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Freeport's 50th Anniversary WITHOUT Junkanoo?
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Page 1 of 1Total of 1 messages
Posted by:Jul 22nd 2005, 07:58:33 pm
Fig Tree News TeamFrom the Freeport News:

Religious hypocrisy or what?

It is difficult to understand why the Rev. Dr. John C. Wallace, pastor of the New Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Holmes Rock, Grand Bahama, decided to wage a campaign against the massive junkanoo parade that will take place in Grand Bahama as part of the Grand Bahama Port Authority's 50th anniversary celebration of the signing of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement.

Rev. Wallace, immediate past president of the Grand Bahama Christian Council, issued a press statement on July 13 claiming that the "Grand Bahama Christian community was shocked when learning of the event dubbed 'Junkanoo — Feel The Rush' scheduled to be held downtown Freeport on Sunday, July 31, 2005."

"How in the name of God could a people who call themselves Christians be partakers of such a devilish cultural event on a Sunday, the day set aside for Christian worship," Rev. Wallace said in his release. "I am calling on

the Grand Bahama Port Authority, CQ Seating, all other corporate partners involved, the organisers, and participants to choose another day of the week for this event, for it will only bring further desecration to our Christian day of worship."

To further underscore his point, Rev. Wallace added: "Sundays are special to Christians, for it is a time when Christian families get together in fellowship with the saints at their designated places of worship, and we are

not prepared to stand idly by and allow the likes of 'The Superstar Saxons, Valley Boys, Roots, Sting and others to interfere with this sacred day set aside for worshipping our God."

Such a condemnation from Rev. Wallace would have been worth taking note of had he still been president of the Grand Bahama Christian Council, for the conclusion surely could have been reached that he was indeed speaking on behalf of the Christian community of Grand Bahama.

But the fact of the matter is that before they decided on the date to hold the event, the organisers of the Junkanoo parade met with the current president of the GB Christian Council, Bishop Ricardo Grant, pastor of

Universal Household of Faith in Hawksbill, and he "did not see any problem with it," Bishop Grant confirmed on Thursday.

Certainly, Bishop Grant is in a far better position to speak on behalf of Grand Bahama's Christian community than Rev. Wallace is. When Bishop Grant replaced Rev. Wallace as president of the Grand Bahama Christian Council two years ago, for various reasons — including the fact that many local church leaders have strong political views and make very little effort to disguise their political affiliation — only an estimated 45 of the 168 churches in Grand Bahama were members of the council. Today, the council's membership has increased to more than 70, and that's primarily due to Bishop Grant's noticeably different style of leadership.

What is even more perplexing, however, is Rev. Wallace's description of Junkanoo as a "devilish cultural event" and his claim that holding the parade on a Sunday "will only bring further desecration to our Christian day of worship."

True, Sunday is no longer observed as reverently in The Bahamas as it used to be in yesteryear. Over the years, the religious veneer camouflaging Sunday as a holy day gradually became less and less of a reason for many Bahamians to not attend or participate in their favourite sporting event, go shopping or do some of the other fun things that their parents would have considered to be manifestations of the temptation of the devil.

In the case of Junkanoo, however, Bahamians generally like to boast of it as being the foremost cultural expression of The Bahamas, and there surely can't be anything devilish about a people wanting to express their culture on any given day of the week.

Is it the pulsating sound of the music or the dancing that Rev. Wallace considers to be "devilish?" There is absolutely nothing devilish about the immense God-given talent that goes into making the exciting sound of

Junkanoo and the physical expressions of participants to the music.

Surely, there are many "sisters" in some of our Baptist churches who have far more expressive and suggestive moves when the "Spirit" hits them than Saxon's leader Vola Francis or the off-the-shoulder dancers of One Family Junkanoo Group have during a junkanoo parade. What's more, parades with marching bands on Sundays are a celebratory feature of some churches — the Church of God, for example — but no doubt Rev. Wallace will classify this as making a joyful sound unto the Lord.

Rev. Wallace's reaction to the announcement of the parade may very well be a result of him not fully understanding or appreciating the importance of the celebration that the Junkanoo parade is a part of. The Grand Bahama Port Authority certainly has every reason to be immensely pleased with the growth of Freeport as a city since it was first conceived by Wallace Groves in the 1950s when the land on which the city was developed was a pine forest.

It is extremely difficult to imagine what The Bahamas would be like today had Mr. Groves' dream not been realised. The fact that Freeport today is the second most populous city in The Bahamas — a city that I have on occasion described as "the best place on Planet Earth to live —the celebration of its 50th birthday must and should be recognized something special.

It would have been almost criminal if that celebration did not include a demonstration of the premier cultural expression of The Bahamas performed at the highest level. That's precisely what has been planned for July 31, and the logistics of bringing to Freeport huge contingents of performers from three of the major groups that participate in the Boxing Day and New Year's Day parades in New Providence dictated that the parade had to be held on a Sunday.

There was no intent at all to desecrate Sunday, and certainly, the God that I serve as a devout Catholic — a God who is all-knowing and understanding — will not bring down his wrath on the performers in that parade based on Rev. Wallace's interpretation of it being a "devilish cultural event."

Rather than continually fuelling controversy by speaking out against one cause or the other supposedly to keep their names in the limelight, Rev. Wallace and numerous other religious leaders in this country need to redirect some of their efforts to establishing meaningful programmes to address some of the really pressing problems in this country.

They are known to pontificate piously about the need for organised efforts to combat crime and drug abuse, especially among our youth, but rather than direct a portion of their tithes towards doing something to help these

troubled youngsters, many of them prefer to invest in huge edifices that serve primarily as monuments to their own egos.

That's religious hypocrisy of the highest order.

Oswald T. Brown is editor and general manager of The Freeport News. Comments on this column can be sent to

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