Reported in the News Letter on November 14, 1955: Presbyterian Church ‘not consistent in its attitude to gambling’

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The attitude of the Presbyterian Church towards gambling was criticised by the Rev Ivor Lewis, minister of Berry Street Presbyterian Church, when he spoke on “Our Church and the social evils of drink and gambling” at a service under the auspices of the Temperence Committee of the Belfast Presbytery in the Assembly Hall yesterday afternoon.

Declaring that the inconsistency had been one of the contributory causes to the present “alarming situation”, he said it was all very well for people to go to church and listen to a minister preaching against gambling.

“But what about the innocent flutters on the pools?” he asked. “Or the attempts to win a motorcar for a sixpence? We have laughed at ballots in our churches; in fact, we have even subscribed to ballots for good and charitable causes.

“The man in the street does not believe us when we say we are against gambling because he sees us condoning it on almost every hand. If the Church is to make a real contribution towards solving the problem it must be consistent in its attitude.”

The Rev J J Mulligan, of Donegall Pass Presbyterian Church, said that social evils must be dealt with by Church and Parliament together. If they were dealt with by one alone the burden was doubled.

Drinking and gambling, if allowed to run amok among the people, could prove fatal, but there were vested interests who wished to see as much liquor consumed as possible and as many people gambling as possible.

Mr Mulligan said that the licensing and betting laws of Ulster were being flouted day and night. He added: “Public opinion can make or break any social legislation. When licences for betting shops are applied for in your district, oppose them.”