On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and my family, I extend greetings to the entire Spiritual Shouter Baptist Community as they commemorate and celebrate Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day 2015.
Today is a day for celebration as Shouter Baptists have come a long way.
Nineteen (19) years ago in 1996, the government of the day, under the leadership of Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, honoured and recognized the Baptist faith and its members by granting them their very own public holiday.
March 30 was chosen because it was on that day in 1951, the infamous Shouters Prohibition Ordinance of 1917 was repealed thus allowing the Spiritual Shouter Baptists to worship and practice their faith openly without any continued discrimination and repression.
Like all others, this faith community enjoys protection under Trinidad and Tobago’s 1976 Republican Constitution, which guarantees all citizens, “freedom of conscience and religious belief and observance”.
Although the origins of the Spiritual Shouter Baptist Faith in Trinidad and Tobago can be traced to foreign countries, it has evolved over time to become a unique, indigenous religion. It has managed to fuse the spontaneity and rhythms of Africa with the restrained, traditional tenets of Christianity to produce a religion that is vibrant, expressive and dynamic.
Today, the Spiritual Shouter Baptist Community constitute a most colourful and vibrant part of our country’s religious mosaic. Indeed, many of ours sons and daughters of this faith are highly respected, not only among their own, but in the wider society.
Many of them are professionals who hold substantive positions in both the public and private sectors.
The Spiritual Shouter Baptist Community also plays a critical role in the education of our nation’s children by proudly managing their very own St. Barbara’s Spiritual Shouter Baptist Primary School in Maloney. The government began construction of the school in 2011 and it was completed and officially opened in 2012.
Indeed it was a long road for the Spiritual Shout Baptist community but they persevered and, with the commitment of my government, this dream and prayer of having their own school became a reality.
My government continues to give support to, and partners with the Baptist community – and all other faiths – in building a better society and proudly highlighting this nation as a beacon for all other countries where “every creed and race” does indeed “find an equal place”.
Trinidad and Tobago can easily be described as the mecca for the Shouter Baptist movement in the Caribbean.
I thank the Spiritual Shouter Baptist Community for their tireless efforts in the process of nation building and economic development, and I offer my prayers to them as they celebrate this very important occasion of Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
March 30, 2015.