St. Vincent and the Grenadines is so Christian – in profession if not in practice – that although it is not a theocracy, its Constitution proudly boasts that the multi-island nation is “founded on the belief in the supremacy of God…”
It is therefore no surprise that religion is often a speaking point on many political platforms.
Campaign rallies often open and close with prayer, but, as social commentator Jomo Thomas said on IKTV on Nov. 14, “Our politicians and their propagandists have reached a new low.
“They invoke the name of God to start their meetings. They then proceed to curse their opponents in the worse way for the next three hours then ask for God’s blessings and good graces as they and their supporters journey home after the cuss out.”
Also on Nov. 14, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, in announcing the Dec. 13 polls, said he had chosen the date “after prayerful reflection”.
Gonsalves quoted the Psalms while telling his supporters that he was not upstaged by opposition leader Arnhim Eustace.
Eustace had told supporters of his New Democratic Party (NDP) the night before that Vincentians, will vote on Dec 15.
But photographs of his speech suggest that Dec 15 was so deeply ingrained in the Prime Minister’s subconscious that he penned in the election date as “Monday December 15th” and not “Monday December 13th” as he intended.
The erroneous date was also sent to the media by Gonsalves’ Communications Consultant Elson Crick who said his boss never wrote December 15th, although photographs by two different professionals proved otherwise.
But Gonsalves, notwithstanding his quoting the Psalms while announcing the election date, and his frequent employ of the Scriptures on his party’s platform, is highly unlikely to get the Cordon Bleu for religious faux pas so far this campaign season.
Former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell told supporter of the NDP that he does not trust “even Jesus Christ” when it comes to an election.
He later withdrew the statement and apologised for it but subsequently referred to God as not being bright enough to pass retroactive legislation.
Hurricane Tomas, an act of nature, has been interpreted by some, on both sides of the political divide, as a sign from God (who, by the way, is also “a Vincentian”) about how electors should mark their ballots.
Depending on who you ask, the storm has emphasized the effectiveness and efficiency and at the same time exposed the wicked and discriminatory nature of Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party (ULP).
“I truly believe that God is going to give the NDP the victory come next election. I believe we will overcome the tyranny of the ULP,” firebrand public servant Anesia Baptise said at a recent NDP meeting.
But Thomas had also warned us in his Nov. 14 commentary that we would be wasting our time “if you listen to a political meeting expecting to hear plans and programs for the development of our country”.
“Rest assured that the opposition will be demonized by the ruling party and the Prime minister and his government will be painted as the devil and his imps,” Thomas said.
“But the political elite is not done. We are sinking even deeper into unnreason. Now God has taken political sides,” Thomas had warned then.
Thankfully, social commentator and historian Dr. Adrian Fraser reminded us last week that this is the “silly season”.
Maybe our religious leaders should tell the political parties and their operatives the truth: God does not have a ballot.
If He did, He probably wouldn’t vote.