Gambling and religion are traditionally considered as something opposite, something you won’t dare to mention in one sentence. However, even though never associated with each other and definitely on the other sides of the moral fence, religion and gambling have a lot more in common than you might think.
The strained relationship between gambling and religion will become a little bit clearer when we reveal some remarkable scientific facts and find out which religions – if there are any – endorse gambling and which prohibit it altogether. So, without further ado, let’s dig into it!
The most vivid example of how we really perceive religion and gambling – and if there are any differences in that perception – is given in the recent study by Jeffrey S Anderson and his fellow scientists. The research called ‘Reward, salience, and attentional networks are activated by religious experience in devout Mormons’ had to do with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans on 19 Mormons reading prayers and doing other routine religious stuff. Surprisingly enough, the scans showed that the religious rituals trigger the same brain activity as is triggered by music, love, gambling, and anything else connected with pleasure and reward.
But what could that mean? Well, at least one thing is crystal clear: whether you like it or not, from the scientific point of view, people get pleasure from religion, a kind of reward that many of them most certainly lack in everyday lives. Yeah, absolutely the same kind of pleasure you treat yourself with when winning big at one of the gambling sites for Calgary players or wherever you are playing. Of course, you can claim that the pleasure and reward bestowed to us by religion have no evil roots and can only be compared to the pleasure extracted from love, but come on, let’s keep it real: our brain doesn’t care for the source of what it needs – it just needs it.
The tension between different religions and gambling is known even to atheists – and it’s true that most religions condemn games of chance and urge the righteous proponents to stay away from gambling – but it’s also true that some religious branches are less severe and even allow gambling ‘as is’ or for charity purposes. Here’s what religions think of gambling, from the least to the most tolerable:
What a Priests Says
You don’t expect to see a priest in the casino, but only until you visit Melbourne’s Crown Casino and meet Friar James Grant, a full-time clergyman offering counseling services right in the premises. As he puts it himself, ‘There’s nothing in the bible that says it’s wrong to gamble. What’s bad, and this goes for booze and drugs and driving your car 200 miles an hour down the road, is a lack of moderation. I would consider that in moderation, gambling could be considered a normal human activity.’
At the end of the day, religious people are still people with their passions and flaws – which are sometimes hard to believe – and while there’s no single opinion on whether religious people are allowed to gamble, it is really up to your view of this subtle, ambiguous subject.