Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley (right), in conversation with (from left) delegate Nkwa Daniel-Bishop; Permanent Secretary responsible for Family and Youth, Irvine Best and Anglican cleric, Cano Noel Burke. (A. Gaskin/BGIS)

A Religious Advisory Council could soon be established in Barbados to offer guidance to Government on religious and related matters.

This disclosure has come from Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, who said he was currently contemplating making a submission to Cabinet to formalise the body.

Mr. Lashley made the comments today during the opening ceremony of a one-day Religious Summit at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Stressing the importance of the meeting in light of the increase in crime and deviant behaviour by some groups, the Minister stated: "If left unattended, these problems will lead to the gradual decay of the society we so much treasure, and push us in a direction that neither ourselves nor our Creator would have us go. It is against this background that this Summit is timely and desirable."

He said religion had played a significant role in the social fabric of the country. "That much of what Barbados is and has achieved over the years is directly attributable to the strong influence of religion in the lives of individuals and the nation as a whole. Consequently, it is wise and perhaps inevitable that we involve our religious leaders and thinkers anytime that we seek to address challenges that confront us," he added.

According to him, this opinion was emphasised in a recent Gender Sexual Violence Survey conducted by the Barbados Evangelical Association, which indicated that in view of the prevailing deviance within the society, the church must be more involved and aggressive in the life of the community.

The Minister noted that some people might express serious misgivings about whether such a diverse group could be united to discuss such important topics during the day. "I have no such apprehensions, but eagerly look forward to this time when we all – Government, the religious community, the youth and civil society – could engage in forthright discussion on the many societal issues which are negatively impacting our society.

"… We are not here to debate doctrinal matters or to engage in discourse as to the correctness of one belief over the other. There are too many issues facing our nation for us to become engrossed in tribalism. The choice of religious belief is a personal matter. I believe that what unites us in religion is far more important than what divides us in speaking up for a just and decent society," he suggested.

Mr. Lashley told the large gathering that the route to finding solutions to most of the societal issues confronting the nation resided, not in economic advances, bureaucratic structures or even politicians, but in a return to family values.


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