Sunday, July 8, 2012

...several members of the Bahamas Christian Council (BCC), and a number of other prominent pastors have become “sensitized” to the idea of how taxes generated from a legalized numbers industry could benefit The Bahamas ...says Reverend Philip McPhee of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church...

Pastors ‘sensitized’ to gambling

Contributions of numbers houses highlighted

By Royston Jones Jr.
Guardian Staff Reporter

Despite the Bahamas Christian Council being “diametrically opposed” to gambling, several of its members, and a number of other prominent pastors have become “sensitized” to the idea of how taxes generated from a legalized numbers industry could benefit The Bahamas, Reverend Philip McPhee of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church said yesterday.

On Tuesday, McPhee organized a meeting between ‘We Care’ — a coalition of web shop owners — and a group of about 20 local pastors, including three members of the Bahamas Christian Council.

“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,” McPhee told The Nassau Guardian.

“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.”

The government has promised to hold a referendum on legalizing the numbers business before the end of the year.

However, Bahamas Christian Council President Dr. Ranford Patterson said in May that if a referendum is held the council would do everything in its power to make its opposition known.

But yesterday, McPhee said the Church could not remain ‘stagnated’ on something that takes place on a daily basis, which could prove beneficial to the country.

“The purpose of the Church is to inform, alert and to keep its membership on the cutting edge of what we ought to be doing as Christians,” McPhee said.

“We stand totally against the whole philosophy of gambling but 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 representatives from the FML Group of Companies, Asue Draw, Island Game and Island Luck will invest around $1.5 million to educate Bahamians on industry related issues, and on various community-based initiatives over the next few months.

McPhee encouraged ‘We Care’ to meet with the other leading pastors in New Providence and on the Family Islands to make them aware of the potential benefits of a regularized industry.

“The referendum will [involve] the entire Bahamas,” he noted.  “So if the We Care group wants to be successful, they will have to meet on every island to inform all pastors, and other interested people on what their role and position is.”

Jul 06, 2012