Mon | Jul 16, 2018

JUTC preaching ban balances rights of all

Published:Wednesday | July 5, 2017 | 12:07 AM


The Gleaner, on June 28, 2017, featured Marsha Thomas' letter, 'Preaching ban crisis!? Please!'. It must be the most overzealous display of religious chauvinism I have ever read. This is typical of many Jamaican Christians.

Thomas argues that banning preaching on Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) buses "infringes on freedom of religion and freedom of speech." Is this so? Rights come with responsibilities. This means you do not have the unbridled right to impose your values on others, however correct you think those beliefs are. And as the Constitution so rightly states: "the employment of these rights and freedoms are subject to the respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest".

The bus is not a church, and allowing people to preach as they please, often on the top of their lungs, is certainly not a responsible exercise of their freedom of speech and has nothing to do with freedom of religion. In fact, this is possibly disrespecting the right to freedom of conscience and the right to freedom of religion of some passengers. So banning this behaviour is actually enforcing the Constitution. The point of the constitution is to create a balance of the rights of all its citizens. This is the endeavour of all civilised societies.

Therefore, the ban against preaching on JUTC buses is beneficial in the sense that it tackles what is basically antisocial behaviour that we can well do without in this country.