Church leaders dismiss charges by anglican cleric
Two prominent religious leaders have dismissed harsh criticism from outspoken cleric Reverend Charles Morris who gave the church a failing grade for its response to the hardships facing Barbadians.
As for Reverend Morris’ claims that many churches in Barbados were spreading false messages and at least 60 per cent of them should close their doors, the Chairman of the Barbados Christian Council (BXC) Monsignor Vincent Blackett told Barbados TODAY: “That is going along the same line that other intolerant, bigoted groups of religions in the world are going [that say] there is no place for you because you are different to us.”
Although acknowledging that “every one is entitled to their own opinion”, Blackett said he was neither agreeing nor disagreeing with Morris’ position, only calling for tolerance and respect for others.
“This is not the time for us to judge other people’s beliefs or condemn others for what they believe, but to respect people even though what they might believe might be quite different to what we believe. I think that is the position and that we should always be open for dialogue with people who have a different point of view.
Presiding Bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (PAWI), Reverend Dr Gerry Seale declined comment on Reverend Morris’ allegations of false teachings and attempts to drive fear into the hearts of Barbadians, but he also defended the church’s efforts to help retrenched workers.
Both told Barbados TODAY that far from abandoning the people of Barbados, the church was doing much to help them.
Referring to the Catholic Church of which he is the local Vicar General, Blackett said the church had come up with a HUB programme in which a non-denominational network of philanthropic organisations work to meet the challenges created by the present economic environment.
“They reach out to persons who find themselves in the kind of a situation where they are unable to do anything for themselves,” he said.
He added that the church was also in the forefront when Barbadians expressed concern about the Municipal Solid Waste Tax and even held a meeting with Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler on the issue.
“I got in touch with the Minister of Finance and I got him to come in and talk to the Christian Council so that the Council would know what is being proposed and so on, and we can speak to our congregants and different things,” he said.
Blackett said the church was also very concerned about Barbadian students having to pay tuition fees at the University of the West Indies and he was waiting to hear from Minister of Education Ronald Jones on the matter.
“I think that one of the things I hope to bring to the Christian Council is for us to take another look at the whole education problem because when we see that people are not registering for the university or that they cannot continue university, it is a situation that is worrying and we need to look at that to see how our churches can respond to that situation,” he said.
The head of the nine-member BXC insisted that other matters affecting Barbadians also engaged the church’s attention.
“If there is legislation passed and the church has concerns about them we carry on that kind of dialogue. In the meantime, we try to cooperate to see how together as a Council we can work for the improvement and the betterment of life in Barbados,” he said.
Meantime, Bishop Gerry Seale told Barbados TODAY that in all of the assemblies throughout PAWI there were several programmes in which members of the congregations and others in the community received aid.
“We don’t give money because we have found persons who are running scams and we are not interested in financing their scams . . . But we do assist people with non-perishable food item, clothing, assistance with paying utilities bills, particularly pensioners and so on. There are times when we have assisted with repairing of homes, particularly again, senior citizens,” he said.
“We have simply been trying to ramp up what we have always been doing to assist those . . . who are going through very difficult times.”
The local PAWI head observed that the church still followed the biblical injunction, not to “trumpet” such deeds, saying: “This is something that you do before God, not the Press or anybody else. We don’t take pictures and all the other stuff but we have always been there and I know many evangelical churches have similar programmes to assist members and persons in their community.”
Reverend Seale said the church depended not on Government, but on their congregations to carry out this work.
“It is the members of the congregations that provide the funding for us to be able to run these programmes. So you have an increased need and you have a reduced income, but we are doing our best, as much as we can within the framework that we have,” he said.