MP argues against clergy taking part in elective politics

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The Member of Parliament (MP) for the St George Constituency, Dean Jonas, has warned that partisan political division in congregations across Antigua & Barbuda would result if ministers of religion are allowed to take up elective politics.
This is contrary to the view of some people in the society who remain adamant they should be allowed so to do.
Jonas said that “politics is about division” and argued that he could not see “why any pastor would want to get involved” as the roles of the religious and the political institutions were “completely different”.
 “If I were a pastor of a church and my church members were against me politically, then you could see how awkward that would be in the church. It would politicise the congregation and create a lot of situations where I would not be able to properly run that church,” he said.
Jonas was in contention with others who joined him on Sunday’s Big Issues discussion on the role of the church in criticising the policies of the Government of Antigua & Barbuda or even helping to shape them.
Opposition Senator, and General Secretary of the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) Shawn Nicholas said she did not see the separation of church and state as “vital”.
 “I personally don’t. As a citizen, I think that if they so choose there is room for them and even if it is one clergy person in a slate of 16 or 17, it adds value,” Nicholas said.
However the senator was unwilling to say that religious leaders from faiths other than Christianity should be allowed a similar opportunity to serve the state. Her reasoning was that Antigua & Barbuda was “a Christian society” and “until that changes my argument will be for someone of the Christian faith”.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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