Fitzgerald: Anti-casino clergy are minding their business

This one’s for George Szal, who pastors Immaculate Conception Church, and for Rabbi Joseph Berman of Temple B’Nai Israel, and for Nick Granitsas, who shepherds The First Congregational Church, and for Imam Sherif Shabaka of the Egyptian Association, all Revere clergymen who have felt a moral imperative to oppose casino gambling in their city, warning of its toxic nature.

Bringing their ministries beyond the walls of the places they’ve been led to serve, they call gambling what it is, a disaster for many families.

They are indeed “noble souls,” a term that echoes from history.

In this month that celebrates black history, do you, too, wonder what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. might think if he could peek in on what’s happening to our society today?

Much would please him, and much would likely break his heart.

But the guessing here is that he’d have looked upon Szal, Berman, Granitsas and Shabaka with great favor.

A third-generation Baptist preacher, King bemoaned the passivity of the clergy who act as if the answer to empty pews is to play it safe at the pulpit.

“I have wept over the laxity of the church,” he said. “I felt the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the south would be some of our strongest allies; instead, all too many have been more cautious than courageous, and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows.

“I have heard so many ministers say, ‘Those are social issues with which the Gospel has no real concern.’ We are moving toward the exit of the twentieth century with a religious community largely adjusted to the status quo, standing as a taillight behind other community agencies, rather than a headlight.

“I have looked at beautiful churches with lofty spires pointing heavenward and found myself wondering, ‘What kind of people worship here?’ The contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent sanction of things as they are.”

Power structure? That sounds a lot like those carpet-bagging high-rollers now wishing the Revere clergy would mind its business, which is rather ironic. Do they not realize the business of the church is to be its brother’s keeper?

“I am thankful,” King went on, “that some noble souls have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity (and) left their secure congregations with the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.”

He’d have found such noble souls in Revere this morning.

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