RACE TRACK SWEEPSTAKES
One by one sins become legalized and the moral standards in this country continue to disintegrate. The latest step in the legal support of sin is the passing of a law by the legislature of the state of New Hampshire to permit a state-operated racetrack lottery.
While many states have in the past legalized racetrack gambling, this is the first time that a state has chosen to run such a gambling operation in order to add to its revenues. Other states have considered at one time or another the possibility of such a method of adding to their source of income, and will be watching closely to see what happens in this new venture. There are also those in the Federal Congress who would like to see a national lottery run by the Federal government which could be used to raise additional money to try to balance a swollen budget. Although this is all quite new here, it has long been practiced in Europe especially in England, although the lottery was often on soccer games.
The whole thing runs something like this. Tickets of $3.00 each can be purchased either at a race track or at a State liquor store. A number is drawn blindly from a drum—a number placed on horses that run in the sweepstakes races. The winning number is determined by the winning horses. The top prize for the winning gambler will probably be between $40,000 and $75,000, while the state of New Hampshire is expected to net about $4,000,000 after the expenses are paid and the prizes awarded. This will be the revenue of two races run under government control and sponsorship.
The state hopes to make most of its money from out of state people. There is a law which prohibits the shipping or mailing of lottery tickets across state lines; so plans are being made for an out-of-state resident to come into the state to buy his ticket, then to leave his ticket with a state agent to return to collect his prize if he should be a winner.
There has been surprisingly little opposition to such a bill. The Roman Catholic Church has never opposed lotteries, and in fact, runs them in its own parishes to raise money for the Church. Some clergymen have opposed the bill by questioning the wisdom and propriety of raising money by such methods. They have pointed out that gambling of any sort usually attracts the most undesirable of underworld characters and professional gamblers, and is associated usually with scandals of one sort or another. One religious editor objected on the grounds that “it will also appeal to those who have the gambling instinct to get something for nothing—and to those psychologically sick people who gamble to lose. . . . Surely many recognize that the morals of a society are not enhanced when a state caters to the weaknesses of its citizens in order to 6.nd an ‘easy way’ to meets its financial obligations.”
The money that the state will raise through this lottery is designated for “educational purposes” and will be used in the public school system. This is also intended to soothe the conscience of those who otherwise might object.
But “educational purposes” or not, gambling remains a sin in whatever form it may appear, and even when it is legalized by those in authority. The trouble is that people have become accustomed to this sort of thing when it is sponsored by various companies who print their enticing advertisements for sweepstakes on the back of cereal boxes or on soap wrappers usually requiring the completion of some inane jingle or of some “I like …………………… because” in 25 words or less. Even grocery stores have learned to promote their business by some form of lottery—although usually it is necessary for a person to buy a certain amount of groceries before he can have opportunity to pick a “lucky number” or put his name in a pot from which winners will be drawn. From this type of lottery, it is but a step to the gambling which New Hampshire is promoting to add to its revenues.
Yet the Scriptural principle of Christian stewardship surely condemns all this. Our Father in heaven provides us with the necessities of life. But our present day is filled with the craving for material things; and so a something-for-nothing deal or a quick-get-rich scheme is very attractive and appealing. Nor do ends justify means. The promotion of education is not a legitimate reason to sin.
But there is very little moral consciousness left in this country.
SOUTHERN PRESBYTERIAN ASSEMEBLY
The Presbyterian Church US, better known as the Southern Presbyterian Church, recently held its 103rd General Assembly meeting in Huntington, West Virginia. This denomination is a comparatively conservative Church of 928,056 members which also publishes the well-known Presbyterian Journal. Several decisions made at this assembly are of interest.
The assembly elected as its moderator, Rev. William H. McCorkle. This was somewhat significant, for there seems to have been a struggle between liberals and conservatives to put “their own man” in this important and influential office. The liberal nominee was Dr. Frank Caldwell, president of the Louisville Theological Seminary. Rev. McCorkle was nominated by the conservatives as a man known for his middle-of-the-road moderation. He was elected by a squeaking 229-218 vote.
The question of ecumenicity also came up for various decisions. For one thing, the assembly rejected an overture calling for withdrawal from the National Council of Churches. Secondly, the assembly decided to continue talks with the Reformed Church of America. These talks have been going on now for some time and aim to bring these two Church bodies together so that “ultimately the Presbyterian and Reformed communions in the United States should present a united life and witness according to the Reformed faith and Presbyterian order.” Thirdly, although there was considerable support for it, the assembly rejected the request of those who wanted union talks also with the Presbyterian Church USA, a denomination sometimes called the “northern cousin” of the Southern Presbyterians, although it is considerably more liberal. Fourthly, the assembly rejected proposals to support the “Blake-Pike” Church union plan, but did vote to send observers to the Consultation on Church Union (the formal name of the six-denomination Blake-Pike negotiations).
A decision of a little different kind was also made that may have far-reaching consequences in the denomination. Proposals had come to the assembly which requested changes in the Book of Church Orderpermit the ordination of women in the offices of ministers, elders and deacons. These proposals had stirred considerable comment in the Church papers prior to the assembly meeting, and provoked the liveliest debate at the Assembly. But the resolution was passed that sent the proposals down to the local presbyteries for consideration. If a majority of the presbyteries and the next Assembly meeting approve it, the changes will be made. The vote was 249-173. In a separate action the Assembly urged women to express themselves to their presbyteries on the issue.
The Roman Catholic Church grew faster than any denomination in this country the past year. There were almost a million new members added to this church, although, surprisingly enough, there were only 125,670 converts, while the rest were all born within the Church. The number of converts is the lowest of any number in the last decade.
The Roman Catholic population in the United States is now 43,851,538 baptized church members, or 23.3% of the total U.S. population. In ten years the Church has increased 44.1%. The largest concentration of Catholics is to be found in the archdioceses of Chicago (2,293,900 members), Boston (1,733,620 members) and New York (1,704,350 members). Ordained Catholic priests number 56,540.
Pope John XXIII has been slowly pushing the Roman Catholic Church towards a more liberal attitude in the Church’s relation to outsiders. This has been also the dominant tone of the Vatican Council. Once in a while it seems, the liberal attitude gets out of hand a bit.
A certain Swiss-born priest, Hans Kueng, has been in this country recently, He is the dean of the theological faculty at the University of Tuebingen and a consultant at the Vatican Council. In his remarks in an interview in Chicago, this priest made several suggestions which placed him a considerable distance from the official position of the Roman Catholic Church. On the one hand, he suggested that it was absolutely necessary to do something to change the rules governing mixed marriages. Especially in de United States, England and Northern Europe, where mixed marriages occur most frequently, the priest suggested that, instead of the Catholic partner working for the conversion of the Protestant partner as canon law now demands, each partner have respect for the Christian faith of the other. On the other hand, as far as children born from mixed marriages not performed by the Romish Church are concerned, it is intolerable, said the priest, that these children should be considered illegitimate by the Church. And, instead of the Church insisting on children from mixed marriages being educated as Roman Catholics, he suggested that this could much better be left up to the consciences of the parents.
The Romish Church is interested in improving relations with their “separated brethren”; but this was too much. His views were roundly condemned back home; and several Church leaders there suggested that the Church point out that Priest Kueng was speaking strictly for himself and not for the Church. Others suggested that the Church ought to put a stop to such talk and prohibit its clergy from departing so radically from the official position of the Vatican.
MORE ON EVOLUTIONISM
In a recent issue of Christianity Today, a brief article appeared which shows’ once again how far the Church world has gone in the direction of evolutionism. We quote the article in full.
In the United States on his annual visit, noted British anthropologist Louis S.B. Leakey suggests that man is overspecialized in his hands and brains. As a result man has created the tools of his own self-destruction. But Leakey sees a ray of hope in that man may save himself if he properly uses his overspecialized brain.
At a news conference in Washington last month, Leakey averred that his continued fossil findings in East Africa present “no major conflict” with the Scriptures. He has written, nonetheless, that “the stock which eventually gave rise to man separated from that of the great apes and the gibbons, at least in Lower Miocene times, perhaps 25,000,000 years ago.”
Leakey, son of Anglican missionaries, also has said that the African continent was ‘the main evolutionary center” for the higher primates and the birthplace of man himself, because there is “‘far more evidence concerning apes and ‘near-men”‘ from that continent than any other area.
Leakey and his wife, who now work under the auspices of the National Geographic Society, are widely regarded as the world’s foremost prehistorians.
Meanwhile, in New York, the National Council of Churches issued a press release which concludes that ‘in most people’s minds there is no longer any conflict between the teachings of the Bible and those of Charles Darwin on man’s origin.”
The release cited weekly NCC telecasts “which accept and explain the theory of evolution.” It said that heavy mail from viewers shows that “scarcely one in 1,000 still finds any conflict between the Darwinian theory and the book of Genesis.”