NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
MR. SCOTLAND: Good evening. My name is John Scotland, and I'm the pastor of the Community Presbyterian Church of Brigantine.
Tomorrow you will receive a copy of a study that our church commissioned with the United States Gambling Research Institute that was released today. That study was born from a need to better understand who we are and what God calls us to do as Presbyterians who live and work in the Atlantic City metropolitan area in times when gambling dominates the economic, social, and political ethos of this community.
You may want to read the article from this morning's Atlantic City Press, which we greatly appreciated. It gives a good synopsis of the outcome of the research.
Let me make some general comments based upon my six years of ministry here and the results of the recent study.
As a Presbyterian pastor, I stand with the members of my church who are sincerely conflicted about the costs and benefits of the casino gambling industry. That internal conflict makes it difficult for the church to be a good partner in community development.
Religious institutions of all faiths are struggling to find a proper role to play in the ongoing work of community building in and around Atlantic City. The moral battle over casino gambling has caused those concerned about prosperity to unfairly diminish the importance of religious institutions in the process of community development.
As a church, we stand with those who work in the industry. We have worked together side by side in some important achievements for the betterment of the community. This labor force is my congregation, the parents of my children's friends and my neighbors.
Many have indicated to me a lack of job security and happiness, demanding schedules, hierarchical management, lack of ability to see a long term future, and meaninglessness. All contribute to general dissatisfaction.
As a church, we stand with those persons who have a gambling problem. Perhaps more importantly, we stand with their families who in cases of addiction suffer the most. We pray to God for forgiveness for our complicity as members of the state who not only provide gambling opportunities in Atlantic City, but who also promote gambling with our tax dollars.
As members of the state, we have contributed to the pain and anguish of problem gamblers and their families.
We stand with our neighbors and friends who are residents in Atlantic City. They alone face a political force and will that has decided to sacrifice their neighborhoods and needs for the greater good of all of us.
We stand in solidarity with the poor and disenfranchised. They have not been the beneficiaries of casino industry as we have. There is an astounding lack of affordable, low income housing in Atlantic City. The unemployment rate in Atlantic City is a disgrace to all of us.
The presence of hungry, homeless, hurting people calls into question our ability to be builders of community.
We stand for children, especially the children of Atlantic City who have not received their fair share of this common wealth. The fact that we have not been able to build new elementary schools in Atlantic City is a shameful disgrace.
Casino gambling will never provide a just and sustainable community without a strong labor force, an informed public, dynamic schools, vibrant churches, and hard working public servants, all working in partnership with one another.