With general elections less than a year away, one of Barbados’ newest political leaders Thursday made a direct appeal to the Church to “stand up and be counted” for the good of the country.
Leader of the Barbados Integrity Movement (BIM) Neil Holder made the call in an open letter to the island’s religious leaders in which he totally dismissed the notion of politics being “a nasty game” that must be avoided by the Church at all costs.
“No longer can we as believers stand idly by in the conviction that ‘politics is a nasty game’, we need to engage it in order to clean it up!” Holder said, adding that “if the Church demands greater from our leaders and reminds them that we are the servants of the people and not lords over them, all will witness a marked change in the future outcome of our country”.
Amid serious economic challenges, Holder, whose fringe party is looking to take the fight to the ruling Democratic Labour Party and the main Opposition Barbados Labour Party and has already announced plans for the decriminalization of marijuana, further stressed the need for the Church to play an important role in the national conversation, while telling church leaders they could no longer be satisfied to sit on the sidelines and to “prepare and preach sermons” to congregations, while the rest of the nation is left to its own peril.
In fact, he took a nasty jab at the religious leaders themselves, saying several of them secretly engage political agendas from their pulpits while telling their congregations “there should be no involvement in politics”.
“Encourage our people to vote and exercise their franchise for positive change!” he suggested, while questioning, “How can a religious leader tell any Prime Minister, or MP for that matter, that he or she is doing wrong without the vestment of moral authority because their very house is in a right state of order?
“How can we speak on righteousness when it is the very topic that many religious leaders of today avoid for several known reasons?
“Why is there comfort in conforming to the transient practices and adopted customs of society when the world needs to be looking to the Church for guidance and direction? Why is there deafening silence at a time when the people are looking on in consternation, disgust and fear to let the emperor know that he is naked?” the BIM leader further asked.
While identifying himself as “a true believer”, Holder also took a swipe at the current political directorate which he said not only displayed “a severe lack of decisive management and a patriotic vision”, but frequently, in both their speech and actions, demonstrated “no respect for the Almighty God”.
He also criticized them saying they had become more focused on the academic accomplishments rather than the social and spiritual well-being of the people.
And while stressing the need for Barbadians to get back to the word of God and to be their “brother’s keeper”, he made a point of identifying with the Errol Barrow mantra of “friends of all and satellites of none”.
“By this, I am calling on the churches to return to a place of prominence to be ever more present and vocal in the affairs of our nation for both the young and old,” Holder said, adding that BIM stood ready to work in “partnership” with the Church, should it form the next Government to bring back the island from the moral abyss.
“Barbados was once revered as a very religious and Godly nation where our citizens young and old demonstrated exceptional regard for our leaders in whatever sphere they would be found. Today, sadly, it appears as though we have reached the bottom of the pit where it can be assumed that Government has separated the Church (religious organizations) from the seat of governance,” Holder said, adding that “it can no longer be satisfactory for the Church to sit in a bubble snug in the conviction that it is meeting the needs of its immediate congregants whilst the entire nation is at risk.
“Rome is burning while we sleep! I am therefore encouraging all churches to join with BIM to rebuild our nation Barbados, line upon line and precept upon precept without compromise or shame,” he said, while calling on the Church to work with his political grouping on a series of town hall meetings entitled Together We Will.