Jamaican Churches Against Gambling
By Earl
The Jamaican Gleaner newspaper reports that leaders of the Catholic Church here “hold strong opposition” to the island’s many betting shops and even to the lottery, which is very popular with the general public, who buy tickets in “supermarkets, pharmacies and stores to win their way out of the working world.”

The gamblers include many church-going Christians, but Reverend Enroy Clarke, described as the parish overseer for the St. Mary circuit of the Assemblies of Holiness, said, “Gambling is a no-no.” The Reverend Peter Kirby, pastor of the St. Andrew Lutheran Church, said, “We try to let the Bible speak to it. The Bible does not specifically speak against gambling. However, it can be construed that it is not the wisest use for money; we do not openly chastise people for gambling but we do not encourage it.”

Tourism is declining in Jamaica, largely due to the rather grim living conditions of the working poor and the high rate of violent crime on the island. This decline in revenue has encouraged some entrepreneurs to push for the opening of casinos to boost Jamaica’s one thriving industry, gambling. However both major political parties have turned deaf ears to that notion, so far. However, some politicians, such as Antonnette Haughton-Cardenas, President of the United People's Party (UPP), backs the idea of all gambling being used to fund education. “We can fund education when we add the figures of dollars made out of gambling in this country. Billions of dollars are made in profits from gambling in this country, and the only purpose gambling serves is for social re-engineering, from where we sit,” she said.

The paper observed that the church “... may need a miracle to stop the next Government from dancing to the pro-gambling beat.”

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