President: Follow Spiritual Baptists’ response to injustices

President Christine Kangaloo. - File photo by Angelo Marcelle
President Christine Kangaloo. - File photo by Angelo Marcelle

Injustice can bring out the worst in people and, in rare cases, can bring out the best in people, said President Christine Kangaloo, who cited the Spiritual Baptist community as an example of the latter.

On March 28, in her message on Spiritual Baptist Liberation Shouter Day 2024, which is celebrated on March 30, Kangaloo said injustice is the mother of many ills. She added it can give rise to debilitating frustration; it can give rise to unbridled anger.

“The Spiritual Baptist community affords one of the greatest examples of injustice bringing out the best in ourselves,” she said.

She recalled that on November 16, 1917, an unspeakable injustice in the form of the Shouters Prohibition Ordinance was perpetrated against this religious community.

The discriminatory ban prohibited members from congregating, erecting a place of worship, or practicing their religious beliefs. Kangaloo said the colonial authorities sought to sugar-coat this injustice as an effort to reduce the disturbance to public order caused by the shouting and bell-ringing characteristic of Spiritual Baptist gatherings.

She said that contrivance did not daunt the Spiritual Baptist community and they recognised the injustice for what it was.

“Yet, rather than allowing that injustice to erupt into either debilitating frustration or unbridled anger, they turned their efforts within, committed themselves all the more to their beliefs and their aspirations, and, for the next 34 years, put on one of the most extraordinary displays of courage, resilience, and determination in modern history,” Kangaloo said.

“In so doing, the Spiritual Baptist community set an example that has inspired and encouraged generations of Trinbagonians.”

She said by sticking to their religious principles, the Spiritual Baptist community resisted and endured.

Their faithfulness and resolve were rewarded when the Ordinance was repealed on March 30, 1951. They formally won the right that was always theirs to practice their religion with freedom and dignity.

“It would be foolhardy to pretend that there is no injustice in our society today. Today’s injustices might be more subtle than the overt and naked prejudice shown by the colonial authorities in 1917,” Kangaloo said.

“But in many ways, they are no less painful or any less destructive. Today, as we grapple with injustices in our own lives, we, too, are called upon to resist and to endure. We are called upon to emulate the example of the Spiritual Baptist community.”

As the country celebrates the holiday this year, she called on people to let it be more than a reminder of the injustices suffered by Spiritual Baptists.

“Let us celebrate the occasion as a testament to the importance of perseverance and steadfastness during times of trial and tribulation. Let us see the occasion as a celebration of our ability to resist, endure, and secure freedom from oppression,”

Kangaloo said. “Let us celebrate it as a demonstration of the possibilities that unfold when we stand firm and fight for what we believe in. The response of the Spiritual Baptist community to injustice is a blueprint for everyone to follow.”

She added it is a reminder of people’s duty to identify and call out injustices when and where people see them. Fighting injustice is a shared responsibility. The President said it means fighting not just for one’s liberation from injustice but also for the rights of “our brothers and sisters.”

Kangaloo called on people to take up the mantle that the Spiritual Baptist community has forged.

“Let us fight for one another. Let us fight to make our beloved country a better place for us all to live in,” she added.


"President: Follow Spiritual Baptists’ response to injustices"

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