Views on gambling differ among the many denominations of the Christian church, and so, while certain groups may frown on bingo, others tolerate it, whilst others openly embrace it.
The Catholic Church has always come under fire from many different directions regarding a myriad of issues. The common use of bingo as an income supplement in this denomination has drawn fire from evangelists. In a forum regarding Catholic legal theory, one such evangelist, in whose house, he mentions, “Even possessing playing cards was frowned upon”, says that the Catholic Church seems “more concerned with bingo than they are with spreading the gospel”. Whatever the more austere sects of the church might say, there is nothing in Catholic legal theory that condemns gambling; Catechism 2413 states that games of chance only “become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others”.
The bingo phenomenon is not just limited to the Catholic church, but to a large number of denominations who see it as a harmless bit of fun for their members, but more importantly, as a way to supplement their income and ensure their survival. This means that in the case of the church, rather than causing deprivation, bingo aids the ability to provide for its needs, making it morally acceptable.
So many churches hold bingo fundraisers that in many people the word conjures up images of dusty or damp church halls with a priest calling out numbers. In fact, a play has been written called “Father Bingo”, which features a priest fundraising to save his church and “rejuvenate the congregation” – you probably don’t need to see the play to figure out how he plans to do this. The fact that this play is being performed in school auditoriums might hint at the fact that the play’s handling of a church bingo game hardly paints a picture of a den of evil. In fact, it stands to reason that if you have a hankering for a little wagering, a church would be the place to do it, as the house is unlikely to let you lose everything you own if you get a little carried away.
However, if the idea of bingo in the House of the Lord still leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, you might feel a sense of justice in the fact that a House of the Lord has bought out a major house of bingo. In Kilburn, London, Ruach Ministries has bought Rank’s Mecca Bingo club for £9 million pounds. The Italian Renaissance building, with a 130 foot tower and Britain’s largest working Wurlitzer organ was once a night spot frequented by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Marilyn Monroe, and had been a bingo club since the 60s. Last autumn, the club was taken over (or possibly reclaimed, as the presence of an organ suggests) by God through Ruach Ministries, whose Brixton branch welcomes a congregation of 1500 on Sundays. It was not mentioned if the funds to buy the grandiose building had been swelled by any bingo nights.