One of the ways Quakers have stood apart from the larger society is in our opposition to gambling. Across America, though, the tension has grown in recent years, as governments (led by New Hampshire’s example) and Native American tribes have engaged in lotteries and casinos. Even causes we support commonly turn to raffles as fundraisers.

Still, we can witness to the fact that a lottery is an inefficient way to raise money for education or other socially valued causes. If you want something, you should be willing to pay for it directly, rather than expect someone else to foot the bill. As for gaming, the odds are vastly against winning, and I long found myself working far too hard to enjoy throwing hundreds of dollars down the drain. Even a weekly Megabucks ticket adds up. As one of my coworkers insisted, “Lotteries are a tax on stupidity.” He might have added, “a tax on despair,” as well, especially for lower- and middle-class families whose purchasing power keeps shrinking in the current economic climate. If anything, the glamour of gaming masks this reality. Maybe, just maybe, the hope goes, I’ll escape my condition. Friends have warned against the inclination to expect something for nothing or at someone else’s expense. I’m just as concerned about the quest for “fun” replacing a work ethic, or the way the entertainment media are shaping the everyday theology of the masses. Look closer, then, at the Foxwoods or Tri-State Lottery Commission commercials. Fantasy and reality diverge sharply.

Yes, it’s tempting. As in “temptation.” Even so, we believe in speaking Truth to Power. Need I say more?


  1. I think the worst lie perpetrated is by the media, who strongly contribute to the false hopes purchasers and gamers subscribe to by ONLY revealing the “winners,” but never listing all the money they spent prior to this “win” (unless they claim it was their first time, in which case media pump that up to attract newbies). Horrible deceit.

    When gamblers I know “win,” the FIRST thing I ask is “How much did you spend before ‘winning’?” They grumble and don’t want to answer.


    Looking forward to our chat on March 18, Jnana!

    Best to you,


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