Beautiful Virgin Islands

Tuesday, Aug 16, 2022

Churches must do more than pray to help reduce crime - Bishop

Churches must do more than pray to help reduce crime - Bishop

Following this week’s murder of 35-year-old Corey Butler, prominent clergyman Bishop John Cline has noted that while ‘thoughts and prayers’ can go a far way, the local Christian community can do more to help reduce crime in the territory.

Towards this end, Bishop Cline said the local churches can engage in community support programmes that target young men.

In an interview with BVI News, the bishop said the Christian community must recognise that it needs to do more.

“Praying is essential but if we must get involved, we must reach people where they are. Sometimes the Christian community, we can be isolated between four walls and think that’s doing it but that is not what Jesus did. Jesus went where the people were. On the streets, in the ghetto, wherever it is. You are not going to win all but you are going to win some. Then you need to have programmes,” Cline said.

“For instance, this weekend, we have something called Male Call at our church. We have guys coming down from Virgin Gorda, guys coming down in the community, and that is designed to bring fathers and sons together. We have one basic question for the young men: “how can you be a better son? How can you be a better citizen? How can you participate in the future you will inherit in terms of nation-building? That is going to happen at Save the Seed and we have a bunch of activities, and we invite them to church on Sunday,” the bishop added.

Cline also noted that it is not just about having young men in churches on Sunday mornings but it is about having them in a setting that is safe and peaceful. He further said church leaders can impact their lives and allow them to think on how they can do better and become a better citizen of the territory.

Shootings reflecting badly on BVI

Meanwhile, the clergyman condemned the killing of Butler and indicated it reflected negatively on the territory that is a tourist destination and a service-driven jurisdiction.

“When you have things like gun violence, it can only impact the country in a negative way. Sadly, another mother has lost her son. I don’t know if the young man had any children but probably another child has lost his or her father, or maybe a girlfriend or wife has lost their partner. When you have those types of things in our society, one [feels they] can only be very prayerful, but we need to be more than prayerful,” Cline said.

“We ought to continue to do whatever we can to give young people an alternative to the lifestyle they have found comfort in. That lifestyle only leads them to prison or to the grave. This needs a holistic, concentrated and intentional approach to change the tide and the direction of these young lives and give them a reason to live and give them a reason to want to do right and if we do that, hopefully, we can save some in this generation and many more in the next generation and on,” he continued.

More stop-and-search police operations needed

He added that he believes the police are doing the best they can with the information presented but maybe they can do more randomised search operations to recover illegal firearms.

“They (the police) have offered amnesty, but people are not going to willingly give up their weapons if they feel like that is their protection. For some it may feel like it’s their power,” Cline said.

“What the police needs to do is do stop-and-search and once they get a tip, they should follow through with it and get as many weapons off the street as possible. So, I don’t think it is a police thing, it is a community thing. I think it is a family thing. I think friends and relatives must encourage their loved ones to not live this life. That will only land you in trouble and in the grave,” he added.


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