This Opinion piece was published in numerous local Pennsylvania newspapers regarding a proposed casino in Berks County. However, the information this article is valuable for those who wish to know the moral and ethical problems of gambling.
A Casino in Morgantown—Out of Place
By Hon. Sam Rohrer
A gambling casino located in Morgantown, Pennsylvania, is about as incongruous as a Planned Parenthood office in the basement of a church or a physician intentionally injecting a healthy patient with tuberculosis. The rural and religious heritage of the Morgantown area, the pristine nature of the area as a gateway to Amish-dominated Lancaster County, and the conservative western Chester and Southern Berks Counties are clear and obvious.
These deep cultural values reflected in the work ethic, historic moral standards, committed family life and neighbor-helping-neighbor lifestyles of our community stand in sharp contrast to the nature and results of gambling and the destructive addictions resulting from gambling, as well as the associated by-products of increased alcohol consumption and the frequent degenerating impacts on family life.
Our historical and carefully nurtured culture is now at risk, intentionally or unintentionally created by the decision of the Caernarvon Township Supervisors to ‘open the door’ to a major gambling facility. What would compel the supervisors to encourage such a risk is a clearly unanswered question. Why would the supervisors consider the unique nature of this community and the culture of the people who voted for them to be of such little value? Short of promising some elusive tax revenues to citizens of the township, what value to the community do the supervisors offer in exchange for a casino? What cultural value does a major gambling casino contribute to our community? What upstanding values of character, integrity or work ethic does gambling in any form offer to our children? Our families? What upstanding and personally strengthening moral attributes can a gambling facility ever offer a community, and specifically our generally God-fearing culture? There are none.
Whereas the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will hold a public hearing on March 4—a requirement of law—these hearings will likely resemble most public hearings held by similar entities of government: short on objective evaluations and often much more greatly influenced by monied interests than serious consideration of ‘the best interest’ of the community or the prevailing and historic culture of the area immediately impacted by it.
A gambling casino in Morgantown simply does not fit. It counters the prevailing culture. It cannot inspire an enhanced climate of work ethic or greater financial, personal or family morals. It cannot guarantee that people will not become addicted to the fast-money allure of gambling and that it will not contribute to the weakening of families and individuals. The simple reason is that historic results and impacts of gambling can only guarantee a disastrous ‘get rich quick’ mentality and predictable crippling addictions that undermine children’s lives and weaken families already under assault by a media and culture bent on destroying the Judeo-Christian worldview underpinning our laws and our nation.
When the gambling industry bought its way into law on July 4, 2004, it was on Independence Day and it was a Sunday morning! I know. I was there. I verbally opposed in floor debate opening the door to gambling in Pennsylvania, arguing against it on the floor of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. I even hearkened back to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which listened to a sermon from Pastor William Stith in Williamsburg on Mar 1, 1752.
At that time, Pastor Stith made a most compelling case against the ‘Pernicious Nature of Gambling.’ His reasons then are the same now because truth doesn’t change. We’d do well to familiarize ourselves with them. The very nature of gambling is:
- Against one’s neighbor (Exodus 20:17)
- Against one’s country (Proverbs 14:34)
- Against one’s family (Ephesians 6:4)
- Against oneself
- Against God (Ephesians 2:5)
These arguments prevailed in the Virginia legislature, and they prevailed in Pennsylvania until 2004. While gambling may now be legal, it still remains opposed to all that is good for a community and a nation. While we can do nothing to limit the expansion of gambling in other parts of the state, we can here. The Gaming Commission, and particularly the Caernarvon Supervisors, can and should consider well a final decision to inject this community with a gambling casino.