[Updated with video] Speaking at a press conference held this afternoon [June 20], Attorney General Mark Pettingill apologized for any hurt he caused with his recent comments about religion.
Mr Pettingill said he has always advocated equal rights, and opposes discrimination in all forms. He said he believes in the separation of Church and State, something that PLP MP Michael Scott also expressed during the debate.
He said some of the words he spoke were “clearly hurtful” to some in the community. Mr Pettingill said he recognizes what many within the Churches have done for our community, and he is “deeply regretful” for any offence he caused.
He also noted he has not been asked or directed to apologize by the Premier and the Cabinet, and did so on his own accord. He also said that he has even had threats of violence directed against him due to the comments. He declined to expand on that, saying he wants to move on and work for the better of the island.
Video of Mr Pettingill’s statement today is below & the audio of his original comments is here
During Friday’s [June 14] debate in the House of Assembly, Mr Pettingill said: “A large part of the phobia and the fear has come out of religious doctrine that people have been inducted with since they were young. In some churches, not in all churches, thank God. Not in all churches, but in enough. [Read full story here]
On Tuesday [June 18] PLP MP Michael Weeks said that in his role as Attorney General, Mr Pettingill has a “duty to respect and display tolerance for all Bermudians”, and said he hopes the Premier “will move swiftly” and “encourage his Minister to apologize…” [Read full story here]
On Wednesday [June 19] Premier Cannonier and Mr Pettingill said that when Mr Pettingill was talking about aspects of religion, he was speaking on his own behalf, not for the Government or OBA. [Read full story here]
This morning [June 20] Opposition Leader Marc Bean called on the Premier to fire Mr Pettingill, and said that ”failure to act can only be interpreted as supporting the intolerant beliefs and incompetent performance of AG Pettingill.” [Read full story here]
Update 5.07pm: Mr Pettingill’s full comments follow below:
Last week in the House of Parliament, I made a speech on the passing of the HR in particularly on ‘sexual orientation’.
I have always strongly advocated equal rights and have been from the depths of my being, entirely opposed to discrimination in any form. I have strongly held views on the division of State and Church as were also eloquently expressed upon by the Hon. Mr. Michael Scott in his speech for the Opposition.
On reflection, and after discussion with my people, including people of strong faith and those of non-faith, I appreciate that some of the words I spoke [the actual words, not some of the inaccuracies that have been attributed to me], that they were clearly hurtful to people in this community.
One senior pastor, who I respect, told me he felt wounded by my words as did people in his congregation. I recognize that both he and other pastors have given much to Bermuda and this community and I am saddened by this and apologize for any wounds they have suffered.
Whilst I believe passionately in the right of free speech as a fundamental premise of our democracy, if what I have to say causes hurt or anguish to any individual, I am deeply regretful for that. I would say I am unequivocally sorry to anyone who felt that way as a result of what I said.
I have not been asked or directed to apologize by the Premier or the Cabinet. My mother was a bit more keen and have taken this course purely on the basis that I do not wish to have the flames of division fanned.
There have been some very hurtful things said about me personally and even threats of violence made over this issue and I entirely forgive anyone who aroused to such sentiments. In like mind, I would ask your forgiveness. Lessons have been learned. There is much more that needs to be done in Bermuda and I would like to get back to contributing to that work
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- PLP Leader Calls On Premier To Fire Pettingill | Bernews.com | June 20, 2013