Were it up to some Chicago Heights clergy members, blackjack tables and roulette wheels would never see the light of day in Chicago Heights or any town nearby.
During the 10th Annual Clergy Breakfast at , several clergy members expressed their disdain for a gaming bill in Illinois, all to the ear of 80th District State Rep. Anthony DeLuca, who how important the bill is to him a month ago.
As clergy enjoyed scrambled eggs, English muffins and juice, DeLuca discussed the House bills he is sponsoring. One of the bills he said he has been fighting for is HB 1141, a crime-free housing bill.
“Right now I am negotiating this bill,” said DeLuca.
And HB 1310 would allow a municipality to sell a smoking license to allow a business — with proper ventilation — to let patrons smoke.
DeLuca also spoke about House Bill 3470, which he had filed Thursday.
“This bill actually came down from a constituent having an issue," DeLuca said. "If anyone makes a false statement on an order of protection against someone there would be criminal penalties. If the court determines that an order of protection is false, that claim will be expunged, off your record.”
As DeLuca concluded his remarks, hands flew into the air throughout the tables where the clergy sat. The Rev. John H. Rice, Sr., asked DeLuca multiple questions, with one being the most striking.
“Legalizing same-sex marriage, what is your vote going to be," Rice asked.
DeLuca replied “There is not a bill on that , but my vote would be 'no.'"
Applause could be heard throughout Steckel Library at Bloom High School.
Chicago Heights Area Ministerial Council President Rev. Lawrence Blackful Jr. of St. Bethel Baptist Church told DeLuca he thinks gaming is not the answer to economic development, and asked how he could make that known.
“You can call people like me saying you oppose it,” answered DeLuca. “I happen to side with people saying this will be a benefit."
As pastors asked questions on what they can do to help, how they can get state money to help feed the destitute for their not-for-profit church programs, DeLuca promised to listen to them and work to find answers. The Rev. Rick Dorsey from Beacon Hill Baptist Church said he felt good about the breakfast.
"It was my first time meeting State Rep. Anthony DeLuca," Dorsey said. "I appreciate the fact that he was willing to meet with the clergy in our area and share the issues that he had concerns about and even in the areas where we don’t agree. He is willing to listen and somehow, someway there is some common ground we all have to reach.”
As the breakfast meeting came to an end, a pastor suggested they come around DeLuca to lay hands on him and pray for him. Rice asked the clergy to hold hands and agree to make a commitment to pray for DeLuca.
“I am very happy with the way things went," DeLuca said. "It was a good turnout. We had a spirited debate. It’s helped me explain my legislative agenda but also to get a response. There are many different points of views, a creative exchange of ideas. I’m very happy with the way it turned out.”
Editor's Note: This article originally attributed the last quote to the Rev. John H. Rice, Sr. We have corrected the paragraph to show that Anthony DeLuca actually said this.