Adventist Leader Addresses Constitutional Commission

On Friday, March 15, Seventh-day Adventist leaders in the Bahamas appeared before the Constitutional Committee. Attending on behalf of the church were Pastor Leonard A. Johnson, President of the Atlantic Caribbean Union, Pastor Paul A. Scavella, President of the South Bahamas Conference, and Elder Isaac Collie, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Director of ATCU.
In his presentation to the committee, Pastor Leonard A Johnson addressed a number of issues including the right of an individual to observe the day of worship that he or she is convicted on. He called for a human rights monitor or ombudsman to deal with all matters of human rights. He further, called for equal rights for both the Bahamian male and Bahamian women to pass on their citizenship to their children.

In speaking to use of the word “Christian” as found in the preamble of the Bahamian Constitution, pastor Johnson explained that the “word must not be used in a narrow sense to discriminate against non- Christian groups.” You will notice that we talk about Christian values and the rule of law. We’re not opposed to this term as long as it is understood to be inclusive and not narrow. We are in no way suggesting "a watering down" but inclusion and tolerance. Forty years ago, when the constitution was prepared, the term “Christian” was quite acceptable, as the Bahamas was possibly then a nation of one religion –Christians; but today, we are becoming a pluralistic (diverse) society, and we would not want some religions to feel that they are not welcome.

During the question and answer segment, Pastor Johnson re-stated the church’s position concerning the gay marriage issue. He affirmed that the Seventh-day Adventist Church supports the sanctity of marriage “between a man and a woman. If you want to decide to do something that’s your choice, but what we support, what we uphold, is based on our understanding of the Bible.”
This presentation to the Constitutional Commission is a part of an ongoing dialogue that involves all religious groups and other groups in society in the process of constitutional reform.