Wed | Mar 21, 2018

Church right to rebuke pastor

Published:Wednesday | February 3, 2016 | 12:00 AM


The Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Church acted decisively when it reprimanded Pastor Michael Harvey for publicly professing his political views and affirming his allegiance to the People's National Party (PNP) Government at its mass rally in Half-Way Tree on January 31.

The president of the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Pastor Everett Brown, stated in a Gleaner interview that Harvey violated the principles of the SDA Church because of his apparent partisan political stance, a position which could indeed create divisiveness, and might I add, controversy, that could bring the church into disrepute.

What makes this public affirmation of Henry's political partisanship inappropriate and disrespectful is that he consciously became a member of the SDA Church with the understanding that he would strictly adhere to its rules of conduct.

The issue is not that this church leader professed his personal views in favour of a particular political party. If he did so in a capacity that did not suggest that it was the stance of the church, he would well be within his right as an individual. What obtains, however, is that an impression might have been given that his personal political views reflect the position of the church.

If, as a leader, he ignores or violates the rules of conduct to which he is subjected, confidence would have been lost in him and he should, indeed, relinquish his position as a leader of the church, since there is incongruity that has bred controversy. The expectation is that a leader must be exemplary.

An important point to consider is that the political parties may see this open declaration as a means of utilising the Church in furthering its agenda. For this reason, the Church must always be circumspect in its associations and pronouncements.

There should be no room for any member of the Church to favour any one thing over another, whether consciously or otherwise, and to give an impression as if it is going into bed with a political party. Any conduct of a church member that is not in keeping with neutrality must be stoutly condemned.

The Church must be separate from the State; an arm's-length-distance relationship in which the two entities (Church and the State) interact as independent organisations must be maintained. Otherwise, there could be disaster.