Perspective: New Government of Andrew Holness and JLP in Jamaica No Strangers to Adventists

After three intense weeks of testy, sometimes low-ball political campaigning and a vote recount, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), under youthful leader Andrew Holness, won a narrow vitory against the incumbent People’s National Party (PNP), led by veteran politician and outgoing Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller. The contest took place on February 25 and Holness was sworn in on Thursday, March 3. The JLP has deep multi-generational veins in Jamaican Seventh-day Adventism, going back to the Party’s founding in 1943.

The nation expects that Holness will be called upon—summoned—to form a new government by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor and former Union president. Allen was named by the previous JLP administration to the perfunctory role of head of state, and later knighted by Queen Elizabeth II as Britain’s supreme representative on the island. This all transpired with the “blessing” of Allen’s priestly Seventh-day Adventist peers in Jamaica (it is still ironic to behold the photograph in an Adventist World article of Allen ceremoniously bowing before an earthly monarch).

Meanwhile, Pastor Michael Harvey languishes. At time of writing, Harvey remains suspended from his positions as vice president for spiritual affairs at the Church-owned Northern Caribbean University and senior pastor of the the Northern Caribbean University church. He is on an enforced leave of absence for going against official Seventh-day Adventist Church policy for his embrace of, and ill-advised exuberance for, Simpson-Miller and her party onstage at a PNP mass rally on the Sunday night, January 31.

Deep and profound is the well of contradictions within biggest-denomination-on-the-island Seventh-day Adventism.

(Then) Prime Minister designate Andrew Holness and wife Juliet Holness (also incoming member of the new Parliament) at worship at Andrews Memorial Seventh-day Adventist Church in Kingston, Sabbath February 26, two days following JLP win at the polls.

Veteran JLP Seventh-day Adventist politician Pearnell Charles (left) also re-elected to the new parliament, with Prime Minister designate Andrew Holness at Andrews Memorial Seventh-day Adventist Church worship service.

The Prime Minister greets an Andrews Memorial Church worshiper.

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Bernard Headley is an educator (a retired University of the West Indies professor) and a board officer of the Northern Caribbean University Seventh-day Adventist Church in Mandeville, Jamaica

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7349
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This report is full of salt, innuendo and passive-aggressiveness. It does not truly consider the facts, nor does it view the situation objectively. I speak as a Jamaican Adventist living in Jamaica who voted in these elections.

Firstly, I would like to hear more about the “deep multi-generational veins in Jamaican Adventism” that the JLP has, considering that the opposing party (PNP) has at LEAST as much support in Jamaican Adventism. Whether these veins are real or imagined, they have absolutely no impact on Jamaican Adventism’s support of either political party. Jamaican Adventists have always been free to support whichever party they want, and there are SDAs in prominent roles and vocal advocacy roles for both parties. On the whole, Jamaican SDAs have NEVER mixed our politics and our faith, and the SDA church has NEVER told anyone who to vote for or who to support. Everyone makes up their own mind.

Secondly, the author seeks to “dig up” the non-controversy about Pastor Allen serving as the Governor General. If the author doesn’t like the fact that Allen is the GG, that’s his opinion. There is no precedent against it, and it is not a political appointment. The GG would have appointed whoever won the election, in the same way that he appointed the previous prime minister (Portia Simpson-Miller of the PNP) when SHE won the previous election.

Thirdly, Michael Harvey languishes (and lost his job) NOT for “embrace of and ill-advised exuberance for (the PNP)”. It is disingenuous at best and dishonest at worse to describe Michael Harvey’s actions in such a vein. Michael Harvey, an SDA pastor employed both by the Central Jamaica Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists and by Northern Caribbean University, on a public political stage, explicitly encouraged and exhorted persons to vote for a particular political party. That, and that alone, is the reason why he has faced church discipline as church employees cannot and should not publicly endorse or promote any political candidate. Lay members, of course, are free to do so if they wish.

As such, I fail to see ANY contradiction either in the SDA church or in this article, unless the author can show where Patrick Allen made any endorsement of any political party, or explicitly encouraged persons to go vote for a specific party or candidate. This article is flawed and lacking, and the author should examine his motivations for writing it.

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I can fully understand that (though I won’t venture to say why) you do not like the article. And of course you are free to interpret it–and my “motivations”–and draw your own conclusions any which way you wish. But what I would ask of you as an intelligent reader (I presume I’m right?) is that you point out, and share with fellow readers, matters and items in the piece (which is in effect a news story) that are factually incorrect. Just one!

Bear in mind that conjectures, hypotheticals, ad hoc attacks and ascription of author’s motives, the substance of your missive, are NOT statements of fact.

“The JLP has deep multi-generational veins in Jamaican Seventh-day Adventism, going back to the Party’s founding in 1943.” I wonder what is the evidence for this. Surely the JLP has had MPs in the persons of Neville Gallimore, Pernal Charles, Princess Laws, and the PNP has had theirs in Arnold Bertram, Arnaldo Brown and in the President of the Senate, Senator Floyd Morris. Lay members of the Seventh-day Adventists church in Jamaica have been attracted to both major Jamaican political parties, and have served at high levels in both. The Seventh-day Adventist church has always to my knowledge stayed above the fray of party politics. Dr. Patrick Allen, the current governor General and former president of the West Indies Union, resigned his position in the church before accepting the position of Governor General. He should therefore be styled former pastor and not pastor. Dr. Michael Harvey is the first active Seventh-day Adventist pastor to go on a political platform to promote the party of his choice. The church had to take a decision on this and to their credit they did. Let us hope the administrative leave on which Dr. Harvey was sent gave him sufficient time to reflect on his unbecoming actions on the stage. As a former conference president and a current senior pastor in the church he should have known better.

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I’m wondering if I’m the only one who sees no contradiction here. Is it possible to elaborate on that point for those of us who just don’t get it?

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Whether or not there is a contradiction in what has been happening in Jamaica during the last five weeks, these developments signal an untested new phase for Adventism, which is uniquely deep-rooted in Jamaica.
And this new phase brings opportunities larger than the “contradictions” that obscure them.
This is 2016. Time for the Jamaican Seventh-Day Adventist Church to wake up and understand that whatever authority it may adjudicate to “global” church policy, that authority is irrelevant to the one country on earth where Seventh-Day Adventism is the largest religious denomination.
In Jamaica, if nowhere else, and today more than ever before, Adventism has a duty from which Michael Harvey’s action cannot reasonably divert it.
That duty is to bring its undoubted influence within both major political parties to bear on all parties on the island to work together for the good of Jamaica, as my blog explains at eibocs.co.

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The first thing you can do is point out clearly what you believe is the “contradiction” in this situation. I haven’t been able to identify it.

The only facts in your story are:

  1. There was an election on February 25, won by the JLP
  2. Holness was sworn in on March 3.
  3. Allen was selected as the GG by the JLP admin of 2007-2011
  4. Michael Harvey is suspended from his various positions of SDA employment.
  5. The JLP has deep multi-generational veins in the JLP (this remains to be proved by you, but I am willing to grant it pending evidence).

That’s it.

Your use of the word “summoned” is not a fact, but is your own interpretation. Your use of the word “blessing” (with your own quotes) is your own interpretation of the church having no issue with Patrick Allen serving as GG. Your use of the phrase “embrace of and ill-advised exuberance” is, as I stated previously, at best disengenous and at worst dishonest, and if you continue to use it when you know that Harvey explicitly endorsed and encouraged persons to vote for a particular party, then you are being dishonest.

As you said in your reply, “Conjectures, hypotheticals, ad hoc attacks and ascriptions of motives…are NOT statement of fact.” I’m shocked you don’t realize how accurately that describes the missive you wrote. Help me to understand: What exactly is the contradiction you are writing about, since there is no visible comparison between Patrick Allen and Michael Harvey? It seems that you’ve written your spin about both persons and left it hanging for the reader to assume or deduce a “contradiction” without clearly stating what that contradiction is supposed to be. Are you saying that Patrick Allen somehow endorsed a political party, or encouraged persons to vote for a given political party like Michael Harvey did, yet has not been punished for it? Please make your point clear for confused persons like myself.

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I’ll wait a few days, my dear Brother Marshall, to get a sense of how many other readers are as “confused” in the same sense that you write here that you are. If few…or none… then hope to see and communicate next with you in the Kingdom. I’ll for now take a pass, yes, to your invitation to engage in what I can only consider would be, based on your characterizations and my reading of your method of reasoning, (please allow my honesty) nonproductive argumentation. Blessings and peace be with you.

I always wonder why it is necessary for us slip in a mild insult when we disagree with each other.

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In other words, you don’t have an answer because you realize there is no contradiction but you don’t want to retract your writings. I expected nothing less from you Brother Headley, based on your first response to me. There is at least one other person who expressed confusion about the so-called contradiction, for your information.

The true “non-productive argumentation” is your article itself, but I believe I have exposed its illogic and factual failings for all to see, especially with your non-defense of it. Enjoy the prosperity.

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