ORANGE PARK, FL — After Robert Powell hit the Florida Lottery jackpot last month and took home more than $6 million, he thought of his church.
And he offered to drop his tithe, around $600,000, in the collection plate of First Baptist Orange Park.
But the church and Pastor David Tarkington politely declined and told Powell they will not accept the lottery winnings.
Hey Mr. Powell have you considered crossing the Tiber? Donations from lottery money, hey we’re down with that (with the caveat expressed in CCC 2413).
Personally, I think it is great to hear of a church sticking to it’s principles and turning down a financial windfall because of them. I wish that ALL Christian Churches, including my beloved Catholic Church, would be so principled! After all, didn’t Jesus clearly teach his followers that it wasn’t money (and the worldly power money brings) that would bring salvation, but following Jesus in faith and love?
Might also be fine to donate now and cross the Tibet a bit later..
Dear Mr Powell – heard you’re having trouble finding someone to donate $600k to. Email me.
Wow…when I think of all of the Kennedy money that has been happily accepted by various bishops despite the support of abortion and other scandals, this humbles me…
H-m-m-m…. Before I was Catholic, many years ago, I was Baptist. One of the deacons at the church was filling his gas tank one fine day, and when his wife went inside to pay, on a whim she bought a lottery ticket. It turned out to be a million-dollar winner! With its stern position on the sin of gambling, I fully expected the church to turn down the 10% and kick the offending parties out. Strangely, it didn’t happen…. Go figure!
Well, I have to commend Pastor David too for standing up to his principles, yet I wouldn’t fault charitable organizations who would accept these types of donations in good conscience. The issue of so-called “tainted donations” seems much more complex than it appears.
Mr Miller, I am an evangelical who finds your site fascinating. Could one of you good Catholics out there explain to me CCC 2413 and how it relates to gambling winnings?
After all, didn’t Jesus clearly teach his followers that it wasn’t money (and the worldly power money brings) that would bring salvation, but following Jesus in faith and love?
Yes, but the Church also teaches that gambling – in moderation – is not a sin.
Could one of you good Catholics out there explain to me CCC 2413 and how it relates to gambling winnings?
CCC 2413 is a section from the Catechism that reads:
Games of chance (card games, etc.) or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice. They become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others. The passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement. Unfair wagers and cheating at games constitute grave matter, unless the damage inflicted is so slight that the one who suffers it cannot reasonably consider it significant.
In other words, it basically says what I said above – gambling is not a sin in moderation, but can (like all things) become a vice that inhibits one’s ability to prioritize financial needs and be responsible and prudent with money.
Bishop Fred Henry from Calgary Canada spent many years getting his Diocese (parishes, Knights of Columbus, schools) out of using the casinos as fundraisers.
He was very patient and gave the groups over five years to get out. Eventually, the only holdouts were the Catholic schools and he boycotted the opening liturgy and threatened to blacklist schools that refused to put together an exit strategy.
Mr. Powell and Mr. Tarkington could both do the Church a lot of good by crossing the Tiber.
As an employee of a Catholic parish doing its best to follow Jesus in faith and love, I know for a fact that money helps. Money doesn’t lead to salvation but it is the currency that ComEd, the gas company, the office supply purveyors, the bulletin printers, the parking lot pavers etc. etc ad nauseam, wish to be paid in. Employees like it, too. You know, so we can pay ComEd…
True, money doesn’t lead to salvation but at least he tried to donate it to a good cause. This isn’t discouraging the act of buying tickets– this is simply encouraging Powell to spend his money elsewhere… perhaps on himself.
Mr. Powell should have kept his mouth shut about his winnings and just dropped a check into the plate.
I agree with WillyJ that “tainted donations” is a complex issue. On one hand, donations have been used as very public goodwill gestures from awful people. Donations might also be an attempt to assuage a guilty conscience, like a rumrunner who built civic buildings. But on the other hand, God brings good out of evil acts, so unknowing recipients of tainted money maybe shouldn’t feel so awful if they find out where the money came from afterward.
BTW I actively dislike BINGO and card games. However, I consider buying lottery or raffle tickets nothing more than a donation to the state or the charity running it. As my grandmother used to say: Plan on NOT winning!
Dear Mr. Powell,
My church is looking to build a Youth building that costs just about what your tithe would have been. Send it our way! I’m pretty sure God would use your money somewhere.
I am amazed with it. It is a good thing for my research. Thanks