In November 2004, Oklahomans passed state question 705 approving the lottery. Of course, much of the money is allocated for education. On top of this, we have Native American casinos popping up like maggots everywhere you look.
It doesn’t matter what time of day or week you drive by these large casinos; the parking lots are full of people. And believe it or not, the people at the casinos aren’t driving their Lexus or Cadillac down for a few tugs on the old slot machine. The problem is terrible in Southeastern Oklahoma. Families are struggling to make payments on houses and loans while still faithfully making their trips to the casinos and buying lotto tickets trying to hit it big.
A friend and I were discussing this some time ago. What can the United Methodist Church do about these things? We can do what we often do and pass another resolution, but we thought it might be better to do something proactive.
My suggestion was to purchas billboards that communicate the connection between the lottery, casinos, and the poor with our biblical mandate to do justice and love kindness (Micah 6:8). In fact, I thought the reference in my title would be a great billboard. Imagine, in the background is a big lottery ticket and a picture of a casino. In the foreground of these pictures are these words, “Grinding the Face of the Poor Since 2004. Isaiah 3:15). Underneath that we could place a number to gambling addiction services, and below we could have the words The United Methodist Church, a Micah 6:8 community.
Yes, it’s ambiguous. But, I think it might make people ask questions and try to imagine why we were connecting the two things. Do you think this would work, or should we just pass another resolution?
5 thoughts on “Grinding the Face of the Poor Since 2004”
A gutsy idea, Matt. As a friend of mine heard a bishop in a neighboring area say, “Don’t they know the definition of ‘resolution’ is ‘nobody gives a crap’?”
Resolutions are such the easy way out. They allow us to feel okay about saying we’ve done something when we really haven’t. Your billboard idea, on the other hand… thought-provoking, to say the very least.
if it works bring it to tennessee. there is also a show on tlc/discovery that is called “jackpot stories.” it is about people who win the lottery. you could probably do a “jackpot story” of all the people who spend 60 bucks a day on tickets and how that could have funded their retirement or at-least paid for their current utilities.
DB – I think that bishop is right. We’ve voted in resolutions at conference that are good intentions, but never get anywhere past that. I wonder if we’re even set up to do something at an Annual Conference gathering beyond debating and passing resolutions. It seems to me (based on my very limited experience) that discussing and implementing tangible things is not something ACs are good at.
Gavin – I’ve seen that too. Scary and sad at the same time… So many people think they are a lottery win away from having no problems. But, in the immortal words of the Notorious B.I.G., Mo Money, Mo Problems.
We should urge people not to gamble and warn about its dangers, but ultimately, it’s consenting adults using their own money, and so should not be illegal.
Thanks for your comment John. I wasn’t discussing the legalities of the situation. I simply wanted to suggest a Kingdom response.