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FNM: PLP Waging War on The Church

The Free National Movement (FNM) on Sunday accused government leaders of waging an all out attack on the Church, in the midst of ongoing national debate on several key issues.

Members of the Church has criticised the government on the Value Added Tax (VAT) issue, the proposals to legalise web shop gambling in the country and posed various questions about the planned amendments to the Constitution.

In a press statement issued yesterday, FNM Chairman Darron Cash said in response to these criticisms, Prime Minister Perry Christie and Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis have taken an “all powerful” approach to the situation and have declared war on the church.

During his contribution last week to the gaming debate in the House of Assembly, Deputy Prime Minister Davis hit out at members of the Church who have led the charge in the anti-gambling campaign, even going so far as to accuse some church leaders of being gamblers themselves.

“…I wondered how many of the same pastors that preach about the wrongs of gambling themselves have accounts or accept benefits from these gentlemen,” he questioned. “The Bahamas Christian Council continually confirms its opposition to the legalisation of gambling; but, to my recollection, as long as there was no attempt to bring order to the present web shop situation, everyone seemed happy to turn a blind eye.

“I know that their concern chiefly centres on the degradation of our society, but how many of them are secretly concerned about what will not make it to their collection plates? How many have given thought to the fact that a significant number of members of their congregations are Bahamians employed with exemption certificates to gamble for the house in hotel casinos as croupiers, pit bosses and supervisors? Have they given thought to the hundreds more who are employed in these same casinos are bartenders, barmaids, and ancillary workers?”

The FNM condemned actions like this.

“Their attacks on the Church have been crude and unbecoming, and the significance of the Christie Government’s assault on the church cannot be understated,” the FNM said. “Members of the religious community have expressed very strong principled positions based in large part on the prime minister’s own words. The prime minister and his deputy decided to lead an assault on the Church for taking principled positions.”

Regrettably, the Opposition added, where the prime minister’s moral outrage against the Church loses enormous credibility is in the fact that he has been silent and evasive on clear indications of wrongdoing and incompetence on the part of his ministers and board chairmen.

“On issues of illegal BEC hook-up, recurring claims of bribery and kickbacks, tax evasion, and conflicts of interests the prime minister has no firm or principled position,” the release read. “He gives the impression that anything goes. However, when the Church reminds him that he failed to keep his word to the Bahamian people, the prime minister cannot stop expressing his moral outrage.

“Quite frankly, the prime minister protests too much. Indeed, the prime minister’s fake outrage is a sad substitute for action. It appears that all the prime minister can do is talk because he may be too compromised to act. In the last two weeks the prime minister has doubled down on his declaration of being all powerful. Firstly, Mr. Christie revealed that his government will go against the will of the Bahamian people who voted no in the 2013 gambling referendum. The people voted no, and the self described final authority prime minister will turn his back on the people by ignoring their vote even after making a solemn commitment to honour the results.”

But Opposition members said despite his “hard talk directed at the Church,” Prime Minister Christie has proven to be weak.

“This is because he appears to be a prime minister too compromised to govern effectively,” they said. “We repeat what we in the FNM said even before the religious leaders said the same thing; by going against the no vote Prime Minister Christie has zero credibility left with the Bahamian people.

“He has lost the moral authority to govern because he has lost the trust of the people. His words mean nothing to the people because he never honours his commitments to the people.”

Ianthia Smith

Written by Ianthia Smith

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