Friday, 16 July 2010

Gambling And The Gods

News from the BBC today that more than 5,000 arrests have been made in Asia, (China, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand) for illegal football betting. As the article says

Gambling is mostly illegal across Asia. Despite the strict controls, though, it is hugely popular, hugely prevalent - it's just ingrained in the culture. There are calls for it to be legalised, and controlled. But that goes against some religious strictures, some social conservative strictures. They argue this is not the way they want society to go.
Clearly, if attempts have been made to fix matches or even events within matches (the so called spot-fixing), then this is cheating and needs to be addressed, but if it is individuals choosing how to spend their money, then the governments should not be involving themselves. “Religious strictures” my arse. Gambling comes as close to being a universal a trait as you can find. It is present in all major civilizations in some form or another.

Although I would hope that most people reading this blog are intelligent enough to have discarded religion from their lives (yes, there is a correlation between religiosity and intelligence), based on the IP addresses that access this blog, any readers who have not yet eliminated all gods from their belief system are most likely to worship one from an Abrahamic religion, and almost certainly the same one that their parents worship. (One's religion is very much influenced by your country of birth, and your parents' beliefs). If you are down to one god, then ask yourself why you reject the others and perhaps take that final step to atheism. It doesn’t hurt.

But until that day, it’s interesting that the Protestant and Catholic churches have very distinct views on gambling.
A strong moral opposition to gambling and lotteries has been an integral part of the Protestant movement since its inception, and many Protestants perceive gambling as a sinful activity. Although individual Protestant churches vary in the intensity with which they oppose gambling, the opposition to gambling is quite general. The largest Protestant group, the Southern Baptists, is particularly strident in their censure of gambling. In contrast, the Roman Catholic church maintains a tolerant attitude towards moderate levels of gambling and is less disapproving of gambling activities. It has even used gambling in the form of bingo and charitable gaming events as an important source of fund-raising.

The United Methodist Church’s 2004 Book of Resolutions says: “Gambling is a menace to society, deadly to the best interests of moral, social, economic, and spiritual life, and destructive of good government. As an act of faith and concern, Christians should abstain from gambling and should strive to minister to those victimized by the practice.”

The position of the Catholic Church on gambling is summarized in the New Catholic Encyclopedia: “A person is entitled to dispose of his own property as he wills. . . so long as in doing so he does not render himself incapable of fulfilling duties incumbent upon him by reason of justice or charity. Gambling, therefore, though a luxury, is not considered sinful except when the indulgence in it is inconsistent with duty.”

Further, The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2413) states: “Games of chance (card games, etc.) or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice. They become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others. The passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement. Unfair wagers and cheating at games constitute grave matter, unless the damage inflicted is so slight that the one who suffers it cannot reasonably consider it significant.”

Among other prominent religious denominations in the U.S., people of Jewish faith are like Catholics and accept gambling activities more readily, while the gambling attitudes of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) are aligned more closely with those of Protestants.
The Catholic approach to gambling (as opposed to their approach to just about everything else) seems almost sensible – gambling is fine, so long as it is with money you can afford to lose.


The Humble Sports Trader said...

"Although I would hope that most people reading this blog are intelligent enough to have discarded religion from their lives (yes, there is a correlation between religiosity and intelligence)..."

Some people are actually intelligent enough to retain an open mind and explore faith and science in equal measure, wherever it may lead them, rather than just sit back and regurgitate preposterous generalisations like these.

Stick to trading, eh? There, at least, you write with real authority.

Cassini said...

The issue I have with what you say is that faith is the antithesis of reason and it is impossible "to explore faith and science in equal measure". Scientic hypotheses can be tested - those based on faith cannot. Maintaining an open mind is healthy, but so sceptism. Just wishing that something is true, doesn't make it so.

Appreciate the comment on my trading posts though. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

If people wish to disregard the fact the writings in the Bible pre-date and often conflict with modern science, so be it, whatever.

However, being an American, it is incredibly frustrating when people wish to legislate their religious belief systems onto others while at the same time stating the USA stands for freedom and personal responsibility.

I hope you guys across the pond appreciate the freedoms we do not have here in the "land of the free." Do not take them for granted.