In my time with The Associated Press in Nashville, Tenn., I spent months covering the 2002 battle over a proposed state lottery.
Before Tennessee voters went to the polls that November, I wrote a story explaining why religious opponents had avoided portraying the referendum as a "moral issue."
From that story, which ran on the national political wire:
“To win, we could not make it a preacher issue,” said the Rev. Paul Durham, a Southern Baptist pastor and treasurer for the Gambling Free Tennessee Alliance. “We had to make it a truth issue.”
The campaign’s lack of Bible thumping reflects political and theological realities in the battle over lifting a constitutional ban on a lottery. Polls have consistently shown most Tennesseans – those in the pews and otherwise – see no inherent evil in the concept of a lottery.
“Since 47 states have gambling, I would have to think God’s not really against it,” said state Sen. Steve Cohen, a Democrat and the state’s chief lottery proponent.
As it turned out, the lottery proposal passed easily — winning support from 58 percent of the nearly 1.6 million Tennesseans who voted.
I was reminded of the Volunteer State's experience when I read a New York Times piece Sunday making the case that "Alabama's Longtime Hostility to Gambling Shows Signs of Fading." Among those pushing for a lottery vote: both major-party gubernatorial candidates nominated last week.
The Times' lede: