Sunday, April 21, 2024

BC’s BDOS: Muslim nation


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PLANET EARTH is 4.5 billion years old and women are equal to men. These statements are both simple, unavoidable, undeniable facts and the latter is also a matter of law.
Yet, in a liberal democracy – which is what Barbados is, as a nation, regardless of what Barbadians may be, as individuals ­– citizens have a constitutional right to believe what they please, including believing in Hell itself, a most unlikely concoction of Eastern thought. (The Devil himself did not exist in the West before 600 BCE, when he was likely invented by Persian clergy.)  
If their faith or superstitions instruct them, people may wholeheartedly believe the Earth is flat, as Catholics did until shamefully recently, or the WWII ruler of a North African country was the Messiah, as Rastafarians do today. People may simultaneously believe the law of gravity is a myth and demons are real.
But no amount of belief can change a fact.
And the fact is, belief is, by definition, irrational, and has no place in rational discussion. Atheism, like belief, seems also to require a leap of faith. The ethical, scientific requirement seems to be agnosticism: the declaration that it is impossible to know of a god or afterlife and to get on with this life and make what good we can of it.
No belief, no matter how fervently or widely held, should form the basis of policy-making or even debate in any democracy, whose great attribute is its protection of minority views. If public policy sprang from private belief, Bajan hotels might have to be prevented by the criminal law from serving visitors shrimp cocktail, lest they displease someone’s version of god; and adulterers would have to be stoned to death – certainly, the female ones.
Peter Wickham’s column last Sunday correctly took this newspaper to task for an April Editorial which, while claiming to respect atheists, labelled them “base and ignoble”. He should have gone farther and challenged The Nation to serve the nation by abandoning all forms of religion altogether in its Editorial.
There are only three choices available to a state regarding religion: to officially embrace none, one, or all. In Trinidad, they wrestle with giving every god his due and his public holiday and the practical result
is the lengthening of every official opening by many different, equally irrelevant prayers.
The Nation should concede that Barbados is no longer a Christian nation, if ever it were (for Christ would surely denounce any place that consigned the bulk of its population to slavery).
Even though it only raised it to dismiss it, the same Editorial framed the proper question a modern democracy should ask itself, and the challenge a responsible paper should set itself: how do we find meaning without some form of god? The truth, and the fact, is we may only find that meaning via a united search on common human ground.
Even if The Nation wanted a Christian nation, it should editorially avoid religion; because, if young, unemployed black West Indian men – simultaneously our greatest problem and resource – find relevance in any faith today, it is likely to be in militant Islam. Does The Nation want that for the nation?
 Everyone has to believe in something and BC Pires believes it’s time for a drink. Email your sermons on the Mount Gilboa to him at


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