The Open Door: Slam the doors on casinos and gambling!

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At left Mike Griffin, Public Affairs respresentative for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, testifies on gambling before a state Senate committee while J. Robert White, Mission Board executive director, looks on. GERALD HARRIS/Index

Last week I spent two days at the Capitol as we had a great time with Georgia Baptist pastors and staff members who joined us to learn more about the legislative process and to gather information about current legislation before the General Assembly. Our Public Affairs Representative, Mike Griffin, and his assistant, Tom Rush, did an outstanding job organizing the event and leading us through the experience.

I want to especially thank Dr. Emir Caner, who was our featured speaker. Dr. Caner spoke on the theme of “Religious Freedom” and gave a five-hundred-year history, beginning with the Anabaptists, of the martyrs who gave their lives for the sake of the religious liberties that we treasure today. As he informed us of the significant part that the Anabaptists had in religious freedom, Dr. Caner detailed the horrific persecutions they endured.

Dare we treat our religious freedom lightly when so many gave their lives for it? It was very disheartening for our Governor to veto religious freedom legislation that made it to his desk last year. Our resolve, however, is not dampened, and we will continue to seek religious freedom legislation in Georgia.

Some cite discrimination against the homosexual community by Christians as a reason to oppose the passage of such legislation. This is a curious concept. There are over thirty states that have passed similar legislation, and there has not been one instance of discrimination against the homosexual community. The greater fear is discrimination against Christians, which has indeed taken place, when Christians are forced to act contrary to their religious faith. Some have faced stiff fines for refusing to participate in homosexual ceremonies. This is real discrimination, and it has no place in America.

Legislation currently in process before the General Assembly has to do with bringing casinos to Georgia. In order to cloak the reality of this legislation, the casino bill has been labeled the “Destination Resort Bill.” Did you know that if you put a restaurant, hotel rooms, and live entertainment inside a casino, it is no longer a casino? It then becomes a “destination resort.” I’m sorry, but this insults the intelligence of every Georgia citizen.

I want to encourage every Georgia Baptist to communicate with your senator and representative in the Georgia General Assembly right now and tell them you do not want casinos in Georgia, no matter what name they call it. Copy your communication to the Governor, the Lt. Governor and the Speaker of the House. They need to hear from you now.

Already this move on the part of certain members of the General Assembly has encouraged an Indian tribe to move forward with plans to put a casino in Georgia. My understanding is that this can be done without the approval of our legislature. I have also been informed that the tribes do not necessarily move toward placing casinos where the state governing leadership is opposed to casinos, but once there is a move toward casinos, the Indian tribes become more aggressive in seeking to place a casino in the state.

Casinos are bad for business, bad for families, and promote rapid moral decay. Georgia needs to slam the door on casinos!

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