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United Methodist Bishop Pledges Anti-Slots Effort

Even though Maryland residents will not vote on a referendum on slot machine gambling until November, the bishop of the Baltimore-Washington conference of the United Methodist Church says he is already mobilizing his followers to oppose the effort.

"We think that slots are bad business. It does harm to the community and it does not build up the good in the community," said Bishop John R. Schol.

Schol said he is calling for more Methodists to become "extreme disciples" of Christ, the theme of his "State of the Church" speech during the denomination's recent annual conference at National Harbor in Prince George's County.

"Extreme disciples are believers who are willing to risk everything for a kingdom adventure," Schol said.

The Methodists set up a booth in their exhibition hall with a replica of a gold slot machine and a sign that read, "There is No Hope in Slots."

Sandra Ferguson, director of social justice and mission ministries for the Baltimore-Washington conference, said that slots will be a big issue for the conference's 650 churches in coming months.

"We are the ones who have to pick up the pieces," she said. "We are the ones who have to minister to people because slots are so seductive. It destroys families and it brings brokenness in the lives of people."

-- Hamil R. Harris

By Anne Bartlett  |  June 3, 2008; 3:22 PM ET
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