“The immense devastation and tragedy this world has been facing in recent times propels me to ensure my life is in harmony with the word of God. However, when the President of the most powerful country in the world signs an influential public document that selects a specific day as a day of prayer, this is, I think, a cause for major concern…”
Contributor Afryea Charles muses over the possible implications of a politico-religious merger in the United States in the following Letter to the Editor:
“Today we celebrate the 55th year of independence from the colonial powers,” ran an Independence Day message I received. “We have since replaced it with a new form of colonialism: fast becoming westernized due to the many forms of irresistible influences. Power to the next 55 years.”
The more the world changes, the more things remain the same. Even though we think we are independent, we are still being influenced by a power greater than ourselves.
Look at Ethiopia. It is interesting to witness this developing nation evolving away from their culture and tradition and galloping in a westerly direction. They are so proud that they have never been colonised but, from my perspective, the West is there to stay.
As I shared my thoughts and fears with a fellow Trinbagonian, the response was that it sounded like Trinidad and Tobago in the 1970s. That gave me perspective. History repeats itself and I am on hand to witness it.
Speaking of history, President Donald Trump signed a Proclamation designating Sunday 3 September, 2017 as a day of prayer for those affected in Houston by Hurricane Harvey. Now, with Harvey’s horrible successors already hurtling—after devastating other smaller Caribbean islands—towards the US and its territories, one can be sure there will be more calls for prayer and unity.
Let us be quite clear: I am not opposed to prayer or unity. The immense devastation and tragedy this world has been facing in recent times propels me to ensure my life is in harmony with the word of God. However, when the President of the most powerful country in the world signs an influential public document that selects a specific day as a day of prayer, this is, I think, a cause for major concern.
In a world with so many religious denominations and non-religious persons, why would the POTUS even think of signing a document which has the potential to carry the force of law and which can affect many who do not share or subscribe to the belief system of the religious persons around him?
This action, to me, casts a long shadow, giving us perhaps a glimpse of things to come. It also reminds me of things past, of the stories of King Nebuchadnezzar and King Darius, which can be found in Chapters Three and Six of the Book of Daniel in the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
In both these stories, the Kings legislated how and when the nation should worship. With what consequences? Religious persecution. A house, remember, is built block by block, one at a time.
Because we generally fear disaster and destruction, anything to prevent that, we do. Running to prayer and religion in time of need is okay but my concern is that it will be used to bring about persecution more extensive than the sort we saw during the Protestant reformation of the 16th century.
Back in the present century, in 2015 to be more precise, the Pope presented his encyclical speaking to “unity,” “environmental issues” and “morality.” He then paid his first ever visit to the US, where he addressed the US Congress—something no pope had done before.
My opinion? Too much religion in the White House.
Trinidad and Tobago, now liberated from the frying pan of Britain’s colonial embrace but finding itself somehow in the fire of western cultural domination, has a penchant for adopting practices that may not necessarily be in our best interest.
Here is something I discovered while doing research on the effects of political and religious unity. It comes from our Summary Offences Act:
“Subject to the Customs Act, any person who on a Sunday employs for hire any other person in any agricultural or manufacturing labour or employment, or in the carting or crooking of any goods, or in the loading of any vessel, or in the trans-shipping of any goods, or who on a Sunday, after the hour of nine o’clock in the morning, sells or offers or exposes for sale in any public market any goods, is liable to a fine of two hundred dollars.”
I am neither a lawyer nor a historian. However, my preliminary research leads me to believe that we may have inherited this from our former colonial masters who viewed Sunday as a day to be revered. It is only recently that Britain lifted some of the restrictions of their Sunday Trading Act.
Now that we in the Caribbean are heading in a westerly direction, I am wondering if the politico-religious uber-virus currently contaminating the US will enter our bloodstream.
God, after all, is a Trini, isn’t he?