Dear Editor: We must all applaud the members of the Spiritual Baptist faith!

‘[…] Today, all the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago need to applaud the members of the Spiritual Baptist community—for their struggles and the achievement of their liberation is, in fact, an achievement that we all benefit from …’

The following Letter to the Editor commemorating Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day was submitted to Wired868 by the Movement for Social Justice:

Photo: Spiritual Baptist worshippers.
(Courtesy THA)

The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) salutes the members of the Spiritual Baptist faith on this, the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the repeal of the colonial law that banned the practice of their religion.

It was in November 1917 that the colonial government passed the Shouters Prohibition Ordinance. This law legalised police repression against members of the Spiritual Baptist faith who were routinely harassed and persecuted by the police.

With prohibition came the total denial of freedom to worship. Members of the faith were unable to hold religious services or to build any church. Members were regularly arrested and beaten by the police; big landowners and estate owners were told to report anyone who may have been breaking the law.

Those who controlled the society—the economic, political and social elites (which included the leaders of the traditional Christian denominations) viewed the Spiritual Baptists with great disdain. The Spiritual Baptist faith was considered to be inferior and ‘heathen’. They were discriminated against.

This view and the discrimination practised by the controllers was underpinned by racism and Eurocentrism. What was European and white was superior, what was African and black was inferior. There was also the definitive bias of class as members of the Spiritual Baptist faith were almost invariably working class, while those who opposed belonged essentially to the ruling elites.

Photo: Spiritual Baptists dance during a church service.
(Copyright Afrikan Heritage)

The repeal of prohibition on 30 March 1951 was the culmination of many years of struggle by the members of the Spiritual Baptist faith to affirm their identity and to assert their basic human rights of freedom of association, freedom of expression and freedom of worship.

Today, all the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago need to applaud the members of the Spiritual Baptist community—for their struggles and the achievement of their liberation is, in fact, an achievement that we all benefit from.

Nobody could feel completely free to worship and to associate or to express themselves if the Spiritual Baptists did not fight and make the tremendous sacrifices that they made. Theirs was a true liberation struggle, a struggle for human rights. Their freedom has become our freedom!

Significantly, but not surprisingly, many members of the early labour movement, most notably Tubal Uriah ‘Buzz’ Butler, were adherents and leaders of the Spiritual Baptists. Their very faith, therefore, underpinned the struggle for social justice and liberation from exploitation and oppression in all its forms.

At the same time, however, we must recognise that there still exist remnants of the colonial culture of racism, colourism and discrimination. This is manifest in many aspects of our social existence and includes the reality of class interests driving decisions and the inequality of wealth and income.

Photo: Iconic Trinidad and Tobago labour leader Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler.

A liberation struggle wins legal rights but the emancipation from mental slavery and backward attitudes, culture and systems must be an ongoing effort. Let us, therefore, on this, the 70th anniversary of the repeal of the Prohibition Ordinance, recommit to the ideals of social justice and an end to all forms of discrimination.

The MSJ joins the members of the Spiritual Baptist community in the celebration of all that you have achieved against tremendous odds and applauds you for your struggles on behalf of all of Trinidad and Tobago.

We all owe you a debt of gratitude for your liberation was won through great personal sacrifice and untold pain that you had to endure. However, we can indeed celebrate as the Psalmist so wisely tells us ‘Weeping may Endure for a Night, but Joy Cometh in the Morning!’

More from Wired868
MSJ: New year, old politricks—Dr Rowley’s New Year message is classic misdirection

“[…] The difference between 31st December and 1st January is but a change in date… as we see the old Read more

Noble: Harden children bound to feel—the story of Trinidad and Tobago

A ‘harden’ child is a stubborn child who has to feel the wrath-- usually in the form of ‘licks’--to understand Read more

MSJ: The PNM and UNC have ‘colluded’ to kill Bill to regulate campaign financing

“[…] The MSJ condemns the PNM and UNC, as they have in effect colluded to kill the The Representation of Read more

MSJ: PDP has opportunity to make Tobago ‘a model for the entire country’

“[…] The MSJ looks forward to the PDP making good on its commitments to implement transparency and accountability in the Read more

MSJ: With Covid, murders, and colonial governance, T&T needs Divali more than ever

“[…] As a country, we have the challenges of the never-ending Covid pandemic which is taking a terrible toll in Read more

MSJ: Whose agenda are the UNC seeking to promote by weaponising the Parliament?

“[...] Some commentators are suggesting that there should have been a debate so that answers to questions that the public Read more

About Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor
Want to share your thoughts with Wired868? Email us at editor@wired868.com. Please keep your letter between 300 to 600 words and be sure to read it over first for typos and punctuation. We don't publish anonymously unless there is a good reason, such as an obvious threat of harassment or job loss.

Check Also

MSJ: New year, old politricks—Dr Rowley’s New Year message is classic misdirection

“[…] The difference between 31st December and 1st January is but a change in date… …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.