Texas pastor Anthony Scott is firing back at media reports that claim about 100 gambling machines seized by police found at his Word of Life Church belong to the Houston congregation.
Firefighters were called to the Word of Life Church last week to put out a blaze. When they did, they discovered the gambling devices and alerted police. Scott says he leases the building located at 830 Turney Drive, and the area where the slot terminals were found is separate from the church.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office said there's only one address for the property. Law enforcement later said they did not find any money in the machines, which might mean there weren't operational and therefore perhaps not illegal.
The way it was worded makes it seem as if it was Word of Life that is in fact having gambling or gaming machines going on and that has absolutely nothing to do with us,” Scott said in a Facebook video this week. “I have contacted the sheriff's office. I have contacted Harris County police. I have contacted everybody.”
“We are not hiding, we are not running, because we are doing what the lord called us to do regardless what is being displayed in the media,” Scott concluded. Media headlines linked the church to the gambling operation. “Church Fire Leads to Discovery of Illegal Gambling Room,” Fox News reported.
An aerial view on Google Maps shows two detached buildings in the rear of the church.
Innocent until proven guilty is the law of the land, but if Scott's church was indeed running an illegal gambling operation, it wouldn't be the first time a religious leader was sinfully mixed with the gaming industry.
In 2016, a Canadian priest admitted to pocketing $386,000 in money that was donated to assist Iraqi refugees. Father Amer Saka said he used the money to fuel his gambling addiction.
In January, Catholic Monsignor William Dombrow was sentenced to eight months in prison for stealing $535,000 from the Philadelphia Archdiocese to cover his gambling escapades. The 78-year-old admitted to the crime, and told the court that he can only “trust god with all of this.”
And a case that is still ongoing, Las Vegas pastor Gregory Bolusan was arrested in 2017 and charged with robbing the M Resort using a fake gun three times. Police say his collective haul was $63,000. He hasn't provided a motive for the alleged thefts.
Word of Life Reviews
Internet users have quickly left an assortment of reviews of Scott's house of worship. And most are quick to judge that the gambling devices indeed belong to Word of Life.
Online reviews include, “Didn't have much luck with the slots tonight.” “Don't gamble with your salvation.” “I gambled my soul away.” “Nice not hearing the ringing slot noises but a wonderful choir. Good rewards program, too.”
However, others retorted with links to the pastor denouncing the gaming machines.
In an official statement, Word of Life said, “Without any investigation and/or questioning, our church was attacked and accused of running a gambling business. The heinous and hurtful attack on our church is unwarranted and unfounded. Yet, we remain unphased … knowing the truth will prevail. Come see us anytime.”
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