The first, which was held at Kampo Restaurant in Chaguanas at 11 am, was attended by ministers from several Full Gospel Churches which included Miracle Ministries pastor, Reverand Winston Cuffie, Faith Centre pastor and founder Bishop Carlyle Chankersingh and Full Gospel Businessmen International president, Trevor Joseph.
However, prior to praying for Persad-Bissessar, the evangelical organisations posed several questions to her including the party’s position on six issues — abortion; gender policy relating to same sex marriages; the broadcasting policy allowing the Church freedom of expression; the continuation of religious education in schools; the Church’s involvement in government social programmes and the Church’s input in governmental policy and representation. Persad-Bissessar thanked the Christian groups for allowing her the opportunity to meet to clear the air on what she described were “lies, half-truths and innuendoes” by those on the opposing side which have been calling on the UNC political leader to state her position on abortion.
Persad-Bissessar said she shared the views of the Church leaders that “life is sacred”, saying a People’s Partnership Administration did not have any intention of changing the laws of Trinidad and Tobago including that relating to marriages.
She recalled that while drafting the Equal Opportunities legislation, several groups had lobbied the UNC administration to include provision for same sex marriages but this was not included in the legislation.
“We did not include that in our equal opportunity legislation. We must be bound by the laws of Trinidad and Tobago as it stands on these issues and if it is that the law is to be changed then that is not a position of Kamla Persad-Bissessar or Jack Warner or any member of the People’s Partnership, that will have to be a decision of the people,” she said.
Persad-bissessar also reminded the Full Gospel ministers that it was a UNC Administration which had introduced a “faith- based and values-based education” into the school curriculum. “We had begun to put into place that the curriculum should be infused with values based education.
Regarding the construction of a church in Guanapo, she said, “I have no problem with a Church, I have no problem with assisting churches but it must be fair, it must be equitable and in everything that we do there must be transparency and accountability.”
“That issue I have raised about the Guanapo building has nothing to do with religion,” she asserted. “A nation that lives without God, is a nation that doesn’t have that faith and if its people don’t have that faith, they will surely perish,” she said.
Earlier, Reverend Sean Kangal, while posing his question to Persad-Bissessar pronounced that the organisation would be “voting for change,” saying the Born-Again Christian population comprised between 15 to 20 percent of the national population.
By 1.30 pm, Persad-Bissessar was having a media briefing with members of the Muslims of Trinidad and Tobago at UNC headquarters in Rienzi Complex, Couva. The group was led by chairman Imtiaz Mohammed, IBN founder Inshan Ishmael and Food Crop Farmers Association official Shiraz Mohammed.
Mohammed, reading from a prepared text said the movement had “united together with the People’s Partnership for the betterment of the people of our country.”
“It is time to change the political mind set of the electorate and by that I mean our people should not be voting on race but they must vote for a party which can deliver so their standard can rise,” Mohammed said. Persad-Bissessar thanked the Muslim organisation for its support and pledged her administration would end discrimination against all religious organisations.