Anti-gaming prayer vigil under way
An anti-casino group recently began a 40-day prayer vigil in an effort to stop casinos from coming to south county.
Rally Against Gambling Expansion members participated in a 24-hour prayer vigil Dec. 31 at Peace Lutheran Church on Barracksview Road. Each church congregation involved has committed to pray at least one day during the 40 days of prayer, according to Denny Hettenhausen, leader of RAGE.
"We are against the expansion of gambling in Missouri," Hettenhausen told the Call. "We pray for the protection of our families who are against the devastating wake left by a casino.
"Casinos are not just like normal businesses," she added. "They don't give back to the community like most businesses, even though they say they give back."
Isle of Capri Casinos Inc., Harrah's and Pinnacle Entertainment all have responded to the St. Louis County Port Authority's request for proposals for a casino in south county.
Pinnacle has proposed constructing a casino at the former National Lead Site in Lemay, while Harrah's and Isle of Capri have proposed casinos just west of the Jefferson Barracks Bridge in Oakville.
Hettenhausen, who also led RAGE during an anti-gaming movement in south county during the late 1990s, has revived the organization, along with the creation of a similar group, South County First, to stop any of these proposals from being implemented, but also to stop casinos from being developed in Missouri.
A selection team, comprised of county officials appointed by County Executive Charlie Dooley, is scheduled to offer its recommendation to the St. Louis County Port Authority Thursday, Jan. 15.
In the meantime RAGE members and participating churches will "appeal" the presence of casinos in south county and Missouri through the 40-day prayer vigil.
The participants, "seek to ask for God's intervention to stop the gambling boats from expanding into South St. Louis County and South St. Louis City residential neighborhoods," according to a news release.
Hettenhausen told the Call she still actively is looking for churches to help with the prayer vigil. She now has 16 pastors who have signed up to ask their congregations to pray for one of the 40 days, but she still needs more churches to make it to the end of the vigil, Feb. 8.
"I believe in the power of prayer ... We are asking not to have casinos forced on us," she said. "It's important to make an effort to stand united as a community and be once voice together.
RAGE also has scheduled a public rally at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, at the Royale Orleans banquet center, 2801 Telegraph Road. For more information, view RAGE's Web site at nomorecasinos.info.