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Don’t Christianize me please!

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07.JUL.06

Editor: I read with interest an article on page 3 of your June 30th 2006 edition entitled “Anita Charles meets PM” and asked myself the question, Is Christianity to be made the religion in St. Vincent and the Grenadines? I know that in our very small nation, Christianity is the predominant religion, but there are Muslim, Hindu and a couple others that live among us. Christians must be mindful of that fact and stop trying to impose their beliefs and practices on others without their consent. I believe that the right to, or not to, believe in or practice any religion rests with the individual person.{{more}}

The Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, for the time being, upholds that. Chapter 2 section 9 (2) states: Except with his own consent (or, if he is a person under the age of eighteen years, the consent of his guardian) a person attending any place of education, detained in any prison or corrective institution or serving in a naval, military or air force shall not be required to receive religious instruction or to take part in or attend any religious ceremony or observance if their instruction ceremony or observance relates to a religion that is not his own.

In the USA where I once lived and went to school with many students from different countries, cultures and religious beliefs, how do you “Christianize the culture?” In St. Vincent section 9 (1) of our Constitution further states: except with his own freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom either alone or in community with others, and both in public and in private, to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

In St. Vincent and the Grenadines there are several Christian denominations and most of their doctrines come from the same version of the Holy Bible. But what confuses me most is that even though every preacher reads the same book, chapter and verse you continue to get different interpretations. A Christian is deemed to be a person who believes in or professes belief in Jesus as the Christ. Is a Rastafarian a Christian? A friend told me we could check the number of Christians in our society very easily. I have noticed a trend in recent years where most of the night clubs have dances on Holy Thursday night into Good Friday morning and again on Good Friday night, and as we all know there are more persons in these sessions than the churches have on those said nights. Why are the people turning away from the churches? I would like the Christians in our community to answer that.

You go to the Magistrate’s Court to give evidence in a matter and the police officer does not give you the option of swearing or affirming. You are automatically given the Bible to swear by and to say after, I do. But, section (4) states: A person shall not be compelled to take any oath which is contrary to his religion or belief or to take any oath in a manner that is contrary to his religion or belief.

I respect every person’s right to practice his religion, but please don’t impose your beliefs on me. It is bad enough that in certain work places you are compelled to attend a Sunday Service even though you are a Saturday worshipper and vice versa. Failure to do so would result in being penalized. Let’s not go down that road of making the worship of Christianity compulsory in every government institution.

JAM

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