Posted by: Robert A. Holsapple | September 8, 2009

Faith leaders speak out against casinos in Philadelphia

A petition expressing opposition to the Sugar House Casino and other proposed casinos in the Philadelphia area will be presented to two high profile backers of the projects by Rev. Beverly Dale, General Minister & President of the Christian Association at the University of Pennsylvania, and other clergy and religious leaders on Wednesday, September 9, 2009.  The presentations will be made to Philadelphia attorney Richard Sprague and Ron Ruben at their respective Philadelphia offices.

Calling the placement of casinos in the midst of communities such as Philadelphia “pernicious predatory behavior,Rev. Dale reported in a telephone interview this past Saturday that the No Casino in the Heart of the City Coalition came together this past year to “frame the casino business in moral language.”  The coalition includes Rev. Robin Hynicka of Arch Street United Methodist Church, other religious, civic and community organizations.   Coalition members have been contacting area clergy to ask them to “talk about the moral language of gambling” and what Rev. Dale sees as the “injustice of the way the City Council has rolled over to the predatory ways of the industry.”  Clergy are invited to join in the petition and presentation when the coalition meets at the Arch Street UMC on “Wednesday at 10:00 A.M.  Concerned area residents and others are also encouraged to contact their clergy, local and state representatives to voice their opposition to moving forward with the Sugar House project.

Rev. Dale expressed hope that this action will have the impact of making investors become “more introspective about their own motives for profit making and begin to question their loyalty to the citizens of the city, to face their placing their own greed over the reputation of the city and the well being of its families.”  She believes it is clear however, City Council does not read their mail and the situation may in the end call for massive civil disobedience; standing in front of the bulldozers if necessary” to halt this project which is slated to begin groundbreaking late this summer or early fall.

Opposition to casinos is not a new issue to the CA or to the greater Philadelphia community.  The Sugar House project gained initial approval in 2006 but has been met with ongoing resistance, legal challenges and other obstacles to construction in communities that already struggle with economic vulnerability. Asian Americans United has been active in the struggle to oppose casinos. According to information obtained from Asian Americans United web-site; It is our Coalition’s stand that slots parlors do not belong near any neighborhood. It wasn’t right for Chinatown and Center City to be saddled with casinos.

Rev. Dale’s opposition is based on Scriptural, moral, economic and social grounds; “This predatory industry makes one third of its money from addiction and devastates many communities in terms of its impact on families.  I am appalled at the state of Atlantic City for example, and the way wealth and greed sit together side by side.  I love Philadelphia and do not want to see it become another Atlantic City.”

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