Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, has extended best wishes to the Baptist community on the occasion of Shouter Baptist Liberation Day on Thursday.
Persad-Bissessar was a member of the Panday Cabinet which took the decision to award the baptist community a public holiday.
The following is her message:
“On behalf of the Opposition and my family, I extend greetings to the entire Spiritual Shouter Baptist Community as we commemorate and celebrate Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day 2017.
The Spiritual Shouter Baptist community is now an integral part of our multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, and we recognize their significant contributions to national development. Their struggle for freedom of worship has been a long and arduous one, but they endured. When faced with oppression and discrimination they never lost faith or hope.
To the many who have contributed to the faith we owe our gratitude. I make special mention of Bishop Elton George Griffith and Archbishop Barbara Burke for their role in helping to uplift the community.
When the Spiritual Baptists were fighting for the freedom to practice their religion, they were confronted by many challenges from the State. I am proud to have been part of the Panday government which took the bold step of awarding the national holiday we celebrate today. I am also proud to have led a government which delivered State-supported education and teaching facilities for children and young people of the faith.
There are many lessons to be learnt from the Spiritual Shouter Baptists.
Inspiration in overcoming challenge
The unwavering resolve of the members of the Spiritual Shouter Baptist community to persevere and thrive is remarkable. Today, we can look to Spiritual Shouter Baptists for inspiration in overcoming societal challenges and forging a future that emphasizes resilience, visioning, spirituality and success, as we deal with the problems affecting all citizens, including rising crime, inadequate healthcare, and increasing unemployment.
Rights to freedom of religion.
As we join in celebration of the freedom of the Spiritual Shouter Baptist community amidst the attempts by some to curtail rights and freedoms, we stand to be reminded of the struggles of the Shouter Baptists to gain the rights of freedom of conscience and religious belief and observance which became enshrined in our Constitution. We must, like them, never ever give up the fight to continue to uphold these sacred constitutional rights.
There is another important lesson we can learn from the Spiritual Shouter Baptists, that of the importance of community – that when we stand together and work together, we can make a difference in our country. Indeed, this is the only way we can bring about positive change in our society, by standing united and making a concerted effort to deal with the problems facing us.
I urge all citizens, as we mark Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day 2017, to reflect on the struggle and strength of the members of this community, and to continue to keep hope alive even in the face of adversity.