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Winter 2007 Rapport: In the Footsteps of Bold Leaders

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Charles Mattix (M.A. 1998) pastors Bastow AG, Barstow, Calif. Adapted from “Pastors Predict Bleak Future if Local Casinos Open” by John W. Kennedy, printed in Today’s Pentecostal Evangel (December 28, 2003).

In 2003 pastor Charles Mattix took on an industry he believed to be eroding the moral foundation of his communities—casino gambling.

With the blessings of his California congregation, Mattix is now an energized community activist—speaking out against the rapid multiplication of casinos across his state.

He has lobbied in the nation’s capital, spoken at city council meetings, encouraged residents to sign petitions, helped spearhead a community forum attended by more than 500 residents and organized a responsible growth coalition to fight the building of a casino in their city.

“The impact on the social fiber of our community would be devastating,” Mattix said. “Families would split, credit card debt would rise, crime would increase and there would be more drug addiction.”

More than 40 local pastors signed a letter that the ministerial association presented to the city council objecting to the moral and social problems the casino would cause.“

I owed it to my congregation to confront this issue,” Mattix said. Forty of his 145-member congregation attended a local council meeting, raising questions about potential problems from traffic congestion to an endangered water supply.

Local politicians often believe gambling is an attractive option to raising taxes or cutting programs. But the added costs for more police officers, street repairs and welfare services, to name a few, don’t make it such an economic bargain.

Mattix said, “I will do whatever I can to keep Barstow from becoming a little Las Vegas. I fear that the casino will become the plantation and the city of Barstow its slaves.”

Mattix says the issue is too crucial for Christians to ignore.

“Gambling deserves our most sincere and aggressive rebuke,” Mattix says. “If the church ignores gambling ventures, it’s a ‘sure bet’ that the personal and interpersonal damage will be irreparable.”

Updated: Thursday, December 14, 2006 4:47 PM



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