By Rogan Smith
The Bahama Journal
Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) President Rev. Dr. Ranford Patterson has warned that the legalisation of gambling would be followed by a push for gay marriage in the country, but according to a popular clergyman, such claims are just “scare tactics.”
Mount Calvary Baptist Cathedral pastor, Dr. Philip McPhee said legalising gambling would not create such a domino effect.
“That’s a scare tactic,” he said. “We stand squarely against gay marriages. There’s a difference between gambling and gay marriage. The Bible speaks about family life. The Bible does not say anything detrimental against gambling. All who use their interpretations let them produce it.”
“But, the Bible is clear on a man and a woman. The Bible speaks about homosexuality. In its clearest sense the Bible talks about family life. Those things are not under the cover. You can’t have a child with two men or two women. The Bible says ‘I will make you the father of nations.’ How can you be the father of nations when you can’t produce a seed?”
Dr. McPhee and the Christian Council have been at odds over the controversial gambling issue.
The government has promised to hold a referendum before the end of the year so that Bahamians can decide if they want gambling legalised.
The Council has said that it is “diametrically opposed” to its legalisation.
However, in an interview with the Bahama Journal yesterday Dr. McPhee said the Bible gives no “clear, outward statement” on gambling.
He says the gambling issue has “awakened the church from its deep slumber.”
“This situation has brought new life to the church. [Now that] the church has awakened out of its deep slumber since the aroma has so enticed them to smell the fragrance of true liberty [I hope] that they will not be silent on issues that are so important to the future development of our nation,” he said.
“I see the issue of gambling as a minor issue facing this country and the times that we’ve spent talking about it and the excitement it has brought really makes you want to ask the question, where have they [the Council] been all of these years?”
During the interview Dr. McPhee addressed the controversy over his recent comments where he called on Bahamians to consider the benefits of legalising the numbers business.
The Mount Calvary Baptist pastor and several other clergymen recently met with the We Care Coalition – which includes the proprietors of several numbers houses – to hear about the positives that could be derived from gambling.
For the record, he maintains that he does not gamble and won’t start even if it is legalised.
In the aftermath of that meeting, however, he was heavily criticised.
Dr. McPhee said he never expected that level of backlash and said the hullabaloo was “not called for.”
“My meeting was for information only. It was not to persuade anybody to change their feelings about anything. I felt like we ought to know because it was in that meeting that I discovered so many things that I did not know,” he said.
“I was of the impression, in one instance, that I thought the [average] person was [spending] $40, $50 and $100 on numbers a day. We found out that it’s $0.10, $0.25 and $0.50. We had a misinterpretation about this. We were told that these people came and spent their whole wages, that’s not true. It’s misinformation and that’s why it’s important that you get the true information.”
The outspoken pastor says he understands why so many pastors are opposed to gambling.
“There are vices that come along with gambling that they are very much concerned about, but there are vices with everything in life,” he said.
“I am of the opinion that maybe because Philip McPhee brought it to light and brought the people together [the controversy ensued]. Maybe if somebody else from that group had done it, it may not have been an issue. But, maybe because it’s [coming from] a Bain Town preacher Over-the-Hill that might be one of the reasons. I’m not sure there would have been such major opposition if somebody else had brought We Care together in their church and presented their views on that they may not have reacted in such a major way.”
Pastors Lyall Bethel, Allan Lee, Cedric Moss, Dr. Myles Munroe, Mario Moxey, Alfred Stewart recently wrote a joint letter to the editor where they explained that the church does not support a national lottery.
“After speaking with several of the pastors who attended the meeting organised by McPhee, it is clear that they were unwittingly used to promote the cause of the gambling coalition and McPhee,” the group of pastors said.
“One pastor stated that they were ‘bamboozled’ and ‘tricked’ by the whole procedure and regrets that he was used in this way. The meeting was advertised as a face-to-face meeting with web shop owners, where pastors could make the church’s position against gambling clear.”
Dr. McPhee says the way the group of pastors went about conveying their message was done in “poor taste.”
“They jumped the gun and pastors should not jump guns. They should get full information; they should research before they come out shooting with knowing the effect of what they’re doing,” he said.
“I thought they were men that I respected and when I saw it I was very disappointed especially in Allan Lee who was a friend. I thought he allowed some things to happen and he was a part of it. I approached him, I spoke to him, he later apologised he said when he looked at it from a biblical perspective that they were wrong.”
He continued, “The five or six pastors who signed it are all pastors of leading churches in this country. When they speak the nation listens to them but I want them to know that the pastor who pastors Mount Calvary in Bain Town also speaks and some listen to me. It’s not a matter of me trying to start a war because certainly I don’t want to do that; we don’t need a war in the Christian faith…but you don’t kill your brother just to get some kind of recognition in the papers.”
The group of pastors has since apologised for the way it went about criticising Dr. McPhee.
18 July, 2012