The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of I-Witness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]

I write as a concerned citizen of St. Vincent and the Grenadines regarding what appears to be not only an upsurge in gun-related crimes, but also a deliberate targeting of financial institutions and other places of commercial activities, and well calculated violent reprisals of one kind or the other in our beloved nation. The familiar results are the untimely death of productive citizens, a financial burden on our already over-extended development resources and broken and unreconciled communities.

The Church, which has traditionally been a “force for good” in this country, has an obligation as the prophetic voice of the people to enter the conversation on “the causes and consequences of crime and criminality” with the specific aim of assisting in their prevention, if not, their containment.

It is against this backdrop that I am proposing that the Churches take the lead in concert with other Civil Society organisations on the following:

1.The call for and the administration of a Gun Amnesty in collaboration with the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force

•In order for this to gain broad acceptance, it cannot be managed by the Police Force, instead it ought to be managed by an impartial but credible and competent organization with appropriate guidance, and procedural policies so as to maintain the confidentiality and integrity of the participants and the process itself.

•A significant financial incentive must be determined by the management of the Amnesty to be paid to individuals in exchange for the recovery of illegal guns.

•A public education awareness programme be initiated to ultimately persuade individuals and communities possessing illegal guns to come forward and reassure them that no punitive measures will be taken against participants.

2.The hosting of a national conference involving a broad section of the Church, relevant state and private sector institutions and the NGO community to examine the sources, effects, costs, and remedies of “violence in our society”.

3.The issuing of a strong call for the strengthening of the resources of the National Commission on Crime Prevention (NCCP) in order to realistically address policy initiatives and practical programmes in the prevention of violent crime.

These suggestions are by no means a panacea for the crime situation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. However, they can be the beginning steps of a more fulsome engagement with important sectors in our society on the question of crime prevention and containment.

Ronnie Daniel

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

3 replies on “An Open Letter to the Churches”

  1. These suggestions are most welcome. The church needs to be more involved in the issues and must not simply preach a sermon during mass – they are simply preaching to the converted. The crimes are being committed mostly by the ‘non-converted.’Some footwork must be performed by Christian leaders.

  2. Jennifer you are so right Jesus never sat talking in a building, he went out and broadcast the word of God. Building a building that looks like a church doesn’t make it a House of the Lord. Its what is done with it and who the people are within it that counts. Do they go to church on a Sunday, sing some merry songs, say some prayers, then for most part of the week commit all kinds of sins, not living the life, just some Sunday entertainment.

    How many preachers get out in parishes and meet the people outside the building of the church. I don’t mean go out and meet people they are already well known to, to meet and talk to the youth and lost souls.

    Preachers that go to their church on Sunday, then go home and doing nothing doesn’t count as Christian leadership.

    I notice that many of these ministers have several cars, even several houses which they let. They creep and whimper around the PM looking for tax and import concessions.

    I remember something that a church man told me once in Ghana. I asked him how he had so much when the people around him had so little. He told after each service he took the collection baskets and when his helpers had gone, tossed each basket holding the rim, the money flew into the air, he said what stayed up belonged to God, what fell to the floor was his.

    So you may see I have very little faith in church men that accumulate more wealth around them than the rest of the community.

    Some of our church leaders require scrutinising, they must not be allowed to treat the church as a business, a business without tax’s, for their own benefit. Becoming men of extreme wealth whilst the people starve, not those in their church, those that they should be meeting and guiding.

    It may be there are some very greedy men who have sold their souls to the devil. Such men are putty in the hands of our political leaders.

  3. Ronnie, Your heart is in the right place but sadly the churches are not interested in anything that you have suggested. It is self evident in the fact that not one so called church leader has come forward to address this issue of crime and guns. They are very busy instilling fear into the hearts of their congregation so they can continue to collect money every week. After all they are the righteous ones who are saved and will get a front row seat in heaven when the rapture takes place. All others will be burning in everlasting hell so why even bother with them. By delivering false teachings and collecting money for it; these same church leaders are committing crimes of embezzlement and fraud. The Government and Opposition have no plan to do anything either. If they understand how Tourism and Agricultural production are affected by crime they will start to pass laws that make a difference. There are some who are walking around with their sacks and stealing from hard working citizens and justifying it by saying that this is Jah land . Yes it is Jah land but the produce is not for you because you are a thief and must be dealt with accordingly. I suggest that the Government bring back the cat-o-nine to whip these thieves and if they continue to thief then you cut off one of their hands to identify them. The crime is causing people in the Diaspora to say that if it wasn’t for family back home they will never return to SVG.

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