us to place God before all other goals of our lives, while sin calls us away to strive for a multitude of other entities. Among these substitutes for God in our lives is, for some people, a desperate attempt to win money by gambling; and

WHEREAS gambling has long been recognized as a social evil, a source of addiction for a significant number of those who participate in it, causing them to waste financial resources needed for food, clothing, and shelter, and be a burden to society rather than a credit; and

WHEREAS governments should seek funding for programs in ways that are not socially destructive; and

WHEREAS legislation currently in the Massachusetts State house may request that the City of Chicopee, or any other municipality in Massachusetts, be allowed to permit the developing and operating of a teletrack within its boundaries. The teletrack betting theater would feature viewing of live horse or dog races on a very large screen and would encourage gamblers to place their bets on the contestants of their choice. The proximity of the proposed theater to the poorest neighborhoods of Chicopee and Springfield, MA will undoubtedly encourage many people who cannot afford to do so to try their luck.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 188th Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ goes on record in its opposition to the Chicopee Teletrack or any other Teletrack theater that might be established within Massachusetts; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be sent to Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, Senate President William Bulger, Speaker of the House George Keverian, and to principal Massachusetts media.

182nd Annual Meeting (1984)
Resolution on Casino Gambling

WHEREAS several bills to legalize casino gambling in our Commonwealth have been submitted to the Massachusetts Legislature's Committee on Governmental Regulations; and

WHEREAS the prospect of the passage of a casino gambling bill threatens our citizenry with yet another adverse impact on the moral, economic and environmental stability of our Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS the community benefits promised by the casino interests have not been demonstrated elsewhere in the nation; and

WHEREAS the citizens of towns suffering economic hardship, who are resisting the inducements of powerful casino interests, and who favor tax base development not associated with corruption and criminal influence, should not have to stand alone;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 182nd Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ expresses its categorical opposition to the legalizing of casino gambling in Massachusetts

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be sent to appropriate Representatives, Senator, state, church and local officials and concerned citizens

Proposed by the Pilgrim Association of the Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ.