Gambling item keeps
CLC leaders vigilant
By Allen Palmeri
JEFFERSON CITY—Less than one month away from the election, the Christian Life Commission (CLC) of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) wants to help Missouri Baptists be godly citizens. One concern is gambling.
Proposition A, a proposal to change current state law with casinos offering to put an additional $100 million into the state’s education program, was deliberated by commissioners Sept. 25. The proposition, which is being challenged in court, involves the removal of the present loss limit of $500 per two-hour period, an increase in the gambling tax from 20 percent to 21 percent, and a cap on the number of casinos in the state. Gambling interests hope litigation involving the fairness of the ballot title language and accuracy of the fiscal note assumptions will be resolved very soon in a manner where voters (even Christian voters in southwest Missouri) will go for their package. Commissioners are wary.
“If you look at this ballot initiative and think that it’s going to protect your community, you’re horribly mistaken,” said Phil Gloyer, CLC chairman and a layman from Forest Park Baptist Church, Joplin. “The gambling industry is never going to stop. This is just one more step towards what they would like to see is a saturation of our state with opportunities for people to gamble—to donate their money.
“I think if a community doesn’t have a casino in their neighborhood right now, I can understand why they’d want to protect that, but it’s short-sighted to think that this ballot initiative would actually provide that protection in the long run. In fact, in doing away with the loss limit, it’s going to increase the amount of money that people are losing at casinos, and it’s going to increase the needs that we have around the state to address the problems that come out of gambling. The casino 100 miles away still affects your community.”
Commissioners discussed ways to get the word out on Proposition A, with Gloyer agreeing to take the lead up through the 174th annual meeting of the MBC Oct. 27-29 at the Millennium Hotel in St. Louis and on into the actual Nov. 4 election.
A proposed voter’s guide identifying the positions of Republican and Democrat candidates for president and governor on abortion, gay marriage, human embryo research, and homosexuality was reviewed.
“We have a need to remind Missouri Baptists to go to the polls,” Gloyer said. “They have an opportunity to do good by casting their vote. I think we need to remind Missouri Baptists that they have that responsibility to act—at least by voting, if not by more active involvement in campaigns and issue-based concerns.
“I think what we’ll see is at least a reminder through our email network for people to look at the issues and the candidates carefully and to vote accordingly. Whether we send out something in print or not, I don’t know. We’ll have printed materials available at the convention that people can take advantage of, and certainly we’ll work to make sure that people can know where to find information about the candidates and their positions, and about the ballot issues.”
On an issue that will extend beyond the 2008 election, Gloyer said “we’re here, and we’re not going to go away” in the effort to amend the Missouri Constitution to truly ban human cloning and embryonic stem cell research. Amendment 2, which passed in 2006, “banned” human cloning even though it allowed for somatic cell nuclear transfer, which is a form of cloning. That led to a determined effort by pro-life activists to obtain fair and favorable ballot title language. They fell short of their goals this year but are building toward a massive grassroots initiative campaign for the 2010 mid-term election.
Gloyer said he is glad that the current initiative language is in much better shape than it was a year ago. If another court battle must be waged, he said, at least now there is more time. The process of give and take could be initiated as soon as Nov. 5, when the improved, court-tested wording could be filed with the state.
On another area of moral concern, the CLC’s partnership with the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families continues to help Missouri Baptists overcome the harmful effects of pornography, Gloyer said. This partnership goes along with the MBC’s church health emphasis in that it impacts families, discipleship, and evangelism.
Gloyer said he does not anticipate having to present a CLC-authorized resolution on global warming at the annual meeting. In 2007, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) spoke clearly on the issue, he said, affirming man’s stewardship of the planet, acknowledging that there is scientific debate on the subject, and urging caution in accepting the theory that global warming (climate change) is a man-made crisis.
“We’re happy with the status quo,” he said.
He acknowledged that supporters of a March declaration by Southern Baptists on the environment and climate change, which was signed by MBC President Gerald Davidson, may try to craft an MBC resolution. Their view is that Missouri Baptists have been “too timid” in their response to global warming. Gloyer warned that if language like this comes forth as an MBC resolution it will be met with stiff resistance.
“The Christian Life Commission is prepared to express our opposition to it,” he said.