Religious leaders weigh in on state lottery debate

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – After Wednesday night’s drawing, the Powerball jackpot has risen to $435 million.

For years, there’s been an unsuccessful push for a lottery in Mississippi.

But now, a lottery study committee made up of state representatives are taking a serious look at the benefits and disadvantages.

“A lot of universities and state colleges use lottery money for tuition for students. So that is where for me it’s a little bit more grey. However, if our educational institutions were adequately funded, we wouldn’t need it,” Pastor Justin White, of First United Methodist Church in Greenville, said.

Those against a lottery have used religion as a reason.

Today, we caught up with members of the Mississippi United Methodist clergy at their annual conference to explain their opposition.

“One of the reasons that we’re against it is that usually and normally you’ll find that most of the people that play the lottery can least afford it. And then, of course, the rate of people being addicted to it. I mean it is an addictive behavior,” Bishop James Swanson, of the United Methodist Church said.

“Quite frankly it’s a little selfish right? Aren’t you trying to get rich? You’re just personally trying to get rich,” Pastor Brad Corban, of Court Street Methodist Church in Hattiesburg, said.

Every person we spoke to in Louisiana who bought a ticket for Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing was from Mississippi.

Lottery supporters say that money would be the solution to some of our state’s on-going budget cuts.

“The most important thing we can do as a state together is vote to tax ourselves, so that together we all pull our resources and do the things that we think are important,” Pastor Corban said.

That lottery study committee met once in May.

They have plans to visit Arkansas and Louisiana for further research.

The next Powerball drawing is Saturday night.

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