By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
January 29, 2015
KINGS MOUNTAIN – Tuesday, numerous pastors from Cleveland County made their way to Life of Worship Ministries Church in downtown Kings Mountain, for a rally against a proposed Catawba Indian Casino. The group, which represented several different denominations, contended the casino would be a blight on their community and do more harm than good. Immediately after the rally, they took their concerns to City Hall.
The rally’s program featured prayers and petitions by faith leaders. Keynote speakers for the evening were Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League in Raleigh and Dr. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte.
Pastor Steve Taylor, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Kings Mountain took to the platform to present the results of a survey of 111 ministers in the community. The survey asked two questions: (1) Do you believe gambling is right? wrong? depends? or undecided? (2) Do you believe a gambling casino in Kings Mountain would be good? bad? neutral? or undecided?
The results of the survey revealed 101 faith leaders said they believed a casino would be wrong, and 10 said that they thought it depended on the situation. An overwhelming number of clergy, 102, said they thought a gambling casino in Kings Mountain would be wrong, 5 were neutral, and 4 undecided on the issue.
Pastor Clifton Morgan, who is 87 years old and pastor of Calvary Way Holiness Church, in Kings Mountain said, “Having a gambling casino is the wrong thing to do. We’ve got so much to take away from the family. I am strictly against gambling. To me gambling is a form of idolatry. I think it will be a black eye to our community.”
Pastor Roger R. Woodard of the Family Worship Center in Kings Mountain argued, “The stated goal of the supporters of the casino is economic growth and stimulus. However, the golden goose casinos of Atlantic City, New Jersey are going bankrupt. When I lived in Nevada, I discovered something called ‘fool’s gold.’ Our representatives are traveling a path of fool’s gold and will bring heartache and tragedy to many families. I can do nothing less than oppose this casino.”
During his speech at the rally, Dr. Creech had the audience on their feet applauding and cheering. With his voice raised at a passionate pitch, he argued: “I think it can be safely said this community rejects the current proposal for a Catawba Indian Casino coming to Cleveland County – an enterprise that undermines the morality of the love of one’s neighbor, concern for the poor and the disadvantaged, undermines the work ethic, and reverses the role of government by allowing it to capitalize on its citizens’ vulnerabilities for profit – that‘s wrong – that’s immoral – and all the money in the world that would result in bringing a casino to this area is not worth the community selling its soul to have it!”
Dr. Richard Land focused on the way casinos make terrible neighbors. He emphasized the way casinos prey on the weak.
At the rally’s conclusion, dozens of Pastors and lay leaders marched down Cherokee Street to City Hall to present to the Kings Mountain City Council a petition. The meeting hall was filled to capacity with opponents of the casino. Nearly 50 additional foes had to wait outside in the foyer. The petition, which was signed by 75 local ministers, asked council members to withdraw their names from a letter to the federal government in support of the casino.
The petition read:
“As ministers of the gospel and Citizens of Cleveland County,
“We commend you for your diligent efforts in developing our economy, and we further commend you for multiple successes creating jobs for our citizens in difficult times;
“We however believe a casino in Kings Mountain will be economically and socially harmful for our community; for we believe gambling is Biblically and morally wrong;
“We therefore implore you to remove your names from your letter supporting a casino, cease plans for a gambling casino, and continue good economic development;
“For we humbly realize you will stand to give account for your governing – even as we ministers will stand to give account for ministering – before the One upon whose shoulders the government will rest, before the Lord on Judgment Day.”
Dr. Creech said, “The way faith leaders of Cleveland County have handled this matter is exemplary. They’ve been gracious and respectful in every way to their County Commissioners and City Councilmen. But as the moral conscience of their community, they have sounded the alarm against a serious threat to its character. They are, in many respects, the voice of God to these leaders. But if civic leaders see issues purely in the light of materialism and profits and fail to work in concert with the spiritual compass faith leaders provide, its then they violate one of our most important American virtues – the one engraved as a warning on our national currency – the one that reads, ‘In God We Trust.’”
“I was overjoyed to see how many of our local pastors were willing to stand on the frontline of our battle against a casino,” said Adam Forcade of the Kings Mountain Awareness Group – a local organization that has led the opposition to the casino. “The fact that Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and many other denominational pastors stood side by side with the same statement of denunciation speaks volumes to the state of Christian brotherhood that exists in Cleveland County.”
“Remember, no matter how daunting an opponent may appear,” added Forecade, “we cannot ignore God’s command to sound the alarm. We may not win, but God absolutely expects us to use every means at our disposal, every last bit of breath we have to blow the trumpet loud and clear!”
In September of 2013, more than 100 members of the N.C. House signed a letter to the U.S. Interior Secretary, asking that the South Carolina Catawba Indian tribe not be allowed to open a gambling facility in the Tar Heel state. Governor Pat McCrory has also expressed his opposition.
Federal authorities have still not decided whether to approve or deny The Catawba Indian Nation’s application to put the land for the casino into federal trust. No time line has been announced on the decision.