JUTC : Your Route To Excellence And No Preaching
The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) has taken the decision to ban “lay preaching” on all its buses, according to the company’s Managing Director, Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin. The decision has proven controversial as many christians have condemned the move as an attempt to “secularize the country” while “denying people their right to freedom of religion”. Many have gone so far as to suggest that the JUTC is seeking to prevent “the spread of the gospel”. It appears to me that an assumption has been made on behalf of all JUTC passengers; that assumption being that we all want to hear preaching on buses. Let me be very quick to point out that nothing could be further from the truth.
Jamaica, as far as I’m aware, remains a pluralist society. There remains, or there should be, a plurality of opinions and beliefs in this country. It is unacceptable to suggest that persons who have paid their money to be transported from Point A to Point B should be held hostage by those wishing to spread or “share” their faith. We must abandon this idea that religious faith is a public matter to be forced on everybody else. I even object to Rear Admiral Lewin calling these so-called “lay preachers” ‘evangelists’, as the great majority of them are nothing more than hustlers with a limited understanding of scripture, reciting no more than specific verses they were taught in Sunday School. It is unfair to hold the entire bus captive to your message and then bother them for a monetary contribution to something they didn’t want to be part of to begin with.
Not everyone on board will be a christian, some may even be atheists. Who secures their right not to be yelled at about hell and damnation, if we allow lay preachers to run rampant on public passenger vehicles? Surely they have a right to be exempt from the christian message on a public service they paid to use. What’s more, the bus ride often descends into complete christian worship, complete with choir and music. It is nothing short of a nuisance. The bus is not a church. The appropriate place for preaching is inside a church. If persons want to hear the message, they know where to find a church, Jamaica is rumoured to have the most per square mile. I do not even condone loud music on buses (that too should be banned), let alone a full Sunday worship on a packed bus.
The argument that it is an attempt to “secularise” the country is absurd. It is just another feeble attempt to use fear as a weapon of conformity. Jamaicans, ever mindful of the wrath of God, will clearly be moved by this fear of secularisation. I pray you, think rationally. Christianity itself has not been outlawed. No one has acted against the numerous other (pointless) christian norms which are so deeply rooted in the Jamaican society – those are still standing. The JUTC has simply decided to respect the rights of all passengers. There is nothing wrong with that. Some have suggested that to complain about the preaching is malicious, because it can simply be ignored. Have you ever heard them? Saliva flying, throat hoarse, heralding Jamaica’s impending doom, it is not easy to ignore it and in any case, we shouldn’t have to ignore it because it shouldn’t be there. The bus is not a church.
Passengers are entitled to a peaceful and quiet ride to their respective destinations. One person’s freedom to practice their religion should not become an inconvenience to anyone else. That is the balance we must strike. We cannot simply give deference to the church at the expense of others. Christians appear to be of the opinion that they leverage to do whatever they please, ban whatever they disapprove of, and tell everyone else how to live their lives. It is time someone challenge that opinion. I congratulate Rear Admiral Lewin for doing so. The JUTC has no right or responsibility to aid anyone in “spreading the gospel”. Those who believe their right to freedom of religion has been in any way affected can file a lawsuit seeking judicial review.
Finally, while we’re at it and in the mood to regulate, we should also see if we can get the A/C on the JUTC buses to an appropriate temperature – sometimes the bus is too cold, but I digress. I congratulate Rear Admiral Lewin and I thank him for securing for me a peaceful ride home.