0

‘Sermons Can’T Be Censored’

Bishop Delton Fernander, President of the Christian Council. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff

Bishop Delton Fernander, President of the Christian Council. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff

By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT

tsmith-cartwright@tribunemedia.net

THE head of the Bahamas Christian Council Bishop Delton Fernander said Bahamians must be careful of forming a “sermon censoring” society.

His comment came after popular pastor Bishop Neil Ellis unleashed a scathing sermon from his pulpit on Sunday, chastising Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis for extending the country’s state of emergency.

In an excerpt from his sermon, Bishop Ellis of Mt Tabor Baptist Church, referred to the biblical King Nebuchadnezzar who developed a God mentality. He said the King put himself on the level of God, adding that Prime Ministers and Presidents should be careful when they “set themselves up in an undemocratic fashion because sooner or later you become so big-headed that you begin to act like a God.”

Bishop Ellis also expressed displeasure on parliamentarians “spinelessly” grumbling on the outside, but sitting in Parliament and “allowing” Dr Minnis since March to extend COVID-19 Emergency Pandemic Orders.

He also hit out at the “dangerous” power that Dr Minnis held as the competent authority under the emergency orders and appeared to suggest the Killarney MP did not believe in God.

When contacted yesterday, Bishop Fernander had no concern with Bishop Ellis voicing his opinions from the pulpit, but took issue with the reference to Dr Minnis’ religious beliefs.

“Well, the only concern I had, which was clarified, was the conversation about someone’s state with God and salvation, which was attributed to the Prime Minister,” Bishop Fernander said. “Bishop (Ellis) has clarified that he has not attributed non-Christianity to the Prime Minister. I realise that sometimes when sermons are hard, there is a need or feeling of a need to censor the voices of God.

“But we must be reminded that sometimes all sermons won’t fit into the nice packages that we would like for them to fit into and then when they don’t speak the way we want them to speak. The Bible says the prophet is answerable to the prophet. We need to be careful that we don’t become a sermon censoring society. If it is that you don’t agree with the sermon, then you don’t agree with the sermon. If you don’t accept it, then you should just leave it alone.”

After Bishop Ellis’ sermon was circulated on social media on Sunday, Free National Movement Chairman Carl Culmer called the remarks “out of order”. Mr Culmer later sent out an official statement from the party calling Bishop Ellis’ sermon a vicious, mean-spirited, political attack on the nation’s leader.

“When we get to a place where we are going to have politicians writing to say what they liked or didn’t like about a sermon, it’s a dangerous place,” Bishop Fernander continued. “The interpretation – prophets will always speak to powers that be and preachers will always come against one or all governments and we must be grown enough to accept that if it isn’t for you then, just let it go.”

Bishop Fernander also touched on Dr Minnis’ recent statements on marijuana, reiterating that his organisation does not support the decriminalisation of the drug. He questioned if that was all the government could come up with while there are so many issues in the country.

“We were very surprised to see that everything that was recommended as a paper; that from the House of Assembly, the prime minister would have highlighted something that he has been advocating for seemingly his whole tenure. The minister of agriculture said he was interested in growing hemp, but the prime minister said something completely different, that he was interested in the decriminalisation, expungement (of criminal records) and legalising marijuana.

“. . .If you decriminalise marijuana, what would be the result of that on Bahamian society? Is that what we want right now? With all that we are wrestling with right now, is this the best you can come up with? The church stands against it and if it is that it will go to a referendum, the church will go wholeheartedly against it.”

Comments

Porcupine 1 month ago

I believe that organized religion holds us back as a species. This is as evident here, as it is anywhere in the world.

3

FrustratedBusinessman 1 month ago

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9196192/">https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9196192/

https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-o...">https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-o...

If this is the kind of filth that fills the void of organized religion, I will take a theocracy any day of the week. Whatever complaints you may have about Christianity of any denomination cannot compare to the results of growing irreligiosity combined with the worst of American consumerism.

Having complaints about the Church is one thing, but I have yet so see someone show me a better alternative.

1

Porcupine 1 month ago

You could not see the alternative if it was shown to you. Your mind is made up.

0

DWW 1 month ago

Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

1

FreeportFreddy 1 month ago

No they can't...BUT we can take away your charitable status for advocating on political issues!!!

1

joeblow 1 month ago

... please explain. As far as I know we do not have a constitutional separation of "church and state", and one is free to have public discourse on any national matter in any forum!

0

ScubaSteve 1 month ago

There definitely needs to be a full and complete "separation" of Church and State.

0

FrustratedBusinessman 1 month ago

Please explain to me which church is the national church of the Bahamas. I hear this argument so much, and it infuriates me to hear because it is a fallacious one based on ignorance. The Church of England was disestablished a very long time ago.

If you want to advocate for an irreligious Bahamian society, go ahead, but the Bahamas has had no established church for a very long time now.

0

ScubaSteve 4 weeks ago

Time out! I'm in no way advocating for a "irreligious Bahaman society." Instead, all I'm saying is that religion should be left out of governing. This is because not all Bahamans are church going or even Christian. There are many other religions in the Bahamans -- which is great! I'm 110% all for folks getting into religion and whatever religion they feel most connected to (e.g. Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, etc). The more the better. But leave it out of Governing the citizens. Religion and Politics should not mix -- from both sides.

0

joeblow 1 month ago

@ ScubaSteve... why should there be a separation when the constitution explicitly states that one of its pillars is Christian values (not the values of a particular church)!

0

ScubaSteve 4 weeks ago

There needs to be a "separation" because not all Bahaman citizens are Christians. Some might be atheist and some might be of other religions (e.g. Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, etc). Therefore, since the Government needs to govern citizens of vastly different beliefs -- all religions should be left out of legislature and governing. What are you afraid of? There can still be a Bill of Rights and a fair/equitable rule of Law without religion.

0

JokeyJack 1 month ago

The church is now in favor of free speech? When did this happen?

0

FrustratedBusinessman 1 month ago

I found the sermon made by Bishop Ellis to be revolting and disgusting. To question whether Minnis truly believed in God was a personal attack that should have never been made on the pulpit. It would be one thing to make that remark privately, but making that statement in "God's house" is simply unacceptable.

The Bishop's remarks also highlights the continued ignorance by a large section of the Bahamian populace of what the Emergency Orders are. It is even sickening to see politicians such as Sands and Davis play petty politics and oppose them for the sake of opposing the government. Are we really going to pass through multiple readings of a bill, send it to the Senate and back, send it to GG etc. just to pass legislation imposing a lockdown, especially with the supposed reopening on November 1st. I have seen far too many Bahamians on social media proudly display this ignorance as well; this government has not been perfect, but we cannot just oppose measures for the sake of opposing them. It is disingenuous and the last thing we need is to be caught up playing petty political games in a moment of crisis.

Shame on Bishop Ellis, shame on Sands, shame on Davis, and shame on everyone else who opposes the government for the mere sake of opposition. You do not have to say that they are perfect or agree with everything that they do, but let's keep our criticism meaningful and work together to actually improve this situation.

1

TalRussell 1 month ago

What if because COVID, a down on their luck comrade was walked into one of our colony's many faiths Sunday morning Worship Service. Would it shock anyone in the congregation, if they got arrested by the Royal Constabulary for wanting to attend worship? Shakehead once for Yeah we are too good of a people to remain silent, to turn away from offering a hands-up, Twice for Not?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qftp...">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qftp...

0

hrysippus 1 month ago

it is easier for a camel to pass through the gate to Jerusalem known as The Eye of The Needle than for a rich pastor to enter the kingdom pf Heaven. The Eye of The Needle gate into Jerusalem was very low to prevent the invasion of men on horseback if the city was attacked. Is Ellis a rich pastor? i do not know but i did read in a newspaper report that he owned a half share in a private jet.

0

themessenger 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Fernander doesn't want his sermons censored? When are you and your associates going to stop trying to censor what goes on in Bahamians bedrooms??

0

Sign in to comment