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."
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."
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.