Bahamaian bishop urges voters to follow their conscience, not the party line, in voting
Voters in The Bahamas turned out of office the ruling Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) of Prime Minister Perry Christie last week, handing victory to the Free National Movement (FNM) led by Hubert Minnis. The 10 May 2017 election saw the conservative FNM increase their number of seats in the House of Assembly from 9 to 35, while the liberal PLP went from 29 to 4 seats.
In his pastoral letter to voters released before the election, the Bishop of The Bahamas, the Rt. Rev. Laish Boyd obliquely chided Prime Minister Christie for his claim made at the kick off of his campaign on 23 April 2017: “Listen, its goin’ so good now, God can’t stop me now.”
Bishop Boyd responded: “Let me say that there are many upstanding politicians, candidates, party members and campaigners out there. Consequently, I do not wish to give the impression that things are all bad. However, the problem is that too many of us Christian people get involved in politics and then cast aside what we claim to believe. We condone, encourage and even participate in wrong when it occurs. We compromise our integrity and fall right in line with those who have no scruples, and who want to win at any cost.”
The bishop urged voters to become educated on the issues, and not act out of partisan loyalties. “Watch and listen to the news. All stations: news, talk shows and other programming. Read the newspapers; all of them. You may not be able to do that every day, but try to get a wide sampling of what is going on. Do not follow conventional media only. Read online and read social media where possible. We want to get as total a picture as possible. Often, there is one conversation in the conventional media, and another, broader, more representative discussion can be seen in social media. This is the modern reality,” he said.
But one must not stop there. Good citizenship meant good conversation. “Conversation, watching, listening and reading are good because they improve our knowledge, our thinking and our analytical skills. Conversation must be filtered and weighed carefully. We can always find shallow, gossipy and scandalous conversation. Or, we can find conversation where there is a desire to examine the issues, to share genuine concerns and to seek a clearer understanding of the facts.”
Bishop Boyd urged all registered voters to turn up at the polls. “If you are registered, please vote! Some argue, ‘My one vote can’t do much’. But it can. Elections are won by a simple majority. If enough “one votes” stay home, that could add up to several or scores or hundreds or thousands. If enough “one votes” stay home. You are a person. You matter. Make your one-vote count.”
He also asked all citizens to pray for the leaders of the country, for all candidates, and for the “future” of The Bahamas.