Super Bowl Gambling Grows, But Pastors Are on the Sidelines

Betting on the Vegas-based game between Kansas City and San Francisco has not pushed church leaders to speak about the issue.

With the Super Bowl this weekend, don’t expect many pastors to place a bet on Kansas City or San Francisco to win the game, but a few may have more than a rooting interest riding on the game.

Despite its legalization across many states, U.S. Protestant pastors remain opposed to sports gambling, but they’re not doing much about it, according to a Lifeway Research study. Few pastors (13%) favor legalizing sports betting nationwide and most (55%) say the practice is morally wrong.

“Anything can happen in sports, and many Americans want the same allure of an unexpected win in sports to translate into an unexpected financial windfall,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “Most pastors see moral hazards in sports betting and believe American society would be better off without it.”

Pastoral opposition

A majority of pastors (55%) believe betting on sports is morally wrong, including 33% who strongly agree. Around a third (35%) disagree, while 10% aren’t sure.

“While the Bible does not explicitly say, ‘thou shall not gamble,’ biblical principles regarding work and wealth indicate that gambling is unwise,” said Miles Mullin, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission vice president and chief of staff. “The Bible teaches that sin has a ripple effect that harms not only the participant but those around him. This seems particularly true for addictive behaviors, and gambling is no different.”

Evangelical pastors (62%) are more likely than mainline pastors (50%) to see sports gambling as morally wrong. Baptist (65%) and non-denominational pastors (63%) are more likely than those at Lutheran (42%) or Presbyterian/Reformed …

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