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Trump, Trini gods and threats to Sunday freedom? Charles asks about dependence and independence

“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:

Photo: United States president Donald Trump.
(Copyright Getty)

“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.

Photo: A satellite image of Hurricane Irma.
(Copyright CBC News)

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.

Photo: Pope Francis (right) has a laugh with President Anthony Carmona.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Gabriel Bouys)

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.

Photo: British Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire (right) attempts to shake the hand of Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley at the 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit in London on 12 May 2016.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Justin Tallis)

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?

AboutAfryea Charles

Afryea Charles is an inspired missionary who has renounced the pleasures of everyday living because she wants to save the world. As time passes, she is less and less certain that yes, she can. But she is not yet ready to concede that she may have bitten off more than she can chew.

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6 comments

  1. Religion and politics are to a certain extent inseparable, In Trinidad, I believe that religion influences the voting patterns of many people,albeit that persons of different religious persuasions are given their just due. in the case of Trump it was just expedient for him to take the religious stance, even though he always vents about Muslims. I do not think that Trinidad will follow suit, We always show respect for diverse religious groups. Religious holidays, leave granted to a footballer, to not play on a Saturday deferring to his religious persuasion. I do not think Trinidad will go that route.

  2. we believe in God the father son holy spirit

  3. “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.” Thanks for this. I had no idea this existed. But much of the political systems of governance that exist have heavy Christian influence. This is nothing new. Sometimes I think with the increase in liberalized views and an increase in persons who want to see the influence of religion removed from affairs of state have challenged those who prefer to hold fast to the political strength and backing they get in exercise of religious dominance. So perhaps those who hold hard to one religious view want to throw around their ‘religious muscle’. That’s not unique to Trump, if in fact, the choice of Sunday was religiously motivated. What I’m wondering though, is are there specific observations that the author made that makes her concerned that Trinidad will follow suit?

    • Earl Best

      Alana, Seeems you haven’t heard the conspiracy theories which abound out there. Or perhaps your question is provoked precisely by the fact that you have heard them and want to know just how far in that direction our country has already progressed.
      Either way, it would be a mistake to think that we’re talking T&T here; this is a worldwide phenomenon that threatens us all–as is clear from the writer’s first offering last month.