ST. VINCENT:- The Gospel Fest Committee has described as “untrue and completely without merit” comments by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves about beers being consumed at the religious festivities.
The Committee said Gonsalves was “misinformed and his statements are not based on any attendance at Gospel Fest events”.
“…Further the statements are irresponsible, extremely damaging to the godly reputation of the festival and disparages all the churches, organizations, individuals and sponsors involved. It is a serious affront to the patrons especially the many young persons who attend the shows and churches who operate bars,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.
“…It’s amazing the amount of beers they consume at Gospel Fest….It’s, I suspect, a substitute for the wine at the wedding feast at Canaan in Galilee,” Gonsalves reportedly said on Tuesday.
He is said to have made the comments while speaking at an event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the St. Vincent Brewery Ltd., bottlers of Hairoun Beer.
However, the Gospel Fest Committee distanced itself from Gonsalves’ comments, saying they were “untrue and completely without merit”. (Go to the homepage to subscribe to I Witness-News)
“…[A]bsolutely no beers or any alcoholic beverages have been consumed by patrons or sold at any bar at Victoria Park or any other festival venue around the country,” the Committee said of the eight-year-old festival.
“The bars at all Gospel Fest events are operated by churches and Christian organizations who follow the committee’s directives and strict Christian principles by not selling any alcoholic beverages. In fact other beverage vendors are not allowed and patrons cannot enter the shows with alcoholic beverages,” the statement said.
The Committee acknowledged “the important support of the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines” for the festival and said it respects Gonsalves and the office he hold.
“The committee is therefore calling on him to use wisdom and good judgment and to let good sense prevail. SVG Gospel Fest is too important to the moral, social and cultural fabric of Vincentian society to be tarnished by falsehoods and the resulting negative implications locally and internationally for the festival, churches, patrons, sponsors and the Christian community as a whole,” it said.