By Graham McDowell
Christian Action League
July 23, 2020
WBTV News reported on Wednesday that the Catawba Indian tribe of South Carolina broke ground in King’s Mountain to build a new casino.
“Local leaders, attorneys and Catawba Nation Chief William Harris all say the casino is happening – and it’s happening fast. They say the space, on Dixon School Road just off I-85, should become that resort as early as spring or summer of next year,” reported WBTV.
In March, the United States Department of the Interior gave the go-ahead to establish the huge Las Vegas-style casino, which is expected to house nearly 1,800 electronic gaming machines, 54 table games, a 940-seat restaurant, a hotel, and more.
The Catawbas, forbidden by South Carolina to build a casino on their 700-acre York County reservation, claim that a 1993 agreement with the federal government allows them to cross over into North Carolina to do so.
The groundbreaking ceremony took place despite an ongoing lawsuit levied by the Eastern Band of Cherokee, which operates three casinos in Western North Carolina. The Cherokees contend the federal government had no right or authority to create a new reservation for the Catawbas across state lines to start a casino. Chief Richard Sneed has told the media, “This decision creates a dangerous precedent for all federally recognized tribes…”
The Christian Action League was involved in working with local political and religious leaders to defeat the initiative from the time it was first proposed. Alongside the League in opposition to the proposed casino were its friends from the North Carolina Family Policy Council.
John Rustin, president of NCFPC, explains the illegitimacy of the casino from a legal standpoint:
“The Catawba Indian Nation operates under the authority of a ‘settlement agreement’ entered into in 1993 by the tribe, the State of South Carolina, and the U.S. Congress. This settlement agreement governs many aspects of the tribe’s operations, including the purchase of tribal lands and the rights of the tribe to conduct gambling operations. The settlement agreement never contemplated that the Catawba Indian Nation would seek to purchase land and establish a gambling casino outside of the confines of the State of South Carolina, and, in fact, it prohibits it. Furthermore, the settlement agreement expressly states that the tribe is not subject to the federal Indian Gambling Regulatory Act (IGRA), which is the federal law that governs almost all Class III gambling operations by Indian tribes across the United States…
“If the development of this casino moves forward, it would create an unprecedented situation, because a South Carolina-based Indian tribe would be operating a gambling casino in North Carolina, but the State of North Carolina would have no oversight, authority, or legal ties to the land or the gambling activities whatsoever. Again, the Catawba Indian Nation operates under the authority of the settlement agreement between the tribe, the State of South Carolina, and the U.S. Congress. North Carolina is completely out of the picture. Moreover, the Catawba tribe is not subject to IGRA, meaning that the federal laws that apply to practically all other Class III Indian gambling operations across the nation would not apply to a gambling casino operated by the Catawba Indian Nation.”
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said that in addition to concerns about the way the new casino will undoubtedly breed decay and corruption, prey on the weak and the vulnerable and destroy families, he is also concerned about the way gambling has a deleterious effect on the testimony and power of the church.
“I have seen professing Christians sitting around together at a local store that had an adjoining Grill, laughing at their tables as they scratched off their lottery tickets together. Then when they won a little something, they would say they plan to tithe off their winnings. I’ve known of numerous church buses showing up at Harrah’s Casino in Cherokee. Shame on them! Don’t they know gambling is a violation of the 10th Commandment not to covet? This inordinate love of money the Apostle Paul referred to as a form of ‘lust’ and ‘concupiscence’ and urged believers to ‘mortify’ such evil in themselves (I Thessalonians 4:5; Colossians 3:4,5). Don’t they know that God rejects the offerings of such winnings from being brought into his House? God told the priests of old not to accept the ‘hire of a whore, or the price of a dog [meaning a homosexual prostitute], into the house of the Lord thy God’ (Deuteronomy 23:18). In other words, the tithes and offerings of those engaged in wicked enterprises are abominable to the Lord. Don’t they know that those who gamble deny the sovereignty of God and his promises of provision for those who trust him? Instead, they embrace a god of luck, a god of fortune, a chance-dominated universe? Gambling is a form of idolatry. Gambling reeks in the nostrils of God, and the testimony and power of too many Christians and churches are compromised by it. Gaming isn’t a national craze simply because the industry got into bed with money-grubbing lawmakers. That’s part of the problem, but the larger issue is that too many Christians suffer from gambling fever just as their fellow citizens do.”
Catawba Chief William Harris says that although the resort should be open by spring or summer of next year, the phase of its development will depend on the economy.