On Friday, several gay rights organizations questioned the charitable funding of British-based National Lottery for providing funds to faith-based organizations that have published anti-gay literature.
The gay rights advocacy is stirring controversy across the Atlantic for their attacks on faith-based groups and religious expression. The gay rights protestors contend that a range of religious groups, including Christian, Muslim and Jewish organizations, has received funding from Britain’s official lotto organization in the past two decades.
Some contend that such a diversion of public funds towards faith-based organizations may represent an institutional bias towards an anti-gay stance since the recipients have published anti-gay literature. Each year, the National Lottery sends tens of millions of dollars to various non-profit organizations to finance community projects that are designed to improve lives.
Britian’s National Lottery is seen one of a few benchmarks for other lotteries around the world, including the United States. The organization sells tickets online and helped to fund the 2012 Olympic Stadium in London.
Similar pro-gay protests are expected to be launched in U.S. states that have lotteries which provide funding to faith-based initiatives.
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California, Michigan, and Mississippi are among three states that are positioning themselves after the U.K. National Lottery’s online ticketing service. Ted Dhanik, CEO of Engage:BDR, said in May interview that the company’s recently-launched LottoGopher lets consumers “buy lotto tickets legally in California”.
Most lotto-based revenues in California are applied towards the state’s educational system. However, more conservative states such as Mississippi that are considering establishing an Internet-based lottery could have some funds diverted towards faith-based groups.
Thus, the following questions would be posed: Should taxpayer-generated revenues be donated towards religious organizations? If so, should stipulations be put in place that such groups cannot have published inflammatory remarks towards the gay community?
Which leads to another question: Would not government-related agencies infringe upon the freedom of religious expressions by doing so?
In Mississippi, Rep. Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto has introduced legislation in each of the last two sessions in the state legislature that would legalize an Internet-based lottery within the state.
“The current leadership – the governor, lieutenant governor and the speaker of the House — are not for expanding gaming,” said state Rep. Richard Bennett, chairman of the House gaming committee. “It would be a hard sell, regardless of what my committee wants to do. I think you’d have to see a change in leadership before it will pass.”