KINGSTON — The Jamaica Urban Transit Company Limited has applied the brakes on the practice of lay preachers using the public transportation system as their platform to spread the Gospel.
Robert Lawson, a blind lay preacher complained to The Gleaner yesterday that he was stopped in his tracks by a JUTC driver at the weekend. He said the JUTC driver told him he could no longer preach on the buses.
Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, managing director of the JUTC, said a directive has been given to the drivers to “politely” tell preachers that they could no longer trumpet their divine messages on the state-owned buses.
“I am all for evangelising but they can’t use the bus as their platform,” Lewin said.
“I have sent a memo to the drivers, basically, telling them to politely request that the people do not preach on the buses,” he added.
According to the JUTC head, there was no policy that allowed persons to preach on JUTC buses.
He said the bus company had received complaints from some commuters about the preachers on the buses.
Lewin argued that when persons board a JUTC bus they become a captive audience.
“I think this is what makes the bus an attractive mobile church and I suppose you can’t just get off because you have spent your money.”
In the meanwhile, the blind lay preacher has not lost faith and is not taking the edict from the JUTC management sitting down. Lawson has argued strongly that the bus company is seeking to infringe his constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
He is insisting that there is no provision in the Jamaican law that can prevent a person from preaching the word of God on public transportation. He contended that his right to freedom of religion is also being violated.
“We won’t be going back on the bus until the matter is resolved because we are being verbally abused, and the last thing you want is to be physically abused,” Lawson said.
“If the driver says ‘don’t come on the bus, we don’t want you here because yuh a mek noise and a disturb people and a disturb we’, we just won’t go in there,” the lay preacher said. (Gleaner)