Column: Taking On AME Is A ‘Losing Proposition’

January 3, 2017

[Opinion column written by Chris Famous]

According to their website, the African Methodist Episcopal Church [AMEC] grew out of the Free African Society [FAS] which Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and others established in Philadelphia in 1787.

When officials at St. George’s MEC pulled blacks off their knees while praying, FAS members discovered just how far American Methodists would go to enforce racial discrimination against African Americans. Hence, these members of St. George’s made plans to transform their mutual aid society into an African congregation.

Although most wanted to affiliate with the Protestant Episcopal Church, Allen led a small group who resolved to remain Methodists. In 1794, Bethel AME was dedicated with Allen as pastor. To establish Bethel’s independence from interfering white Methodists, Allen, a former Delaware slave, successfully sued in the Pennsylvania courts in 1807 and 1815 for the right of his congregation to exist as an independent institution.

Because black Methodists in other middle Atlantic communities encountered racism and desired religious autonomy, Allen called them to meet in Philadelphia to form a new Wesleyan denomination, the AME.”

AMEC African Methodist Episcopal Church generic TC

Born out of the savagery of 18th century slavery, the AMEC has always has a dual agenda of the spiritual and social upliftment. Ever on the forefront of social justice and equality, the church has had to endure the worst of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation and economic deprivation administered by the powers that be.

So for many, it came as no surprise that on December 29th 2016, the OBA Government, via Minister of Home Affairs Patrica Gordon-Pamplin issued the following statement in regards to the work permit for St. Paul AME Pastor Rev. Nicholas Tweed.

“In this particular instance, the applicant failed to comply with rules that were put in place for everyone. As a result, I had no choice but to uphold the previous decision to refuse the new application.”

Essentially, what the OBA has done is put the wheels in motion for Rev. Tweed to cease preaching to the masses and leave Bermuda by January 17, 2016.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the OBA have had a bit too much of Premier Dunkley’s eggnog over the holiday. Perhaps, just perhaps, they feel that they can just cite whichever law they wish as a just cause to take what ever actions they deem fit. One will never know the rationale of what the OBA actually thinks before they make these decisions.

Chris Famous TC Bermuda January 3 2016

However, what is clear is that the OBA has a clear track record of making bad decisions. Especially after each by-election loss that they have suffered over the last two years.

The pattern clearly shows within days of each by-election loss that the OBA suffers they do these knee jerk reactions:

  • Lose by election in Constituency 33, November 2014 = Introduce Aecon Airport Deal which has proven to be a monumental public relations night quagmire for the OBA.
  • Lose by-election in Constituency 13, February 4th 2016 = Introduce Pathways To Status Legislation February 5th, 2016 which lead to unprecedented actions of thousands of Bermudians
  • Lose by-election in Constituency 26, December 20th 2016 = Announce decision on Rev. Tweed December 29th, 2016

As seen above each one of these knee jerk reactions has never worked out in their favour.

Considering that there are over 5,500 Bermudians who identify themselves as AME members, one would think that the OBA would realize that with an election looming they would choose not to be on the wrong side of history with thousands of swing voters. They would need to heed the advice of former Premier Alex Scott, and have a meeting between Premier Dunkley and the AME Bishop who will be on island today.

I am not sure who is giving advice to the OBA, but picking a fight with the AME Church that has a 200 year history of fighting for people’s rights is a losing proposition.

- Chris Famous can be contacted via email at Carib_pro@yahoo.com or Twitter at @ryderz777

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