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Spiritual Baptist holiday under ‘prayerful consideration’

Spiritual Baptist holiday under ‘prayerful consideration’

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Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has promised he would put the idea of reinstituting the Corpus Christi holiday, and making Recognition Day for Spiritual Baptists a holiday under “prayerful consideration”.

Dr. Gonsalves said his close friend Archbishop Johnny Jones raised the issue with him recently.{{more}}

Corpus Christi, a Roman Catholic festivity, was discontinued as a public holiday during an overhaul of public holidays in St.Vincent and the Grenadines several years ago.

On the other hand, it was in 1912 that the Spiritual Baptists, referred to as Shakers, were forbidden from practicing their religion. The ordinance to “render illegal the practices of Shakerism as indulged in the colony of St Vincent” made it an offence punishable by a 50 pound fine or six months in jail, with or without hard labour, for anyone caught in the practice.

George McIntosh, a Parliamentarian, agitated the cause of Spiritual Baptists being allowed to worship freely. His work was later continued in 1951, by then Chief Minister, the late Ebenezer Joshua and the late Robert Milton Cato, then a young lawyer who worked to repeal the ordinance. It was during the tenure of these political leaders that the ban on the religion was revoked and a law passed on May 21, 1951 allowing Christian Pilgrims or Spiritual Baptists, the freedom to worship.

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