Kirk Moderator takes aim at normalisation of gambling
The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has warned against the normalisation of gambling in her New Year message.
The Right Reverend Lorna Hood said Scotland was in danger of turning into a society "with an ever increasing desire to acquire what we want, when we want it".
She was critical of adverts placed during sports and other TV programmes encouraging viewers to place bets via their tablets and smartphones.
"Gambling has a long history, but we are now in an era where it is more accessible because of new technology and promoted more through mass advertising," she said.
"The ads seek to present regular gambling as a cool, normalised part of our culture. Companies may become richer through this commerce. The danger is that individuals and their families simply become debt-ridden, with all the misery that entails.
"It is of little comfort that other adverts seem to suggest that it is pragmatic to solve financial problems by taking out loans with eye-watering interest rates."
She went on to name other areas of concern, such as the impact of benefit cuts, the increased use of food banks, and continued violence, but she also encouraged Scots not to give up on dreaming of a better Scotland as the country prepares to vote on independence.
"In 2014 we in Scotland will make some decisions which will chart the course of our future as a country. Imagining Scotland's future - a consultation led by the Church of Scotland - has provided us with some key elements of these hopes and dreams," she said.
"Individuals coming to the gatherings in church halls across the country are telling us that, regardless of the referendum result, they wish society to be characterised by integrity, fairness and a sense of wellbeing."
She continued: "It would be terribly easy, faced with so many seemingly insurmountable problems, to give up hoping and dreaming. From within the Christian faith we are called upon not only to dream of a just and fair society but to put all our efforts into building that society.
"So dream with me of a world where children do not go to bed hungry or in fear; where the lonely and the elderly are cared for with dignity and respect; where the poor and vulnerable are not the prey of those with few scruples. Dream with me of a world where we can live in peace, respectful of one another's beliefs.
"God, whose love for us is boundless, is hoping and dreaming for us more than we can ask or even imagine possible. In Him we trust and in Him we place all our hopes and dreams. A blessed and peaceful New Year to you all."