This Hindu taxpayer objects to the use of state funds for the Inter-Religious Television channel. The funding was recently announced by President Jagdeo.
Guyana’s post-Republic democracy has struggled to ensure that freedom of religion and thought is practised. State lands are offered for religious institutions and some faith-based organisations are given concessions for various items.
However, in our society , some of the religious figures and institutions have sought to become partisan in their politics and have abused their secular powers. The Co-Chairperson of the Inter-Religious Organisation , Mr Edghill, had used state resources allocated to the Ethnic Relations Commission to condemn the SASOD Film Festival in 2010 with all sorts of irrational claims such as child abuse.
The Government has not objected to that abuse of its resources or sanctioned Mr Edghill. Now that Mr Edghill and other religious individuals and organisations are going to be involved in a state-funded television station, then it seems that those who fall foul of these religious bodies will have to find the resources to respond to any messages broadcast by those whose religious views are approved by the Government.
We have seen how the issue around beating of children in schools and homes have been swayed in favour of those who claim God gives them the right to beat children. The state should not be funding the broadcast of messages promoting homophobia or violence against children.
Guyana’s freedom of conscience allows the freedom not to believe in God. The government has not indicated where and how they will be allocating funds for the atheists and agnostics to share their views.
Guyana’s constitution allows in Article 145 for the freedom of thought and religion. The Government should not be pushing one set of thoughts or religious beliefs at the expense of others.
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