Some religious leaders have expressed solidarity with the government’s latest Public Health Regulations but the Full Gospel and Independent Churches of T&T has lashed out saying the Prime Minister does not have the spiritual authority to close places of worship.
During an interview with Guardian Media, spokesperson Dr Wayne Haywood said the churches were never consulted and if the regulations are allowed to continue for the next three weeks, “many churches will die.”
“It is not fair. We are governed by the laws of the land as it pertains to how we operate but when it comes to the spiritual aspect of the church, the Prime Minister does not have that authority to close down churches,” Dr Haywood said.
He added, “ None of the spiritual leaders was consulted before the decision was taken. The impact of this was that as of last year, the church was divided. The Church lost membership and some have not returned to the church since last year with the last lockdown. It is not fair. I come today as David to speak against Goliath. Or I come as Daniel...Daniel had to defy the King’s decree when he was told he cannot pray.”
Dr Haywood denied that the virus has been spreading because of irresponsible behaviour in places of worship.
When told that the Roman Catholic Church had admitted to having infections within the congregation, Dr Haywood said, “No, congregating in a Church is not spreading the virus. Congregating in zesser parties, on the beach is, but not in the Church. The Church is an essential service. People come to renew and rejuvenate. It is a form of therapy.”
But leaders from other places of worship say they will abide by the regulations.
The public relations officer of the ASJA Raffaic Mohammed in a virtual press conference told Muslims to abide by the latest Public Health regulations.
“We are currently in the Holy month of Ramadan. I wish to advise that public gathering is not allowed by the law. We will abide by these guidelines as responsible citizens. As such there will be no public gatherings, masjids are now closed,” Imam Mohammed said.
Admitting that many Muslims were emotional at this time, Imam Mohammed said, “If we really care for our masjid and our country, we will spend time in seclusion.”
Meanwhile, in a Facebook message to his fold, Roman Catholic Archbishop Jason Gordon urged people to abide by the rules and stay at home.
Saying the numbers released by the government was “the tip of the iceberg”, Gordon said, “There are people who are infecting others. Then we have the Brazillian variant. This is the moment when we pull back. Let us not meet for dinners, birthday parties. Let us hold for now and stay in our little bubbles. Let us act to protect each other because we have seen what happened in India.”
The latest regulations are in place until May 23.