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N.C. Religious Leaders Stage Anti-Lottery Rally

Apr 13, 2005, 11:00 am

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North Carolina Lottery

On the same day state Senate leaders appointed a special committee to review the lottery bill recently passed by the House, religious leaders rallied outside the Legislative Building to convince lawmakers to reject a lottery.

"Desperate means are an easy way out, and I think the lottery is a desperate means for making finances for America," said Teresa McAllister, an elder with a Fayetteville church.

"The issue is so important to me because family is so important to me," McAllister said. "We're trying to teach the children to get an education, go to work. This is how we fund education, at the same time we're saying the easy way out is that we're not going to trust in God? Why have it on our money?"

Lottery proponents maintain a state-run game could generate up to $500 million a year for school construction, college scholarships and aid for poor school districts.

But opponents said dividing that money among 100 counties is only $5 million per county -- not even enough to pay for one new school.

"It's not a way to raise revenue. We suggested raising the taxes by 1 cent, which would give almost $900 million to the state," said Robert Lewis, pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Fayetteville.

Lewis said he ran that idea past state Sen. Tony Rand, D-Cumberland, who is chairing the 21-member lottery committee, and got a cool reception.

"Somebody may even lose their home because some daddy's going to put a lot of money in the lottery thinking, 'This is my ticket out,'" Lewis said.

Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight said he doesn't plan to rush a proposal through the chamber, and a vote could be a few weeks off.

The 21-member committee includes Democratic Sens. Dan Clodfelter of Mecklenburg County, Janet Cowell of Wake County and Martin Nesbitt of Buncombe County, who each have expressed reservations about a stand-alone lottery bill, as well as six Republicans.

With two additional Democrats currently opposed, Senate leaders would have some change some minds to get a bill passed the 50-seat Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, who also is on the committee, said he believes all 21 Republicans in the 50-seat will oppose the lottery.

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