Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is encouraging the nation to spend time becoming familiar with the history and significance of Shouter Baptists' struggle.
The prime minister issued the following statement in recognition of the Shouter Baptists Liberation Day on Friday.
"As the Spiritual Baptist Community celebrates the 67th anniversary of its freedom from oppression, on behalf of my family and the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, I extend heartfelt wishes for a safe and happy Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day.
Today, we remember that it has been over 100 years since the enactment of the 1917 Shouters Prohibition Ordinance, which attempted to suffocate the religious expression of a community whose practices were deemed offensive and contrary to the status quo. It is therefore with great gladness that we can come together today, having great pride in our liberty, to worship according to our beliefs and traditions.
Indeed, the vibrancy of the celebrations that will take place today is an indication of our ability as a nation to move forward and to address the injustices of the past. On this day, let us remember the tireless efforts of those who were in the vanguard of the struggle for recognition and the right to exercise the most basic freedoms.
Inasmuch as John the Baptist was revered as being sent by God to prepare the way for the Messiah, we must so too honour the sacrifices of those individuals who paved the way for the celebrations of freedom today.
This day of thanksgiving is also a vehicle for ensuring that their contributions to our society are not disregarded or lost to time and history. I nonetheless encourage every citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, regardless of background or belief, to spend time today becoming familiar with the history and significance of this struggle, which has played such a significant role in the shaping of our identity as a nation.
We can take example from the courage and tenacity exhibited by members of the Spiritual Baptist faith in the face of ridicule and intimidation during those dark days of persecution. Their persistence during those periods of difficulty is an attribute that is particularly pertinent to our national ethos today, given our challenging circumstances.
However, as the sorrows of the past have been replaced by the joyous celebrations of today, we too can we hope to emerge from these difficult times if we remain steadfast in our resolve to create a better society and shape a brighter future.
Best wishes to the Spiritual Baptist followers and to our entire nation in this very meaningful period of celebration."