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CULTURE DIGEST: Federal Internet gambling ban could be overturned in Congress

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Online gambling could be legal again if Rep. Barney Frank, D.-Mass., is successful at overturning a ban enacted nearly three years ago when Republicans led Congress.

Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced legislation in May that would allow the U.S. Treasury Department to license and regulate Internet gambling companies. Under current law, financial institutions are banned from handling transactions made to and from Internet gambling sites, The New York Times said.

Most of the bill’s roughly 25 cosponsors are Democrats. Other supporters include the Poker Players Alliance, which has more than 1 million members and is chaired by former Republican Sen. Alfonse D’Amato from New York.

The Times said four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA have spoken out against the legislation, saying it “reverses nearly 50 years of clear federal policy against sports betting and it opens the door wide to sports gambling on the Internet.”

The American Gaming Association, which lobbies for the casino industry, has said it will remain neutral on the issue. Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D.-Nev., opposed lifting the ban in the past when Frank introduced a similar bill which never made it out of committee. A spokesman for Reid said the senator would be wary of supporting anything that would negatively affect the gambling industry in Nevada.

Frank’s current bill forbids betting on sports events and allows states and Indian tribal lands to opt out if they prefer, The Times said. The legislation also would require companies seeking a license to use safeguards aimed at preventing minors from participating in online gambling.

Rep. Spencer Bachus, R.-Ala., said such security measures are “inherently unreliable, can be trivially circumvented and will fail at high rates.”

“Illegal offshore Internet gambling sites are a criminal enterprise, and allowing them to operate unfettered in the United States would present a clear danger to our youth, who are subject to becoming addicted to gambling at an early age,” Bachus, author of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, said.

Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy at the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said Frank’s legislation is irresponsible.

“It shows a complete lack of concern for the financial peril millions of American families are already facing,” Duke told Baptist Press. “The last thing they need is for Mr. Frank to turn their home computers into online casinos once again. Congress has already addressed the problem of online gambling. For the sake of millions of gambling addicts and the well-being of our families, the ban must be allowed to stand.”

NEW WEBSITE ADDRESSES FAITH AND EVOLUTION — For people who wonder whether a belief in evolution is compatible with the Christian faith and for those who are seeking resources in the discussion surrounding evolution, the Discovery Institute has launched FaithandEvolution.org.

“In recent years, debates over faith and evolution have continued to intensify. On the one hand, ‘new atheists’ like Richard Dawkins have insisted that Darwinian evolution makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

“On the other hand, ‘new theistic evolutionists’ like Francis Collins have assured people that Darwin’s theory is perfectly compatible with faith and need have no damaging cultural consequences. Who is right? And why does it matter?” Discovery’s Robert Crowther wrote on the Evolution News & Views blog May 26.

John West, associate director of Discovery’s Center for Science and Culture, said the new website is for people who want to dig deeper into the scientific, spiritual and social issues raised by Darwin’s theory but are frustrated by the limited options offered by most outlets.

“The first goal of FaithandEvolution.org is to present the scientific information about evolution and intelligent design that is typically left out of the discussion,” West said. “A second goal is to tackle tough questions that are usually ignored about the consequences of Darwin’s theory for ethics, society and religion.”

Such questions include “Does evolution undermine belief in God?” “Are there scientific challenges to Darwinian evolution?” “What is the scientific evidence for intelligent design?” and “Does Darwinism devalue human life?”

Free resources include audio, video and articles featuring scientists and scholars, pages featuring top questions and topics related to evolution and intelligent design, and curriculum ideas for small groups.

“It’s ironic that many of the pro-Darwin groups that claim to be promoting dialogue about science and religion are really offering only a monologue,” West said. “They do their best to exclude those who disagree with them. But we have nothing to fear from a free and open exchange of ideas.”
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.

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