Neburn Thaffe, Gleaner Writer
At least one local clergyman is demanding more, despite a recent announcement by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) that the Church, through the Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches, is to be given an official seat at election centres in the next general election.
Yesterday, Reverend Devon Dick, pastor at the Boulevard Baptist Church, said that the Church must not only be called upon to take part in electoral matters, but also matters related to policy making.
"We must have a role not only to sit at the election centres, but to be at the centre of policies that will affect Jamaican citizens," Dick told churchgoers gathered for yesterday's service at Boulevard Baptist.
The election centre is the official space that allows representatives of the major political parties, the security forces, international and local observers, and other officials to meet to exchange information, coordinate activities, and engage in problem solving.
"One would have thought that the key role would have been for the churches to lobby political parties to significantly enhance transparency, competition, and accountability in public contracting in Jamaica to see that people comply with government procurement procedures and guidelines," Dick said.
Yesterday, General Secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union, Karl Johnson, had a different perspective on the move by the ECJ.
Johnson said the move was commendable and the Church should seize the opportunity.
"My view is that we must use all the means necessary to influence policy making, and this is one way in which we can do this," he said.
"We have always made ourselves available on election day, so this is not anything new for us."