We boast of being a Christian nation, but are we really so? According to the latest national statistics, we are a nation where most of the population claims to be Christian or attends a Christian church at least once a month. Does church attendance make The Bahamas a Christian nation? I am happy to live in a nation where most of the population claims to be Christian. However, I am even happier that by constitution The Bahamas do not require its residents to be Christians. On the other hand, the Constitution guarantees the right and freedom of each individual residing in The Bahamas to live according to his or her conscience. In other words, The Bahamas is a secular state and not a Christian one.
According to the International Religious Freedom Report 2010, “More than 90 percent of the population professes a religion, and anecdotal evidence suggests most attend services regularly. The country's religious profile reflects its diversity. Protestant Christian denominations including Baptists (35 percent), Anglicans (15 percent), Pentecostals (8 percent), Church of God (5 percent), Seventh-day Adventists (5 percent), and Methodists (4 percent) are in the majority, but there are also significant Roman Catholic (14 percent) and Greek Orthodox populations. Smaller Jewish, Baha'i, Jehovah's Witnesses, Rastafarian, and Muslim communities also are active. A small number of Bahamians and Haitians, particularly those living in the Family Islands, practice Obeah, a version of voodoo. Some members of the small resident Guyanese and Indian populations practice Hinduism and other South Asian religions. Although many unaffiliated Protestant congregations are almost exclusively black, most mainstream churches are integrated racially.”
WHY A SECULAR STATE?
According to the dictionary, “A secular state is a concept of secularism, whereby a state or country purports to be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion. A secular state also claims to treat all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and claims to avoid preferential treatment for a citizen from a particular religion/non-religion over other religions/non-religion. Secular states do not have a state religion or equivalent, although the absence of a state religion does not guarantee that a state is secular.” If by constitution The Bahamas were Christian, then there would be policies and laws in place dictating the way each citizen should live, thus restricting freedom of religion and speech. This is the case in the Islamic states today where each citizen is required to abide by Islamic beliefs or face a penalty.
In 1620 one hundred Puritans boarded the ‘Mayflower’ bound for the New World. The Pilgrim Fathers, as they are called today left England because they did not have religious freedom. They wanted a place where the state would not interfere with their freedom to believe and practice their faith. They wanted a secular country by constitution where the people could live their conscience under God. They wanted to be loyal citizens yet not controlled by the state in their religious beliefs and practices. This freedom included the right to meet for instruction and worship, to worship on any day of the week they chose and to worship their God the way they wanted to. It also included the freedom to change one’s religion as well as to invite others to do so. The truth is Christians can thrive better in a secular state because God does not force anyone to worship Him.
A challenge we are facing in The Bahamas is that many are preaching the gospel, but few are living it. We have countless Christian churches but not enough Christian people. Thus we have too many hypocrites who want to obliterate certain social ills, but their own lives condemn them.
Note carefully this point. The majority of the people in the country might be Christian, thus some might call it a Christian nation. However, the government and the constitution are to be secular (neutral).
Today, many Christians who are fed up with the social ills in society are being misled to think that the government must provide some spiritual guidance for the people. They are also saying that since we profess to be a ‘Christian nation,’ we should have no alcohol saloons, illegal drugs, strip joints, pornography channels, dance halls, etc. While I do wish these were not in our country, the real problem is not the presence of these things but the inability for Christian leaders to promote godly Christian living, and to teach personal censorship instead of national censorship. Too many preachers are themselves engaged in shady lifestyles, social impropriety, and religious and political gerrymandering. Too many community leaders who claim to be Christian are accomplices in crime and shady business.
We are too pre-occupied with the discussion of whether or not we are or should be a Christian nation. That is not my concern. I am more concerned that the people live Godly lives and that true Christians accept that all have a right to chose how they will live, what they will watch on TV, the music they will listen to and places they will go. That is the freedom we are guaranteed by our constitution. What Christians must do then is to stop condemning and start modeling godly living. The true Christian will teach religious tolerance and the acceptance that we are a pluralistic society. That means every one respects every one of all Christian faiths and other faiths such as Islam, Baha’i, Christian Science, Rastafarianism, atheism, agnosticism, etc.
Sometimes politicians and religious leaders argue about whether or not shops should be open on Sundays. Religious leaders say the Sunday is a holy day of worship. Politicians say it is a good day for business. The truth is, in a secular society, every day should be a shopping day. The people are the ones to decide whether or not they will shop or not on a certain day. Having stores closed on Sunday is no proof that we are a Christian nation. It is the way we live that determines how powerful and effective Christianity is in influencing the society. Christians, while we might preach against gambling or strip joints, perhaps we need to preach more to the people who are doing these things. Our primary emphasis then will not be to close down the gambling hall and nude saloons, but to teach those who seek to go there how to live godly lives. They have the freedom to choose how to live and Christians have the freedom to preach and live the gospel. Note that our first duty is to live the gospel, not preach it. One writer puts it this way “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”
Religious freedom is all about being able to decide how you want to live and not having the state dictate to you. I am truly happy My country is not a Christian nation. Let’s keep it that way.
The OP said: Religious freedom is all about being able to decide how you want to live and not having the state dictate to you. I agree with that statement
The RCC has enforced Sunday worship all the way from Constantines day.
Constantine and Sunday
Daniel 7:25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. KJV
How was Sabbath abolished and Sunday established? By Royal edicts and church ordinances sustained by secular power. The first public measure enforcing Sunday observance was the law enacted by Constantine. (A.D. 321) The pagan festival of Sunday attained its position of honor in the Christian world. This edict required townspeople to rest on “the venerable day of the sun,”
Still, the absence of Scriptural authority for Sunday-keeping occasioned no little embarrassment. The people questioned the right of their teachers to set aside the positive declaration of the word of God, “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God,”
When the royal mandate was not proving a sufficient substitute for divine authority, Eusebius, a bishop who sought the favor of princes, and who was the special friend and flatterer of Constantine, advanced the claim that Christ had transferred the Sabbath to Sunday. Not a single testimony of the Scriptures was produced as proof of the new doctrine. Eusebius himself unwittingly acknowledges its falsity and points to the real authors of the change. “All things,” he says, “whatever that it was the duty to do on the Sabbath, these we have transferred to the Lord’s Day.”
Notwithstanding all the efforts to establish Sunday sacredness, papists themselves publicly confessed the divine authority of the Sabbath and the human origin of the institution by which it had been supplanted. In the sixteenth century, a papal council plainly declared: “Let all Christians remember that the seventh day was consecrated by God, and hath been received and observed, not only by the Jews but by all others who pretend to worship God; though we Christians have changed their Sabbath into the Lord’s Day.”
From The Catechism of the Catholic Church Section 2 Article 3 (1994):
Sunday – fulfillment of the Sabbath. Sunday is expressly distinguished from the Sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians, its ceremonial observance replaces that of the Sabbath... The Sabbath, which represented the completion of the first creation, has been replaced by Sunday which recalls the new creation, has been replaced by Sunday which recalls the new creation inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ... In respecting religious liberty and the common good of all, Christians should seek recognition of Sundays and the Church’s holy days as legal holidays.
Q. Which is the Sabbath day?
A. Saturday is the Sabbath day.
Q. Why Do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
A. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.
Question: Have you any other way of proving the Church has power to institute festivals of precept?
Answer: Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her, she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday the 1st day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the 7th day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.
You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify.
The Bible confirms this. Daniel 7:25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, “the mystery of iniquity” 2Th 2:7 carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the Christian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecutions which the church endured under paganism. But as persecution ceased, and Christianity entered the courts and palaces of kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ and His apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirements of God, she substituted human theories and traditions. The nominal conversion of Constantine, in the early part of the fourth century, caused great rejoicing; and the world, cloaked with a form of righteousness, walked into the church. Now the work of corruption rapidly progressed. Paganism, while appearing to be vanquished, became the conqueror. Her spirit controlled the church. Her doctrines, ceremonies, and superstitions were incorporated into the faith and worship of the professed followers of Christ.
This compromise between paganism and Christianity resulted in the development of “the man of sin” Apostle Paul says 2Thesalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. ... And now ye know what withholds that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceptions of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.
In rejecting the truth in the bible men rejects its Author. In trampling upon the law of God, they deny the authority of the Law-giver. It is as easy to make an idol of false doctrines and theories as to fashion an idol of wood or stone. By misrepresenting the attributes of God, Satan leads men to see God as a false character. With many, a philosophical idol is enthroned in the place of God the living God, as He is revealed in His Word, the Christ.
Satan once endeavored to form a compromise with Christ. He came to the Son of God in the wilderness of temptation, and showing Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, offered to give all into His hands if He would but acknowledge the supremacy of the prince of darkness. Christ rebuked the presumptuous tempter and forced him to depart. But Satan meets with greater success in presenting the same temptations to man. To secure worldly gains and honors, the church was led to seek the favor and support of the great men of the earth; and having thus rejected Christ, she was induced to yield allegiance to the representative of Satan—the Papacy.
And as we understand Prophecy it will only get worse and one day we may face a Death decree for choosing a day God prescribed and rejecting the tradition of man.