The debate on whether there should be an amendment to the provisions of the Offences Against the Persons Act which make buggery a crime has been generating a variety of views from a wide cross section of the population.
Religious leaders are also giving their views as they are entitled to. They have in general grounded their opposition to homosexuality in Biblical doctrine.
It is my opinion that many of us Jamaicans who oppose homosexuality do so out of concerns about issues such as morality and health and in particular our concern about the spread of HIV/AIDS which is known to be prevalent amongst homosexuals.
Over the weekend Pastor Greg Baldeo of the Mandeville Seventh Day Adventist Church gave his opinion on the matter in a strong and firm way. Pastor Baldeo made it absolutely clear that he opposed same sex marriage. He went on to declare that he will continue to oppose same sex marriage unless God declares it to be acceptable.
However, Pastor Baldeo went beyond his religious belief to compare the Supreme Court of Jamaica with God and to compare the National Flag with the Christian Cross. He also compared and contrasted our Constitution with the Bible. In so doing Pastor Baledo advanced his argument to the point of declaring Jamaica a country ruled by Christianity, specifically the Bible, and I suppose the Seventh Day Adventist doctrine in particular, and not by the Constitution or the Supreme Court.
In this ongoing debate about the Buggery Law, the religious leaders must not forget that Jamaica is a secular state. They must not forget that Jamaica is a state grounded in a Constitution that confers freedom of expression and freedom of religion on all its citizens. That means that it is in inappropriate for any one religion or denomination to determine right or wrong for the State.
It is therefore inappropriate to compare and contrast the Constitution with the Bible and then suggest that we are governed by the Bible and not by the Constitution, nor the Supreme Court. Christians are entitled to conduct themselves by whatever interpretation they give to the writings of the Bible.
Muslims are entitled to conduct themselves in accordance with the Quran. The Jews are entitled to conduct themselves in accordance with the provisions of their holy book, the Torah. The Hindus are entitled to conduct themselves in accordance with the provisions of their religious books including the Bhagavad Gita and the Vedas. The Sikhs are entitled to conduct themselves in accordance with their holy book the Guru Granth Sahib. The Baha’isare entitled to conduct themselves in accordance with the Kitab-i-Aqdas, their Book of Laws.
Our Rastafarian brethren and sistren are entitled to conduct themselves in accordance with the various abstracts they have taken from the Bible and the various writings they have been compiling over the years as they develop and formalize their religion.
However, all these religious groups should respect the Constitution and the Courts of the land and be prepared to abide by whatever laws are made in the country.
To declare the Constitution of Jamaica to be not the law of the land is the first step towards religious fanaticism and it can be said that Pastor Greg Baldeo is embarking on a course where he hopes to set up his brethren and himself as rulers of Jamaica in the same way that the mullahs rule some countries over which they exercise religious powers.
Religious leaders should encourage tolerance for even those who they consider sinners. Rather than relying on the State to convince persons to go the way of their religion they should make their light so shine that men will come to glorify their work and join them in their religious glory.
If we give strict interpretation to all provisions of the Bible then it is not only Buggery that should be a crime but so too should fornication and adultery.
And I am inclined to believe that Pastor Greg Baldeo would readily agree for a law to be passed making it illegal for anyone to eat pork!!!. I am prepared to believe that Pastor Greg Baldeo would agree with a policy of immediately wiping out the Pork Industry in Jamaica whether investors in the pig rearing section would die of hunger or not.
In St. Matthew 5 verse 39 Jesus directed that:
“… whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him, the other also.”
Put bluntly, this verse is saying “if a man shaat u a bax on u right cheek u should tun di left cheek fi him to shaat u a bax on it”.
This, going by Pastor Greg Baldeo views of the Constitution and the Bible should be made law and any man disobeying it should be sent to prison. The following verse, verse 40 states:
“…and if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.”
This should be made law and should I sue a Seventh Day Adventist for a five acre lot of land and I am successful, he should give me another five acres! This should be made law and any breach of this law should be punishable by imprisonment.
At Leviticus, Chapter 20, verse 10 it is provided as:
“…And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he
thatcommitteth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”
Again, this is a provision of the Bible that makes adultery a crime punishable by death.
We therefore should amend the laws to incorporate this provision. And I assure Pastor Greg Baldeo that some of the persons who would be put to death pursuant to this new law making adultery a crime punishable by death would be persons in his church and would include several persons in leadership of churches in Jamaica today.
All of us participating in the debate should bear in mind the rights of other citizens and other members of society. Those speaking as leaders of religious groups must be prepare to act and respect the Laws of Jamaica and Constitution of Jamaica. Above all, Pastor Greg Baldeo should always remember that it is the very Constitution that he seeks to belittle that has conferred on him the right to stand on a pulpit and give his view as a religious leader, free from any fear of being arrested, oppressed or killed as is happening in several countries throughout the world.
Pastor Greg Baldeo should therefore take the lead in protecting and defending the Constitution and not seek to use the pulpit as a platform from which to attack, ridicule and belittle the Constitution