PM: We must live by the example of Spiritual Shouter Baptists

Thursday, March 30, 2017 - 11:45

"Each year on this day (March 30 ) our Nation recognises and celebrates the triumph of our Spiritual Shouter Baptist community to openly and freely practice their religion.
On this day we remember the oppression, struggle and humiliation of a group of people whose only ‘crime’ was a desire to praise God in their own way, as was afforded to other segments in the country.
Today the practitioners of the religion, described as indigenous to Trinidad and Tobago, may sing, pray, read the Bible, clap and shout without fear of punishment.
On behalf of the people and Government of Trinidad and Tobago, I extend to all practitioners of the Spiritual Shouter Baptist faith a blessed Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day.
The hurdles put in front of you only served to strengthen your resolve to fight an unjust system. Each act of violence against you, each arrest, each incarceration meant to break your spirit only fuelled your determination to have the Shouters Prohibition Ordinance repealed.
Today as a Nation, we too face many hurdles. We continue to adjust to a new economic reality. As a Government we continue to do all in our power to reduce the crime and murder rate and we share your concern about the level of inhumanity which we are witnessing in our communities. At times our situation may seem reminiscent of other violent periods in our country’s history.
But it is at these times that we must live by the example of the Spiritual Shouter Baptists and indeed all those who walked the path of hardship, brutality and injustice in our Nation’s history.
In their journey to freedom is the constant refrain of strength and hope…of never giving up, of never buckling under pressure because, to quote Eva in Earl Lovelace’s Wine of Astonishment, “we could bear it… our shoulders could bear more weight…our flesh could hold more pain… our heart could stomach more ache, without breaking or burning or bursting…”
On this special day, together with our Spiritual Baptist sisters and brothers, we clap and raise our hands in celebration, we lift our voices in praise and we dance because although the memories are painful, our sisters and brothers were never broken and the taste of freedom is always sweet.
Let us all mark this occasion by a commitment to remain an inclusive Nation, willing to understand and respect diversity and to treasure the freedoms we all enjoy.
I wish all the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago a very safe and happy Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day."