Trinidad and Tobago Humanist Association

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Carmona's statements inappropriate from a head of state

28 September 2016 • 303 words

At a function organised by the Catholic Church on Republic Day, feature speaker President Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona took aim at the non-believing citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, telling his audience that "we must not in fact concede to those who are non-believers to those who are agnostics, to those who are doubting Thomases, because you know what ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we believe in the power of God, we believe that in fact there is a God that will bring miracles to this land of ours."

This is a direct encouragement to the population to rely on divine intervention rather than rationality, hard work, personal and community commitment to solve our many problems. It also encourages regression to tribal politics in a society that is struggling to move past the barriers of race and religion.

While Mr Carmona is entitled to his religious beliefs in his private capacity, as President of the Republic he took an oath to serve all citizens of the nation. So when he singles out a group of persons defined by their non-religiosity, who may number anywhere between 26,000 and 90,000 persons depending on how census data is interpreted, he sends a message that such people are not entitled to all the rights enshrined in the Constitution. He also raises questions as to whether individual who was agnostic or atheist or even non-Christian would be fairly treated by him in respect to particular appointments and decisions which fall under the authority of the President.

Ironically, mere hours later in his national address, President Carmona asserted that "Everyone is special and has a rightful place in this Republic" and "The common denominator of national dialogue must be compassion, empathy, understanding and tolerance."

This denominator he has signally failed to demonstrate in his dismissal and demonization of non-believers.

T&T Humanist Association

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