Statement of opposition to the legalization of gambling

The statement opposing the legalization of gambling was approved through Action 92-68 by the Executive Committee on 24 November 1992. It was further agreed that the statement be published in the national and regional newspapers, and that member-churches be encouraged to issue similar statements.

In 1968. when House Bill 16980 was filed in the Sixth Congress of the Philippines seeking the legalization of gambling, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines indicated its categorical opposition to such a move, noting the “disastrous effects” this will have “upon the moral, spiritual, economic and political life of our people.” Today, as once more similar moves towards the legalization of various forms of gambling are being proposed, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines reiterates the position it had taken in 1968, and categorically and unequivocally declares again its opposition to such moves and to the legalization of gambling in any form any’where in our country. The arguments laid down by the Council in 1968 in support of its position remain valid. In reiterating that position, we wish to specially take note of the following:

1. We reject the arguments which have been forwarded b some in support of the legalization of gambling:

a. We reject the notion that gambling should be legalized because laws prohibiting them have not been enforceable. We reject the notion, in other words, that in legalizing at least some forms of gambling, we are placing these under closer regulation and scrutiny, and would make the Empowerment a recipient of their presumed economic benefits. The dangers which such an attitude pose to social morality and well being are unimaginable. In a situation where so much criminality persists, e.g., smuggling, prostitution and kidnapping, to take such an attitude could mean that we will soon become a society of “legalized crime and immorality.” In the process, we beg one of the critical questions of our present national life, namely, the more strict implementation of laws and the more efficient and quicker administration of justice. If we are to assume such a notion, in other words, we ease the burden on the administration of justice and give freer rein to the prevailing rampant violation of law. Too much violation of law and too slow enforcement of justice go on in our country now. We can not afford to give legal credibility to such practice.

b. We also reject the notion that the legalization of gambling is acceptable because of the immediate economic benefits and resources it will provide, and the possible uses such resources will do for public good. If in political relations, might is never always right, in social and moral relations, the end should never justify the means. Charity should never become the occasion for criminality, for example, and should never be used to cover up immorality. Those who have the capacity to give, to meet the needs of the suffering and less fortunate, should be encouraged to do so rather than be told to give a little because, in return, they may possibly earn millions more that would come from a “game of chance.”

2. The pernicious weakening of the moral fabric of society and the debasement of motivations, intentions and purposes of people are precisely what are at stake in the question of gambling. Gambling has always carried with it a climate of criminality and immorality. Gambling has bred corruption in public and private places. It has spawned and will continue to spawn violence. It has brought in its train organized crime. It is almost always accompanied by prostitution and the commercialization of sex. The prospect of easy money gained from a game of chance creates notions of an easy life, loose sex, and an even looser sense of public and private good. The notions of hard work, discipline and the rational use and investment of resources necessary for human and social development are visciated and debased in the false hope of quick money that is to be made possible by the remote chance of winning. Thus, gambling has always been and is a social and moral cancer.

3. What makes gambling even more potently destructive of the lives of people is its illusory and deceptive character. Very few really win in gambling. The only sure winners, in fact, are the gambling lords and their coterie of gambling pushers and pimps. In creating the illusion, however, of great fortune that is easily accessible to all with very little work or investment beyond little bit of luck, it has engendered the sacrifice and loss of hard earned resources on the part of many, and has brought about a culture of dependence upon the uncertain and illusory “altar of chance .” Gambling, despite winnings for a few, is a false hope for most. It is “opium of the people.” It is a false and illusory alternative to authentic human development.

4. Being a false hope and an illusory dependency, gambling is also a false god. Gambling is idolatrous. It is a form of worship at the altar of the “god of Mammon.” It is an expression of a distorted faith about what it means to be human and about the meaning of human development, about who it is or what it is on which people should put their trust, and about what kind of future there is for each and for all. It is not only a moral and social distortion. It is also theological heresy. To legalize any form of it can only mean the beginning of a massive erosion of the foundations of our society and its development.

5. Finally, having made this statement, we make the following appeals:

a. To President Fidel V. Ramos, to use the influence of his office to oppose any proposals for the legalization of gambling in any form.

b. To members of Congress, to reject any legislation that would in any way legalize gambling.

c. To member-churches of the Council, to oppose any moves to legalize gambling in any form anywhere in the country and to undertake whatever appropriate action is needed to be done.