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Mississippi Pastors to Consider Casino Concerns

Local pastors are set to meet Wednesday, June 28, to discuss concerns about gambling in Jackson County in lieu of casino issues brewing in their community.

"It's an open discussion to talk about a potential course of action toward the approach of casinos attempting to expand into Jackson County," said associate pastor of Crossroads Church of the Nazarene Carl King.

In May, the Mississippi Band of Choctaws began the federal procedure of enlisting the vote of approval for a casino proposal to be situated on nearly 100 acres of land near Interstate 10 and Miss. 57. Since they embarked on the road to building their casino, the Harrison County casino has been in strong opposition to the plan. The Choctaws are not required by federal laws to pay taxes on revenues that will be generated from the casino.

The pastors' meeting will be the first public religious opposition of any kind regarding the matter. "An issue this big, we need to form a unified response," said Dr. Palma Chandler, founding bishop of Calling All Christians Church.

"We want to accurately reflect what God's will is in the matter. God has an agenda for every person and family and community. We need to understand what that is," the founding bishop added. He also said that he has already made known his opposition in the matter before.

"I believe, overall, that it is not a good thing for people to be involved in gambling," he said. "It promotes a get rich quick and easy' philosophy. Life doesn't work that way."

He also brought about his concern about the havoc that gambling may wreak in families. "It tears marriages and families apart," Chandler said. "Gambling represents a shortcut to success. It's an illusion of success."

Jackson County pastors were issued invitations to the meeting by Chandler and King. The meeting about the tribal casino issue will take place at Crossroads Church of the Nazarene on Wednesday at 10 in the morning. The venue would be right across the proposed casino.

The tribe has voiced in an interview last month that they will not be pushing through with the casino plans if the community will have a strong opposition against it.

"The tribe is very interested in hearing what Jackson County has to say," said tribal spokesperson Chassidy Wilson. "We hope nothing more than to maintain open communications and dialogue with Jackson County residents and officials concerning our aspirations in the area."

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