Secularism in the Cayman Islands

| 06/07/2016 | 57 Comments

Cayman News ServiceBlue Iguana writes: Before offering my two cents on the matter, allow me to preface this viewpoint by making it clear that it is not my intent to alienate or assault those who hold religious beliefs in our community. The rationale presented in this piece is not being employed to promote an atheistic agenda. Rather, it is a suggestive article that hopes to stimulate an informed debate on the topic of secularism in the Cayman Islands for the mutual benefit of all.

Secularism is a principle involving two basic propositions. Firstly, there is a strict separation of the government from religious organisations. This is to ensure that religious groups are unable to interfere with affairs of the state, and makes sure the state doesn’t interfere in religious affairs. Secondly, people of different religions and beliefs are equal before the law. Collectively, these propositions serve to put an end to the perception that certain religious affiliations are more favoured than others in a society.

I recognise that these islands are oftentimes quoted as being a “god-fearing nation”, and that a large sum of my fellow natives have a religious affiliation of some sort; however, I am of the opinion that implementing secularism would be largely beneficial to all of us residing here in Cayman for a variety of reasons which I will further explain.

As a territory in which approximately half the population has emigrated from abroad, it would be quite irrational and nonsensical to disregard the cultural diversity that exists and continues to flourish. One could even argue that, as our islands have transformed over time, we have truly become a microcosm of the world.

According to data compiled the Cayman Islands Immigration Department, the number of foreign workers contracted on work permits as of 30th September, 2015 stood at 22,148. This figure translates into work permit holders comprising nearly 40% of the population. Recently, it was reported in the press by government leaders that an increase of some 2,000 work permits are expected in the New Year – indicating that public policy is dictating the degree of our population’s cultural diversity.

With this notion in mind, as a multicultural society that prides itself with the highest standards of living in the region, we ought to embrace the highest standards of equality too. The doctrine of secularism, if enacted into law, would act as a mechanism to provide legal protection with regard to freedom of religious belief and practice for all citizens – including the irreligious. In essence, secularism upholds and defends the rights to freedom of religion and belief. Additionally, it simultaneously balances this right to freedom of religion by also ensuring individuals the right to be free from religion.

Furthermore, all citizens are treated equally before the law and parliament in a truly secular democracy. For example, a Caymanian that follows Christianity or an Indian on work permit that believes in Hinduism will never be at an advantage or disadvantage simply due to their faith.

In addition to granting all believers the same rights and obligations as anyone else in society, secularism extends protection to those who might otherwise be treated as inferior ultimately because they’re irreligious or practice a different faith. Therefore, it would serve to uphold equality laws and human rights conventions that protect women, the LGBT community, minorities and other vulnerable segments of society.

Secularism also stands for protecting the freedom of speech and expression. Just as a religious person has the right to freely express the principles of their belief in a public forum, so do those who have a desire to voice their opposing view. A true democracy allows for the discussion of all ideas and beliefs. We must recognise that individuals have rights, ideas do not.

The implementation of secularism would also create a framework that would empower legislators to discuss modernising laws that originally sought to prohibit a variety of activities due to the influence of religious doctrines. For example, with the exception of raffles, all forms of gambling are illegal and punishable by law.

Consequently, the lack of modernisation has catalysed the creation of a black market in which government has no capacity to regulate it. Furthermore, it could allow for further liberalisation of the Sunday Trading Law which currently discriminates a variety of industries and restricts potential profits from a plethora of businesses.

While some may be of the view that this entire piece is driven by an atheistic agenda, those with compassion and rationality will understand that it is not about silencing the voice of the Christian community; in fact, secularism reserves no interest in challenging the tenets of any particular religion or belief, nor does it have the objective of imposing atheism on anyone. Secularism is our golden opportunity to create a society wherein people of all religions or none can coexist fairly and harmoniously.

Category: Viewpoint

Comments (57)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Blue Iguana, you’ve made some very valid points. It’s always nice to know that there are still some open-minded people out there who aren’t trying to push for just one side of the equation, but would much rather see everyone getting along in harmony, instead of there constantly being discord.

    Far too often a lot of people insist that “one way” is the “right way”, when we can’t judge others simply because they believe/love/think differently than we do. There’s always something new to learn from someone who’s different than you, no matter what that difference may be.

    Look at the mess this world is in with all the unnecessary hate that exists. Instead of us pointing fingers at others’ differences, why not point our fingers at the similarities: we’re all human…we all have rights…we all deserve love and respect. And above all else, we should be striving to live in peace and harmony.

    One Love!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Religion has been the cause of mass genocide throughout history. Religion causes wars.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I believe Religion has hijacked God in order to control the people for power, influence and Greed. Every religion has its little control mechanism that you must obey because. Catholics have confession and sacrament. Seventh Day have no work on Saturday. JW have no blood transfusion. Moslum have no Pork and must pray to mecha. Each one of these has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with control.

    • Anonymous says:

      Moslum? Mecha? Have you been learning spelling from a certain TV news channel?

    • Getalode A'Dat says:

      Friend, that is an excellent point. I know that one day I will face my Creator, but it will not be through the tainted lense of religion.
      How many people are pushed away from God because they have no idea of how reasonable He is? He requires honesty and humility. He will do the rest.
      In the words of the famous Aboriginal prophet, Didya Ridu, “When you gave to the poor, you gave to God.”

    • Unison says:

      Agreed 100%

      I see religion like a raft to get you to cross the river. It’s a help to finding God and your true self. But once you have made it across, you do not hold on to your raft. You must learn to let it go, or you will become a religious nut.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I see a lot of comments that religion teaches morality. I’ve actually read the Bible and I don’t see where the moral compass it teaches is. I see the condoning of slavery, the subjugation of women, killing and maiming people in the name of God. No morality though. How about the one commandment: Treat others as you would want them to treat you, and can reasonably expect them to want to be treated. Sound fair?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I think we should all just be gay about it and move on………….

  6. Anonymous says:

    We need more religion at our University, Their god fearing president has been able to promote a good bunch of christian faculty to positions where we can finally expose some of the less desirable teachers. We need the support of more churches and politicians of the same mind to continue this progressive movement. Our children must be prepared for the end times and for the job market where being a christian means you can often jump up the ladder faster than those undesirables.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Evolution. Posters are debating with people who do not believe in evolution. You cannot reason with the brainwashed.

    • NotNice says:

      Sorry to rain on your parade by evolution is a made up theory. LOL. In fact, so is space itself. it’s just earth and the firmament.

      • Think of all possibilities says:

        Up is the new Down in your world.

      • Anonymous says:

        I love the firmament. At night I look up on the sky and think, “I love the way the stars are fixed into the firmament. For the whole 6,000 years the universe has existed, it is a beautiful thing.”

        • NotNice says:

          *earth….which is a plane. Star trek, Star wars, are all fallacy. They released Moon movies before the moon landings to precondition our minds to believe us this is possible. There is no universe, no big bang….no evolution. Its all a ploy to convince us that God does not exist and we are insignificant. What i just wrote is absolute comedy for 99.5% of the population but is what is really the truth. Why else is the world so full of confusion? History is a lie and we are living in globalist agenda.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Anything that helps seperate religous delusions is appreciated. Religion holds no place in politics, it needs to stay in the fiction aisle where it belongs.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with your comment aside from the use of “delusions” and “fiction”. That is a matter of belief. If you argue with someone based on belief no one will every win. Rather, I would re-word: “Anything that helps separate religious dogma from the state appears to ne beneficial to the state” Saying it this way respects other’s beliefs (yours included) and doesn’t muddle the issue.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Well written…..excellent article!

  10. Unison says:

    A RESPECTFUL BALANCE IS NEEDED.

    Although secularism has provided many advantages as you have made clear in your article, allow me to balance the issue between secularism and religion:

    It is obvious in our day of age that societies are becoming more secular would the “respect” for people’s religious beliefs. Yes … everybody knows that certain folk hung up on their beliefs have done more bad than good for the whole.

    However, I would say certain religious beliefs and institutions have kept secularism at bay from #1 being overrunned by arrogant athiest, #2 leading many to materialism, and #3 growing society into an ego-centric one of “I, me, and myself.”

    You talk about the benefits of secularism… now consider the benefits of religion. First, the religious have contributed well in establishing common grounds for morality that has given many people a sense of unity towards good endeavors. The religious has brought hope, grace, quell fears, and has made “sinners into saints.” I have seen the religious help the poor, the needy and saved many on the brink of suicide … way more effective than a secular society could with their self-help books and psychologist ever do.

    Moreover the religious throughout time continues to create and beatify culture. They have brought literature, art, music, and traditions. Great stories (although may appear fictional) has provided great moral lesson. I remember when I was growing up if my parents didn’t taught, it was my religion that taught that there were certain moral guidelines you never cross. And these guidelines just didn’t came from fears of consequences, but commonsense would tell you if you put your hand in the fire you get burn! 🙂

    Only a stubborn atheist or humanist would deny the great value that is found in religious literature, arts and its culture. Only the fool would cherry pick passages from these texts to condemn all religious beliefs. I have met secular folks who are wise and show intelligence. Many of them are freethinkers, agnostics, and deists. I am a deist who practice alot of buddhist tenets, and I don’t rule out that there is a god. Am I an illogical person to say there is when I logically came to that coonclusion??? There are alot of people in religions that use their reason and commonsense, and just not benumb in a blind faith as what many secularist would claim.

    So yes … I think there needs to be a balance, a balance of RESPECT for what is a part of our culture. Do I think religious laws should be legislated and enforced respecting a religion … of course not! Do I think the gay-movement is becoming like a state-religion in the United States? Hmmm … it looks like you have arrogant persons infiltrating the U.S. politics to impose laws on everyone to follow, and they wany Cayman and other places to follow in sinc.

    My 2-cent 🙂

    • Anonymous says:

      This is the poster that uses the term “leaders of the gays”. That says it all. As if that last paragraph was not bad enough.

      • Unison says:

        lol … sorry to bruise your gay sentiments. But if the Pope can apologize for the hate that certain Christians expressed against gay persons, I am sure from the gay community, their leaders can publicly apologize for the expressions of hate from their ignorant followers.

        You can’t have it win-lose. You can’t eat your cake and have it too. That’s all I was saying 😉

        • Anonymous says:

          As a leader of the gays, I am truly sorry that the church has persecuted homosexuals for centuries and continues to do so.

    • Anonymous says:

      More atrocities have been done in the name of religion than any other cause. Religion has its place, but that place is not in politics or in governance of a country. Religion is not universal and the divisions even between sects of the same religion are obvious for all to see. Such differences have led to countless wars in the past. The reality is that to govern on the basis purely of religion is inherently discriminatory, because religion discriminates. Anyone disagreeing with that observation need only read the other comments on this page for the evidence that supports it. The problem with the overly-religious is easily demonstrated: they discriminate against and seek to deny equality to other human beings based on various life choices that they say offend their religion, but which are not offensive to law or, in truth, to common sense. The same overly-religious individuals then cry foul when they are criticized and claim that they are being discriminated against for their religious views. It should be obvious to all that were everyone treated equally according to the law, rather than being treated accord to the views of the religious, neither side would be criticizing the other in the first place. You can seek to deny someone’s rights and then get upset when they criticize you. Any child on a playground can tell you that. To suggest that such denials have greater validity or are somehow exempt from criticism because they have their basis in the religious beliefs of one particular group is both intellectually dishonest and morally indefensible.

  11. Cor says:

    “Individuals have rights, ideas do not” ?

    Wonderful article! Totally agree!!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Agree with viewpoint completely!
    I can remember cringing when I read our new constitution, which clearly favors Christians….which in turn alienates those who are not! What good purpose does this serve (to promote equality that is!)

    And the recent ranting of Mr. Eden in the L.A. with no one making any attempt to redirect him was just the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever witnessed in our Cayman Islands.

    A tenth generation Caymanian

  13. Anonymous says:

    But needing to believe in a fictional ominpotent power and a fantasy world after death in order to derive a moral compass is pretty crazy.

    • Unison says:

      So no moral compass, no absolute morals because there is no absolute Moral Law-giver … lol … 🙂

      My friend … just imagine a society with no government, and you make your own laws. So if you say there is no God than anything goes! There is no accountability. Such is the dangers of atheism. 🙂

      • Anonymous says:

        That atheists have no laws morals or ethics is factually incorrect, though your argument is an oft repeated one. Many Christians do bad things and many atheists do good things. Imagine that.
        -Isme

      • Think of all possibilities says:

        Morality is not given by god. Morality is innate within all primates. Even studies have shown that monkeys have an inherent sense of fairness when one is fed more than another. Cooperation and social harmony is innate within us because it is required for our own success.

        It scares me when people say they receive their moral cues exclusively from religion… as if they would be out robbing, raping and murdering people if it weren’t for the good book. That is not a sign of a “moral” person at all. This 2-minute video explains this more eloquently than I can:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaGqVbAzjng

        • Anonymous says:

          You haven’t explained anything. Where does the ‘Innate’ come from?

          • Unison says:

            lol … I have to laugh too :)) There are times in a person’s life where beyond his instinct or what he was taught, “something” moves him to perform a virtue that is unthinkable and not the norm.

            Simply put – that mover is the Moral Law-giver. You don’t need creation to see there must be a Source … just look in yourself. The evidence is there. But so many people’s minds are noisy that’s why they don’t observe that “other still voice” in them.

            That is why coming from the secularist and atheist’s camps… you have good people yes, but there is a danger in thinking that there is no higher standard but your self. That’s dangerous if it is taken to extremity. Just like its dangerous if a religious nut believes everything in his “holy book” must be true and everyone else’s revelations must be false.

            But no doubt, there is something higher than us and its interested on how we behave. If we were to go against it, “conscience” will haunt us for the rest of our lives. And there is karma. You would be a fool to follow the atheistic banner that states “what’s right in your eyes is right”

          • Think of all possibilities says:

            It’s instinctual to survive. The best way to survive (and thrive) is by cooperating with others.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rr6lsTgZKAQ

      • Anonymous says:

        Dangers of atheism? Unison could you please quote the dangers of atheism from the book of atheism. While your at it, see if you can find any quotes in there from the leader of the gays.

      • Anonymous says:

        Do you really think your morality is a gift from god?

        Psalm 137:9 – Blessed will be the one who takes your babies and smahes them against the rocks.

      • Cheese Face says:

        “Dangers of atheism”? I’m pretty sure religion has caused a hell of a lot more suffering than atheism!

    • Anonymous says:

      And there is the opinion the author says was not his intent for divide. Please provide proof it is fictional, fact is you cannot, as believers cannot either. Either side can only offer evidence, this is why it is called FAITH.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “While some may be of the view that this entire piece is driven by an atheistic agenda, those with compassion and rationality will understand that it is not about silencing the voice of the Christian community; in fact, secularism reserves no interest in challenging the tenets of any particular religion or belief, nor does it have the objective of imposing atheism on anyone.”

    Exactly! Thank you for saying this because when religious people hear the word “secularism” they fear it means an attack on religion. It simply is not; all it means is allowing the freedom to worship any religion or no religion at all. Allowing for free thought and critical thinking are extremely important for the advancement of society. Especially for such an advanced nation like Grand Cayman that needs modern solutions to an ever changing landscape and population.

    Rule of law and society should be inclusive to everyone and not just for those belonging to one group. Everyone should get a fair chance to build and grow themselves and their careers how they want to. Not be restricted by discrimination and hatred from other groups who do not agree with them.

    • Unison says:

      I disagree. There is a unwarranted attack on religion! And its coming loud and clear from the secular and atheistic camps. Certain persons in these camps, have the aim of not just purging religions or weeding out the bad from the good… no … Rather their aim is to destroy certain religions altogether by first striking at their moralistic views and teachings.

      If left alone and supported fully by the law, they will tear down every moral principle that contributed to building up families, communities, and socities. The media and technologies is as well being used for their aims.

      • Anonymous says:

        “secular and atheistic camps” They are not the same. Stop acting like they are.

      • Think of all possibilities says:

        “families, communities, and socities” we all well-established, thriving and growing LOOOONG before there was organized religion. Why do you think that’s the case?

      • Anonymous says:

        We’re you born religious or did you choose to be religious?

        People are not born theist, people are born atheist.

        You can almost always accurately tell a persons religion from knowing their geographical location.

        Whether you like it or not Unison, you we’re in fact brought into this world as a atheist.

        Atheism is neither religion or the opposite. How must you convince yourself to believe something which holds no truth and provides no evidence? One word.. Delusion.

  15. Anonymous says:

    You do not understand. Religion and government are just a means to control those who are easily led. That is why they work so well together.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is also why they need to be separated.

    • Unison says:

      So down with religion! Down with government!

      Just like religion has their fanatics and terrorists, so do secularism and atheism. You have radicals who would become stalins and do what they can to destroy religious cultures and foundations.

      • Think of all possibilities says:

        …or conversely, become Hitler who himself was a Christian. Believing one has a personal relationship with the divine can lead to the same atrocities and destruction you fear:

        “Besides that, I believe one thing: there is a Lord God! And this Lord God creates the peoples.”
        -Adolph Hitler

        “We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations; we have stamped it out”
        -Adolph Hitler

        (there are many more, but you get the point… religion does not inherently equal morality)

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