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Church head says he is open to talks on bigotry, intolerance

Published:Saturday | August 20, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Reverend Al Miller

At least one prominent church leader has indicated that he would not be opposed to the idea of having dialogue about the issues of bigotry and intolerance within the society.

However, the Reverend Al Miller, who was reacting to a suggestion made on Thursday by Kay Osborne, general manager of Television Jamaica (TVJ), made it clear he would have to be satisfied with the principles that would guide those discussions.

"What has to inform that is the principles of the word of God because it is God who created us, and He has given us the guideline of best wisdom on how society is to function if society is going to become prosperous," Miller told The Gleaner.

The Reverend Lenworth Anglin, head of an umbrella church group that represents more than 90 per cent of churches, and other church leaders, declined to comment, saying they wanted to hear the full context of Osborne's speech.

Osborne, in defending TVJ's decision not to air an advertisement produced by gay-rights group J-FLAG encouraging families to accept relatives who are gay, suggested that the time was right for Jamaica to start a "conversation" about bigotry, injustice, and intolerance.

Declined to elaborate

Pressed after her address at the Jamaica Public Service & Partners Co-op Credit Union's 2011 Scholarship Awards Luncheon at the Knutsford Court Hotel, Osborne declined to elaborate on what group would be the focus of this "conversation".

She, however, confirmed that the $500,000 advertisement campaign, which J-FLAG wanted aired during prime time, was turned down by TVJ's parent company, RJR Communications Group, which felt it had to "respect and value the attitudes and values of our society".

"And the attitudes and values in our society at this time could not support the broadcast of that prime time advertising campaign," she said.

The TVJ general manager charged that Jamaica faced an "insidious" form of intolerance.

"A form of bigotry that is deeply rooted in our culture," she asserted.

Arguing that intolerance sustained the holocaust, slavery and apartheid, Osborne said the dialogue required in Jamaica must be among "stakeholders" who value and respect the position of "people on the other side".

Miller, in explaining why he would not be opposed to this dialogue, said it was important for any society to be clear on its values and attitudes.

"When it is murky and unclear, then confusion and uncertainty exist," he said.