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'I am no religious hypocrite'

Published:Thursday | March 29, 2012 | 12:00 AM

By Devon Dick

RECENTLY, THE opinion page editor forwarded to me an email from Carolyn Warren which stated, "I would like to congratulate him on his appointment by his party and to let him know that thanks to religious (sic) hypocrites like him this country will never move forward." It is difficult to understand what is being said. It is difficult to understand the hypocritical connection between last week's article encouraging a better treatment of security guards and the Government inviting me to serve as chairman of the Toll Authority.

Additionally, no examples were given to justify the allegation of hypocrite and there was no definition of hypocrisy. There are two definitions of a hypocrite. It could be someone who pretends to have religious beliefs that he or she does not actually possess. I am a Christian and that is my religious belief which informs my world view and actions. Another definition of hypocrite is a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs. With that latter definition Ms Warren is perhaps saying that she is disappointed that after my 21 years of writing a weekly column in which I have been critical of some of the policies and practices of the People's National Party (PNP) government that I have accepted to help in the governance of the country under a PNP administration.

I criticised the size of the Cabinet (January 12, 2012) even though, according to a subsequent Don Anderson poll, most Jamaicans did not share my view. And a couple weeks after that article, I accepted an invitation to conduct devotions at the Cabinet meeting. Perhaps she sees that as hypocrisy. However, while I hold such views of the Cabinet size, I hold no hard feelings towards members of the Cabinet, hence I felt it was appropriate to share the Word of God with them and pray that they will lead creditably, compassionately and competently.

Some time ago, I criticised then Prime Minister P.J. Patterson when he appointed Carl Rattray as president of the Court of Appeal. And today, all said, Rattray performed with distinction. I have also unfairly criticised Patterson, claiming that he did not stand up for former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Having been critical of some of the policies and practices of the PNP government, does that make me a religious hypocrite because I have accepted to serve the country of my birth?

Other hypocrites?

There are persons such as Zein Issa (Jamaica Tourist Board), Saleem Lazarus (CHASE Fund) and James Moss-Solomon, who served under the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and are now serving under a PNP administration. Danville Walker, former director of elections, ran as a candidate for the JLP. Does that make him and others who serve both administrations hypocrites?

Jesus was scathing in criticism of religious hypocrites. In Matthew 23:13, he says "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces." Jesus' tirade against the ecclesiastical establishment was due to the fact they prevent persons from entering the kingdom of God due to teaching false doctrines concerning the Messiah. They were also into an observance of their traditions which enslaved under the law rather than liberate under Grace. Hence, they were preventing many from becoming his followers. I have been encouraging, for the last 26 years, persons to have a relationship with God as revealed in Jesus the Christ.

As we approach the season remembering the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, it is good to remember that I am not perfect and Jesus died on behalf of my sins. Additionally, hypocrites can speak the truth even when their lifestyles do not embody the truth. Therefore, heed the message even if the messenger is not perfect.

Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. Send comments to columns@gleanerjm.com.