January 29, 2014
Grace Community Church Pastor Lyall Bethel last night warned that if the government does not enforce the results of last year's gambling referendum, the public would be apathetic over this year's planned constitutional referendum.
Bethel and other pastors behind the Vote No campaign held a victory celebration in Rawson Square to commemorate the referendum's anniversary.
The event drew about 60 supporters.
"If the prime minister doesn't respect this referendum, I think every politician needs to give up on referendums," Bethel told reporters after the event.
"Because you've just told the people, 'it doesn't matter, you didn't come up with the answer I wanted, therefore your opinion is not important'. Then you're going to come back in June with another referendum, who are you kidding?
"So my strong encouragement is respect the wishes of the people and you win, everybody wins."
Bethel said the anniversary was "bittersweet" because despite the results of the vote, the government has not shut down the web shop industry.
He also said the government should confiscate the proceeds of web shop gambling and use it to improve conditions in the inner city.
"The same inner city that they have raped and pillaged with these false declarations that everybody can win and they don't. For one person to win, hundreds and hundreds have to lose," Bethel said.
Earlier this month, Christie said the issue of shutting down web shops was a complex one. He also suggested that the church needed to be more visible on the issues of crime and other social ills, as well as gambling.
Last night Bethel hit out at the suggestion and said the church is active behind the scenes, feeding the hungry and helping the downtrodden. He added that unlike some web shop owners, the church does not advertise its charitable work.
Bahamas Harvest Church Pastor Mario Moxey said the public's collective tolerance of crime has allowed the web shop industry to flourish.
However he said the outcome of the referendum is proof that Bahamians still view the country as a Christian nation.
"The landslide defeat of the expansion of criminality in this country last year should be a wake up call to all of us, that we who stand for moral values possess not only a voice but we represent a force that cannot be ignored when determining the course of direction in nation building," Moxey said.
On January 28, 2013 about 45 percent of registered voters turned up at the polls. Voters were asked if they supported the regulation and taxation of web shops and the creation of a national lottery.
Results from the Parliamentary Registration Department show that 17,000 more people voted 'no' on the question of web shop gaming than those who voted 'yes'.
The numbers show that 46,961 people voted 'no' to a national lottery and 33,170 voted 'yes'.
Christie promised to abide by the results of the vote. A day after the referendum he ordered web shops to end their gaming operations or face prosecution.
However several web shop owners quickly petitioned the court to keep their businesses open.
Earlier this month Christie said he regretted holding the referendum. He said he should have brought legislation to Parliament to regulate the sector instead of leaving it to a public vote.
Bethel said the group will continue to pray and lobby the government to abide by the referendum's results.
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News date : 01/29/2014 Category : Nassau Guardian Stories