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Beefed-up security in churches unnecessary, says Hyde-Riley

Published:Monday | November 5, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Merlyn Hyde-Riley

The recent massacre at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, United States, has brought into question whether churches and other places or worship in Jamaica are safe. But Reverend Merlyn Hyde-Riley, president of the Jamaica Council of Churches, has suggested that the focus be placed on ironing out the mindset of the people instead of beefing up security.

Just over a week ago, it was reported that 46-year-old Robert Bowers killed several persons and wounded others inside the synagogue.

"Nowhere is safe," said Hyde-Riley. "We live in a world where people are people, wherever you are, so I don't think there is any particular place that you could single out as being safe. Our spaces will be as safe as all of us make it. It is not the barriers we put up that will make our spaces safe. It is really how we live in communities and the kinds of relationships that we have. A lot has to change in terms of the value in our society and how we relate to each other," she told The Gleaner last week.

She suggested that everyone should play their part in finding nonviolent ways to resolve conflicts.

"Hopefully, people will change. It is not the security measures that will do it. Unless people are challenged to change and more of us get involved in the business of changing people's mindset and how they behave, then we will always be increasing security," she said.

"I think a number of churches have put in place measures to enhance security, but at the same time, I don't think we should live as if we are prisoners," she added.

Kenneth Richards, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Kingston, told The Gleaner yesterday that churches and places of worship in Jamaica are safe from religiously motivated violence, for which he is thankful.

"I think that in Jamaica, we have more religious tolerance. In the States, obviously, that act was an act of religious intolerance and hatred of another person's religious belief that motivated that attack. I don't think we have reached that kind of state in Jamaica. We have had one or two incidents in recent times, because a minister was shot" along the Old Harbour Road, he said.

"The world is changing, yes, but presently (beefed-up security) is not something we have to contemplate. We just have to continue promoting religious tolerance, love and respect for each other," he added.