Welcome to Hypocrisy U

. Sunday, October 18


Just last month, Arkansas launched a state lottery for the purpose of providing college scholarships for its students. In its first four days, the lottery took in $1.4 million dollars.

With the purpose of the lottery in mind, one staunchly prohibitive Christian university in central Arkansas, Harding University, decided to exempt the lottery from its anti-gambling code of conduct. Today, however, the university changed its mind:

"My intention was to express in our policy the reality that it will be very difficult to enforce any prohibition against the lottery," said President David Burks. "In an attempt to avoid one appearance of hypocrisy, I made a decision that has itself come to be viewed as hypocritical."

Not entirely clear how any of the colleges who chose to ban participation in the state lottery will be dealt with, Burks stated that his intent is to stand firm against gambling and will at least issue verbal and written warnings to any student caught playing the lottery.

As much as Dr. Burks wanted to avoid the appearance of hypocrisy, he has anyway, and in full color. The Harding University mission statement includes this little snippet of wisdom, listed as the first goal of the school:

Generally, the integration of faith, learning and living - developing the whole person through a commitment to Christ and to the Bible as the Word of God, an emphasis on lifelong intellectual growth, and the encouragement of Christian service and world missions through a servant-leadership lifestyle.

Wouldn’t “Christian service” include freely giving in order to help Arkansans increase their access to higher education? The gambling aspect of the lottery is minute in comparison, wouldn’t you think?

Maybe. It might not be much of a consideration considering that the vast majority of Harding University students are not Arkansas residents, with only a handful from the city in which the university resides. The private college oozes money and wields its power over the city, the county, and yes, the state, often dictating which businesses will or will not operate within its radius of influence.

Harding, along with other denominational religious groups, stood firmly against the state lottery, but lost to the choice of the voting citizenship. Arkansans want to support Arkansas, and spoke their mind. Perhaps, with the lottery scholarship in hand, a few college bound Arkansas teenagers will choose to attend Harding.

At that point, Harding will probably just increase tuition to remain out of reach. Welcome to Hypocrisy U.