Canadian pastor promotes poker in Sunday sermon

Pastor John Van Sloten, a Calgary preacher who leads 300-plus congregants at the city's New Hope Christian Reformed Church, delivered a sermon this past Sunday, January 29, promoting the virtues of poker, it has been revealed. According to the Calgary Times newspaper, Van Sloten is renowned for his ability to connect pop culture and God.

"Right now, everybody's interested in poker -- in Texas Hold'em, in particular," Van Sloten revealed to the newspaper on Friday. "Ever since the hockey strike, it has proliferated to become a phenomenon that is sweeping across the world."

"In my view, poker has a lot to teach us about ourselves and even about God," he continued. Of the sermon, he said: "I hope to talk about how God made us for gambling, how every human is made for the adrenalized-risk buzz of the game and how this is what a real and alive faith should feel like."

Van Sloten, however, also planned to discuss the negative side of gambling and poker, namely its various levels of addiction and how compulsive gambling can create problems in people's lives. He insisted: "We won't go soft on those things, because the last thing I want is the church promoting poker and half the congregation falling into gambling debt."

According to Van Sloten, the bible does not admonish those who partake in the occasional game of chance. Indeed, he himself admits to participating in Texas Hold'em with friends every once in a while.

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