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
"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
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
"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."