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February 11, 2020

By Mohamed Sesay (Lucky)

The disparaging fisticuffs between morality and vanity among our moral guarantors to resolutely uphold and transmogrify the moral life today, has precipitated these hard-ass (tough) questions, where has morality gone in Sierra Leone? Has it gone bananas? It is sardonically ironical to see nowadays moral guarantors who should be busy calling their congregation to their consecrated churches or mosques for spiritual healing and guidance, are now manned with the mandate to proffer solutions to a betting company that propagandizes gambling activities.

 I will not commit a fallacy of hasty generalization, but the February 4th approval of Rev. Dickson Saidu, Rev. Joe Bob Amara and Alhaji Alusine Funkuba Fofanah in the House of Parliament to be Board Members of the Sierra Leone State Lottery Limited is under my condemnation, and I suppose the Inter-Religious Council should equally condemn it. The fallacious adage which says “Do as I say, but don’t do as I do” should not be part of the modus operandi of our religious leaders.
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The appointment of these highly placed moral guarantors to head the country’s biggest gambling company sounded so cacophonous in the ears of the members of parliament and the citizens of this nation. The horrendous aspect of this 21st century dramatic irony was the commitment made by these Men of God to promote gambling activities within the radius and circumference of the entire country, having been approved in parliament. As the adage says, “what would you gain if you get the entire world and lose your soul…”?  Pastors and Iman being happy for gambling job? “D game don big indeed”. Let me bring in biblical propositions which can justify that gambling of any type is sinful and the action of those moral guarantors to spearhead gambling activities in the country, is also tantamount to a grave sin against God.

Rev. Saidu and Rev. Amara might want to claim that there is nowhere in the bible that mentioned gambling as a sinful act. Now, if no passage in the Scripture explicitly forbids it, can we with confidence claim that gambling is wrong, and is a moral evil? With good reason, Christians are hesitant to label sins that the Bible doesn’t mention, yet we often have to distill principles from the Bible that we apply to contemporary situations. Pornography, computer hacking, or cheating on tests aren’t mentioned in the Bible either, yet believers who want to live like Jesus know intuitively and correctly that these behaviors run counter to the will of God. While biblical texts may not mention them explicitly, biblical principles speak to them directly. Thus, let’s peruse into some biblical verses in the Bible that substantiate gambling as sinful act.

Timothy (6:9-10) “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs”.

 Exodus (20:17) “Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor”. Proverbs (28:22) “Greedy people try to get rich quick but don’t realize they’re headed for poverty”.

On the other side of the pendulum, let me bring in some Qur’anic verses which explicitly explicated the sinful aspect of gambling of all kind.  Gambling is mentioned in the Quran, alongside drinking alcohol as an abomination, a sin, and a grave harm to mankind. It was made clear that prosperity does not come through gambling. Gambling, among many other things, causes families to break, societies to suffer, and the economy to deteriorate, damaging the ethical foundation of any decent society.

 “O you who believe! Intoxicants and (Maesir) games of chance and divining (azlam) by arrows are only uncleanness, the Shaitan’s work; shun it therefore that you may be successful. Satan only wants to cause between you  animosity and hatred through intoxications and gambling and to advert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayers. So will you not desist?” (Surah al-Mā’ida 5:90-91) “O you who believe! Do not devour your property among yourselves falsely…?” (Surah an-Nisā’ 4:29)

“If they ask you about wine and gambling. Say, “In them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit.” And they ask you what they should spend. Say, “The excess [beyond needs].” Thus, Allah makes clear to you the verses [of revelation] that you might give thought.” [Quran 2:219]

Having analogously scrutinized the two religious books used by Muslims and Christians, we can affirmatively affirm that indeed gambling is a heinous crime to God. Therefore, the appointment of these three men of God by His Excellency the president Julius Maada Bio, to diversify and promote gambling activities across the country will trigger another question, “is this the End time”? The unfathomable aspect of the whole thing is, why should President Bio choose two pastors and an Iman to head gambling company? Are there no other agencies or departments to employer these fine gentlemen instead of given them job that is against the norms and values of their religious credo? Sure, there are other jobs suitable for the two Pastors and the Imam other than gambling job.

 Align with the above mentioned; I want to call on the Inter-religious Council in Sierra Leone, to engage Rev. Dickson Saidu, Rev. Joe Bob Amara and Alhaji Alusine Funkuba Fofanah without any modicum of hesitant, to out rightly decline the gambling job. This gambling job cannot resonate with their hard-earned religious reputation, cannot resonate with their family names, and it will definitely dent the country’s religious image.

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