by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 06 May 2007)
The notion of the separation of Church and State is probably one of the most important political and legal doctrines available to modern democracies. This doctrine states that government and religious institutions are to be kept separate and independent of one another.
The importance of this doctrine is even more apparent when one considers, for example, that the President of America invaded another country with the notion that God told him to do so. In retrospect, God must have been wrong or Bush needs to have his hearing checked.
In this same vein, PNC party leader, Robert Corbin, sounded just as ridiculous this past week when he said the fate of his political future rests in God’s hands. I could not help but snicker at the very thought since the PNC has been on a downhill roll for many years now.
This newspaper quoted Corbin in its April 29 issue as saying, “I am a believer in the great Jehovah, and in Him I have always placed my trust. He has never failed me, even when situations are not very clear to all men. I therefore place my political fate in His Hands and (those of) the membership of the PNCR.”
Let us apply logic to this statement. Firstly, Corbin stated that he is a believer in the great Jehovah. Secondly, Corbin stated that his Jehovah has never failed him. Lastly, Corbin places his political fate in his Jehovah’s hands.
It would therefore be quite easy to deduce that if Corbin has always believed in Jehovah and Jehovah has never failed in guiding his political fate, then it should be quite obvious to all that Jehovah does not want the PNC to govern Guyana.
This is what happens when humans drag their deities into politics. It is a strategy used frequently when a politician finds him/herself in an insecure position. When a politician would like the people to forego logic and sound judgement, it is time to reach for an endorsement from a higher power.
Given the PNC track record with Corbin at the helm, the members of this party should indeed find some fresh leadership – or a new God – because their current strategy has been failing for quite some time now.
Even if we put the PNC’s past performance behind us and focused on Corbin’s performance in the here and now, he just alienated at least half of Guyana’s voters – you know, the ones who do not serve Corbin’s great Jehovah.
Guyana is a nation known for its cultural, racial and religious diversity. Putting a person who wears his faith on his sleeve into the office of President of Guyana would be just as disastrous as it was for America – if not more.
A president is suppose to represent the whole nation, which means that personal issues, like religion, should be kept just that – personal (sound familiar?). Moreover, it is not wise for the PNC to draw yet one more distinction between themselves and those who do govern Guyana.
It is a very scary prospect to think a leader is more inclined to go to his deity for political direction than to the people who put him in power. If Bush had listened to the people of America and his international friends instead of his deity, the Iraqi war would have never happened and thousands of lives would have been spared.
Instead of calling on his great Jehovah for the opportunity to continue his leadership of the PNC, Corbin should present his constituents a better plan for the future of the party than the one being presented by those who are challenging his leadership. This is what the people expect of their political leaders.
When people want a spiritual leader, they go to their respective places of worship. This is where they expect to hear about issues of faith – not from a political leader. Perhaps this is exactly why the PNC has been on such a disastrous decline for so long - because Corbin has been sitting on his hands waiting for his Great Jehovah to do something and the people are looking to Corbin to do something. Meanwhile, no one is doing anything of consequence.
In my opinion, Corbin has proven his lack of leadership ability simply by showing himself to be so weak at this crucial juncture. I am not suggesting that it is weak to be spiritual. However, if the best answer a political leader can offer when asked about his political future is a diatribe about his spiritual state, it is obvious that a huge hole exists in the necessary political areas.
On the other hand, Corbin knows most of his constituents also serve his great Jehovah and was probably trying to make a political play on their deep spirituality. I certainly hope PNC members are smarter than that. Otherwise, they will end up just as embarrassed and disappointed in their political leader as the Americans are now.
The one safe doctrine in a nation of such great diversity as Guyana is the consistent insistence of the separation of Church and State. It is just too dangerous to inject spiritual matters in the political arena.