By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
May 30, 2014
KINGS MOUNTAIN — A councilman in this small Cleveland County city made the news last week by suggesting that welcoming a Catawba Indian casino would be akin to selling souls for $5 million each.
“The arguments Keith Miller lays out linking the casino’s anticipated effects with a decline in the area’s spiritual health are a dose of reality that should prompt other local elected officials to look past the dollar signs to the human and social costs of such a project,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
“Folks can argue the numbers, which are simply projections, although I believe they are well-researched, but Miller’s idea that the presence of a casino will cause a spiritual ‘draining off’ is difficult to dispute.”
Dr. Creech said the Councilman’s 69-page report, which contains more than 15 pages of numerical data, touches on everything from the legality of the Catawba’s attempted land grab to how a casino would change the political landscape. Miller’s white paper examines potential effects on manufacturing productivity, jobs, residents’ discretionary spending and more, concluding that “the potential economic benefits in the early years may be almost completely offset by negative economic impacts in the later years,” and perhaps more importantly, that Kings Mountain is too small to withstand what Miller terms the “cultural converting power” of a casino as large as the one the South Carolina-based tribe plans to build near I-85.
Despite opposition from state lawmakers and the Governor, the Catawba Indians have petitioned the federal government to place 16 acres off Dixon School Road into a trust for a $340 million complex to include a 220,000-square-foot casino and 1,500 hotel rooms.
Having worked in political science, government and public administration for nearly 20 years, Miller said he expects the gambling operation would cause some committed Christians to leave the area and others to choose not to move to Kings Mountain and that such a shift could “steadily reduce the percentage of the local population that lives, worships, tithes, votes and works as a seriously committed bond servant of the Lord Jesus.”
Assuming that Kings Mountain has about 3,000 people in church on Sunday mornings, that the annual number of baptisms is 3 percent of that attendance and that 1 percent of serious believers would leave and a similar number would stay away because of the casino, Miller projects that church attendance could be cut in half over the next four decades and that there would be 1,100 fewer baptisms.
“I think less Kings Mountain citizens may get saved over the next 100 years because of a darkened spiritual culture post casino,” Miller wrote. “I do not want that blood on my hands. I do not want to be accountable for placing stumbling blocks before our weaker citizens.”
Further, Miller said he is concerned that a tribe with hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on local elections could eventually take control of the City Council, a scenario that has happened in some other casino towns.
“If the tribe ever gains control of four City Council seats, what benefits will they vote to the casino? How will they alter policy to the detriment of casino competitors?” Miller asks.
Although the councilman said he was originally excited about the prospect of hotels, restaurants, shows, theaters, marketing, tourists, utility profits and jobs that the casino could bring to Kings Mountain, after pondering and estimating the possible trade-off costs and risks, he concluded that for him, the risks were too great. He was the only City Councilman not to sign a letter of support after the Catawbas announced their plans.
“We’re pleased that Councilman Miller conducted independent research rather than take the word of either side. This is what our group hopes that all leaders and citizens will do,” said Adam Forcade, organizer of the Kings Mountain Awareness Group.
“His report undoubtedly required an incredible amount of time and effort. We applaud his willingness to educate himself and the citizens of Kings Mountain on the negative impacts of gambling. Having the courage to publish his findings is perhaps an even greater act.”
Forcade said Councilman Miller’s study contains “the missing ingredient not found in other pro-casino studies: the costs that problem gambling will have on the community if an off-reservation casino is allowed in Cleveland County.”
“And the costs are tremendous,” he added.
To read Keith Miller’s White Paper visit: “Possible Political, Economic, Social, Spiritual and Constitutional Implications of a Casino Near Kings Mountain”