Repulsive Words from Dayton Avenue Church of God

The Jamaica Observer
July 11, 2006

This newspaper would not use the rantings of one church leader to judge the moral conscience of Jamaica's Christian community. In fact, while we maintain that people's spirituality cannot and shouldn't be measured by the hours they spend attending church, we are also well aware that the majority of Jamaicans who do meet for worship and fellowship weekly are decent human beings.

We were therefore appalled at the repulsive comments made in prayer at the Dayton Avenue Church of God on Sunday and reported in yesterday's edition of the Observer.

Our story reported a church elder as castigating members of her congregation who, she claimed, leaked to the Press information of a deacon's alleged involvement in the sexual assault of a schoolgirl by a group of boys.

This church leader, claiming that she was delivering God's words, said God would deal with those who betrayed the church by revealing the incident.

She also claimed that God was lamenting that the church had allowed unbelievers to deal with His people, and she questioned the reason for the police detaining the deacon during the course of their investigation.

The church elder also berated the Press for reporting the incident, and accused the media of blowing the story out of proportion thereby causing the deacon to be victimised, she said. She also claimed that the name of the church was besmirched by the "informers" and the media.

It is our belief that church leaders have a responsibility to provide their flock with proper guidance and to encourage them to respect the rule of law, both secular and spiritual. However, this elder of the Dayton Avenue Church of God seems to have a different idea of her role and has, quite frankly, done more harm to her church than she can ever imagine.

Her obdurate disregard for the seriousness of the allegation against her deacon has not only raised questions about her ability to lead people, but has also painted her as a callous apologist who would prefer that the law not take its course.

This church elder also adopted the age-old tactic of attacking the messenger instead of dealing with the message. But we are accustomed to that and can assure her and others who will wish to do so in the future that we will not resile from our responsibility to inform the public.

If it is that the officers of the Dayton Avenue Church of God have investigated the matter relating to their deacon and have information that they believe will help his case, it is their responsibility to talk to the police and, if the deacon is charged, present that information in court.

What the Dayton Avenue Church of God elder does not have the right to do is try this case from the pulpit.


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