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Washington, DC:  U.S. National Archives--

While in the Capital awhile back, I had an hour at day’s end before meeting my son, so I visited the National Archives.

It’s been probably 50 years since I last saw the Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, and Bill of Rights. These documents aren’t holy writ, but issued in 1776, adopted in 1789, and ratified in 1791 respectively, they remain unique in history and remarkable.

The society these founding documents made possible became, with missteps and serious grievance along the way, the freest, most abundant, grandest-in-opportunity of any nation state on earth.

For all our American faults (and we have several to which we must own up and which we need to change) still, the United States of America remains an incredible land of hope, a melting pot of gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, and religion. The ideals codified in these historic documents—freedom of religion, speech, rule of law, life, liberty, pursuit of happiness—make this society possible and viable.  The principles and values listed in these three amazing expressions of political philosopy that our forbears created (with the sacrifices of soldiers) what we call a Great Experiment, a pluralistic democratic republic. This we still enjoy today.

The challenge after nearly 250 years is whether we can preserve and pass it on to our grandchildren.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2019   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attributionstatement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events atwww.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

On May 14, 2018, the US Supreme Court ruled a 1992 ban on commercial sports betting violated the 10thAmendmentof the United States Constitution.  

States are now free to pass laws allowing any sports betting most lucrative to them—and this is the real bottom line…states starting with New Jersey want their piece of an estimated $150 billion annual haul in illegal sports betting.       

Until recently, the NCAA and professional leagues: NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, expressed a wariness of sports wagering.  But now the MLB and NBA are opening the way to legalized sports betting, including professional leagues investing in online gambling or fantasy sports websites.    

But sports betting is gambling kindergarten.  It’s how young people most often start gambling.     

Teens are nearly two and one-half times as likely to become compulsive gamblers as adults. Suicide rates are twice as high among teenagers with gambling problems.       

Sports betting is the easiest and quickest way for children and youth to begin gambling because it taps into athletics opportunities that are “everywhere.”  And because frequently they are emulating adults in their families who are already gambling on sports.    

Christians are getting sucked into the gambling vortex.  Some say, “There’s no Bible verse against gambling” or “Hey, it’s my money.”  But they forget that God requires us to be stewards of our time, talent, and treasure. He expects us to discern, to be a testimony to others, to handle our money in a way that honors him, and to never allow ourselves to be controlled by other than the Spirit of God. Christians riding along on the cultural wave have forgotten their theology and the record of church history. 

Christians who gamble, particularly ubiquitous sports wagering, are playing with fire.  It’s almost impossible not to get burned, via debt, compulsive if not addictive behavior, loss of pleasure in sports, broken relationships and more.    

Gambling is a slippery slope, and sports betting is the first rung on the slide.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2019   

*This blogmay be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with meat www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Fantasy sports websites have become a huge phenomenon in the past few years. So far, fantasy sports are legally considered games of skill - not chance - if they can be won by successfully utilizing superior knowledge of the players involved. But then again, pay-to-play sites take a piece of every payout, about $35 average per player per month.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 included “carve out” language that clarified the legality of fantasy sports.  By this definition, fantasy sports are not gambling.

FanDuel (2009) and Draftkings (2012) quickly became biggest online sites by using that carve-out language to create daily online fantasy sports games with cash prizes sometimes as high as $2 million.  In 2017, the two accounted for about 90 percent of the $320 million in revenue generated by fantasy sports.

Already the NBA, NHL, and MLB invest in fantasy sports websites.  More are coming.

So if fantasy sports is legally not gambling, can fantasy sports create addictive behaviors similar to what gambling can produce?  Yes, people who get deeply into fantasy sports report the same kinds of time-consuming, compulsive, debt-inducing behavior as gambling in casinos.  These fantasy fans talk about how their interest in sports was soon overwhelmed by their interest in the money.

For Christians, fantasy sports and its temptations are like anything else.  If we conclude the activity is not sin as such, then we must assure our engagement is a right use of our time, talent, and treasure, for all of which God holds us accountable.  

It’s possible to become addicted to just about anything.  It gets back to the heart more than the activity.  It’s God’s will that Christian submit themselves fully and only to the Spirit of God.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2019   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with meat www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Since at least Dr. Francis A Schaeffer’s work and others in the 1970s, philosophers have warned us about moral relativism, the idea there is no right or wrong.  This view sounded good to a culture that wished to throw off all restraints, especially sexual.  

But now into the 21stCentury we’re plagued by division, crudeness, lack of integrity and character in “leadership,” declining free speech, pornography, narcotics, racism, sexual harassment or assault, random shootings, alienation from not just politics but from the country itself (Celebrities vie for news saying they want to move to Canada), rancor and the new “hater” phenomenon...the list goes on.

None of this is a surprise.  An emerging social dystopia is a direct result of a people deciding there’s no difference between right vs wrong and though many still say they believe in God most do not see how this is relevant to their everyday lives.  We’re now grasping at any belief, even entirely irrational ones like an inability to define man vs woman, or politicians voting not to protect born-alive babies. 

We’ve lost what scholars call our “sacred canopy,” which until the 1960s was a “Judeo-Christian consensus” about how society could operate freely and justly.  Now we have a mishmash secularism and weak religion, but what we need is a revival of the idea of objective truth, and individual responsibility and accountability.  Without this renewal of belief in truth, our mooring, centrifugal forces in our culture will continue to spin toward irrationality.

This is not an encouraging prognosis. Yet God is still there.  He is still the definition of Truth, Love, Mercy, Justice.  

Revival does not begin with the non-churched, “…judgment begins with God’s household” (1 Peter 4:17). Speaking truth to culture begins with us, the individual Christian believer and the Church.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2019   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attributionstatement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events atwww.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with meat www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

May 14, 2018, in Murphy vs National Collegiate Athletic Associationthe United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which banned commercial sports betting in most states, violated the 10thAmendment to the United States Constitution.  

The Supreme Court majority argued the lawillegally empowered the federal government to order certain states to take specific actions to disallow sports gambling. In one opinion, the Supreme Court opened the biggest possible expansion of legalized betting in the US in years.

States are now set loose to pass laws allowing whatever sports betting seems most lucrative to them, and this is the real bottom line…states starting with New Jersey want their piece of an estimated $150 billion annual haul in illegal sports betting.  By legalizing sports betting, or as proponents call it “regulating” sports betting, state legislatures get the chance to funnel funds to their own coffers. And no question there’s a lot of moola out there with legal and illegal sports wagering biggest per year with the run up to the Super Bowl and during March Madness.

So far, states are supposedly considering licensing a limited number of companies to offer sports betting, within a limited number of forums. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, and Mississippi will all likely open sports betting in the next twelve to twenty-four months. At this point, maybe 20 states are considering sports betting. More will jump on the new gravy train – for the record, gambling has been legal in Nevada since 1931, so even Nevada gambling houses will benefit as gambling goes mainstream.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has been the most stalwart in its opposition to legalized sports wagering. “Our highest priorities in any conversation about sports wagering are maintaining the integrity of competition and student-athlete well-being,” said Mark Emmert, NCAA president. “Sports wagering can adversely impact student-athletes and undermine the games they play. We are committed to ensuring that laws and regulations promote a safe and fair environment for the nearly half a million students who play college athletics.”  Well said, but what now?

Along with the NCAA, at least until recently, professional leagues—NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL—have also been wary of sports wagering. They rightly remember the 1919 Black Sox scandal in which eight Chicago White Sox players were accused of losing on purpose, i.e. fixing the outcome of, the World Series, so the Cincinnati Reds would win and the players would earn gambling payouts. The Black Sox Eight were all banned from professional baseball and the Hall of Fame, a forerunner of Cincinnati Reds major leagues hit leader Pete Rose’s sports betting and subsequent 1989 banishment for life from major league baseball and the Hall of Fame.

The NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL seemed to support upholding the 1992 PASPA, supposedly fearing for the integrity of their sports—a legitimate consideration—until the NBA and MLB waffled in the end. But this said, none of the professional leagues are really threatened financially by the ruling and may even gain from it.  

And the MLB and NBA are open to legalized sports betting. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver became the first professional sports executive to suggest that sports betting should be legal. In November 2014, Silver wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times supporting sports wagering. MLB allows betting on Toronto Blue Jay games in Ontario. The NFL ignores betting on games played in London. 

Fantasy sports sights have become a huge movement in the past five years. So far, fantasy sports are legally considered games of skill - not chance - if they can be won by successfully utilizing superior knowledge of the players involved.  But pay-to-play sites take a piece of every payout, about $35 average per player per month.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 included “carve out” language that clarified the legality of fantasy sports. It was passed by Congress and signed into law on October 13, 2006. FanDuel and Draftkings the biggest online sites.  

FanDuel, 2009, and DraftKings, 2012, used that carve-out to create daily online fantasy sports games with cash prizes sometimes as high as $2 million. In 2017, the two accounted for about 90 percent of the $320 million in revenue generated by fantasy sports. Question now is, will fantasy sports players switch to online sports betting sites sure to be developed in the wake of the Murphy vs. NCAA ruling?

Already the NBA and NHL invest in fantasy sports (gambling?) websites—The NBA partnered with FanDuel, while Major League Baseball and the NHL joined DraftKings. 

Sports betting is like gambling kindergarten. It’s the easiest and quickest way for children and youth to begin gambling because it taps into athletics opportunities that are ubiquitous. Sports wagering, like most gambling, especially lotteries, tend to “tax” the poor rather than those with higher incomes, becoming a burden on already financially stressed families. And sports wagering robs the game, the sheer joy of competition, of its beauty, something sports has enjoyed back to the first Greek Olympics and before. People who get in deep, whether via fantasy sports sites or social gambling, testify to the change in their attitudes about the game, which goes from who is best and who wins to what has to happen for me to make good on my bet?

Most importantly, sports betting is a direct threat to the integrity of free and fair competition between individuals or teams on the court, course, field, pitch, or any other sports format. Without the sense that competition is indeed fair, played by the rules of good sportsmanship such that the best man or best woman or best team wins, sports becomes a charade, a silly act like professional wrestling. Sports becomes a joke. 

And let no one believe that somehow athletes, coaches, umpires and referees today have somehow become morally stronger since the Black Sox. No one is above the overwhelming temptation money presents.  Murphy vs. NCAA was ill-advised to say the least, and our culture and many families will pay the price.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2018   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with meat www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

It is sickening to consider centuries in which people "in the name of Christianity" attacked and killed Jews who in persecutors' minds had become uniquely responsible for the crucifixion of Christ. This record is extensive and reached its climax in the Holocaust, which was not of course the responsibility of Christians as such but nevertheless occurred in a nation with a long heritage of Christian church experience. And sadly still, some Christians supported the Nazis.

Now, since the establishment and recognition in 1948 of modern Israel as a nation state, we have decades in which people “in the name of Christianity” seem to want to care for the Jewish people. This is a legitimate and worthy attitude. The problem arises when so many people, again “in the name of Christianity,” conflate this caring for Jewish people with the modern nation state of Israel. Many in the Western Church do not seem to be able to separate the people from the nation itself. 

Yet Israel is indeed a modern nation state, so it operates with realpolitik and takes actions, like all other modern nation states, in its perceived self-interest, actions which may or may not be morally justifiable. The problem in the Western Church grows when in this scenario when Western Christians seem to believe Israel can do no wrong and therefore Israel is not often held accountable by Western Christians for its political actions. 

The problem gets worse when in turn Western Christians look upon Palestinians as somehow uniquely unworthy of care and concern, that they are somehow ipso facto a threat to all Jews and the state of Israel so Palestinians must be treated as enemies. Western Christian leaders often speak against Palestinians, if not all Arabs, as somehow “other,” a group we’d all be better off without. Sort of the way Jonah looked upon Nineveh—let’s just nuke ‘em and get it over with—until God reminded him, “Should I not be concerned about that great city?” (Jonah 4:11).

God looked upon Ninevites not as an existential threat to Jews in Ancient Israel but as people in need of his love, forgiveness, and redemption…just like he looked upon Jews. Jonah got his theology and his politics twisted, not unlike many Western Christians are speaking today.

Palestinians, like Jews and Gentiles in general, are just people made in the image of God. God commands us to love them like we love ourselves, along with, by the way, Russians, Chinese, Syrians, Iranians, North Koreans and more.

True, some Palestinians are bad actors, but so are some Jews and other Gentiles. And dare I say, some Westerners including Americans? Assigning blame and condemnation or what has been called collective punishment to an entire people group for the actions of a few is the worst form of prejudice and injustice. 

Most Palestinians are just families, not terrorists. Most are trying to survive as refugees unwanted not only by Israel but also by Middle Eastern/North African and Western countries alike. Condemning all Palestinians as evil or unworthy just for being Palestinians is no different than condemning all Jews just for being Jews. 

It therefore behooves the Western Church and individual Christians to reconsider this group-think identity politics response. It seems that a truly Christian view and action would be to work for peace, security, and justice for all peoples.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2018   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with meat www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.