Muslims, Rastas not on Prayer Breakfast menu
Sakina Brown, Gleaner Intern
As the annual National Prayer Breakfast enters its 35th staging today, the praises and criticisms that accompanied it from the start have continued with consistent energy.
"Cockroach nuh business inna fowl fight," quipped M. Muhammad, a member of the Islamic Council of Jamaica, as he gave his take on the exclusion of the Muslim community from the event. "This doesn't carry any weight because it is just a show on TV, as it does not include other religious faiths."
Contrastingly, Maxine Stowe, a consultant for the Rastafari Millennium Council, has no problem with being excluded.
"I do not think that Rastafarians should be invited to this annual event as it would be hypocritical, based on history. In the context of Jamaican society, Rastafarians are not recognised in any fundamental way," Stowe argued.
For her, however, there is a lot for which to pray. She also expressed the view that staging of the event signals the maturity of the nation's leaders to seek guidance from a higher power.
"We (Rastafarians) are in constant prayer for a more humane world and I am fully aware that every religious group prays," said Stowe.
For Gibbo, a self-proclaimed atheist: "I am not a religious person, but almost every time after the prayer breakfast, the economy gets worst and so does crime."
But Muhammad finds it painfully discouraging to speak about the failure to invite Muslim leaders to be a part of the event. He noted that despite the noticeable exclusion, there are other religious groups in Jamaica, including Jews, Hindus and Rastafarians.
However, Rev Conrad Pitkin, president of the Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches has countered that the event is not an interface movement.
"To the best of my knowledge, it is an event put on and sponsored by the Church," he said.
Added Pitkin: "It is a time and occasion where business, church and national leaders come together in a time of trial."
The main aim is to foster greater unity in the nation, with focus on cultivating unity among the country's leaders with prayer and fellowship.
This year's speaker will be Rev. Everton Jackson, pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church in Montego Bay.