It arrived once more. The constitutional governance cycle of five years ended. The House was dissolved and the nomination date for each representative was set. Belizeans from all walks of life — Creole, Mestizo, Garifuna, Maya, Mennonite, East Indian, and Chinese, all focused their collective analyses on those in and out of power.
This election cycle was so heatedly contested that it seeped its way into the different sanctuaries across the land where some “men of the cloth” were usurping the Holy Altar as a bully pulpit to convey their political inclinations to their parishioners, congregations, and flocks in an effort to persuade more than fifty percent of the voting public to see things through their lens.
The question that is being asked is, “Should Pastors, Priests, Fathers, or Bishops use the Holy Altar as a platform to convince the voting congregants?”
The relationship between religions and politics is as old as time. From China to Australia, Europe to South Africa, Canada to Antarctica, religion and politics have been in and out of bed for generations and decades. This duplicitous relationship has seen good times and bad times, triumphs and failures, victors, and losers. It was Samuel, the prophet, that God told there would be a demarcation between religion and politics when the Israelites got their first king.
It was in their Constitution that the founding fathers of America enshrined the principle of separation of church and state. Thomas Jefferson and his contemporaries had the firsthand experience of how the duplicitous relationship between church and state can lead to loss of many lives; hence, they were very cautious, and they made sure that the constitution kept the separation between both legislative matters.
Each week the faithful sit for three or five hours, listening to their entrusted leaders. They come with diverse needs, both physical and spiritual. They come to be uplifted, encouraged, motivated, and refreshed for another week ahead.
Where they have erred, they seek forgiveness; where they have had accomplishments, they seek to give thanks, and where their two cents are not enough, they seek some additional cents from the faithfully blessed.
The television, the radio, the light posts, the trees, the grocery stores, etc. all reflected the constant drumming of the contestants and what they wanted to accomplish for Belize in the next five years.
Should not the walls of the sanctuary be spared unpaid political announcements?
In conclusion, I will take the side of Jesus: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” The chapel, the church, the synagogue, the mosque, the temple or shrine are places that do not belong to “Caesar,” and as such, no one should usurp these places as another political platform, irrespective of his or her political convictions.
People of different political persuasions have chosen a spiritual place of worship, and their political persuasion should never be questioned. They have chosen to render their time and person to God for spiritual upliftment, and not for secular political persuasion.
Therefore, may all “men and women of cloth” remember that the place of worship should be a place where each faithful congregant can come and be free from the unpaid political announcements, and the Holy Altar is a sacred place for sacrifices and gifts offered up to God, and not to men.
University of Belize student
Public Administration & Policy