Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Monday | June 1, 2009
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LETTER OF THE DAY - Drawing the line between religion, responsibility and the State

The Editor, Sir:

The letter in Saturday's Gleaner entitled 'Commish Lewin's disregard for a constitutional right' is quite misleading. To claim that the police commissioner's stance on the place religion should have in the force is an attempt to create a constitutional breach is, at best, a na´ve interpretation of Lewin's pronouncements and, at worst, the outburst of a religious zealot.

For too long, many have sought to confuse religious rights with secular obligations and while the two are not mutually exclusive, some would have us believe that religious rights must supersede all other rights and obligations. But should this be really so, and if so, who says? Oh, I forgot, God said so! Well, pardon my questioning God about his selection, but we do have urgent issues down here that God does not seem to be aiding us with!

Each year, the crime rate seems to increase and we all sit around blaming the police for not doing enough, yet undoubtedly, hundreds of man-hours are lost when Sabbath-keepers decide that worshipping is more important than dealing with the nation's crime problem. Could it be that some of our law-enforcement officers are convinced that they are incapable of dealing with the crime problem and so (as is often the case when many feel defeated) they have 'surrendered' to a higher order? And where is the evidence that when 'God is on duty' our crime situation improves?

It's about time we realise that this country's problems are not going to be solved by praying them away. We must take hard, calculated, pragmatic decisions. We must find the root of the problem and eliminate it. If prayer could cure all ills, then this island would be one healthy nation. Instead, we are sick to the core and getting worse.

time and place for everything

There is a time and place for everything and while a person's religious practice is guaranteed under the Constitution, it should not be allowed to interfere with the proper functioning of the State. People in the employment of the State should practise their religion at the convenience of the State, and not vice versa.

As the primary role of the Jamaica Constabulary Force is to protect the nation from criminals, it should concentrate on this and not engage in the business of 'saving souls'. That's the role and responsibility of the Church.

I am, etc.,



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