Les Bernal, national director of Stop Predatory Gambling, said there is “no more high profile issue in Alabama than gambling, and I affirm [Alabama Citizens Action Program] as a key player in the statewide politics of this issue.”
Bernal was guest at the annual ALCAP board meeting conducted by webcast on March 1. Board chair Chris Crain, executive director of Birmingham Metro Baptist Association, moderated the meeting.
Bernal said there would be two losers should legalized gambling be approved in the state.
“First, the kids will be raised in a gambling-obsessed culture,” he said. “Second, gambling shifts the tax burden from the middle and upper class to the lower income class. This is also systemic racism since minorities are most affected.”
ALCAP Executive Director Joe Godfrey provided a brief history of Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s gambling study group, which convened during 2020 to examine the impact of expanded gambling in the state. The study group ultimately concluded that in their opinion, the economic benefits of a lottery, additional casinos and sports betting would outweigh the negative social costs, Godfrey said.
Senate Bill 214, sponsored by Sen. Del Marsh, is pending review by the state Senate and would put a constitutional amendment removing gambling restrictions in the state before Alabama’s 2.5 million voters if passed by the Senate and House.
ALCAP legal counsel Eric Johnston reported on Senate Bill 10 and House Bill 1, the “Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act,” insisting the issue has favorable prospects for passage.
“This bill makes it a felony to perform sex change operations on minors,” Johnston explained. “Some say this interferes with parental choice, but the state mandates health over parental concerns in other matters, such as providing alcohol to minors.”
Godfrey mentioned House Bill 246, which makes it illegal to teach yoga in Alabama public schools K-12 citing religious concerns.
Another bill Godfrey is monitoring proposes legislation allowing the direct shipment of alcohol to private homes.
“Proponents of [the alcohol bill] tell us the delivery personnel will check IDs, but the deliverers I see drop packages on the front porch and leave,” he said. “I don’t think they’ll have time to check IDs.”
Godfrey said he used the pandemic “down time” to record videos for his signature teaching series, “The Forgotten Command.” Two versions are available ranging from 20 to 30 minutes for each of the six, plus PDF versions of the discussion guides. Godfrey said these can be used on Sundays, Wednesdays or in small groups to study how to be influencers in our culture. Materials are available without charge on the ALCAP website.
Another ALCAP resource is American Character Builders, a curriculum for use in schools, churches, nonprofits and other settings.
“We’ve spent a lot of time lately updating our websites,” Godfrey said. “They’re up-to-date and packed with information.”
Godfrey also announced his plans to retire as ALCAP executive director on April 30, 2022, after serving 15 years.
“This has been a great season in my life, and I’m grateful to the board for your help along the way,” he said. “I won’t retire from ministry, and I plan to remain active in God’s work.”
Administrative Assistant Cheryl Corley also announced her retirement on May 31, 2022.
Previously the board approved the 2021 budget of $417,586, a slight increase over 2020.
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