Days after a politician forced him out of a public job because he criticized the government on national radio, Bishop John Cline is still convinced that politics and religion can make a perfect mix.
He told BVI News Online that, in relation to his forced resignation that became public this week, he expects mixed reactions from the congregation he leads at New Life Baptist Church in Duff’s Bottom, Tortola.
“I think within any congregation such as mine, you will have different responses. Some will be for and some will be against. I imagine that will be the case.”
Bishop Cline further told BVI News Online that he and his congregation have ‘weathered many storms’, and he does not expect anything different regarding the latest developments.
“All in all, they are good [church] members. We have been through ups and downs together. We have weathered many many storms over the past 24 years of my pastoring. I think they are strong, faithful people and I think they will weather this storm also,” he said.
‘Wake up and smell the coffee’
Bishop Cline, in the meantime, said there is no Biblical support for the view that a religious leader should not become involved in politics.
The staunch supporter of the ruling National Democratic Party explained: “The old framework of – because you are pastor of a church you don’t have anything to contribute politically – is a tradition; it is not biblical; it cannot be biblically supported.”
“God always appointed kings and leaders of a people, and the priest or the prophets always spoke to kings. I am a businessman. If I have a business in the BVI, of course I want the BVI to do well, because if the BVI doesn’t do well my business doesn’t do well. I have children here; I own land here; should I just roll over and play dead and keep a closed mouth? And if the place is going to hell or is on fire, I should just say ‘Oh I am a preacher and so I shouldn’t say anything’? I don’t think so at all,” the clergyman reasoned.
He further told BVI News Online that persons who still believe religion and politics should be separated should ‘wake up and smell the coffee’.
“The people who are saying that are very in the dark about what life should be; they just need to be better informed. For people to say that, they need to come out of the shadows and wake up and smell the coffee,” said the bishop.
A week ago, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith successfully demanded the clergyman’s resignation as Chairman of the BVI Health Services Authority. He did so after Bishop Cline publicly agreed that the premier should – among other things – give up leadership of the Ministry of Finance.
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