Categorized | National News

Men Are Fallible Beings, Including Pastors

The Clifton Review

The Clifton Review is a bi-weekly column that examines the question of the Clifton project along with the evolution of the war between two billionaires, the links to unsavory characters, the use of the courts for personal agendas, the involvement of a political party, and the attacks on the Government of The Bahamas.

We covered the start of this war with articles describing the battle over easement rights, the mysterious burning of a home, the blocks to rebuilding, and countless questionable court filings. This series of articles asks the needed questions and presents the arguments in full.


By P.J. Malone

Does the Bahamas Christian Council President really mean to suggest that the State should not protect the rights of citizens as it is duty bound to do?

Recently, a Tribune article on the Registrar General’s Department’s request from non-profits—for information on their organizations as a part of an oversight effort—reported the views of the Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) President with respect to this request.

The BCC President suggested that there were already mechanisms in place in The Bahamas that provide oversight of church finances. What possible mechanisms could he be talking about? The Registrar General’s Department’s efforts are the new mechanisms to provide oversight of the churches’ finances.

What the Christian Council President is failing to understand is that the State has a responsibility not just to adhere to international standards with respect to money laundering but also to protect its citizens. The State cannot leave it up to an individual organization’s mechanism to protect its citizens from potential fraud and abuse by any dishonest Pastor or church official.

If men were perfect, then yes, the State could leave it up to churches’ own devices. But since men are flawed creatures, which many a jails all over the world holding former ministers of the gospel can attest to, it is up to the State to establish laws and standards that protect citizens that may become victims of any unforeseen abuses. Furthermore, greed is a significant motivator for committing crime and tempting individuals to potentially aid in money laundering, for example.

So the Christian Council President is wrong to condemn the Government for doing its duty. Protecting citizens and reducing the possibility of criminal activity is not dependent on organizations receiving monies from the State. It’s the State’s duty at all times.

Asking for an extension on the deadline for compliance is one thing. However, threatening to refuse to cooperate and take a stand if the Government doesn’t give into demands is the same as saying, “We don’t wish to be accountable to our members; we don’t wish protect the rights of our congregants; nor do we wish to prove that we have nothing to hide and that we are on the up and up and not engaged in criminal activity.”

Nobody can credibly disagree with the Government’s desire to ‘enhance regulatory oversight of the non-profit sector’.

Remember, this is what the Registrar General’s Department stated in a press release:

“Over the years, The Bahamas has been evaluated by various international organizations on its compliance with international Anti-Money- Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) standards. As a result of the evaluations a number of recommendations for improving AML/CFT compliance by the non-profit sector were made, as increasingly non-profits are used to support international criminal activity.

“In response, The Bahamas introduced regulations in the form of the Companies (Non-Profit Organizations) Regulations 2014, (the “2014 Regulations”). The 2014 Regulations, as crafted, sought to regulate all non-profit organizations, whether incorporated under the Companies Act or otherwise. This was necessary to meet our international obligations as a part of the global community and to protect our financial industry.

“The Registrar General Department pursuant to these Regulations, and more specifically regulations 3 and 13, has therefore sought to ascertain the status of all existing non-profits on its Registry. In doing so the Registrar General’s Department is exercising its supervisory and enforcement authority to monitor and regulate non-profit organizations.”

How can anyone possibly argue with this?

The Christian Council President suggests that because their churches have to meet compliance requirements with banks that that should be good enough. No it is not good enough!

The article on the Registrar General’s Department’s request quotes the Christian Council President as asking, “Why is the eye so scrutinising the church that you really, really need to know what’s happening in the church?”

The answer should be obvious to everyone: Because men are fallible beings. Are pastors not men? There are many church officials and even pastors throughout history found to be engaged in fraudulent or finically dishonest behaviors out of pure greed. The congregant and individuals donating to these churches are always the victims.

No organization seeking outside funding can police itself. It is the duty of every State to protect its citizens from every potential fraudster and to ensure that organizations are not engaged in criminal activities.

Therefore, you Mr. President and your Christian Council members are not exempt from a State doing its constitutional duty to protect its citizens.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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