Yes, I agree with the pastors.
No, I do NOT agree with the pastors.
81 total votes.
By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Deputy Chief Reporter
SEVERAL local pastors have petitioned United States President Donald Trump to revoke any US executive orders and policies that enable the promotion of same-sex marriages in the Caribbean region as part of its foreign policy.
The clergymen, which include Grace Community Church Pastor Lyall Bethell and Pastor Allen R Lee, president of Teleios Theological Training Institute, in a letter to President Trump claim that in recent years the policies of the US State Department and other government agencies involved in foreign policy have attempted to “coerce” countries in the Caribbean region into accepting a “mistaken version of marriage.”
Pointing to former US President Barack Obama’s threat last year to pull federal funding from American states over entry to bathroom and locker room access based on gender identity, the pastors claimed this same kind of “coercion” was being used against Caribbean countries to fall in line with the same-sex marriage agenda.
Pastors Bethel, Lee and other Bahamian clergymen are signatories to the petition dated January 31, 2017, which also bears the names of 289 clergymen from around the region, including those from Trinidad and Tobago.
In response, local, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) activist Alexus D’Marco said it was with “horror” and “disgust” that the LGBTI community learned of the actions of these Christian ministers.
The basis of pastors’ arguments for the criminalisation of homosexuality and opposition to gay marriage has been dispelled and put to rest by the courts in the United States, she said.
“We signed on with pastors throughout the Caribbean, writing a letter to the president asking that he would look into the ambassadors and other people who are sent to the Caribbean representing the USA, that they don’t engage in trying to force the people like in the Bahamas to adopt certain policies that are contrary to what we believe,” Pastor Lee, who is also retired pastor of Calvary Bible Church, told The Tribune yesterday when he was contacted.
“They have had situations throughout the Caribbean where for instance, this is just an illustration, I’m not stating this as any kind of criticism, this is just a statement of fact, there have been other places in the Caribbean where an ambassador or representative who was in favour of the LGBT agenda and was encouraging the people in the country that he went to, to favour the homosexual laws and try to do away with any laws that would seem to be contrary to the LGBT agenda or the beliefs of homosexuals and so on. That’s only one illustration,” Pastor Lee said. “There have been others as well.
“So we are just asking for that especially in the Caribbean because it appears as though the Caribbean has been a special focus for UN officials and so on this past year and this coming year. So we had a meeting with Caribbean pastors first in Barbados (and) then we had one here with our own people. (Then) we came up with a letter that was sent to them and we’re waiting for a response now,” he added.
Asked if there was evidence that incidents of “coercion” from US officials had occurred in the Bahamas, Pastor Lee said “no,” but his and other Bahamians’ participation in the drafting of the petition was somewhat of a “precautionary” measure.
“No, that’s what we are trying to avoid,” he told The Tribune. “We are trying to say we don’t want that to happen here and all the countries were saying the same thing. We are just speaking generally. We don’t want a representative to try to force us to go against our morality (or) standards. We are not choosing or singling out anyone in particular, but just based on the problems that we’ve seen in other places we don’t want it to happen anywhere and the other Caribbean pastors are on board.
“So hundreds of pastors have actually signed up. We had representatives from here and the names were just added to hundreds of other people who represent churches throughout the Caribbean,” he said.
Pastor Lee’s position and that of many others in the region as communicated in the letter to the president have angered Ms D’Marco. In a statement to The Tribune, she said the positions of the pastors carried “vitriolic” tones.
“Firstly, the Bahamas is not a theocracy, it is supposed to be a democracy,” Ms D’Marco said. “And, (US presidential candidate) Hillary Clinton is correct, ‘(LGBTI) rights are human rights.’
“Furthermore, the Constitution of our great archipelago nation guarantees all of its citizens basic human rights, and, contrary to the vitriolic tone of these Christian men of God again, our marginalised minority community (and) our human rights are also protected under the provisions of the Constitution.
“Unfortunately, the Bahamas and most of the Caribbean remains extremely homophobic, despite the modern trend of more progressive nations of the world, coupled with a greater understanding of the physiological and psychological nature of LGBT persons, to make their society more inclusive of these individuals.”
She continued: “Obviously, President Obama and Hillary Clinton, as his former secretary of state, were succinctly aware of the oppression of LGBT minorities in our region. Thus, the creation of special envoys to monitor the atrocities suffered by LGBT in the region.
“It is inconceivable that these Christian reverend gentlemen and women could not find the love of Christ in the hearts, Christ who never rejected any man, but, challenged the men who wanted to stone the woman at the well, that ‘he without sin cast the first stone.’ Moreover, marriage is a legal contract, sanctioned by the state, and not (exclusive) to the Christian community.”
The pastors’ letter to President Trump read: “We write to you as concerned Christian ministers and churches from the Caribbean region (including the Bahamas) who hope and pray that the Unites States, under your leadership, will once again cast light from ‘The City upon a Hill’ for which your American forefathers and President Ronald Reagan so frequently spoke.
“Sadly, during recent years, the city has too often cast shadows instead of light. We refer specifically to the policies of the US State Department and other government agencies involved in foreign policy that have undertaken to coerce our countries into accepting a mistaken version of marriage,” the pastors’ letter noted.
“It is not only the view of our Christian churches, but the testimony of the recorded history of millennia of civilisation, that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. This was certainly the truth embraced by the founders of your country, who pledged their dedication to ‘the laws of nature and of nature’s God.’ Why should we be forced to believe otherwise?
“The problem should be self evident. We have our rights by virtue of being human beings and not by anything else – not our ethnicity, not our religion, not our race, not our tribe and certainly not our sexual orientation. The promotion of gay rights must come at the expense of human rights, because the two are immiscible. One is founded on the ‘laws of nature and of nature’s God’ and the other on moral relativism, which eviscerates the very idea of natural rights. If you have one, you cannot have the other. As it turns out, the Obama administration, among others, has shown this to be so, as so-called ‘gay rights’ are pre-empting human rights, such as freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of conscience,” the letter also noted.
The letter came to a close by urging President Trump to urgently review the matter to revoke the relevant executive orders and policies and restore to “The City upon a Hill” the bright moral beam that once shone from it.
Ms D’Marco has also sent a letter to the White House on behalf of the local LGBTI community in response to the petition of the pastors.