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#517064 - 08/24/16 10:38 AM Christians March Against Section 53 Judgment
Marty Offline
Last night, we told you about how the evangelists were preparing to stage a protest on the steps of the National Assembly Building. They're trying to bring public pressure against the Barrow Government to force them to re-consider their decision not to appeal the Chief Justice's ruling to decriminalize gay sex.

It happened today, and our 7News team was right there to watch it all unfold. Daniel Ortiz was also there to challenge them on their continued attempts to resist the ruling. Here's his report:

Daniel Ortiz reporting
Hundreds of Evangelists assembled at the foot of the National Assembly Building to show what they claim is just a breath of the full might of their discontent.

There were moments which resembled the religious leaders delivering powerful sermons from the pulpit, and at times, it looked like a church crusade had taken up residence on Independence Hill.

They even made sure to put off a short march around the National Assembly, all in an effort send the message that they are not happy with both the ruling, and the Prime Minister's Decision not to appeal it.

Hon. Ashley Rocke - Church Senator
"The church is registering its discontent with the ruling. We feel that the ruling does not represent the constitution correctly. If we say that the constitution is founded upon god, the principles of god, which god are we talking about?"

Albert Cattouse - Protester/COLA
"The prime minister of this country, dean barrow, is always shouting 'for god's sake stop it'. Now he has me confused because I don't know which god he's talking about."

Pastor Victor Hernandez - President, Southern Region Pastors Assoc.
"The word of god is what we look at for leadership and the word of god tells us that sodomy is a sin. It's against what we believe but more so, why we want this to be appealed is because we believe that it does not reflect the majority of the Belizean people."

Pastor Scott Stirm - VP, NEAB
"I don't like to inflate numbers but we're expecting close to a thousand people and I think we're pretty close to that."

Louis Wade - Talkshow Host/Protester
"The church has not yet mobilized, this is only the Toledo and the Orange Walk district. We have not mobilized the country nor have we mobilized other denominations who also oppose this issue. Nor have we mobilized the secular groups that are also aligned with us."

Hon. Ashley Rocke - Church Senator
"We feel that the constitution was registered on the principle of god in heaven, so the ruling to us was wrong."

Geovannie Brackett - President, COLA
"We do not support sodomy, we believe that this latest ruling only indicates that what the prime minister really wanted was to have another entity such as the courts to do their bidding."

Pastor Scott Stirm - VP, NEAB
"The purpose of this is to express our displeasure with the chief justice ruling as well as the fact that our government has stated that they will not appeal. I don't believe that there's even been a ruling as controversial and history making and history defining as this ruling."

Hon. Ashley Rocke - Church Senator
"What was surprising to us was that the man who made that ruling is a married man. He has his wife and his children and he made that ruling. So what signal is he sending to his children?"

Louis Wade - Talkshow Host/Protester
"It is not that we are trying to impose a will upon the people. We represent the conservative and moderate views of the nation. It is the government, be it the legislator, executive, or the court, that is taking an ultraliberal agenda and imposing it on the people."

It's still unclear whether the Church can appeal the decision, but the National Evangelical Association of Belize has declared that it will make a concerted effort.

Hon. Ashley Rocke - Church Senator
"The Prime Minister created, because he knows that the churches are not financially viable to do such a thing. So yea we would like to but it would take a lot to garner up all the money that is needed to take such a ruling to, not the appeal, but directly to the CCJ."

Pastor Scott Stirm - VP, NEAB
"There are 3 different interesting parties, and so it's my understanding that 2 of them have decided to not appeal. We are of the camp that is pushing towards appeal because we are not going to stop even if we don't get the appeal we are not going to stop. We will find the resources, finances follow faith."

The reason for this, the Christians claim, is that the state is ignoring their significant voice as a large sector of the population.

Hon. Ashley Rocke - Church Senator
"This government that is in right now came in on democracy, majority rule 3 times. Now on a moral issue like this that is very dear to the people of Belize, we do not feel that a majority could have made that ruling. How can majority be to put you in the House of Representatives but in the issues of morality, and as it relates to the church, we are saying that the minority could have done that. To us, that's not democracy, that's hypocrisy."

But could the church be playing the role of villain in this part of history in the making, given that a minority keeps crying out loudly that they're being disenfranchised?

Daniel Ortiz
"The popular vote of a particular issue is not always right, 'might' is not always right and history has shown that minorities have experienced the injustices of the majority. Quickly that comes to mind is slavery, you have the issue of the right to vote. Isn't this an example of where the majority popular vote will disenfranchise a minority who is entitled to the same rights and freedoms of the church?"

Hon. Ashley Rocke - Church Senator
"Would you agree with me that had they not meddle with this at all, things would have just continued the way it was going?"

Daniel Ortiz
"I agree with you but there are person who would say that the threat of being prosecuted is just as bad as being prosecuted."

Hon. Ashley Rocke - Church Senator
"They have their views, we don't necessarily share that view."

Pastor Scott Stirm - VP, NEAB
"We stand upon universal declaration of human rights which grants religious freedom, protections, family protections and education protections. This is what is being called today the evolving human rights and so that evolution, we don't buy that."

So, for the church the bottom line is that this is a moral issue; Sodomy - they say-is not permitted in the Kingdom of God. They regard it as a social ill, but what about those social ills that have infiltrated their clergy's ranks? Do they still have that right to cast the first stone?

Daniel Ortiz
"There are instances of adultery, child sexual abuse, fornication and those things are swept under the rug. We know specifically of one pastor who was a major important leader of one of the associations, allegations were made against him and that was put aside, is that not an example of the hypocrisy?"

Hon. Ashley Rocke - Church Senator
"The ruling has done something for the church, it has challenged the fathers to go back home to their family. It has challenged mothers to start paying attention to their children. It has challenged the home to regroup, because if we don't regroup and fix our own problems then imagine if we have to deal with that problem."

Pastor Scott Stirm - VP, NEAB
"We did not pick this fight. Caleb Orozco picked this fight, he brought a lawsuit to try to change our laws to say "why don't you go deal with this and deal with that?" we are dealing with all those issues but on this issue, this is historic in the nation of Belize and so that's why it's such a big issue. It's clearly obvious that if the government does not stand up, the church will."

Daniel Ortiz
"Even the own challenges that the church has"

Louis Wade - Talkshow Host/Protester
"What challenges? I don't know of any challenge that the church has."

Daniel Ortiz
"Specifically where there are instances in the church where there is child sexual abuse in certain parts of the church. There is adultery and fornication from senior leaders of the church. Do you concede that these things happen?"

Louis Wade - Talkshow Host/Protester
"It happens throughout the society that predators look for wherever children are and they guise themselves as prime ministers, area representatives, judges, priests, pastors, teachers and in any garb that offers them a shield of protection while they can simultaneously make our children vulnerable."

At the height of the crowd, our estimates put the number of protesters at a thousand. The churches claim higher numbers, saying they brought two dozen buses from Toledo alone - which at 60 persons per bus is over a thousand.

But they'll have another chance to impress us: We understand that they intend to show up again to protest this Friday's House Meeting when the Prime Minister will be back in country.

Channel 7


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#517068 - 08/24/16 11:14 AM Re: Christians March Against Section 53 Judgment [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Senator Ashely Rocke was called to testify at a murder trial recently and 'forgot' the eye witness testimony he gave police and so, the alleged murderer, walked. No backbone and should lose his senate seat at the very least. The rest of these guys, excluding the white men from the US, do not realize that if the US required a referendum against slavery or civil rights, they'd still be seating at the back of the bus and not allowed to eat at lunch counters.
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