The Truth at Last

  What would you think of a government that deliberately set about to increase crime, divorce, suicide, child abuse, bankruptcy, and domestic violence? What would say if I told you that your own leaders are doing just that when they encourage gambling? This was one of the findings of a national gambling commission, which released its report last week. After two years of study, the findings are indisputable: Gambling will destroy our families, our communities and our country--unless we roll up our sleeves and get to work. I'm familiar with the findings because I just had a long talk with my good friend Jim Dobson, who was a member of the gambling commission. Jim regards this report as an historic breakthrough. Up until now, gambling has been spreading like an epidemic, with hardly a voice raised in opposition. But this report has hit like a bomb and is creating a debate across the country that wasn't there before. This could not have been predicted two years ago, when it appeared that the deck was being stacked against moral conservatives. Several commission members actually represented gambling interests. Other members were unknowns. The only two certain conservatives were Dobson and pro-family activist Kay James, who did a tremendous job serving as chairperson. But the fact of the matter is that the gambling industry got rolled. They're trying to put a good spin on this report, but in reality it's a tremendous defeat for them. It calls for a moratorium on the expansion of gambling, a ban on neighborhood gambling operations, restrictions on political contributions, and curbs on deceptive advertising. This is really amazing, and I believe it was Dobson's great leadership that turned the tide. The goal now, of course, is turning the recommendations into law. And that won't be easy, because gambling interests pump millions into the campaigns of Democrats and Republicans alike. In May alone, President Clinton raised $400,000 from gambling interests for the Democratic National Committee. And in the last election, gambling money defeated two governors who opposed lotteries. You and I have to build a backlash to overcome the political power. We have to use the commission's findings to convince our neighbors that gambling is not just harmless entertainment. As Dobson wrote in the commission's report, "Clearly, gambling is a destroyer that ruins lives and wrecks families. A mountain of evidence... demonstrates a direct link between... gambling and divorce, child abuse, domestic violence, bankruptcy, crime, and suicide." And it gets worse. "Eighty-five percent of our young people," Dobson writes, "are already gambling on everything from card games to sports teams to casinos and lotteries." Most shockingly, the commission documents how state governments and the gambling industry work hand in hand to get people to gamble more, and to cultivate the gambling habit in the next generation, exposing kids to video poker machines in restaurants, bowling alleys and convenience stores. The government also gets behind "vigorous promotion of gambling among the poor, less-educated, and senior populations," according to Dobson. Dobson is exactly right--and the results have been devastating. I believe gambling is going to turn into one of the great moral issues of the next decade--but it will happen only if you and I are willing to get busy. -------------------------------------------------- You can read the gambling commission's final report on the Internet by clicking on For more information about the harm gambling causes, click on For a sermon outline on gambling, and for information on helping gambling addicts, call Focus on the Family at 1-800-A-FAMILY.


Chuck Colson



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