Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bishop Neil Ellis is right... there are more than three demons destroying The Bahamas... but the main ones are the ones he decided to drag across the coals Monday night -- sexual immorality, financial instability and witchcraft


tribune242 editorial

IN THIS column yesterday, we jested about Bishop Neil Ellis' theatrical announcement of how, as God's chosen messenger, he was sent to warn Bahamians that the world's three greatest vices, in the form of demons, had landed on our shores and were holding this country "hostage."

Jumping Jehosephat! News enough to make the faint-hearted jump out of bed and take to the hills. But that is not where the bishop wanted Bahamians to take themselves. The bishop was dead serious. He wanted them shivering in fright, not in the hills, but in Mount Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church in Pinewood Gardens. The demons were so devilishly evil that he daren't mention their names outside the sanctified halls of Mount Tabor. And only those who attended the church and filled the parking lot would get God's message first hand from his special messenger - Bishop Neil Ellis himself.

We must admit that the Bishop's promotion was superb. He built the suspense up to a crescendo, until his church and parking lot were filled. Up went the song. The show was on. At the end of the service, it is certain that the church's coffers were also generously filled.

But seriously now, Bishop Ellis is right, there are more than three demons destroying this country, but the main ones are the ones he decided to drag across the coals Monday night -- sexual immorality, financial instability and witchcraft.

Sexual immorality -- nothing new, been with us for a long time, as a matter of fact Adam and Eve were the ones who stole the apple from the garden and passed their sin down through the generations. Here in the Bahamas, it goes under several names, the most popular being "sweethearting".

We recall overhearing an interview being conducted at The Tribune when we were quite young. The person being interviewed was telling how a baby, in or out of wedlock -- particularly out of wedlock -- was a West Indian thing. That child was treated as a woman's insurance for her old age. At least she had someone to look after her when she was past it. This struck our puritanical nature so strange at the time that it is the only part of that interview that we remember.

About 87 years ago, our mother landed in the Bahamas for the first time from the hills of Pennsylvania. Although a young teacher, it was the first time that she had seen an ocean, islands, beaches, coconut trees, and many other things. The first landing was at Mathew Town, Inagua, where an election was in full swing and her husband was one of the candidates. As a good wife, she went off on her own to talk with the people. When she and Sir Etienne Dupuch met again later in the day, she was troubled by a recurrent answer that she got whenever she asked a man how many children he had.

"Etienne," she said, "tell me what is this 'inside' and 'outside' thing. Every man that I asked how many children he had would say, x number inside, and y number outside, and there was always more on the y side than the x side. What did they mean?" Poor, innocent Mum, she never lived that one down. But by the time she arrived from Inagua to Nassau on the mail boat she had the answer-- she had learned about Inagua's many inside and outside children.

A few years ago, a young doctor told us that the maternity ward of the Princess Margaret Hospital was like a factory churning out babies into the bleakest of environments -- the nation's future social problems. It was a maternity ward where babies were having babies, where young girls were on their third or fourth child, each with a different father. It was shocking to identify some of these men, some of them already married, who were producing these "outside" families.

When we were a child, everyone was poor. It was no sin to be poor, and no one seemed to envy his neighbour -- certainly not to the extent that we see today's avarice satisfied at any price. At least growing up, money did not seem all that important. Wasn't Sir Etienne, our father, often turning down advertising because it offended some principle, at the same time, we heard him worry out loud about where he was going to find the few pence needed in those days to pay our small staff. We even watched when his largest advertiser arrived at his editorial door one day to cancel his advertising because he disapproved of a series of editorials Sir Etienne was writing about liquor stores being built, not only near churches, but in our poorest communities to undermine "our good people".

Before the advertiser could finish his sentence, Sir Etienne had cancelled his advertising and ordered him from his premises. Of course, he had to meet payroll at the end of the week. We do not know how he did it, but somehow he survived. So we grew up believing that money was not all that important. However, what was important was to use our lives to honestly serve the Bahamian people through this newspaper. We were not here to fill our own pockets, and so when business has to be turned down even today, it is turned down.

But in the sixties, attitudes changed. The drug era was around the corner and success was measured by material wealth. Bahamians were told that there was nothing stopping them becoming millionaires, and with the temptation of drug money coming in, nothing did. No matter how uncouth or unlearned a man was he was soon in if he had the trappings of wealth -- however earned. The younger generation looked up to their big brothers, daddys and uncles and measured success by their fast cars, the gold chains jangling from their necks and gaudy rings on their fingers. Youngsters were writing school essays describing how their ambition in life was to be a drug smuggler like their uncle or cousin, or some other member of the family or friend. That's what heroes were made of in those days.

This is when one of Bishop Ellis' demons really took hold and spawned the crime that we see on the streets today. We remember in those days - the seventies and eighties -- former Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Thompson, now retired, predicting that if something were not done at that time to curb the trend we would be battling the very crime that is today destroying our way of life.

In this, Bishop Ellis is right. This is one demon that has to be overcome by a community that has gone astray, never forgetting that many among them set the pace for today's problems.

January 19, 2012

- Bishop Neil Ellis of Mount Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church warned that there are three demons that are holding The Bahamas hostage... and can only be exorcised with prayer... ... The demons are sexual immorality, financial instability and witchcraft -

- Bishop Neil Ellis and his 'message' from God -

tribune242 editorial