Over the past years, many Christian residents, including ministers of religion, government ministers, politicians and many others, keep saying that this is a Christian community. However, the actions of many of these same people leave this question unanswered in the minds of many believers and others. I can say, that, yes, this was a Christian community in the early years when there were only the Anglican, Methodist and Seventh-day Adventist churches. However, now that we have a large number of additional Christian denominations and other non-Christian religions, the answer to many is now an open question. However, the vast majority of religions and people in the Virgin Islands are still of the Christian faith.
What is a Christian? When you ask this question, too many people are unable to answer it in one simple sentence. The simple answer is “one who believes in the teaching of Jesus Christ.” Now here is an issue that many “so-called Christians” fail to accept: While one may be a Christian, he or she may not be living a Christian life. Here is another issue: If couples of the Christian faith, Jewish faith or Muslim faith have children, what faith are their children? Unfortunately, many people of the Christian faith are quick to say that their children are not Christians until they are grown and baptised. Then there are those who believe you have to live your life according to their beliefs as if you are incapable of making your own decisions.
What amazes me today is that we have so many Christian denominations in this territory, and every single one of them joins in a territory-wide concern as to why unity is needed among all of us in order to help solve many of the issues facing us today. There is a Christian Council, yet fewer than ten churches are members of this association. So what kind of example are non-members setting for their congregation? When some Christian leaders do not want to associate with other Christian leaders in a Christian association, one has to wonder if these are the people who the members of their churches are looking to for guidance. This can give the appearance that the vast majority of these religious leaders are more concerned about money, material things, and who can build the biggest church and get the largest congregation — and that preaching the Word of God is secondary.
Another issue I have with the vast majority of religious leaders is this: They all love to get in their houses of worship and radio stations and talk about truth, but truth is the farthest thing from their mind when it comes to the name of this territory. In my conversations and discussions with many of them, the vast majority do not care about the name of this territory. In my opinion, this is just another form of disrespect to all “True Virgin Islanders” and equally not in the best interest of our young people. This is just another tactic of keeping the people divided. These are some of the people who are always saying that our young people need help and that everything should be done to guide them in the right way, but they refuse to tell them the truth when it comes to the name of this territory. That is so wrong. Unless the people know and accept who they are, it will continue to be extremely difficult for us solve the issues affecting the development and protection of all of us.
Both the Methodist and Anglican churches were strong leaders in this community, and both were important voices. The Anglican Church from about 1998 started making some important advances under Father Julian Clarke and continued to move forward under Father Ronald Branch of Trinidad. Unfortunately, the St. George’s Episcopal Church has since lost its standing in the community and many members have decided to worship at other churches in the past years. This is a great example of how important good religious leaders are to their congregation and community as a whole.
Another major issue is if we are a Christian community why is so much major construction and government work carried out on Sundays, including heavy equipment and trucks on the roads in many instances disturbing Sunday services in churches? At this time, post Irma, it is understandable, but it has been going on for years and it is time a stop be put to it except in case of emergency.
So are we a Christian community? Let me say that we are more of a God-fearing community. Why? There are non-Christian religions in this territory that believe in God but have questions about Jesus Christ. However, all Christians also believe in God. What about those who do not believe in anything except money and material things and those that worship other images? Do we treat them with disrespect? Of course not.
A concern of many is Muslim and Christian fanatics. Many people believe that the behaviour of these two groups of people gives their faith a bad name.
So, folks, let us understand and accept the fact that the name of this territory is The Virgin Islands and its people are Virgin Islanders. Therefore, Virgin Islanders, let me repeat here what I have been saying on my radio show for years. We must respect each other and unite to work for the benefit of all of us. Then and only then will those who come to live and work among us respect us and work with us to make this territory a better place for all of us.