Church and Gambling: Selective Morality

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
God bless you my child.
When you take a stand on certain issues, it is expected that your actions would be consistent with that stand. After all, actions do speak louder than words. This is expected if you are in a position on which society places a premium. Especially if the nature of your profession or vocation is considered an authority in such particular issue.

Bishop Villegas has recently released a pastoral letter condemning the government’s promotion of the STL or Small Town Lottery. It says and I quote:

We reject the promotion of the small town lottery as the means to stop illegal gambling. A government that promotes gambling is a morally corrupt government.

We reject the culture of gambling as a means of livelihood. Gambling is addictive. Gambling corrupts the gambler and the operator. Gambling exploits and diminishes human dignity. Gambling destroys people. Gambling kills.

We’ve all been here before. The Church using the morality argument to denounce gambling, particularly jueteng and its state-sanctioned version the STL, as evil and corrupt.

That’s all fine and dandy. When it comes to morals after all, the Church is an authority on the subject. However it is one thing to preach and another to act on what you preach. Walk the talk as we commonly hear.

I bring this up because I want to remind everyone, especially our dear and beloved clergy that they are one of the biggest beneficiaries of gambling. Donations from gambling lords both legal which is the PCSO, and the illegal, which would be your local jueteng operator regularly fill the Church coffers.

Remember the fat envelopes that the bishops received from Malacanan during height of Hello, Garci and the NBN-ZTE scandals? The CBCP became a silent and cooperative accomplice of GMA in furthering her own agenda while in office. Where did you think those money came from? GMA’s own pockets? That would be the day. But of course the PCSO is directly under the President’s Office and had plenty of cash to bless our good bishops for their implicit cooperation and not just to keep members of Congress in a leash to prevent any impeachment attempts.

Why only jueteng?

It is really a curiosity that the Church is so rabid against jueteng, even if a form of it is legalized as the STL. Does it mean that playing in casinos, placing a bet in the lottery and race horses, all are forms of gambling by the way, is morally sound and good? Why so selective?

If jueteng is a nation-wide problem, how come retired Bishop Oscar Cruz is the only one speaking out so vehemently against it?

Then they say that because in jueteng, the poor is the most affected. Well then what about the rich folks who gamble in casinos, bet and own race horses? It is perfectly alright for them to gamble?

It is because the rich are regular donors to their local parishes. They shower the local priests with gifts of all forms, shoulder the expenses of lavish religious events, and send young boys to the seminary. In exchange the priests give them the front-row seats in church every Sunday mass, they get to be in front of the processions and occupy the top positions of religious organizations.

Showing gratitude to your benefactor is a good virtue, but surrendering the rest of your virtues and so-called teachings to whoever fills your pocket is simply disgusting and I dare say corrupt.

The challenge is really simple. If the Church is indeed against gambling, then it should also condemn all forms of games being run by the PCSO; the lottery, the horse-racing, the casinos etc. It should also stop accepting donations from the PCSO and local jueteng lords.

If they do that, then they would see more lay people going back to the ‘flock’ and being proud of their faith.

Image from The Wander Wall

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