Many believe that those who have the awesome responsibility of leading people in a spiritual manner, are untouchable and beyond reproach.
Well, I am not one of those persons and the last time I checked the individuals leading churches are human beings who are governed by human and spiritual laws. As such, they have an obligation just like the rest of us to follow the laws. Moreover, because they claim to be spiritual leaders, they have an even higher requirement based on their moral obligation to uplift and be an example to society in modeling right behavior.
I am sick and disgusted that there are so many impostors who are like wolves devouring sheep in our little Bahamas today.
They have a slick talking message and with the Bible in one hand, and a wicked spirit, they pillage and plunder. What is even more despicable is that the real pastors seem silent and indifferent about what is going on.
In most professions there is some standard that is required. Usually that standard includes an ethics component that is a mandatory part of the professional conduct.
In our country, not only do so many of these fake pastors who run around with scripture in their mouth and some shady stuff everywhere else profess to be the vessels through which God speaks, the real pastors sit idly by and allow the misrepresentation of their profession to continue thus causing many of us to be confused.
Will the real pastors stand up and tell us who to watch out for? Or shall they leave it to God and let a nation of innocent people be bamboozled by miscreants and unfit people all in the name of Jesus?
It is unacceptable that we as a people continue to accept and allow an unregulated group of persons to abuse, misuse, assault, insult, take advantage of and all the other stuff you can think of that they do to people without consequences for them.
There is no standard that is espoused by the Bahamas Christian Council that regulates their behavior and is enforceable, yet they lambast the government and all and sundry on any matter they deem to be morally reprehensible. This double standard and bullying of our nation has got to stop.
Those who are true spiritual leaders must stand up, speak up and be relentless in their efforts to weed out these individuals who are impostors and perpetrators of evil and who simply make monkey capers of the Bahamian people.
Who do you go to when these fake preachers take advantage of the congregants and abuse, rob, and steal their dignity, humanity and finances? Some of you may want to report them to the police. Some of you may want to report them to the Chamber of Commerce. But if the action is not a criminal matter, it is unlikely that the police can assist and I am unaware of the church being registered as a business so it is also unlikely they are a part of the Chamber of Commerce.
Many of the acts that are committed against church members by these religious thugs fall into the category of civil law and as such the recourse that individuals may have is through civil proceedings in our courts.
We have seen what has happened to some of these leaders who have fallen afoul of the criminal law. They faced prosecution and upon conviction received prison sentences. However, that does not inhibit them from assuming responsibility in a church setting upon their release.
While the Christian Council may be afraid to agitate for legislative action to govern the behavior of its members, I put it to them that in the absence of good moral decency on the part of some of their membership or persons who profess to be religious leaders, they should develop a code of conduct that should be circulated to all religious leaders and used as a minimum standard.
It makes no difference to me whether the religion is an established one or one that popped up overnight. There are standards that must be maintained if people want to lead others in a civilized culture.
How can a convicted sex offender be allowed to lead a church where children and minors attend? At the very least, our laws need to be advanced to have a sex offenders registry and it ought to be an offense for a convicted sex offender to be in the company of minors.
If the church is not prepared to ensure that the rights of its members are protected then certainly it is for the legislators to ensure that the citizens are protected.
To what extent should freedom of religion go? There must be minimum standards to protect the innocent.
Balancing human rights with moral decency is indeed a challenge. Law and morality intersect, but it is not always the case that one should be concerned only with what is lawful or unlawful; there are many things that occur in church which are not unlawful, but are unethical.
The European Convention of Human Rights, Article 9, states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion . . . no restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder of crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”
The essence of this particular article in the convention is that this is a qualified right and not an absolute right. Those who would seek to manipulate the Bahamian people under the guise of religion, be warned – you do not have the absolute right to use religion to fulfill your whims and fancy.
There are some things that legislators can do that would not be in breach of human rights, but would protect us all in support of the right to freedom of religion in a civilized society.
By: John Carey – member of Parliament from 2002 to 2007.