Group of humanists: remove references to God from law books, end prayer in schools, abolish capital punishment

A local human rights organization is calling for a radical shift from centuries of religious tenets and dogmas characteristic of colonialism as the country prepares to move from a constitutional monarchy to a parliamentary republic.

Among a list of bold suggestions from Humanists Barbados is removing all references to God from local law books, removing “blasphemy” as an offense, and removing all forms of prayer in schools. public.

Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) President Maachelle Farley revealed that the Republican Status Transition Advisory Committee has also been made aware of the organization’s desire to see capital punishment and corporal punishment banned, and a full list lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and homosexual (LGBTQ) rights recognized.

“Barbados has a secular government and is home to diverse religious and non-religious populations. So the use of the term “God” is divisive because it raises the question of what religion is being referred to, “said Farley. Barbados TODAY.

Moments after hosting a webinar titled Freedom of Thought in our Republic and beyond: No Monarch, No Massa, No God, the activist explained that references to the “primacy of God” as cited in the Constitution do not recognize that belief in God is a matter of voluntary individual choice and should not be imposed.

She added that the offense of blasphemy, although difficult to enforce, is a hindrance to citizens’ right to freedom of expression.

One of the more controversial suggestions is the long tradition of saying prayers in public schools.

“It is certainly appropriate in the context of the family home, but when you have children from all walks of life, from different faiths, from different families, who believe in different things, how then can you expect that? ‘a child who doesn’t pray at home to put their hands together and pray to a God they know nothing about,’ argued Farley.

The organization also calls for the elimination of “obsolete” and “barbaric” corporal punishment in homes and schools. He also presented a strong case for the abolition of the death penalty.

“Our position is that all murder is inhuman and unethical, whether committed by an individual, an organization or a state and that the death penalty is cruel and degrading punishment in any circumstance, regardless of the circumstances. who is accused because the sentence violates fundamental principles. human rights, ”said Farley.

Regarding LGBTQ rights, she added, “It is not fair that society welcomes couples and families of all types to visit, work and enjoy the island as tourists and businessmen, no matter what. either their sexual orientation, but then prohibited to its own citizens, by law. , the same freedoms and rights. We believe that homophobia is a relic of religious dogma and slave society, and it is something we need to move away from. We must allow the LGBT community to have families, to feel fully integrated into society.

Speaking to Tuesday’s webinar, popular pollster and local talk show host Peter Wickham said the title of the event was the most apt, saying the country’s ties to the concept of God are usually tied to a history of colonialism and slavery.

“God is of course the person who decides that the queen should be queen and that her family, heirs and successors should continue to reign indefinitely. God gives them that power. So that’s important in the context of this arrangement. Within the republic, I don’t understand, ”Wickham said.

“God is also the person who decided that as slaves we should know our place and that we should be good slaves. Therefore, it was important in the colonial arrangement to ensure that there was a reference to God. . . So God was important to this arrangement historically.

“Now, as we move into a republic, I am challenged to understand what God has to do with the secular arrangement in which we have rejected the whole idea of ​​this monarchy,” he added.

Meanwhile, Farley expressed optimism about the level of engagement with the Republican committee in meetings following the organization’s recommendations.

The president of Humanists Barbados also hopes for the establishment of a human rights commission to put the country at the forefront of the global struggle, based on its history of slavery and commitment. .
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Nancy I. Romero