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Playing Politics In The Pulpit

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Bishop Neil Ellis on Sunday.

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PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Senior Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has defended his role as competent authority amid scathing attacks from Mount Tabor pastor Bishop Neil Ellis, who earlier on Sunday raised concern about the “dangerous” amount of power vested in one man.

Dr Minnis refrained from attacking Bishop Ellis and said he will not speak ill of him, but did affirm his belief in God, telling this newspaper he is a frequent church goer and a baptised Catholic.

His comments to The Tribune came after Bishop Ellis heaped criticism on Dr Minnis, Cabinet ministers and members of Parliament while preaching about the ego of King Nebuchadnezzar.

Bishop Ellis also suggested the nation’s leader did not believe in God. His sermon was live streamed on Facebook.

The bishop knocked House Speaker Halson Moultrie for complaining about “bathroom issues” in Parliament and Education Minister Jeff Lloyd for vowing not to engage with Bahamas Union of Teachers President Belinda Wilson because of her behaviour.

He saved his harshest criticism for Dr Minnis, however. Parts of the sermon went viral on social media yesterday.

At one point the bishop said: “The only way our children can learn now is online and you have the nerve to cut over 9,000 people’s electricity off? I ask you this question: where is your heart? Do you have a soul? Look at them, FNMs wouldn’t say nothing and look at the PLPs gloating. This ain’t no time to gloat and this ain’t no time to be quiet, we have to fight for our nation and fight for our children.”

Bishop Ellis also said: “In our country we live in a democracy and I’m saddened over the fact how grown men and women can sit in our Parliament from March to now and still allow the prime minister of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas to act as the one, true and only leader who makes every decision in the Bahamas. How dare y’all.

“Having been democratically elected by our people because you’re spineless and trying to protect your territory, you’re grumbling on the outside about you don’t know how long we’re gonna do this and you don’t have enough spine on the inside to stand up and say ‘no more lockdowns Mr Prime Minister, we will not extend these curfews, we will not give you an extension of the orders another month.’”

He continued: “It’s a dangerous thing when you start acting like a god. It’s a dangerous thing when you got all the power wrapped up in your hands. It’s a dangerous thing when you’re the only person in a country who can determine who goes and who stays, who has a funeral in a church and who else goes to the graveyard. It’s a dangerous thing for you to decide who gets to come in private and who else got to stay locked down. It’s a dangerous thing when there’s only one person in your country making all the decisions. He determines when we shut down or open up. He determines whether businesses stay closed or operate from the curb. He determines whether churches are opened or closed.

“How in the world did we get like this? This is no longer cute. It was alright for the first two or three months when everyone was trying to get their composure and understand this virus but eight months in if you’re gonna ask for an extension, at least make a case. You are insulting our intellect and parading on our democracy and sidelining our right of movement and humiliating our business owners and entrepreneurs. Your one man stand is killing our economy and it sure doesn’t help when the one in the chair does not believe in God.”

When contacted for a response, Dr Minnis pushed back at assertions he is not a believer of God, but said he will not respond to Bishop Ellis as he was taught to “respect” religious leaders.

“I was brought up in a Christian home,” Dr Minnis said. “I was brought up as a Catholic. I attended Our Lady’s Church and served as an altar boy. I’m still a Catholic, I attend the Resurrection Church when I can and outside of that I attend New Providence Community Church on Blake Road. I was baptised as a Catholic and I do believe in God. I was brought up to have the greatest respect and admiration for all religious leaders as they are God’s earthly representatives.

“I will not respond to Bishop Ellis nor will I say anything ill of him. That has been my teaching and I’ve been taught by my mother and my father that only God should deal with his earthly representatives and that respect and admiration I should never lose for any religious leader.”

However he did defend his role as competent authority, which some have said have led to too much power being concentrated in the hands of one man.

“The competent authority is only the voice of Cabinet and Cabinet is only the controlling voice of government and therefore the prime minister only would’ve been chosen as the voice because the prime minister is also the chairman of Cabinet,” Dr Minnis said. “Cabinet could’ve chosen anyone as the voice but in this case the prime minister represents the voice of the Cabinet.”

Yesterday, Free National Movement Chairman Carl Culmer said Bishop Ellis was “out of place” for the critical comments he made about Dr Minnis.

Mr Culmer said the bishop has worn his political “colours on his sleeve” in the past, alluding to his previous support for the Progressive Liberal Party.

“As a man of God, because your church is made up of people from different backgrounds, I think it’s not fair for any one person to force their belief on one individual,” Mr Culmer said. “I believe the entire statement was out of place and should not be made from that setting of a church. The church setting is where you educate persons on God and what it is to be a believer and do good for men but to try to condemn a leader of your country in such a fashion is unbecoming of a leader.”

The country has been under a state of emergency since March, with Dr Minnis empowered as the competent authority. As a result, various restrictive measures have been in place since then, including lockdowns, curfews, movement restrictions and suspension of business and social activities meant to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Comments

John 1 month ago

We criticize and despise the curfews and weekend lockdowns, but why is no one reporting that Covid-19 cases in The Bahamas has been DOWN by more than 50 PERCENT for basically THREE consecutive days? Eighty four cases on Friday, 58 cases on Saturday and 56 cases on Sunday. New Providence figures have come down from triple figures to double digits and whilst Eleuthera and Abaco numbers seem to be tapering off, Grand Bahama has seen a steady surge in new cases. So assuming this trend continues throughout the week and so what will happen when Tourism reopens on November 1?

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joeblow 1 month ago

... because no one can trust the governments reporting of cases!

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trueBahamian 1 month ago

🙄 O...k. We should applaud a supposed decline now? The numbers we see daily is around the total we.had up to June 30th. So, let's not applaud a disaster. The July 1st reopening is why we're here now.

Lockdowns don't solve the problem. You lock people in their homes for the weekend and have 7pm evening curfews. So, you really think this will solve the problem? The problem is better managed from increasing testing and contact tracing. If you look at the number of tests done.and the number of infections, we.can clearly see.the government is failing. By their own data, they have shown it's a disaster. Is the PM increasing medical resources (personnel, test kits, etc.)? Has the PM ordered the Ministry of Health to increase personnel for contact tracing?

If you identify more people infected or who were exposed to someone infected and ask them to quarantine and properly monitor them, the numbers will go down. You don't need a lockdown for this. This is not medical ingenuity. It's commonsense. The WHO said this iver and repeatedly. Why are we still stuck on lockdowns and curfews instead of actually attacking the problem. You have to control the virus, not control people. It seems the PM doesn't understand the difference.

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John 1 month ago

The Who said lockdowns should not be used as the major mechanism to fight corona N.O.T because they do not work, B U T because of the negative and possibly devastating effect they can have on the economy. AND if contact tracing and additional testing were more effective, then why are so many government officials and government buildings being infected? Do you know Haiti flattened their curve and their numbers are on the decline? So are the Dominican Republic's numbers on a sharp decline. And Florida, until a few days ago and after seeing their numbers skyrocket started to see sharp declines. And who is to say a 50% decline in the numbers for three consecutive days is not to be celebrated? And should Grand Bahama and Eleuthera continue to allow their numbers to escalate and no action is taken? If people cannot control themselves, then some restrictions have to be put in place. If you are saying a 50% or better decline in the cases should not be touted as a success, then you are very unreasonable. And what do you suggest is the reason for Eleuthera and now Grand Bahama swing their cases going back up after all if their restrictions were lifted and freedoms restored. Should they just be left and allow the numbers to continue to climb Willy Nilly?

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DWW 1 month ago

much to do with the sense of entitlement which the average gubmint employee feels. they feel protected and invincible if they gat 1 job from dey MP

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stillwaters 1 month ago

Ellis and preachers like Morrison, just like Trump, are desperately missing that crowd adoration and love offerings. Sad to say, these preachers might never get back to that old normal state of being.

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KapunkleUp 1 month ago

Ellis really needs his one hour show on the Comedy Channel. As for asking other people about their soul... perhaps he should open up his bank accounts and help his fellow men in this time of need instead of putting the burden on everyone else. I am sure this "Man of God" can afford it.

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OMG 1 month ago

What a joke Ellis and his screeching voice is. He was never elected and who made him a Bishop. Lives very comfortably on tithes and church offerings. Maybe as a gesture he could cease all donations during the pandemic, but he might have to take his Rolls of the road for a while.

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trueBahamian 1 month ago

So, we have Bishop Ellis putting on a show. He made some good points, but given the hypocrisy in this man, it's hard to pay too much attention to him. Instead of spending so.mich time.blasting the government,.how about he just quietly go about the community and do good. Isn't that what the church is supposed to do? Too.many church leaders want to win an Oscar for their performance instead of being true messengers of the faith. John the Baptist, we are told in the Bible, prepared the way for Christ. He ate locust and drank wild honey. He didn't have a throne in church with a European car in the church driveway with a home in a gated community. So, let's put the BS aside and be a true messenger of Christ.

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themessenger 1 month ago

Don't forget da private jet,he come a long way from cashing @ Chicken Unlimited in da Independence Shopping center and livin' in da bush on Marshall road Lol.

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sheeprunner12 1 month ago

Why is this a big deal ......... when the PLP have traditionally been supported by the black, conservative and pentecostal Churches????? .......... Why the uproar over Bishop Ellis, when 98% of Bahamians know that he is huge supporter of the PLP????

Who complains when the FNM bishops and pastors parade across the stage at their political events??? ........ Especially the big white pastor of the Over The Hill Anglican cathedral?????

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bahamianson 1 month ago

' the dangerous amount of power vested in one man', coming from a pastor whom has power over his congregation. the congregation hangs on every word he says.

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jackbnimble 1 month ago

I do agree that Minnis’s one man stance is crippling the economy. Making decisions to have businesses sell bra, panties and shoes on the curb is not only humiliating but stupid when so many of them are paying for brick and mortar and enough space to comfortably allow their customers to social distance inside their stores. How did we get here? I agree with the Bishop that it’s no longer ‘cute’. No one is saying just go ahead and open the economy and let people move around Willy nilly, but we definitely cannot continue like this. The up and down is killing us economically.

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Bahamabird 1 month ago

I do not think that Bishop Ellis came to play at all. He is absolutely right, especially his comment about Bahamians being humiliated. Long lines everywhere; arrests and being dragged before the courts for walking to the water pump; unemployment and being made to wait on never ending lines at NIB and food distribution centres. The food distributors saying take whatever we give you! The list goes on and on. While stripping Bahamians of dignity, the PM does not even show sufficient respect for us to present us with a plan. A plan is needed and no MP should support a further extension without being provided with a plan as to how this will end and how decisions will be made in the meantime. The decision making process seems too arbitrary. Why, for example, were Arawak Cay restaurants unable to open when all others could? Respect us, Mr. Competent Authority. We deserve it.

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Tanya 1 month ago

Its time the church stand up and represent the voice of God and his the kingdom. To long the church has been silent its time for the kingdom of God come to govern. We want God goodness but never wants his word or his truth. The men and woman of God represents his voice.

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DWW 1 month ago

is it a good time to discuss false prophets? i think there is something in that good old book about it.

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joeblow 1 month ago

... is it possible to take a more mature view and simply ask if what is being said is true or not?

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DDK 1 month ago

Whatever Bishop Ellis's political leanings, whatever his character and whether or not he should use the pulpit to "preach politics", he is 100% RIGHT!!

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John 1 month ago

Is there anything going on with the lockdowns and long lines and curfews going on in The Bahamas that is not happening worldwide? Wasn’t it this same, good bishop who told his congregation, just prior to a previous general election, ‘If you don’t plan to vote PLP, get your hip outta my church!’ Let the church say Amen.

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TalRussell 1 month ago

Shakehead once for Yeah what does your God think about you when the pastors from pulpits across a colony of out islands, cays and rocks - begin to point fingers directly at you, and doing it without fear government reprisals, does openly start to call you out for displaying the ego of King Nebuchadnezzar, you're a@@ is fast approaching swimming in some deep as hell of a sh*t load shark-infested leadership deep waters, Twice for Not?

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ThisIsOurs 1 month ago

"The competent authority is only the voice of Cabinet and Cabinet is only the controlling voice of government and therefore the prime minister only would’ve been chosen as the voice because the prime minister is also the chairman of Cabinet,” Dr Minnis said. “Cabinet could’ve chosen anyone as the voice but in this case the prime minister represents the voice of the Cabinet.”"

This is clearly not true. If it were how did he alone decide to close the country down without notice with cabinet having no clue of what he was doing?

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TalRussell 1 month ago

My comrade Out, the man's said and done some outlandish but none they come remotely close to if he really believes em's'' were the chosen one? Was it a vote the cabinet to fire the health minister?

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ted4bz 1 month ago

“It was alright for the first two or three months when everyone was trying to get their composure and understand this virus...” If it was alright then it’s alright now. If it is not alright now, it wasn’t alright then.

LOOK; you all were being warned for years about this, you labeled it conspiracy theory and dismissed it. And worst your still doing that. It is written, “Study to prove to yourself” you should have done that long time ago. You didn’t do that, and worst you’re still not doing it.

You should have been physically and mentally prepared and ready organized into working communities working together in all relevant matters. You could have been setup having very little need for the government, if any at all. You didn’t do any of that, and worst you’re still not doing any of it, except further distracting and entertaining your useless audiences that are already confused and distracted with cv19 political, media and religious gibberish. Shame on you both.

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Marco 1 month ago

it's crazy how y'all don't see what is happening and what is actually going on its easier to control a bunch of blind and weak people then it is to control the strong and rebellious

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