Government's anti-Church Act

Government's anti-Church Act

The stipulation of no funeral services in churches makes no sense


Thursday, October 22, 2020

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On October 14, 2020 it was reported in the media that Toots Hibbert, reggae pioneer and icon, was going to have a funeral service at Perry's Funeral Home. And there were reports and pictures that showed that a funeral service with the body of Toots was indeed held on Thursday, October 15. Surprisingly, there was no comment from the Government and the Jamaica Constabulary Force about the stipulation in the Disaster Risk Management Act, sections 18-21, that there should be no funeral services. So, while churches are prohibited from having funeral services, funeral homes are having funeral services.

On the human level, this 'no funeral service' edict is causing untold and unnecessary grief and pain to mourning families. It also denies Christians the 'last rites' consistent with their Christian beliefs. So what does a family do when they want to have a funeral service for a loved one based on their understanding of God, their cultural practices of what is a proper send-off, and their belief in what will give closure upon the death of a loved one? The option is to have a burial only or have the funeral service at a funeral home. Both options are unacceptable to some Christians.

This development of using a funeral home makes a mockery of the COVID-19 protocols and questions the sincerity of the Government in this fight. What is the difference between a regular church service which adheres to the requisite protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and a funeral service doing the same?

Furthermore, having funeral services in a funeral home instead of a church is pointless. Funeral homes are usually smaller, poorly ventilated, and air-conditioned, while churches are usually larger, well-ventilated, and not air-conditioned.

In this pandemic, where would it be better to have a funeral service? It is a no-brainer. It should be at a church. The stipulation of no funeral services in churches makes no sense, except it is to undermine the legitimacy, role, and authority of churches.

This Disaster Risk Management Act is not undermining the Church only, but also the constabulary, which has done nothing to stop funeral services at funeral homes. It is undermining respect for law and order. It perpetuates the view that, in Jamaica, one law applies to some people and not to others.

Some churches are finding creative ways around the regulation, which might not be consistent with the witness of Jesus, the Christ. These churches might be setting a bad example and precedent for members of the congregation who might feel it is better to circumvent a bad law rather than agitating for a change of an unjust law.

Since there has been no reported instance of coronavirus spreading because a funeral service was held at a chapel in a funeral home, then it is time for the Government to change the regulation and allow for funerals to be held in churches also.

If this is not done immediately, it confirms the Government's Disaster Risk Management Act as an anti-Church Act.

Devon Dick is pastor of Boulevard Baptist Church. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or

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