Bishop urges Govt not to make ‘critical error’ on gay rights
Government got more than it bargained for at a “national gathering for prayer” when church leader Lloyd Duncan warned the country’s leaders to “exercise biblical caution” in its lawmaking.
It was a not so subtle reference to Government’s intention to amend the Human Rights Act to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination.
Bishop Lloyd Duncan’s New Testament Church of God has been vocal in its opposition to the law change in the past.
“Sometimes insufficient, or inadequate, biblical consideration is not given to our well meaning intentions,” said Bishop Duncan. “And if we hasteningly proceed with our intentions, devastating, and I dare say, damaging results can occur.
“With this in mind I now implore our newly elected Government to exercise biblical caution, and spiritual restraint, as you seek to approve what God’s word does not endorse, and as you seek to legislate what heaven has deemed inadmissible from the inception of time.
“With all humility of heart, I submit to the OBA Government that it is too early in your political governance to make such a critical error in what can only be termed as a lethal mistake.”
Hundreds of people joined church leaders, members of the City Council, Premier Craig Cannonier, Opposition leader Marc Bean, and other dignitaries, in front of City Hall yesterday afternoon to pray for the country.
The event was the culmination of an initiative, Bermuda Prays, intended to unite the country through prayer. The audience heard from a number of church leaders, students and the Premier, who invited Mr Bean to join him on the City Hall steps, as he spoke.
Mr Cannonier asked the people to pray for him and the country’s legislators. “Everything that we do, we will make sure [Bermuda] becomes a home for you,” the Premier said, referring to himself and Mr Bean.
He drew enthusiastic applause when he said: “I acknowledge the fact that without the spiritual content, and the input of the spiritual leaders, Bermuda is doomed for a destination we do not want.
“I am pleading to you, Bermuda, that by the principles that you come here today, that we will lead by example, that we will be God-fearing, that everything that we do will be done in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’s name.
“So, I acknowledge once again, that without you praying on behalf of us as legislators, that we cannot do it alone. We need your prayers.
“This is truly about us. So, from heart to heart, we acknowledge the spiritual leaning of this country and will continue to look for your leading, your guidance and the right path we must be on. I thank you for acknowledging the existence of God above. And whether you believe in a different thing, we acknowledge the fact that there is a spiritual element to us that must be raised in this country.”
The programme was divided into three segments: the awakening to the recognition of God, the acknowledgment (of the nation’s need of God) and the answer (of the hope and healing of God).
Cainan Tucker, of Somersfield Academy, talked about the breakdown of family, telling the audience that “there are some things that only my daddy can teach me,” before reciting a prayer.
And Dominique Rawlings ,of the Bermuda High School for Girls, lamented declining social values and its impact on young people.
While Jashae Allen-Lamontagne, of Sandys Secondary Middle School, presented on “the nation’s failure of our young people”.
Former senior civil servant Leo Mills, representing the Wesley Methodist Church, prayed for the economy, commerce and international business. He said today’s challenges required everyone to “pull together to ensure that our ship of state move into smooth waters, and enjoy the benefits of a good crew on-board.”
The Bermuda Prays initiative has received some criticism for blurring the line between church and state. The Royal Gazette yesterday that he was disappointed that the principle was not being respected in Bermuda.
Jonathan Starling, who contested last year’s general election as an independent candidate, told
“Premier Cannonier may be right that without spirituality we are all doomed, but I find it disappointing that our society has yet to see a proper division of Church and State.
“Such a separation of Church and State is, I believe, an essential element for promoting equality between all citizens. We are an island of many spiritualities, denominations and religions or philosophies.
“Religious individuals have a right to attend religious gatherings, but our elected officials should only attend these in their private capacity, rather than blurring the line between spirituality and State privileging of one religion over another.
“If people want to pray, go ahead. But leave that to the Churches or other religious groups, and keep the State separate,” Mr Starling said.
Premier Craig Cannonier had set the initiative in motion when he invited Christian leaders to his office to discuss his vision for a “spiritual rewakening” of the country.