I see from the ‘PLP blog’ that the Government has named the chairman of the so called ‘Clergy Against Crime.’ The lucky candidate is one Pastor Damon Hendrickson. I have attempted to search for the actual government press release that I assume the PLP blog is quoting from but can’t seem to find it from here – readers feel free to post the appropriate link if you know of it.
The striking thing about the Clergy Against Crime in both this press release and its original mention in the Premier’s ‘roadmap’ speech in the wake of Kellon Hill’s murder and the drive-by shootings shortly before I left is that its really not at all clear what its function is.
I am very suspicious of any union of Church and State, and as such I am particularly wary of what this development means. The implications that I get from it are very worrying. To me it seems to be sending a message that the cause of rising crime is due to a crisis of religious belief (in particular Christian belief), and that in order to reduce crime we must strengthen Christian belief in Bermuda. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but without clarifying the role and scope of this Clergy Against Crime it does leave it open to intepretation.
I know that the PLP blog blurb states such nice sounding but meaningless rhetoric to the effect that: ‘…faith communities play a critical role in the lives of so many of our young people. And, it’s important to engage with our partners, listen to them and work together on preventative programmes that will set our young people on the right path.’ – But what exactly does that mean? What is the right path? Is it Christian belief? And what kind of Christian belief? Does this mean a socially conservative agenda of rolling back sex education, strengthening the role of Church and sermonising in our public education system (where it has no business being in the first place)? Does it mean a push towards preparing the ground for a return to corporal punishment – or capital punishment for that matter?
All citizens of whatever Christian denomination, and especially non-Christian citizens should hold this initiative with extreme suspicion.
I’m not denying that currently in our society religion is very prominent in large sections of the population. I personally think Sunday Schools and other forms of religious indoctrination are wrong and leads to indoctrination into ones faith rather than critical approaches to spirituality. I have more respect for the person who critically approaches spirituality and adopts the religion or philsophical position based on such than the person who is religion X on the basis of being born into and idoctrinated into such religion.
I’m sure that this Clergy Against Crime and its new Chairman are well-intentioned individuals and policies, but we all know that old adage of the road to hell being paved with good intentions.
This Committee and what its scope and role will be needs to be elaborated on, and quite frankly I think there are a lot better ways of dealing with rising crime than this.