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Editorial: Moral dilemma for tithing after lottery win

Wednesday, January 8, 2003

What pastor wouldn't feel a tingle of anticipation after being told by a parishioner of plans to donate $17 million to three churches. That's exactly what the recent winner of the Powerball lottery said he would do.

Jack Whittaker of West Virginia opted to take a one-time lottery payout of $170 million. After taxes, he will get more than $113 million. But he promised to tithe -- a full 10 percent -- based on the pretax amount.

The three Church of God pastors on the receiving end might be struggling with their consciences. The official doctrine of the Church of God denomination expressly forbids gambling by its members -- and, one might presume, profiting from a gambling jackpot.

Gambling continues to provide more and more funding for state governments, but at a huge cost to millions of Americans who can least afford it. Now another moral monkey wrench has been thrown into the lottery frenzy: How is it possible to tithe when the money in question is sinfully obtained?

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