PM, Kamla share greetings to Shouter Baptists

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley – File photo by Roger Jacob

The Prime Minister and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar both shared heartfelt greetings to the Shouter Baptist community and TT on a whole in messages from their separate offices on Friday.

In a statement from the office of the Prime Minister, Dr Rowley recalled the ravages of slavery and racial oppression from which the faith was born. He said the public holiday was an expression of the country’s commendation of the struggle of the Spiritual Shouter Baptist faith to establish the basic right to worship.

“The history of the Spiritual Shouter Baptist is an emotional one. Its foundation is based on the resistance to British colonial rule and we should be reminded further that what we are celebrating today as a public holiday, is rooted even deeper and larger in a historical experience that dates back 500 years,” he said.

He identified the evolution of slavery, the dehumanisation of Africans who were transported as slaves to the Caribbean and North and South America and the development of racism as backdrops against which the Spiritual Shouter Baptist faith emerged.

“It is against this centuries-old, historical context that we must appreciate the Spiritual Shouter Baptists today,” he said. “The faith must be commended for its resistance to the British colonial authorities for insisting on their right of its followers to worship and to express the spiritual inspiration they felt deep within.”

Persad-Bissessar reminded Spiritual Shouter Baptists that it was under the 1995-2000 Basdeo Panday-led UNC, during her tenure as attorney general that the holiday was officially granted, in 1996. She also highlighted her fulfilment of the promise to open the St Barbara’s Spiritual Baptist Shouter Primary School as prime minister between 2010-2015.

“This is a very important holiday in our national calendar as it commemorates the community’s historic, inspiring struggle, its courage, resilience, strength, faith and triumph over ingrained colonial persecution,” she said.

She called on the faith to pray for TT, amid increasing and rampant crime. “UNC’s trailblazing policies have ensured that the Spiritual Shouter Baptist community is now widely recognised and celebrated for their immense contributions to our nation’s cultural, social and religious development.

“Today as our country faces a destructive unprecedented crime and violence wave I urge the Spiritual Shouter Baptist community to say a special prayer for TT.”