Governance by God…no less

By Raffique Shah
March 07, 2010

Prime Minister Patrick ManningIf Prime Minister Patrick Manning’s brimstone-and-fire like sermon in Parliament two Fridays ago was reflective of the normal behaviour of Born-Again-Whatever, then I thank the Lord (if She exists) for saving me from the darkness that envelops such tortured souls, for allowing me to see the light of rational thinking at a very early age in my life.

Readers know I am agnostic. They do not know how I came around to adopting life-without-religion. I was born a Muslim and rather enjoyed my boyhood days attending prayers and celebrations that were far fewer than what obtain nowadays. There were some good imams back then, men like who lived the humble lives they preached, never seeking personal benefits or enrichment at the expense of their ‘jamaats’. Their simple lifestyles mirrored those of Christ, Muhammad and Buddha, to name a few of the revered prophets, when they walked the earth.

As I grew older and was exposed to broader thinking and theories on how the universe started-I was fortunate to be in England when philosopher Bertrand Russel still voiced his controversial views in newspapers-I started questioning religion, dogma and faith.

There was also the issue of imams and priests who were some of the worst crooks I knew. One imam sold lands to people without giving the purchasers deeds. A high-profiled Catholic priest took the biblical injunction ‘go forth and multiply’ quite literally. Yet another had homosexual relations with boys entrusted to him, and when I exposed him I was subjected to a most vitriolic attack. He was later banished to Ireland where he must still be doing penance!

But because of my upbringing, I also learned to respect people’s religions, their rights to their beliefs. In fact, unlike many agnostics and atheists, I do not denigrate religious persons because we may disagree on fundamental issues. In fact, those who will have seen me at funerals would attest that I sing hymns loudest (I love many Christian songs), I know more than a few ‘bhajans’, and I can even croon out some ‘quasedas’ (Muslim songs of praise). When I am in a place of worship, I bow my head in obeisance while the faithful pray.

Having established my bona fides, I return to Mr Manning’s crass display of how a born-again Christian conducts himself in public or even in the sanctums of their places of worship. The queries that triggered his fulminations were valid. The media and members of the opposition in Parliament wanted to know how a church that may well have less than ten members got government to lease it four acres of state lands. How, too, did a Chinese company (whose workers, more than likely, are all atheists!) that was brought into the country by the Government, land a ‘private’ contract to build what looks like a palatial-church? And were taxpayers’ funds allocated to this $30 million project?

Mr Manning could have simply gone to the House and answered these questions in two minutes. Instead, interpreting public concerns over a private project to be ‘religious persecution’, the PM went into a tirade that sounded more like Satan spewing fire than God bestowing blessings. And as if Mr Manning’s 50-minutes of calling on the wrath of God to smite his ‘enemies’ were not enough, the desk-thumping from his acolytes created a din far worse than a devil-band on jouvert morning.

Indeed, when I watched the fire in Minister Marlene McDonald’s eyes and her extra-vigorous banging on her desk, I thought this was a woman possessed. The PM called hell and damnation on journalists who were only doing their jobs. Is what Christianity, born-again or any other strain, is all about?

Does the bible say that Christians must cover up corruption, if such was the case? If these are the tenets of the Pentecostal Church, then we have many more sinners-in-pews than this lonely scribe who long thought I was among a handful of those destined for Hell.

I turn to televangelist Pat Robertson, one of the leading Pentecostals in the world. Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Robertson ascribed human suffering in that country to its ‘voodoo religion’. Does Mr Manning concur with Robertson? If he does, why did he try to visit ‘voodoo-land’ in the immediate aftermath of the quake? Can he tell us what kind of ‘voodoo’ is practised in Chile that suffered an even greater jolt?

I shall not dwell on the PM admitting that he has a ‘spiritual advisor’. Many religious Trinis also have their ‘spiritual mothers’ (or fathers or gurus). That includes those on the opposition benches and many among the population at large. If people believe that God’s blessings can be dished out like doubles through individuals, some of whom, in the past, have been exposed as frauds or deviants, then so be it.

It is frightening, though, to think that a faceless person of dubious background may be the guiding hand behind our governance, or lack thereof. Is this why most government ministers never listen to the voice of the people since they all follow the voice of God? Little wonder we are going nowhere and seem to be getting there fast. What a thing! What a country!

20 Responses to “Governance by God…no less”


  • PM’s failed holy war by Ken Ali
    Prime Minister Patrick Manning must be grossly disappointed.Manning’s excitable and emotional monologue in Parliament last Friday was doubtlessly aimed at whipping up partisan passion on religious beliefs, an ever-inflammable issue in this land.
    In characteristic high-handed manner that has led critics to decry that portrays hubris syndrome, Manning even damned two journalists, darkly hinting that they could face a “spirit lash.” The hysterical posturing merited either one of two responses: Outrage from a dumbfounded nation or casual dismissal as another frenzied mouthing from the boy who cried wolf. Thankfully, the nation opted for the latter, tired and frustrated at Manning’s fondness for emotive and vacuous uttering when he is under intense public pressure.

    Holy madness by Selwyn Ryan
    I, for example, am not convinced that there was a deliberate strategy to replace a’ racial bogey ’with a ’religious bogey’. This might well have been an unintended ’collateral benefit,’ if indeed it proves to be electorally significant. Mr Manning may have been merely scrambling for something to say that would take him down from his own petard. In doing so, he may well have been ’too clever by half,’ as the English say. He was ’born again’ in 1986 after the NAR’s 33-3 victory, which left him as the defacto successor to Dr Eric Williams. That improbable event convinced him that God had chosen him to lead the party and the country . Manning literally saw halos where before there were none. ’Holy madness’ had been thrust upon him.

    Recalling the divine right of kings by Martin Daly
    The debate intensified following the Prime Minister’s rant postulating that inquiries into the links between a church and religious leader, which he allegedly favours, and the power and influence of the State, with which he is entrusted by the secular process of general election, are improper. Not for the first time, when the Prime Minister speaks, I recall the divine right of kings.

    Church and state By Dana Seetahal
    It took a week for the Prime Minister to respond to MP Jack Warner’s expressions of concern in the House of Representatives, in respect of the church being constructed in the Heights of Guanapo. When the PM did make his hour-long statement, it was not convincing. Referring to himself continually in the third person (a habit which he fails to appreciate could make him the subject of ridicule), the PM sought to attack the media, the Opposition and all those who criticised his relationship with the Lighthouse of the Lord Jesus Christ Church. Claiming that it was akin to religious persecution to challenge his association with the Full Gospel Movement, the PM maintained he had a right to consult whomever he wished for spiritual advice. He admitted that the “Prime Minister was consulting somebody who was an ordained pastor…”

  • There are faceless persons whose residence is as far away as India, whose hidden hands pulled the strings of Government when Panday was at its head. In fact if one were to examine religious influence on Governance around the world, about the least intrusive exist in nations in which the vast majority of the populations are christians. Thus this faddish concern that the Christian “God”‘s hand are at the controls in T&T is not only ludicrous, it is downright biased.

    Like I said, Christians need to peel the cover off of the sacred cows of hypocrisy that inundate discussion on this issue. It is no different than that in which people attempt to present ethnic conflict on a paradigm that the different groups share similar histories of religious and cultural belief systems based on the concept that some groups of humans are genetically superior while others are genitically inferior. It is a premise as false as one that argues that the world is square, and those upon whom the baggage of historical bigotry is being implanted need to vehemently object to that, and illuminate the different belief systems brought to this part of he world by the people who were brought, or who came here.

    • “It is no different than that in which people attempt to present ethnic conflict on a paradigm that the different groups share similar histories of religious and cultural belief systems based on the concept that some groups of humans are genetically superior while others are genetically inferior. It is a premise as false as one that argues that the world is square, and those upon whom the baggage of historical bigotry is being implanted need to vehemently object to that, and illuminate the different belief systems brought to this part of he world by the people who were brought, or who came here.” -Ruel Daniels

      Are you talking about Christianity? Surly you are aware that anyone who has picked up a history book knows that that is the reason why African Muslims and Pagen worshipers were brought to this hemisphere by European Christians. You act as if Christianity is shielded by impenetrable glass even if surrounded by a meteor shower. Almost every major atrocity and human rights violation of the past 1000 or so years came about by self proclaimed Christians.
      Let’s leave religion out of this my friend and separate church from state. Christians don’t need to denigrate and belittle other belief systems in order to obtain what will be provided to them by God. Dui Bu Dui? Excuse me for practicing my Mandarin. Someone has to be able to speak to our new labor class thanks in large part to the PNM.

  • One must understand that Mr.Manning suffers from psychopathic personality disorder,the cardinal features are lack of conscience,no capacity for guilt or remorse and no empathy.His interpersonal style can be described as deceitful and arrogant.He is a master manipulator and pathological liar which are features of psychopathy as well.His links with multiple criminal elements spans many years and he enjoys being in power and contol as the country’s king.As far as I am concerned Mr.Manning is a young soul who has a long way to evolve spiritually.He conveniently and cleverly uses the ‘religion card’ to cover up his tracks.Religion may actually be unhealthy for society as a 2005 study in the journal of religion and society found religious belief to be associated with many societal ills.

  • Give we RUM, give we ROTI, and help we to wash it down with DOTISHNESS !!!!!!!!!
    ” For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” ( 2 Corinthians 10:12 )
    Them Politicians them so wise, they have Wisdom more than God, them people them so Smart they worshiping them as God.
    “What fools do mortals be.”
    All around, the Drama of natural disasters and Death on a daily basis, while we poor Trini’s don’t know of the real world Yet. How long would we buy into their Virtual Reality ? In our Spirit we know Something is Definitely wrong with the world, but yet, we Living in Denial.
    ” Christ himself said: my kingdom is not of this world” for while we saying he is Lord over us, we still fighting for this world !!! What manner of blindness has come upon us ? Some of we are already dead, and we don’t even know it. Blind to facts and Reality- look around, it speaks to us everywhere.

    Peace-

  • Regional corporation CEO transferred
    WINIFRED David, the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation, has been transferred to the Port of Spain City Corporation last week, according to a source who asked not to be named. Two weeks ago, David, in an interview with the Guardian newspaper, spoke about the regional corporation’s intention to serve notice to stop construction work at the controversial church being built in the Heights of Guanapo, since no approval was given by the corporation for the erection of the building.

    CEO transferred
    Ten days after she threatened to shut down work on the controversial church under construction in the Heights of Guanapo, chief executive officer of the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation Winifred David has been transferred to the Port-of-Spain City Corporation…

    Come forth Rev Pena
    President of the South Chapter of the Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship International, Ramesh Bhola, is calling Reverend Juliana Pena to come forward and tell the public the truth about her relationship with Prime Minister Patrick Manning and the construction of her multi-million dollar church in the Heights of Guanapo.

  • I guess corruption is the way to go for all these countries. Its all about keeping the money in the rich hands and the poor is getting poorer. They should all go to jail since its the depletion of the country’s wealth.

    This also affects the crime rate in a country due to less expenditure on social services and education. Well its up to the population of a country to educate themselver and stand up like the Greek and Icelandic population.

  • http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/11/world/europe/11greece.html

    Oh yes Greece and Iceland , are the new bastions of democracy and prudent economic development that Sweet T&T should mimic like naive , gullible ,and clueless imbecilic puppets , according to Shireen aka comedian John Agitation baby sister.

    http://useconomy.about.com/od/worldeconomy/p/Iceland_economy.htm

    Can anyone say exactly where these characters that still profess to love this blessed country comes from?
    The irony is that some foolish parent years ago took out second mortgage on houses , or sold some stolen lands to ensure folks like her wasted four years or more in the acquisition of some lofty ,but purposeless higher education.
    Wouldn’t the world be much better off , if this person was kept bare feet , pregnant every other nine months , and selling boil corn along our lavish highways ,to make a living , while fanning away mosquitoes from some unmentionable clogged river?
    Once more I am force to enquire , with citizens like these , who needs enemies?
    Would someone tell this Shireen , that her country could never develop the unity and purpose as the Greek or Icelandic people , for one simple reason. They are patriotic , and monolithic people . We in contrast are hog podge of confused , selfish ,old worlders that still stupidly hold on to motherland Africa , Asia , Europe , and everything foreign .
    On second thought, the ways of Socrates , Plato , Aristotle , and similar Greek early homosexuals philosophers , as well as the crazy blood thirsty Viking invaders, might be just what the doctor prescribe for this ailing nation of ours, where ‘me, me syndromes, and dog with a bone complexes,’ prevails as a cultural norm.
    I stand corrected.

  • Work on church stops
    CHINESE labourers from the Shanghai Construction Company, assigned the task of building a multi-million dollar church at the Heights of Guanapo in East Trinidad have packed up and left that site, with construction of the church coming to a halt.

    No Guanapo church probe, says AG
    THERE IS no need to launch a criminal investigation into the construction of the controversial church being constructed at the Heights of Guanapo, Attorney General John Jeremie said yesterday.

    Mayor: CEO promoted
    Winifred David, the recently transferred chief executive officer of the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation, was not moved because of statements regarding the construction of the Heights of Guanapo church, said Port of Spain Mayor Murchison Brown.

  • No sign of Rev Pena
    Since it could not find the owner of the Lighthouse of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation served a ‘stop notice’ on Shanghai Construction Group who is building the church at the Heights of Guanapo. The church is said to be owned by Reverend Juliana Pena, the spiritual adviser of Prime Minister Patrick Manning.

  • Let’s leave religion out of this my friend and separate church from state. Christians don’t need to denigrate and belittle other belief systems in order to obtain what will be provided to them by God. Dui Bu Dui? Excuse me for practicing my Mandarin. Someone has to be able to speak to our new labor class thanks in large part to the PNM

    How can religion be left out of conversaional thread that is based on religion. I am saying that the people who are now accusing Manning of setting up a christian theocracy in T&T, even though the accusations are akin to the hallucinations of Don Quixote when he espied some windmills in the distance, were silent throughout the period of Panday’s tenure when he paid homage to his religious culture. I am positing that this is an cultural attack on Manning, and by extensions, all of those who come from the same origin and belief system that he does.

    My Christian beliefs are founded in a doctrine that predates Constantine’s epiphany. In that context, my defense of Christianity is not connected to the usurpers who used a bastardized belief system to ensalve us as a people. My central point is that tolerance for religious plurality is far greater in nations with majority Christian Populations than the contrary. So this current Don Quixotic “the christians are coming” is another form of the attack is the best defense practised by some whose agenda is the primacy of their religious beliefs.

    • Ruel Daniels said:
      “My Christian beliefs are founded in a doctrine that predates Constantine’s epiphany. In that context, my defense of Christianity is not connected to the usurpers who used a bastardized belief system to ensalve us as a people.”

      If your Christian beliefs are founded in a doctrine that predates Constantine, can you state where this doctrine came from? Can you state the doctrine?

      The Christians you are attempting to defend and portray as tolerant are not interested in any historical Christianity that predates Constantine. Where are such teachings to be found? Most Christians in Trinidad and Tobago consider such ideas to be backward and satanic for the most part. They are disrespectful of any indigenous religious practice. Christians are opposed to Hinduism, for example, not necessarily because of their awareness of its inherent racism or its caste system or because they are aware of any fundamental flaws in its practice, they are opposed to Hinduism in they same manner they are opposed to anything that is non-Christian — they distort and misrepresent other people’s beliefs and practices in order to proselytise — in an attempt to make what they believe appear better. They are usually quite dishonest.

      Most Christians in Trinidad and Tobago believe that the world was created 6000 years ago and we are all supposed to pray and wait for someone (a saviour) to physically descend from the sky to save us – a stupid idea to say the least. This notion is dishonestly business-oriented as that will never happen and, as such, whosoever believes this will financially contribute indefinitely to organisations that propagate these ideas, with false hope.

      Christians do not recognise the African origin of most of the sensible parts of their religion. The distortions in their teachings are largely the product of European and Jewish misunderstandings. But to know this they would have to study European and African history.

      I certainly do not accept that Christians are more tolerant than anyone else. As a matter of fact, most wars in recent history were started and supported by people who profess to be Christians.

  • Oh religion, “the opiate of the people!” Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, writes: “If you have a gun, you can shoot one, two, three, five people, but if you have an ideology and stick to it, thinking it is the absolute truth, you can kill millions… Peace can only be achieved when we are not attached to a view, when we are free from fanaticism.” The more you understand this and try to practice it, the more you will appreciate the importance of a diversity of religions and belief.

    In order to build understanding and respect between people of diverse religions or beliefs, one needs an alternative to living by ideology. Socially engaged spirituality must be free from the bondage of ideology. As one person put it: “The greatest religious problem today is how to be both a mystic and a militant; in other words, how to combine the search for an expansion of inner awareness with effective social action, and how to find one’s true identity in both.”
    “The first law of buddhism with a small “b” should read like this, “Do not be idolatrous about, or bound to, any doctrine, theory or ideology, even Buddhist ones. All systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truths” (The First Tiep Hien Precept).
    http://www.viet.net/~anson/ebud/ebdha168.htm

    My dear fellow Trinbagonians, in the spirit of peaceful coexistence , it is not a bad time to begin the art of respectful tolerance towards the other, irrespective of race, creed, and class..
    Outside the preambles of a multitude of usual , politically motivated ,baseless ,inconsequential and empty rhetorics , it is the best bridge to a prosperous future , and sustainable development .

  • Are you people mad? Most of you have drifted off into some sort of religious tangent, attempting to justify your irrelevant positions. Religion has never divided the people of T&T, as proposed by Raffique himself. Did you read his article?
    T&T is a wonderful example of numerous religions coexisting in peace and harmony. Do not try to introduce the present Christian- Muslim conflict ,which preoccupied Bush and now is on Osama’s agenda, to T&T.
    The issues here are the false religious mutterings of a Prime Minister who was caught with his hands in the till. His phony claims of religious persecution rings hollow and guess what? The people are not buying this time.

  • I personally was responding to the closed minded statement made by Ruel. It seemed like typical Christian posturing. From my experience, Christians say that they are tolerant, but they believe hands down that they are right about Jesus the savior. I will not try to debate the belief system of an individual because that is what they believe. I just wanted to highlight the wrongs committed on humanity in the name of Christianity.
    “It is no different than that in which people attempt to present ethnic conflict on a paradigm that the different groups share similar histories of religious and cultural belief systems based on the concept that some groups of humans are genetically superior while others are genetically inferior. It is a premise as false as one that argues that the world is square, and those upon whom the baggage of historical bigotry is being implanted need to vehemently object to that, and illuminate the different belief systems brought to this part of he world by the people who were brought, or who came here.” -Ruel Daniels
    How can anyone red that and not think about Grenada Spain 1492 and its Alhambra decree? These “Christians” expelled all Jewish people from Grenada as if they had forgotten that their savior was Jewish. Muhammad XII of Granada was forced to surrender. His people were forced to either convert leave or die after they built and designed the city that was once said to have been the most beautiful in all of Europe.
    My point is that some people shouldn’t claim to be Christians and then persecute others for not sharing the same beliefs Ruel.

  • You need to learn to read Curtis, because that is your problem. The kind of backwardness displayed by your guys is the reason T&T is where it is at. I am an African, and my concept of Christinaity has no connections to Europeans. The problem is that people like you criticisze Europeans out of one side of your mouth, while employing their definions of History as the foundation for your crap.

    Look, if you wish to talk about religion, Africans joined with Arab Muslims to defeat the Roman Empire and were enslaved immediately after by their Allies. We Africans have no natural allies, religious or otherwise among none Africans, because everyone of them, when they had and have the opportunity participated in our oppression. Where are the indigenous black peoples of Egypt? What kind of Justice do Africans experience in the Sudan, in Iraq, in the myriad of Islamic nations in the so called Middle East. You need to take that crap and peddle it elsewhere, because there is no distinction in my mind between Christian Oppressors of Africans and others, whether they are Islamic, Hindutava or whatever. Postulating about what one group did will not divert my attention from what others also do. Like I said, take that crap and peddle it to people who depend on convenient pundits like you to define their history and experiences for them.

    • What country in Africa do you come from? That does not really matter to me.
      You were the one blaming one group of people for their wrongs and not acknowledging the wrongs of members of the group that you hold so dear. People like you are the problem. You want to blame other people for your downfall. In case you didn’t know, this is 2010. We are included in a global economy and can communicate globally with other people in a matter of minutes and yet your xenophobic way of thinking limits you and presents a threat to everyone around you. Wake up and join the new world order.
      This topic is not about me. My comments only highlighted your xenophobic and primitive way of thinking. It is what it is. There is no reason to be angry with me for not accepting your thoughts as right. However, it is people like you who continue to want to be divided who will lose in the end especially if you don’t have any power to adjust to the changing environment around you.
      I read what Mr. Raffique Shah wrote. I agree with what he stated when he stated, “But because of my upbringing, I also learned to respect people’s religions, their rights to their beliefs. In fact, unlike many agnostics and atheists, I do not denigrate religious persons because we may disagree on fundamental issues”. Clearly Ruel Daniels hasn’t evolved as much. One portion of the article that I disagree with is the assumption of the lack of faith that the Chinese workers may or may not have. Most Chinese that I know are Catholic probably because they come from the former British colony of Hong Kong.
      Ruel Daniels posted comments that were divisive and hateful for no reason. Surely there aren’t any reasonable people who don’t see this as one politician trying to remain in power while trying to cover up sketchy (at best) use of government funds and land? We all know about conquer and divide politics don’t we? Apparently not I suppose. There are too many people still playing checkers and not chess.

  • MENTAL SICKNESS plus CRITICAL THINKING !!!!!!!!
    Sorry Folks, I know probably this is not the venue for Topics like this. But over this weekend on the on-line Trinidad Express there was an Article highlighted entitled: Prophecy in the Bible explained.
    I tried hosting a respond to this Article but of no avail, many times in the Past I tried hosting a post on line to Articles but never got the chance.
    Is this freedom of Speech, Critical thinking or WHAT ? Why ask others to share their views, while butchering others on the same line.
    Most critics of the Bible is outside of it’s Teachings, most people who are rising up at the Facts don’t read, or in Fact Know what they are talking about. Why all this Hate and Venom against the written works of those who Bled and Died for the Furtherance of what they had to say ?
    We need some freedom here, if you profess to be Opened.
    How Opened are You?

  • Raff…You are certainly “THE BEST”. Well said. The man was BORN TWICE, and is a bigger “HALO freak” than what we can inagine. Keep on writing. I hope you would never quit.

  • PM: I’m following Christ’s footsteps
    Being a good Christian, Manning said he knew he would be following in Christ’s footsteps and his political life would be resurrected.

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