Rev. Austin Miles, a chaplain in Northern California is a writer and historian. He is the author of Santa's Surprising Origins, a story that received worldwide circulation and resulted in him being cast in the 2004 Hallmark Christmas Movie titled, Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus. He played the mall Santa who magically received the gift of sign language.

This item is under category Society.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Society • Minister’s Heroic Stand For Integrity

Every man seems to have a price. This writer is constantly amazed at how cheap one can buy a man or woman’s integrity. That is, except for Rev. John Anderson, who runs the Bay Area Rescue Mission in Richmond, a homeless shelter with 325 beds. His is a compassionate ministry which provides for the needs of the downtrodden. With case loads increasing due to the economic crisis, the mission is constantly in need of funds. Not enough, however, for Rev. Anderson to sell his integrity.

Richmond is known the world over as a city of constant violence, crime, and murder. It was the scene of the recent gang rape of a 15 year old girl who had gone to a high school dance. One of those who took part was a 13 year old boy.

Richmond’s problems can be solved, said the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians to the board of supervisors, by building an Indian casino at Point Molate. This will give the city a new look, generate income for the city as well as providing employment in the community which will reduce crime.

A tidal wave of opposition slowed the procedure until the tribe met again with supervisors and gave them specific figures about how much the city—the county and the state would be given each year, in the millions, which would pay for improvements, security etc.  To deal with their opponents,they also promised huge amounts of money each year if the measure passed, and this included charity organizations like Rev. Anderson’s Bay Area Rescue Mission.

Slight pause for this observation: Gambling consists of games of chance (they say). So [if] it is by chance, how would the casino operators be able to state the exact amount of money, in the millions, that they could pay out if the measure passed?

The operators know for certain that a casino like the one proposed would take in over a billion dollars a year (their profit). They know that for fact. So is it really a game of chance? Or is it rigged to only pay out so much money? Just remember that those fancy hotels and glitzy casinos were not built by you winning!

Rev. Anderson went to the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, where the measure would be discussed. He brought with him some clients of his shelter whose lives have been ruined by gambling. They testified that they had lost everything to gambling and wound up on the streets. They told how easy it is to become addicted to gambling.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen, writing for the East County Times reported that nearly every opposition group has, or is negotiating a lucrative deal with the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians. Then, she writes,” behind the scenes, casino proponents have urged Rev. Anderson to meet with the tribe.”

He told them that he would not accept money from Indian casinos, ” since gambling goes against the principles that we believe and stand for.”  He went on to say, “We were not angling for money. We see the devastation that would come about as a result of a casino like the one proposed.”  And it appears that he is the only organization that rejected the proposed pay off.

Complications began two days after Rev. Anderson took his heroic stand. The Contra Costa Health Department suddenly showed up to inspect the facility. An inspector showed up a day or two later. When Rev. Anderson asked why the inspector was there, he blurted out that his visit was routine, “not the result of a complaint.’” The inspector said it, not Rev. Anderson.  Why of course, that visit, two days after he testified before the County Board of Supervisors, was purely coincidental.

Then the County Health Department demanded upgrades inside the shelter that would cost Rev. Anderson, $45,000. And this is a time when donations are down 11 % and their expenses are up 18%.

Then, on the same day,  he received a message from the Pittsburg Redevelopment Agency regarding a property he wanted to buy in order to open a shelter there for women and children. He was contacted by Janis Glover, wife of Contra Costa County Supervisor, Federal Glover. She questioned him about “the mission’s religious activities.”

Now hold on… don’t jump to conclusions… this too was just a coincidence. She was merely dealing with some ‘church and state issues that suddenly came up and was simply gathering information for the city attorney. That’s what she said.  Sure!  Let’s be sure we have all of this in order:

First of all, Mrs. Federal Glover, who has a political job with the Pittsburg Redevelopment Agency is married to the Supervisor of Contra Costa County, Federal Glover. Glory be!. Another coincidence!

A tip of the beret to Rev. John Anderson of The Bay Area Rescue Mission, who stayed true to God and himself.  He is the rarest of men….a man who cannot be bought. A minister of integrity who would never offend God.  He is totally devoted to the ministry God has entrused him with. His pure actions resulted in this headline in East County Times (11/22/09): “Shelter Denounces Casino Cash.” We need more ministers like John Anderson.
To see my review of an excellent book which lays out clearly the gambling game, google, “Gambling-Don’t Bet On It.”






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