Alabama's Baptist leadership has come out in opposition to the proposed gambling legislation currently being considered by Alabama lawmakers.
This week, lawmakers unrolled a comprehensive plan to legalize casino gaming, sports betting, and a state lottery through a constitutional amendment to be voted on by the public.
The two bills are sponsored by State Reps. Chris Blackshear (R-Phenix City) and Andy Whitt (R-Harvest). Both have been referred to the Alabama House Committee on Economic Development and Tourism.
While the bill is in its infancy, proponents and opponents are already making their voices heard on the merits and demerits of legalizing gambling in the state.
On Friday, leadership across the state's Baptist leadership joined in a joint letter opposing the expansion of gambling in Alabama and encouraging other Baptist leaders to do the same.
Craig Carlisle, president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention (ABSC); ABSC First Vice President Jarman Leatherwood, ABSC Second Vice President Ryan Whitley; Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions chair Mel Johnson, Vice Chair Jim Graham, and Executive Director Rick Lance all joined the letter.
"We oppose any expansion of gambling in our beloved state of Alabama. The sad and tragic results of gambling frequently adversely affect the poor and wreck the lives of families and individuals who participate, notably those who live below the poverty level. Gambling can intensify addiction, leading to financial ruin, relationship strain, and psychological distress.
"We urge Alabama Baptists to contact state legislators and other elected officials, especially those who have publicly voiced support for any expansion of gambling in our state – whether a lottery, casinos and so-called 'gaming,' which is also gambling – all of which, if legalized, would bring destruction and devastation to the lives of countless families."
The two bills are expected to clear committee and hit the House floor for a vote next week.
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