Log In

Reset Password

Rev Tweed: We need a discussion on gambling

Clergyman Nicholas Tweed is not a proponent of gambling, the African Methodist Episcopal pastor said last night — but wants to start a discussion on the topic.

Speaking in the aftermath of an AME forum in which he called for a national conversation on gambling, Rev Tweed explained: “We need to narrow the conversation down.

“My understand is there have been numerous studies in the past to examine the pros and cons of limited licence casinos in Bermuda. Perhaps some of those need to be dusted off. The conversation should be focused more specifically on real proposals. What will be the impact? What level of jobs are we talking about?

“What controls are going to be put in place in terms of checks and balances to ensure that it serves the public good?”

Church doctrine is replete with prohibitions against gambling, and Rev Tweed personally doesn't favour it — but he sees no contradiction in the church providing a forum for discussion.

“The church admonishes people against it,” he said. “At the same time, we admonish people against a lot of other things.”

He added: “I recognise that we are not living in a theocracy. We're living in a secular democracy, and as such, the church has a voice to bring to the table.”

He said gaming and other issues must be discussed in a context “unhampered by this kind of reactive response people give, based on whatever religious convictions they may or may not have”.

Citing the scenario of a company that outsources part of its work to a country where workers are mistreated, Rev Tweed asked: “Does that mean we shouldn't buy their cars?”

He added: “When people want to become pious about certain things, there are other questions that need to be raised about moral responsibility as well.”

The AME community, he said, has “come to the belief that there is a need to do things to enhance public discourse around issues that are impacting the Island”.

Although he declined to specify what topics are planned in the future, Rev Tweed acknowledged that issues like gay rights and decriminalising cannabis have built up strong camps of opinion.

“Sometimes people get surrounded by like-minded people, they don't realise there are other ways of looking at a question,” he said.

Looking at the example of same-sex marriage — which caused controversy for Progressive Labour Party leader Marc Bean and Hamilton deputy mayor Donal Smith when they expressed their views on the Seventh-day Adventist discussion show “Issues” — Rev Tweed conceded some topics have irreconcilable sides.

“Sometimes there may be positions that are incompatible,” he said. “The flip side is that because we are a small community and we have to try and move forward, we have to try and find some common ground — and that can't happen in the absence of a conversation.”

The St Paul AME pastor said his church hoped to “sponsor and partner with other entities for more forums — not just at St Paul but from place to place, to other parishes, so that we can deal with the major issues that confront our community”.

More forums, like Tuesday night's discussion on social justice, “give people the opportunity to make their voices heard”.

“Out of that, people realise they are stakeholders, and their voice matters,” he said. “It's a way of informing people about issues, as opposed to just reacting to them.”

Reverend Nicholas Tweed
'Gambling hurts society'

While Reverand Nicholas Tweed is willing to discuss gaming, his approach is not embraced by all churches.

Asked by The Royal Gazette for his church's position, Jeffrey Brown, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Bermuda, was adamant that it was, and always had been, wrong.

“The idea that gambling operations can have a positive economic benefit is an illusion. Society pays the escalating cost of associated crime, victim support, and family breakdown which erodes the quality of life,” said Dr Brown.

“Gambling does not generate income; rather it takes from those who often can ill afford to lose and gives to a few winners — the greatest winner, of course, being the gambling operator.”

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published October 18, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 18, 2013 at 12:54 am)

Rev Tweed: We need a discussion on gambling

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon