Catholocism and Gambling

Norman E. Fultz
Blue Island, Ill.

Gambling may be defined as the placing of a wager on a chance. It is a practice condemned by the word of God though the word "gambling" is not used in all of Holy Writ. Such passages as Gen. 3:19; Lk. 10:7; and Eph. 4:28 forbid it. The very law of love itself when practiced will not permit it. But as with many other things condemned by the Bible, gambling is sanctioned by the Catholic Church; yes and even in states where the practice is illegal. Notice the following article appearing in the Milwaukee Journal, August 28, 1951:

"Ten $50 defense bonds were raffled off at a picnic of Appleton's Sacred Heart Catholic Church Sunday. Other gambling went 'at a brisk pace.' Money, prizes and groceries were won by picnickers who played roulette, bought chances from ticket jars and tossed rings, balls and nickels in gambling games. 'A deputy sheriff,' said a news report, 'was on the grounds to keep order.' Obviously the deputy sheriff wasn't there to enforce the law-for this was open and flagrant violation of Wisconsin laws against gambling, and he let it go on . . . Aside from the need for law enforcement, the Appleton picnic is it fine case study of the ethical relapse that so many people are wringing their hands over. How can a community expect its youngsters to have respect for law and order when a religious group and a law enforcement official join in contempt of law and enable hundreds to violate law?"

But then too, we want you to notice this appearing in the Chicago Sun-Times, Tuesday, August 20, 1957, and titled "Bettors in the Pews."

"Saratoga Springs, N.Y. - The pastor at St. Peter's announced the annual fuel collection by old local custom, the announcement is scheduled for this 'time' of August when the horseplayers are in town holding enough of the folding to defray the cost of heating church and school, rectory and convent through Saratoga's long winter. Then the snow lies deep on the race track and visitors have forsaken the mineral springs and health baths.

"'I hear it said,' the priest said, 'that Saratoga and the race track especially have been enjoying their best season in history. More people have been attending the races and more money has been going through the machines than ever before.

" 'I understand that the other day the daily double windows were kept open longer than usual, and when they closed there were still lines waiting and 150 people were turned away. If any of those people are here, we will cheerfully accept those bets in the collection baskets.'

"The cheerful words came pleasantly from the pulpit. Maybe there are churches where tolerant mention of gambling would seem out of place but not in Saratoga where racing remains a recreation first and a business enterprise last."

Now this church is called St. Peter's, but it is rather difficult to imagine that beloved apostle of our Lord upholding or even "tolerantly mentioning gambling." Yes, that which the editor of the Milwaukee Journal says is the cause of many people "wringing their hands" is that which Catholicism upholds and promotes.

But one other pungent morsel of undeniable proof of Catholicism's open and flagrant violation of civil gambling laws. The Chicago Sun-Times of September 3, 1958 carried the following:

"Hatley, Wis. (AP) - The pastor of St. Florian Roman Catholic Church, whose grounds were being raided Sunday when a state agent died of a heart attack, paid a total of $350 in fines Tuesday.

"The St. Florian congregation was charged with selling liquor without a license and permitting real estate to be used for gambling.

"The Rev. Raymond Rucki pleaded no contest to both charges on behalf of the congregation . . .

". . . Agents found bingo equipment, horse race games and a wheel of chance."

When Senator Wiley (R. - Wis.) Recently pointed out to Alaska the evils of legalized gambling, he said, "There is no way to reckon the costs of broken homes; husbands who squander the family paycheck; wives who send time at the slot machines . . .; and children who become utterly demoralized." If legalized gambling has such effect, what of the results of an institution that proposes to guide souls aright leading those souls to engage in open violation of law? Indeed "how can a community expect its youngsters to have respect for law and order when a religious group and a law enforcement official join in contempt of law and enable hundreds to violate law?" But this Catholicism unblushingly does.

Truth Magazine III:6, pp. 22-23
March 1959