|Religious leaders weigh in on the ‘silly season’|
Guardian Lifestyles Reporter
Published: Feb 02, 2012
With election fever in the air and politicians selling promises like candy to voters it is natural for people to get wrapped up in the “festivities of the season”. While elections are an important occasion in Bahamian society, ministers of the word say it is imperative that voters and politicians navigate through these times cautiously and always keep God at the forefront of their minds.
New Covenant Baptist Church senior pastor, Bishop Simeon Hall, said this is not the time to take things lightly, or to blindly vote for political parties.
He commends the different governments for good work over the years and wants the voting public to remember that the time has passed when voting for a party alone had any merit, due to the number of new faces on all sides of the political arena.
“Most ministers or candidates today seem to be relying on the reputation of their party to get into leadership roles rather than lean on anything they have done personally that would make them worthy to be leaders,” said Bishop Hall.
“Even when one observes the present political landscape, the performances of some sitting members of Parliament (MP) leave much to be desired. Many of those who aspire to become MPs in my opinion, are shallow and without much substance. Too many who now wish to become MPs have no social service record. Indeed, there are some who were not known for doing anything in the community before their names were announced.”
The Baptist minister said there is a perception in The Bahamas that the quickest way to get rich is to become an MP. But he said the voting public should turn to people seeking to be elected with good records of service to the community to be the good political candidates the country needs.
Bishop Hall believes the voters of the day should take into consideration the multitude of problems the country has and elect people who will have answers.
He encourages all eligible Bahamians to exercise their right to vote when the date is set, and allow others to freely do the same. Whether their neighbor agrees with their political views or not, Hall said they should not let that difference disturb any friendships or love they may share between each other.
In this charged “season”, Bishop Hall said he is praying that people remember to be Christ-like about whatever happens because once the elections are over, everyone still has to live in harmony.
Bishop John Humes has his say
Bishop John N. Humes, national overseer of the Church of God of Prophecy in The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos said voters should look at the spiritual wholeness of candidates rather than what they may offer them with their tongue or give them in their hands.
“As we are now on the threshold of a general election my advice to public is that it is their duty as citizens to register and vote if they want to have a say in this country.”
The Pentecostal minister says voters should not look at how well a candidate dresses or even speaks. More important he says is what the candidate’s spiritual wellbeing says about them.
“Look at the lifestyles, principles and values the candidates uphold and then citizens should vote according to what their heart says,” he said.
Bishop Humes’ advice to voters is not to compromise when it comes to what they stand for and believe in, just to vote for a particular party. He said The Bahamas needs people who will make a difference and not just be another follower of a singular party idea.
Canon Basil Tynes speaks
The time has come again when Bahamians need to be asking themselves serious questions about where they want to see the nation heading in the next 10 years rather than selfishly looking for handouts or bribes said Canon Basil Tynes, rector at St. Barnabas Anglican Parish. He said the public needs to be more aware about what is going on in the country and coming together to create a plan to tackle the nation’s problems.
“Election time is the worst time for the people to be divided. This is the perfect occasion to let your voice be heard and air any concerns you have that went unnoticed before. The parties may have their own agendas, but the people of this nation who will have to live by what the politicians feel is best to do need to take a stand and not let things go on the same way it has always been happening.”
The Anglican priest says the public needs to be more demanding and raise their standards and expectations of people who wish to vie for positions in politics. And he would like to see in the upcoming elections, a comprehensive vision of where people are willing to take the country in next 10 to 15 years.
“This is the time for all the people and institutions in the country to come together to decide what they want to happen and tell the politicians rather than wait for them to pose ideas,” he said.
Canon Tynes also hopes people start holding politicians accountable for their actions rather than letting them get away with under performing.
He said a way to monitor the political progress of candidates should be implemented so that people have a say in what happens even after they make their mark on the ballot.
The priest also hopes politicians bring a more mature attitude toward their governance and not be petty or small-minded as soon as they gain power.
“This immaturity of when new governments come into power and forsake any good ideas previous administrations have set into motion also needs to stop,” he said.
“I hope to see a more mature and settled set of politicians come into power so that things can move in this country. It is also time that politicians stop making promises they can’t keep. If you have an idea, think it through thoroughly and be practical in how you express your thoughts."
The Anglican priest said that as Christians, people should vote for people who have similar views as they do spiritually. As a result, he said it is not right for politicians to say that their personal life is divorced from running the country. If politicians are dishonest in little things, he said, they will be in big things too.
"I think the young politicians who have great ambitions should be able to think for themselves. Many times when you say I don’t agree, people in a party ... the older folk will turn on you and it makes it hard for the young politician to stand their ground. This is not fair because the country needs something new and different," he said.
In this political season, Canon Tynes advises people to give all candidates a chance to say what they will, whether they are from a favored party or not. This time around he also encourages Christians to not let their futures get away from them since they have the power to decide what happens with their vote. He said it is time for Christians to not just let things happen, but to pray and be proactive in this important time of their lives.
Bishop Arnold Josey chimes in
This is the season of masquerades, half-truths, mysteries and surprises according to Bishop Arnold Josey, senior pastor at Commonwealth Mission Baptist Church. And he said the electorate should be wary of how they face these “devilish times” when it is easy to be swayed into following the wrong path. He said this is a time to pray and ask for guidance more than ever.
“I think people need to open their eyes and hearts to what God has planned for this nation. Don’t let the political rhetoric disturb or sway you. Let God’s voice guide you and show you what is the best thing for this nation. This is not a time for half-truths,slanders, bold lies and other devious tricks. This is not a time to trust your own ears, eyes or emotions. This is a time to let God guide you to do the right thing,” said Bishop Josey.
The election period known as “silly season” he says is a time to seriously think about the future of the nation and not let just anyone represent the people. The Baptist pastor says the country needs accountability, stability and efficiency. He said when the politicians knock on your door, that you sit down with a list of questions to ask them and not let them speak about what they are thinking alone. He encourages people to speak their mind and really get to know the young men and women who are vying for top positions in the country.