Christian Evangelists Warn People Not To Play Powerball Lottery

| by Michael Allen
John Piper.John Piper.

The Powerball lottery will be over $1 billion on Jan. 13, but Christian evangelists are warning people not to play it.

John Piper, the chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota, wrote a blog on Jan. 5 entitled "Seven Reasons Not to Play the Lottery."

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The Bible never mentions lotteries specifically, but Piper said in his blog that playing a lottery is "spiritually suicidal" an is "a kind of embezzlement."

Piper added: "Managers don’t gamble with their Master’s money. All you have belongs to God. All of it. Faithful trustees may not gamble with a trust fund. They have no right. The parable of the talents says Jesus will take account of how we handled his money."

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Piper also called the lottery a "fool’s errand" because the "odds of winning are nearly 176 million-to-one."

Piper added that the lottery "preys on the poor" and noted an article by the The Consumerist that calls the lottery is a regressive tax, although middle class and wealthy people also play the lottery.

Piper went on to suggest that if "the $500 a year that on average all American households throw away on the lottery were invested in an index fund each year for 20 years, each family would have $24,000."

An index fund is a mutual fund that buys or sells stocks based on an index, such as the S&P 500. While index funds have their supporters, they also have their detractors, noted The Motley Fool in 2015.

Evangelist Franklin Graham warned people on Facebook on Jan. 11: "Many people are suffering from 'lottery fever' -- standing in line for hours to buy a Powerball ticket for a chance to win the now $1.3 billion (yes billion!) jackpot."

"To be honest with you, I think everyone has thought about what it would be like to win a large jackpot of money. One person I know said if he won, he would get liposuction; someone else said they would buy a new house. But the Bible has lot to say about where to put your treasure."

The Charlotte Observer reported in 2015 that Graham collected two full-time salaries by serving as head of the nonprofit Billy Graham Evangelical Association, $258,667, and nonprofit Samaritan’s Purse, $620,000, in 2013.

In 2009, Graham said God told him to accept only one salary and he gave up his BGEA salary. In 2011, Graham began collecting both salaries again.

Sources: The Motley Fool,, Frankin Graham/Facebook, The Charlotte Observer / Photo credit: Micah Chiang/Flickr