Trinidad and Tobago are the only Country in the world to celebrate Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day on March 30 with a holiday and it seems that the significance and importance of this day go unrecognised because of a lack of knowledge about it.
People believe that anything the Africans derived came from the Caribbean True slavery but in originality, the Baptist religion came from the Americans.
ORDINANCE WHICH DEALS WITH IT.
This whole conception was dealt with in the Shouters Prohibition Ordinance which was passed on member 16, 1917. But the spiritual and shouter Baptist feet were banned in Trinidad by its colonial government from 1917 to 1951. This ordinance was further followed by Granada’s Public Meetings (Shakerism)Prohibition Ordinance.
This whole ordinance altogether prohibited the celebration of the Baptist religion which included clapping as well as doing other things, loudly. The term shouter was given or allocated to them because the faith included shouting while the celebration and hence they were termed as shelters by the higher class or society.
This is the celebration of the repeal of the Shouter Prohibition Ordinance on 30 March 1951.
They had to fight for their traditions for 34 long years and preserve them for the whole period. Finally, after much resistance, the law was squashed. In 1996 holiday was granted to celebrate the liberation of spiritual Baptists from the oppressive law.
Contemporary thought has not ended people still old colonial ignorance that Baptists are evil or daemonic in nature. Freedom came to the Baptists after long nights of official suppression. And now it is the 60th anniversary of the liberation.
HISTORY BEHIND IT
Spiritual Baptist is a Caribbean-originated religion. Spiritual Baptist is a fusion of Protestantism and African beliefs that took place in Tobago and Trinidad. The colonial government broadly removed a religion and outlawed the spiritual and shouter Baptists.
To have their integrity back the religion started to refer themselves as a spiritual Baptist and not shouter because any religion cannot be outlawed or degraded based on the culture and tradition it follows. This public holiday is marked by church services religious observances and processions.
The main reason for passing the shout prohibition ordinance was that the performances of the Baptist why are noisy. Sir Henry Golding called this kind of worship “an unmitigated nuisance”. The legislation was forcefully introduced by Attorney General, Sir Henry Gollan.
There were a lot of rules laid down with the ordinance such as any property used for any sort of shout a Baptist service would be imposed with a fine of $240 for the next 35 years.
The ordinance was abolished in 1951 which gave this is spiritual Baptists religious freedom for which they were resisting and fighting hard. Spiritual Baptist liberation day was established by Prime Minister Basdeo Pandey in 1996 to commemorate the repeal of the ordinance and to appreciate the struggles and resistance done by the Baptists to gain the freedom to practise their religion freely.
Off after the prohibition, many individuals of the Baptist category were taken to court and one of the eminent individuals was Teacher Bailey. Apart from Bailey, many people were taken to court for breaching the ordinance. One name was Caroline French, an elderly woman, who allowed the building of a shouter’s house on her land.
The defendants were charged even for minor mistakes or showing even a bit of resistance towards the ordinance. But gradually the judge discharged the defendants except for teacher bailey.
The introduction of the Shouter Prohibition Ordinance was a deliberate step and attempt for stopping the growth of the ‘shouters.’
Regarding this, last year’s incident cannot be forgotten when the PNP failed to provide funds to the Baptist community. The whole spiritual Baptist community is still facing issues in all aspects due to a single ordinance which was first banked in the 90s. From funding to taking lands on the lease they Are still suffering everywhere.
What if the law you’re respecting, all of a sudden starts putting restrictions on the religion you follow?
Or is one of the many religions that we follow in India decided to be out loud by the existing government?
What will be our reactions to it? Will we keep quiet or resist it?
After all, we do hold the Right to Resistance in all forms of oppression.
What if one day the government decides to pass an ordinance or limits our religious and secular freedom?
The answer to all the questions would be one, we would fight to our greatest extent and the possibility to repeal the acts or ordinances passed. The Farmer Repeals act can be taken as a great influence on the matter discussed above. Though it is not a matter of religion still we can see how the resistance towards it was, in unity.
As far as the state we live in, laws are always made to protect and safeguard the liberty, equality and freedom of each of its individual and people are directed and obligated to support it but when the government decides to impose bad laws the right to resistance should be used, as was used by the Spiritual Baptists. They serve us a great example with their reverence and patience.