Moving marriage amendment to Aug 3 could spell trouble for proposed Branson casino
By Allen Palmeri
June 22, 2004
JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri Baptists who were discouraged when Democratic political leaders and the Missouri Supreme Court combined to place the so-called marriage amendment to the state constitution on the Aug. 3 ballot need to take heart, according to the chairman of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Christian Life Commission.
Rodney Albert said that when Gov. Bob Holden got what he wanted by preventing the marriage amendment vote from taking place in November, he also may have doomed another Aug. 3 ballot issue.
The other controversial issue on the Aug. 3 ballot seeks to legalize casino gambling in Rockaway Beach, a town about 10 miles from family-oriented activities at Branson. By welcoming the pro-traditional marriage vote to the August primary election, Albert said Holden may have essentially uttered the phrase “NoMoGambling” — which is the central message of the MBC pro-family campaign as expressed by the website www.nomogambling.com.
“The marriage issue is what’s going to really fire up Missouri Baptists,” Albert said. “We’re against gambling but it’s not going to get our motor going. We’ve been fighting gambling since 1992, but the marriage issue is fresh. The Missouri Baptist who gets motivated to vote is going to vote the same on both issues. So I’m kind of glad they’re both on the same ballot.”
The governor actually did Missouri Baptists a favor by orchestrating it so that both moral issues will be decided at the same time, Albert said. By choosing to do it this way, Holden is sending a clear “NoMo Gambling” message even if he never intended it to be that way, Albert said.
“I would have been really worried if the gambling issue was by itself,” Albert said.
Consequently, Missouri Baptist pastors are registering their people to vote, Albert said. It will be easier to accomplish a large registration before the July 7 deadline, he said, when you are staring down the barrel of a gun loaded with two moral issues, as opposed to one.
“In my church (Hallsville Baptist), we’re doing voter registration,” Albert said. “The process is very simple. All churches ought to be doing voter registration.”
The next step is to expand into the community. Albert said his church hopes to set up a booth in Hallsville so they can carry out the desire of MBC Executive Director David Clippard and influence four pro-family friends to vote “NoMo Gambling.”
Our goal is to register people “by word of mouth,” using contacts within local civic organizations, he said.
As chairman of the Missouri CLC and pastor of a local Missouri Baptist church, Albert suggests fellow pastors preach sermons on gambling before the Aug. 3 vote.
“Branson is too precious a Missouri treasure to mess with, and we certainly can’t afford gambling anywhere near that area,” Albert said.