Another Jamaican church leader has weighed in on the abortion debate, arguing that legalising the controversial procedure is not the solution, especially considering the country's high murder rate.
Speaking at his virtual prophetic service themed 'Sin and household – training your child', via Facebook last Friday, Bishop Dr Romeon Facey of Freedom Evangelical Association in Portmore said: “Any day that Jamaica believes that with the [high] murder rate we have already, that we can make it [legalising abortion] law, we will force the hand of God upon this nation.”
Said Bishop Facey: “I don't think that abortion is the right thing to do. It is not the will of God. Any preacher that says abortion is the will of God, they are lying to you. They have not really studied the Bible. They are just talking about the same thing that has been regurgitated in our society.”
Bishop Facey suggested that “parental care” should be added to schools' curriculum in order to educate students about the importance of life.
“What we should do as a country is to implement, in the classrooms [as part of the curriculum], parental care. I have seen it in the United States where children are given a child and they teach them how to take care of that child. There are things that we can teach in our society, and there are things we can teach in the classroom to shape the minds of our youth,” he said.
Bishop Facey, meanwhile, urged fathers to take financial, emotional, and physical responsibility for their children to eliminate the issue of child displacement in Jamaica.
“We have too many children in this country who are [considered] outside kids — left without fathering and with struggling mothers who can barely take care of themselves. If you are a man of God who is not taking care of your child, you should be ashamed.”
He suggested that Prime Minister Andrew Holness look into legislation allowing a mandatory salary deduction from fathers, which would ensure that the needs of displaced children are maintained.
“It is important that as men we take care of our children, whether the family was started outside or not. In the Christian community we need to show better example because we are called to be sons and daughters of the Most High God. God loves children and because of this love we should take care of our own. It is God's will for fathers to train up their children and show them the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ in their lives,” he added.
The on-again, off-again abortion debate resumed recently when St Andrew West Rural Member of Parliament Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn filed a private member's motion in Parliament seeking to repeal sections 72 and 73 of the Offences Against the Person Act, which makes abortion illegal and substitute it with a civil law — The Termination of Pregnancy Act — as was recommended by the Abortion Policy Review Group in 2007.
The motion drew the ire of church leaders, among them Bishop Alvin Bailey, vice-president of the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals, who said Cuthbert-Flynn's “pro-abortion promotion reflects the heights of moral decadence and a devilish disregard for the sanctity of human life”.
Last week, Bishop Rohan Edwards of Lighthouse Ministries reiterated the Church's opposition to abortion, and pointed out that a majority of Jamaicans are against it.
“The church is the largest platform in Jamaica right now, bigger than all politicians, and if we want to block something, we can. And we're trying to block the legalisation of abortion. The church is saying this is totally wrong and we're not going to stop until people understand. We're not going to put up with it. Whatever it takes, the church of Jesus Christ is going to push against it,” Edwards told the Jamaica Observer.
Weeks before, senior pastor of Hope Gospel Assembly and one of Jamaica's foremost church leaders, the Reverend Dr Peter Garth, said the foundations of society and family life were coming under increasing pressure from world views which do not line up with traditional values.
“Threats to the sanctity of human life are many — abortion, stem cell research, medical cloning, manipulation of the human embryos, euthanasia, assisted suicide, artificial insemination, devaluing of the elderly, the sick, and the disabled, eugenics — these are real and critical issues for the Church,” Garth was quoted by the Observer.
He described as a “culture of death” these practices which “cheapen life in all its stages, by promoting the belief that lives that are imperfect, or inconvenient, are discardable”.
“Three thousand years from now abortion on demand will still be wrong. Taking innocent lives will be wrong,” added Rev Garth.
But last week, Bishop Winston Watson, senior pastor at Acts Church Jamaica, accused the church of being “tunnel-visioned” and trying to dictate how women should live their lives.
“A woman has a responsibility for herself. I cannot tell a woman what to do. And the Bible never said a pastor has control over a woman's body or has control over a woman other than his wife. But we want to dictate what every woman out there does, and we cannot legislate that kinda morality. No matter how we try, we can't do it,” Bishop Watson told the Observer.