Great article on http://canadianatheist.com about poker crackdown

The rise of religious conservatism across North America has resulted in an increasingly harsh stance on gambling – especially online poker. In April of this year, the United States government cracked down on some of the largest online poker companies in the world, using flimsy legal justification for what was obviously an attack on the freedom to choose one’s own values, regardless of what the dominant religion of the country may be. (Read more here about the legal arguments involved.) Americans who chose to gamble were punished – the money they had tied up in the affected online poker sites was confiscated by the Department of Justice, and tens of thousands of people lost their main source of income, their careers, and their livelihoods. Professional online poker players who chose to make a career doing what they loved, by doing what they excelled at, were in effect punished for not subscribing to dominant Christian values. In a nation where gambling is viewed as a sin – a sin so obvious and unquestionable that creating a law to forbid it seems as natural as outlawing theft or murder – by the majority, the minority is denied the right to arrive at its own conclusions. Those who saw no moral conflict in gambling, those who saw no problem with enjoying a game that also allowed them to support their families, were in effect invalidated by a conservative law strongly influenced by religion. Atheists in America are expected to conform to the dominant conservative belief system, which is enforced by law instead of by personal choice. Where is the personal liberty and freedom that Americans claim to hold so dear? We face a similar situation in Canada as well. While online poker has not been completely outlawed on a federal level, it remains ambiguous and in a legal grey area that politicians lack the courage to clarify. By seeking to officially legalize online gambling in general and online poker in particular, public officials risk alienating the conservative religious folk who adamantly refuse to accept that people have a right to choose how they spend their free time. They believe gambling is a sin, and therefore no one should be allowed to participate in it, period. Where is the logic in that? A secular nation, as both the U.S. and Canada claim to be, has no place policing its citizens based on illogical religious values. Banning theft makes sense – stealing harms society by jeopardizing trust and cooperation between neighbors and communities. Banning murder makes sense as well, for much the same reason – it jeopardizes our ability to live together in peace. But banning gambling, a quiet activity that brings joy to many peaceful, productive citizens’ lives – that makes no sense at all to those who reject antiquated religious values. Atheists in Canada have as much right to gamble and play online poker in their spare time as religious Canadians do to read the Bible when they’re not busy. Atheists may not see the point of such an activity, and they may even think it could be potentially harmful to the person engaging in it, but it’s not their place to tell another person what he or she can and can’t do based on personal convictions. Yet in a world increasingly populated with fundamentalists of all stripes around the globe, this message of tolerance is sure to be lost.

source: canadianatheist.com

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