How Do Christians Reconcile Gambling with their Faith?

If you saw the movie “21″ or read the book Bringing Down the House, you know what card-counting is. But you might be wondering — aren’t we all — what would’ve happened if all those players were Christian?

That’s what the movie “Holy Rollers” is all about:

Even Christianity Today was intrigued by that premise:

“It doesn’t seem like one of the most noble things a person can do in the world,” one member of the team says in the film. “But at least we can liberate the money from the clutches of those who would use it for ill purposes, you know?”

The team includes not just laypeople, but pastors and worship leaders. The filmmakers were subtle and secretive, managing to get unprecedented footage inside casinos, showing the team at work — and the casino operators who were always on the lookout for card counters, and then “inviting” them (sometimes politely, sometimes not) to leave.

Are you allowed to gamble while saying you follow what the Bible says? Is it theologically sound? That’s one of the questions the film attempts to answer.

For anyone interested, the film is now available to download on iTunes.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Tim D.

    “It doesn’t seem like one of the most noble things a person
    can do in the world,” one member of the team says in the film. “But at
    least we can liberate the money from the clutches of those who would use
    it for ill purposes, you know?”Yeah, remember that part in the Bible where it says, ‘stealing and cheating and stuff is okay, as long as you only do it to bad guys?’

  • http://twitter.com/Buffy2q Buffy

    “It doesn’t seem like one of the most noble things a person
    can do in the world,” one member of the team says in the film. “But at
    least we can liberate the money from the clutches of those who would use
    it for ill purposes, you know?”The old IOKIYAC excuse.

  • Anonymous-Sam

    Cognitive dissonance comes to the rescue once again!

  • http://profiles.google.com/daniel.schealler Daniel Schealler

    Give to Caesar (‘s Palace) what is Caesar (‘s Palace)’s.

  • Annie

    “God knows all of my needs and he knows exactly what order the cards are in the s(????). ”  It takes an over active ego to truly believe that your god is the least bit concerned whether or not you win at gambling.  Is this film a poe?

    • Anonymous

      It’s really only a small step beyond “The creator of the universe has a special plan for me and listens to my prayers”

      • Annie

        True.  I’m not sure how their church views gambling, but my guess would be that it is frowned upon (otherwise, there is really no story here).  So, if they will ignore this little rule because they believe they are “called” to gamble, what other rules would they ignore (both religious and societal) if they thought Jesus gave them the OK to do so?  Those small steps can start adding up after a while…

  • Lunchboxsw

    Does the Bible forbid gambling? or it is just the same pastors that also say that good Christians don’t swear, dance, or drink?

  • http://www.SecularThinker.com/ The Secular Thinker

    God doesn’t play with dice. But it doesn’t say anything about cards…

  • Lee Eddy

    The link above actually sent me to a site for a film about Orthodox Jews (Hasidim?) becoming drug mules. 

    Well, that movie looks pretty good, too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

    “But at least we can liberate the money from the clutches of those who would use it for ill purposes, you know?”

    Ill purposes like lying to children, opposing equality, and lobbying for theocracy?

  • http://www.facebook.com/cburschka Christoph Burschka

    “But at least we can liberate the money from the clutches of those who would use it for ill purposes, you know?”

    I love this quote.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-A-Anderson/100000016895400 John A. Anderson

    Pascal started it all with his wager.

  • PJB863

    They should follow the Catholic Church’s lead:  Bingo!

  • ThinkingAtheist

    Christians are already gambling by picking ONE of the hundreds of god choices available to them, so I say: GO AHEAD, COUNT DEM CARDS!

  • Sam

    Having worked in casino’s for eight years, and spent as long at a religous high school (not at the same time), it has been my experience that an awful lot more prayers are said in the former.
    For a year or so at one casino, we had a nutjob wander through the gaming area vehemently announcing that all gamblers would go to hell, we were sinners etc. (the usual stuff). I never saw anyone the least bit affected by his tirades, rather most of the the players considered him part of the entertainment.
    That was a bit off topic, but anyway…
    To really increase your chances while gambling: Always tip your dealer!

  • Anonymous

    Note that Catholic “bingo nights’ were a big thing (and maybe still are), so obviously at least some Christians are fine with some gambling.  (A lot of Protestants actually would point to that practice as evidence of the RCC’s corruption, back in the day–so at least some Christians also are NOT fine with at least some gambling.)

    I’m pretty sure cheating at gambling would be denounced by just about any pastor or priest, though.  


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