MLA Anthony Eden 'We do not need an atheist chairing our Cayman Islands Human Rights Commission'

Legislator blasts Commission’s position on same-sex marriage

MLA Anthony Eden

Saying recent statements showed a “total apparent disrespect for the majority of residents in Cayman,” Bodden Town MLA Anthony Eden suggested Wednesday that the current chairman of the Human Rights Commission be replaced. 

Mr. Eden, making a personal explanation in the Legislative Assembly, “strongly suggested” that government appoint a chairman of the commission “who is not an atheist.” 

“It is my belief that we do not need an atheist chairing our Cayman Islands Human Rights Commission,” Mr. Eden said. “I am sick and tired of some people disrespecting my Caymanian people.” 

Mr. Eden’s comments were made in relation to a public spat in August that pitted members of Cayman’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community against the longtime Bodden Town representative and several other members of the assembly who spoke out against civil unions or gay marriages being legally sanctioned in Cayman. 

Legislators in mid-August had debated a private members’ motion filed by Mr. Eden titled “The preservation of traditional marriages.” Mr. Eden’s presentation on his motion, which he said was “based on Holy Bible evidence,” was not limited to a discussion of the definition of marriage. He also admonished homosexual behavior in general and warned people against “satanic confusion.” 

Bodden Town MLA Alva Suckoo, who seconded Mr. Eden’s motion, said that while he did not wish to “launch an assault on homosexuals,” in his Bible, homosexuality is a sin, and he “shouldn’t be expected to support legislation that would allow sin.” 

Human Rights Commission Chairman James Austin-Smith opined in a statement three months ago that part of the Aug. 13 debate by some assembly members amounted to “poisonous hate speech” that was an abuse of parliamentary privilege. 

Mr. Austin-Smith said Wednesday that he had not heard or had time to review Mr. Eden’s most recent comments on the matter and could not provide any response. Mr. Austin-Smith has said in previous public appearances that he does not believe in God. 

Mr. Eden said Wednesday that his comments from the Aug. 13 assembly debate had been taken out of context, and he spoke out against the notion that many Christian nations around the globe had accepted same-sex marriages. 

“How can we call them Christians when they transgressed the word of God?” he said. 

The Bodden Town MLA also took a few shots at former Truman Bodden Law School professor Leonardo Raznovich who, after his work contract was not renewed in Cayman, filed an application with the Immigration Department to become a dependent on his male partner’s work permit. The relevant immigration board indicated it could not accommodate the request. Mr. Raznovich has filed an appeal. 

“Mr. Raznovich has made a living in Cayman … and because he does not agree with the lifestyle of the vast majority of Caymanians for over the last 500-plus years, he now wishes us to change our beliefs,” Mr. Eden said. “Not on my watch.” 

Mr. Austin-Smith requested in August that Premier Alden McLaughlin respond to the Aug. 13 Legislative Assembly debate and invited him to denounce “in the strongest terms” any statements that targeted homosexuals, subjecting them to ridicule or even potential abuse in the community. 

By press time Wednesday, the premier’s response to that request – if one had been received – had not been made public by either Mr. McLaughlin’s office or the Human Rights Commission. 

Cayman Islands Governor Helen Kilpatrick’s office was contacted for a response to Mr. Eden’s suggestion that Mr. Austin-Smith should be removed from his post because he is an atheist. The Cayman Compass had received no reply by press time. 

Mr. Eden

Mr. Eden
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  1. Mr Eden, Human Rights apply to all humans, regardless of race creed or colour, it could be that an atheist is the right person to be the HR Commissioner because his views will not be influenced by any religious beliefs!
    Every human is entitled to his religious beliefs be they Sikh, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, or indeed no religion at all, and each of those is entitled to human rights. How can you suggest that a person be ruled out of this important role because he does not believe in a God, and presumably given your stated beliefs, a Christian one?

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  2. Mr. Eden is correct when he talks about the problem we have with some people disrespecting the Caymanian people. The issue however is bigger than just the disrespecting of Caymanians as there also appears to be a significant amount of discrimination and disrespect directed at our lower income expat worker’s.

    Little is done to address the problem because our leadership is afraid of the special interest groups and some other well positioned individuals within the community.

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  3. A learned individual gave me a little advice some years ago and it has served me well.

    They said it is often best to say nothing and leave some doubt than it is to open your mouth and leave no doubt at all.

    Mr. Eden, im sure the person who gave it to me would not be upset if you used his same advise.

    Announcing to the world, as you have done by allowing it to go to press, has certainly left no doubt and you have done no favours to Cayman that an elected official would even think this let alone make a global announcement.

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  4. I do agree with Mr Bodden. This commission or any other commission should not be headed by any particular religion or beliefs, because all decisions that is made would come from that persons beliefs and religion. I think that the Human Rights Commission should be headed by a person who is compassionate to everyone’s beliefs and values.

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  5. Adults,with imaginary friends,who consider that their religious delusions give them the ability to decide what is right or wrong;need help for their mental illness.Seeing a psychologist or a psychiatrist will help get over his delusions.
    To try to use religious foolishness to decide human rights issues is sick and immoral.
    Nothing has ever been more harmful and damaging to humanity than religion.

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  6. Does Mr. Eden truly speak for the majority of Caymanians? I’d like to see the evidence for this.

    Oh that’s right, he’s just using political rhetoric to further his own agenda. Kind of sleazy if you ask me.

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  7. If one’s belief is of no consequence, should we then allow an Islamic Muslim which favors Sharia Law to chair the HRC? Or should atheism be the defacto and accepted without question ideological view for that position? Because for those of you eager to say "That it just shouldn’t matter", well then that means that Mr. Eden viewpoints should be perfectly acceptable as an MLA and his recommendation for the HRC chair. Because the reality is that it ACTUALLY DOES matter AND IT DOES influences policies and countries as a whole.

    Thank to Mr Eden for not cowering to these Godless bullies’ pressure from just about every single *foreign* liberal oozing media outlets.

    The is a heritage here, its called Christianity. _respect it_ it, or get the F* out.

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  8. The one thing that I always detest is do not come in my house and make rules.
    If you are invited to dinner, and the Kool-Aid with a K. does not suit you, then do not drink it. Enjoy your meal ask for water and move on.
    I certainly agree with Mr Anthony Eden, and I certainly disagree with anyone who claim to be MEN and do not stand with him. It is either you are for me or against me, nothing about "not wanting to launch an assault against Homosexuals" and the Bible say it is a sin.
    I believe in "STANDING TALL AND BEING COUNTED" because surely if we do not stand for something we will fall for anything.
    The Government need to step in and change ANYTHING that causes an unrest among the people.
    If the people do not want an Atheist chairing our Cayman islands Human Rights, then move them. Case close.
    Gays and Lesbians have been around from the days of Jesus on earth. It will not change. We might as well say that Drugs and lottery will one day stop being a part of Cayman system, and people will stop drink 345. Its not going to stop.
    Those persons who support their manhood of being just a DAN then stick to just that.
    However I am against bringing certain education in our schools promoting atheist and Gay marriages. I have not yet been satisfied that is the correct way to go, because if that was the way in creation, the earth could not become populated and would diminish.

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  9. I remember 500-plus years ago, when we "believed" owning slaves and women not voting, were a good idea.

    Politicians should lead all of us into the future, rather than lecturing us about selective history and their personal beliefs.

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  10. Human Rights has nothing to do with religion. It becomes a huge problem and issue when religion is brought into it. There are so many flavors of Christianity, and MLA Eden is not a Theologist so who is to even say he understand correctly the teachings in the Bible.

    In the heated debates over abortion, abstinence, contraception and gays in the years of reading, reciting and studying the Bible, I didn’t recall seeing much about these topics. Many of the most prominent and contested stands taken by Catholic (the oldest Christian church) authorities (most of them dealing with sex) have nothing to do with the Gospel.

    Human Rights is about the law, not about the church. It is about equality not about the New Testament. So a great education and an open mind is the most important criteria for this position. The world is watching us! Comments from our leaders should be vetted before shouted for the world to see.

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  11. You know what’s also considered a sin in the bible? Drunkenness and some believe even dancing. They don’t have a problem making laws allowing booze and dancing on the island though. Oh I guess that’s just part of the heritage though. Maybe they should get over their self righteous hypocrisy and leave the judging to sunday mornings.

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  12. what is hate crime? The content of a website when it threatens or harasses a person or a group of people. If this is posted because of hostility based on race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender then we consider it to be a hate crime.

    Now read AJ Ebanks’s comment, all the way down to the last paragraph.

    One thing is to have an opinion, perception, no matter how different it is, another is to speak on behalf of every single Caymanian with hate and hatred.

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  13. I find it hard to believe that in this day and age, we are still having the same idiotic discussions. If we are going to move forward as a nation who will not always be governed by the UK, we need to set some of the religious, church and state, arguments aside and include all of our citizens in the discussions. Be they gay, atheist, Catholic, handicapped and/or any other affliction viewed by the population to be contrary to the Bible. I am sure if the politicos in the Cayman Islands review very carefully Ten Commandments, they will find they have broken some if not all of them! How about we start there before we start quoting what is a sin and what isn’t? We have far more pressing needs at the moment than who is an atheist and who is gay!

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  14. "Human Rights" issues have got a bad rap recently. For good reason in my opinion in many cases.

    For example: Human Rights for terrorists who would happily kill us all and the US Federal right of a 15 year old teenage boy who thinks he is a girl to shower with real teenage girls after playing sports with them.

    But I don’t think Mr. Austin-Smith is suggesting any of those things.

    I think what we need here is a Human Rights Commissioner who is a decent, educated and fair minded person.
    Their religion or lack of it should not matter.

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  15. When people put their own religious beliefs before the human rights of all, it is a recipe for disaster…

    Look at Paris!

    @twyla – did you use the Kool-ade reference ironically or just an accident? It is a great quote in the context of blind religious fervour.

    "Drinking the Kool-ade" – from wikipedia;-

    "Drinking the Kool-Aid" is a figure of speech commonly used in North America that refers to a person or group holding an unquestioned belief, argument, or philosophy without critical examination. It could also refer to knowingly going along with a doomed or dangerous idea because of peer pressure. The phrase oftentimes carries a negative connotation when applied to an individual or group. It can also be used ironically or humorously to refer to accepting an idea or changing a preference due to popularity, peer pressure, or persuasion.

    The phrase derives from the November 1978 Jonestown deaths, in which over 900 members of the Peoples Temple, who were followers of Jim Jones died, many of whom committed suicide by drinking a mixture of a powdered soft drink flavoring agent laced with cyanide (with the remainder, including 89 infants and elderly, killed by forced ingestion of the poison).

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  16. @myles – You couldn’t have said it any better.

    Why is this even on the front page of the paper?
    It isn’t news, it is an opinion of a very prejudice person (and very few agree).

    I can’t wait until my generation of Caymanians are in charge of this place – peace and equality might actually be accomplished.

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  17. Martin Niemöller

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
    Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

    Martin Niemöller, a prominent Protestant pastor who opposed the Nazi regime. He spent the last 7 years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. Germany, 1937.

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  18. There is a dangerous presumption that religious means good. "Very religious people are very good people" is hubris disproved every other day, being the France attacks the most recent evidence. I find, in this regard, the atheism of James Austin-Smith a refreshing circumstance. Due to such freedom, we are almost certain he will not favour any given group, or endorse discrimination as well-being just because a given agenda, book or consensus has determined it. His atheism is not a guarantee of ethical behaviour, but it is a guarantee of a degree of independence of thinking and action.

    But we live immersed in paradigms.

    Atheists doing the right thing do so because is the right thing to do, as simple as that, and not because they are waiting for rewards or wanting to avoid punishment in a given afterlife.

    But we live amidst boxy paradigms.

    In my homeland, Mexico, I was somewhat known for fighting for better conditions in and rehabilitation of young offenders, and placement and residential conditions of children in institutions. There I also come across the fact that the most active fighters in regards of children, animals, LGBT communities, and differently-able people were agnostics or atheists. There was religious people too, yes, but they were not the majority in fighting for such causes, at least there.

    But we are smothered by shortcut paradigms.

    Here I have been a Big since 2009 and to date in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program of the island, despite of being an atheist. This latter a condition that, by the way, I have been advised to conceal… the advice has proven to be inaccurate, at best, since the daily life on the Cayman Islands is less provincial, less fixated in archaisms as some people assume it to be. I have never come across any significant issue because I am an atheist. Our Cayman society is more free than some pretend or want it to be.

    I, simply, will not live within smothering paradigms.

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  19. Ok Twyla, I read, and read again your comment on this.
    I tried breaking up each sentence to try to see what you were trying to say, I failed.
    So, I asked my wife to read it, she couldn’t understand it either, but she reckoned you didn’t like gay people. So, please Twyla, on the subject ( which was to do with having an atheist as HR Commissioner) could you explain in English?
    Thanks!

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  20. Arthur, it looks like you will need to go back to the drawing table as you did before and ask your wife again to please figure out if she can understand my comments; with an assumption of reckoning, that I didn’t like Gay people. To which she is "SO VERY WRONG"
    While at it, I am just as much English as you can get, don’t let the name fool you.

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  21. But Twyla, she tried again, so did I and still your comment made no sense, remember the subject was to do with the merits of an atheist in a particular role! Not sure why the gay issue was brought into it!

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  22. Arthur I believe I am correct in saying to you that "Freedom of conscience includes Freedom of thoughts"
    If no one cannot understand that then they are free to call me.

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  23. I wonder if Anthony Eden would, after reading all the comments below and especially after tallying those who agree and disagree with his supporters and opponents, still say his beliefs are held by "the majority of residents in Cayman?"

    I wholeheartedly agree with Gerardo Ochoa-Vargas when he said "Atheists doing the right thing do so because is the right thing to do, as simple as that, and not because they are waiting for rewards or wanting to avoid punishment in a given afterlife."

    And, given that we have a Margaritaville restaurant in George Town and are about to have a second Margaritaville on the Island, I think it is appropriate to also quote Jimmy Buffet: "There’s a fine line between Saturday night and Sunday morning!" Well, said, Jimmy.

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  24. I was re-reading some of the comments below, and like others always wonder what Twyla is trying to say.

    In an early comment by her, she again drones on about someone coming to her home for dinner and then complains about the (flavor of) Kool-Aid. I agree with her comment that the polite thing to do is to pass on the objectionable drink, ask for water and simply enjoy the dinner.

    However, I think that Twyla is forgetting that in many cases, "guests" are asked to support the entire household through payment of very, very heavy fees that continue on for the entire length of their stay. Theses "guests" plan on staying forever, and are OK with supporting the entire household. They have no voice in its operation –instead they are constantly reminded they have no say in how the household is run. Instead they are always, always, always reminded they have no voice, even while "family" members who actually pay nothing (or very little) to support the household have strong voices, and are even elected to the family council!

    Understandably they have the right to pick up and move if they decide they really don’t like your house. But, after spending hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars for their residence, and many times millions of dollars, why should they move, especially when they were invited and promised a welcoming life in paradise? Why invite them in the first place?

    Perhaps you should rethink inviting people to dinner. Simply forego the company, the intellectual stimulation, the taxes and income earned from the ever present fees charges to stay in your home. This way, there will be no guests complaining, suggesting, commenting or questioning how the household is run.

    The family can simply sit back and enjoy each others company, and live off the hard work, contributions and resources of the family itself.

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  25. Yes Twyla, you are quite correct in saying to you that "Freedom of conscience includes Freedom of thoughts"
    But that wasn’t what you wrote earlier which continues to be a mystery!

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