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'Take a stand, Jamaica!'

Published:Monday | March 21, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Pastor demands action against political corruption

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

A prominent religious leader has challenged young Jamaicans to rise up against what he characterised as the unacceptable path being pursued by the Government in the Manatt-Dudus commission of enquiry as well as other unwholesome elements of society.

"Stand up and be counted; it is now time to act," declared the Reverend Courtney Richards, international director of Renewed Mission, who is based in the Eastern Caribbean.

Richards warned that Jamaica was sinking deeper and deeper into a moral abyss.

He argued that the young people of the country need to spearhead the rescue effort.

"The country is morally bankrupt ... . Jamaica has descended into chaos and wickedness," Richards asserted, as he delivered a sermon at the Portmore Gospel Assembly in St Catherine yesterday.

Richards was not amused by the behaviour of government ministers who testified at the enquiry and raised eyebrows at Golding's relationship with alleged drug dealer Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

Richards said people in the Eastern Caribbean are baffled that the Jamaican prime minister could be so close to a known don.

Golding told the commission on Friday that Coke enjoyed don status and was held in considerable esteem by many in Tivoli Gardens, particularly the young.

Richards, who is on a visit, said everywhere he goes, Jamaicans seem to be agitated about the state of affairs.

He said that based on the comments and criticisms everywhere, Jamaicans are cynical about the outcome of the enquiry as the testimonies seem to harmonise with political lines rather than the truth.

Richards claimed that Jamaicans appear to be mystified by Justice Minister Dorothy Lightbourne's seeming lack of knowledge of her portfolio, and taken aback by National Security Minister Dwight Nelson's pronouncements of "I can't recall".

Arise from comfort zone

Declaring that the structure of Jamaica and the Parliament are corrupt, Richards lamented that most people are protecting their interests instead of doing what is right.

Church organisations were not spared by Richards.

He sternly challenged church members, particularly the young, to arise from their comfort zones to take on the causes of the ills of society.

"Some of us are no better than the people in the world ... . If God is to bring change to Jamaica and the Caribbean, young people will have to step up to the plate or your children will inherit a country where there is hell to pay," said Richards.

He warned that the country's woes could only be resolved by revival or revolution.

The visiting clergyman also cautioned that death is accompanied by revolution and conversion by revival.

"With revolution, there is dying, and with revival, there is confession," he stressed.

He said the fight against the ills of the Government should not be relinquished to 'women in the media' or civil society in clear reference to the public conduct of South West St Catherine Member of Parliament Everald Warmington, who has a reputation of verbally abusing others.

"The Church is silent because you will have to embrace what you don't want to," said Richards.

The pastor contended that the abject state of the country is evident in the popularity of the controversial dancehall entertainers Vybz Kartel and Mavado.

"When you have a Vybz Kartel as the icon of the entertainment industry, something is terribly wrong," he declared.

"Stand up and be counted," Richards asserted.

"If you are not a part of the solution, then you are a part of the problem," the fiery pastor added.

'... If God is to bring change to Jamaica and the Caribbean, young people will have to step up to the plate or your children will inherit a country where there is hell to pay.'