Thu | Nov 15, 2018

Crawford needs to bridle his tongue

Published:Tuesday | August 19, 2014 | 12:00 AM


MP and Junior Minister Damion Crawford took a lot of heat recently for blasting non-believers and blaming them for Jamaica's woes. Crawford made the remarks chastising atheism and agnosticism, while preaching about Jamaica's relationship with God at an Independence function in Canada.

He went on to suggest that many Jamaicans were not pleasing God by the way they lived, and served notice that he answers to no man as far as his religious convictions go.

Now, if this was elsewhere, Crawford's comments might've actually forced him to resign. This was neither the place, nor the platform, to preach his personal religious views to an audience who came out to celebrate the country's 52nd Independence anniversary!

We have to start taking responsibility for ourselves, which is the very basis of being independent. Religion is an integral part of our culture that helps to enrich lives and keep many of us grounded. However, there are also extremes, and we cannot use religion to manipulate minds, or create panic and confusion.

Government should always keep its business separate and apart from religion. We have to be respectful of all beliefs. This should also include non-believers. There are many intelligent persons out there, some with PhDs, who are atheists, and some could argue for days intellectually why they don't believe.

Minister Crawford, like every other politician, every Jamaican, is entitled to his religious faith. But this was not why he was elected, nor is it part of his mandate or public duties for which he is now being paid.

As a politician, a public servant, he should be mindful of what he says while serving in the capacity as a politician. This is where he erred. There are reasons why organisations and their employees generally strive to remain as neutral as possible when it comes to polarising topics such as politics and religion. They do this so as not to offend, embarrass or cause unnecessary conflicts which could tarnish their image and even affect their bottom line - profits!

Likewise, an MP is elected, or a minister is selected, to serve in a public capacity, not to preach any particular religious view. Every public figure has a sense of responsibility, which includes public statements.