Trinidad and Tobago Humanist Association

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Notes on Government section for TT Humanist View

Denis Solomon • 09 February 2005 • 641

Government organisation and activity must both be guided by and promote rational thinking and the rejection of reliance on or appeal to supernatural powers.

This implies a complete, constitutionally mandated separation of the State from religion. Some of the practical consequences of this are:

  1. There shall be complete freedom of religious practice, belief and propaganda.

  2. There shall be no established religion.

  3. No religious organisation shall receive from the State financial grants or subsidies, grants of land or real estate or preferential access to the same.

  4. No religious organisation shall be wholly or partially exempt from taxation.

  5. Contributions to religious organisations shall not be subject to full or partial tax relief. This provision shall not apply to contributions to funds created by religious organisations for specific charitable purposes or disaster relief, provided that the allocation of assistance from such funds is not subject to religious affiliation of the beneficiaries, and provided the management of such funds is subject to public audit.

  6. Public officials shall lend no greater support, in terms of attendance at or addresses to ceremonies or gatherings, to religious organisations than to any other groups or associations of civil society. On such occasions public officials shall rigorously refrain from statements endorsing the doctrines of the religion concerned or exhorting the public to follow them.

  7. Religious organisations shall not be represented as of right on any public body or agency. Representation of a religious organisation or group of such organisations in the Senate shall be on equal terms with all other organisations, agencies or groups, i.e. on the strength of the size of their membership, the range of their activities and the beneficial impact of their work on the society. Any functionary of a religious organisation appointed to any other body shall be appointed solely on the basis of his or her individual qualifications. Examples of such bodies are the Public Service Commission, the Teaching Service Commission, the Police Service Commission, the Judicial Service Commission, and the Board of Film Censors.

  8. All religious public holidays shall be abolished. Employers shall be required to grant time off to employees of particular religious persuasions on the occasion of the main festivals of their religion, a list of which shall be established in advance.

  9. No organisation based on any religious doctrine or affiliated to any religious organisation shall be registered as a political party or permitted to present candidates for any election.

  10. No meeting, gathering or ceremony of any organ of the State, including the Legislature and the Courts of Justice, shall be inaugurated or closed with any prayer or other religious observance.

  11. The words of the National Anthem shall be revised to remove all reference to prayer and the deity.

  12. Representatives of Trinidad and Tobago at international conferences shall support no treaty, resolution or part thereof, the wording of which calls for reliance on the deity, providence or any other such supernatural concept.

  13. Media of communication financed by the State shall carry no programmes promoting religion or any religious organisation, except for paid advertisements, clearly identified as such. This shall not preclude the production of programmes, such as dramas or documentaries, on religious themes.

  14. Media organisations financed by the State shall carry no programmes promoting psychics, mystics, soothsayers, faith healers, etc., and shall carry no advertisements, paid or otherwise, of such persons or activities.

  15. Public administration shall be organised in such a manner as to promote and develop to the maximum extent clear and rational thinking, optimism imbued with healthy scepticism, and a mentality of scientific inquiry. The Ministry of Education, in parallel with its activities in the area of curriculum development, teacher training, school building, etc., shall maintain within it an agency specifically tasked with cognitive research and the development of flexible, rational and creative thinking, analogous to the Venezuelan Ministry for the Development of Human Intelligence.
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