Pastor faces outrage on gambling issue
McPhee’s colleagues ‘shocked’ at recent meeting
By Royston Jones Jr.
Guardian Staff Reporter
Two pastors yesterday expressed outrage over comments made by Reverend Philip McPhee about the contributions illegal numbers houses are making to national development.
Citizens for Justice President Bishop Walter Hanchell and President of The Bahamas in Prophecy Movement Pastor Micklyn Seymour both expressed shock and surprise over the statements.
The men spoke to The Nassau Guardian in separate interviews.
McPhee said on Thursday that a group of about 20 prominent local pastors, including three members of the Bahamas Christian Council, had become “sensitized” to the idea of how taxes generated from a legalized numbers industry could benefit The Bahamas.
However, McPhee did not say he supported gambling.
After reading McPhee’s comments yesterday, Hanchell urged pastors to take a public stand to warn Bahamians of the “destructive” effects of gambling, which he claimed far outweigh any benefits that could come about from a regulated numbers industry.
The government has promised to hold a referendum on gambling before the end of the year.
Hanchell said, “Gambling is not something that The Bahamas should embrace. It is too destructive. We will pay for generations down the road if we legalize the illegal numbers racket.”
Seymour said he was very disappointed by McPhee’s comments.
He said the Christian community cannot afford to be divided on the issue, and he thinks McPhee was misled.
He also said he was surprised that McPhee arranged a meeting with ‘We Care’, a coalition of web shop owners. The meeting took place on Tuesday.
“I believe that [gambling] should not be promoted and I am calling on all of the Christian leaders to unite in force and speak with one voice.” Seymour said.
“I am very disappointed in the great man to be speaking and supporting that in any which way. He ought to condemn gambling.”
Seymour added that any country that has to turn to legalizing gambling to help its people is a nation in “desperation”.
On Thursday, McPhee said, “We got a very positive input of what the web companies are all about, what they are doing and how they contribute in many ways to the benefit of the country.
“A lot of us were not aware of those contributions. One web company has given over $1 million to fund various regattas and cultural events such as Junkanoo, and has sponsored many summer programs, feeding programs and clothing programs.
“A lot of these men have been very active in giving a lot to sustain other various programs. Those were articulated to the pastors which brought about a sense of sensitizing.”
While McPhee said the pastors are against gambling, he said, “The whole aspect of it is, if the country is benefiting from national insurance [contributions] from these companies and they are getting other benefits, then something needs to be done so these people are looked at as major contributors to the development of our country.”
CEO of Island Luck Sebas Bastian said on Wednesday that ‘We Care’ will invest around $1.5 million to educate Bahamians on industry related issues, and on various community-based initiatives over the next few months.
Hanchell said he was not opposed to anyone supporting the less fortunate in society but questioned whether the motive behind the contributions was to gain acceptance and influence to support legalizing gambling.
“People are being deceived by these web shop owners with their mega bucks and all they are trying to do is stay in business,” he said.
“They have made enough money on the backs of poor Bahamians and I think we should shut them down and… tell them to invest their money in something legal.”
Hanchell said he was speaking from 20 years of experience as a gambling addict who has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Some people believe that legalizing and taxing marijuana has benefits, Seymour said, but he questioned whether that meant the drug should be made legal.
Jul 08, 2012