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Buggery law backlash - Blair: The church has been sleeping

Blair warns review could lead to same-sex marriages

BY NADINE WILSON Observer staff reporter wilsonn@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, December 27, 2011    

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BISHOP Herro Blair has warned that Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller's pledge to review the buggery law if her party is elected to office on Thursday could lead to the legalisation of same-sex marriages in Jamaica.

At the same time, Blair, the political ombudsman and founder of the Deliverance Evangelistic Association Inc, advised his congregation on Sunday to get their candidates' views on moral issues before voting in the general election.

"My concern is not with reviewing a law, my concern is that next year this time, if you as Christians don't go out and listen to the voice of God — not Herro Blair now — to direct you, because we don't know who is who... my concern is that next year this time, the next thing that is going to happen in this country is an approach to same-sex marriage," Blair said during his Christmas Day message to about 2,000 members at his church on Waltham Park Road in Kingston.

"Unnu build a prison for me, because I'm not doing it," the bishop said, echoing the sentiments of some pastors who told the Observer last week that they would never accept the lifestyle of the gay, transgendered and lesbian community.

Last Tuesday night during the national leadership debate between Simpson Miller and Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Simpson Miller said her People's National Party (PNP), if elected to form the Government, would review the buggery law and ask for a conscience vote on the issue in Parliament.

Her pledge has reignited what has traditionally been a hot-button issue in Jamaica where homosexuality is frowned upon by the majority of the population.

For years, local and international gay lobbyists have been trying to get Jamaica to repeal the buggery law, but have so far been unsuccessful in their bid.

Recently, the United Kingdom said it would cut aid to countries that uphold laws against homosexuality, while the United States indicated that it would ensure that US diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered persons.

Bishop Blair, in his message on Sunday, pointed to that kind of international pressure, saying: "God not dead, God not asleep, God will look out for his own and Jamaica don't want no English man, and we don't want no Spanish man, and we don't want nobody from Europe or China to tell us how to live; and what they are doing is that they are putting pressure on our politicians to yield."

He urged his congregants to call the candidates seeking their votes and ascertain their individual views on homosexuality, ahead of Thursday's general election.

"You are going to vote on Thursday [but] before you vote, don't call Portia and don't call Andrew, call your candidate and ask your candidate what are their moral beliefs, what they defend," he cautioned during the service, which was attended by the PNP candidate for St Andrew East Central Dr Peter Phillips and his JLP contender Beverly Prince.

"My problem is not with reviewing the law, I am going to review it tomorrow (Monday), I have it in my office. I am going to look at it, that's a review," Blair said. "But when you get a government — any government out of the two elected — and one have three here and the other may have six or seven over there, that is 10 out of 63. We have to stop it in its bud, you are going to have to kill it in its bud," he said.

"I will go back to country and I will plant yellow yam and cocoa and dasheen and I will start a dasheen factory or a cocoa factory; I will sell tamarind ball, but this country is God's country," he said.

The pastor, who reminded the churchgoers that God had destroyed two cities before because of immorality, was equally vocal about what he believes was the silence of the church community on the issue.

"The church has been sleeping in this nation. The whole church has been sleeping in this nation because the church of the living God has given up its responsibility and that's why they cuss us off whenever they want to," said the pastor.

In an obvious attempt to demonstrate his point that the church has a responsibility to preach the word of God, Blair asked for a lighter or a match to burn his Bible. The request was met with silence.

"Then if I can't burn it, why I can't preach what in it?" he asked.

Last week, several pastors made it clear that they could not endorse the homosexual lifestyle as it goes against the teachings of the Bible.

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