Churches to start campaign for ‘family life’

Church leaders revealed plans Wednesday for a campaign in support of “traditional values” against the backdrop of an ongoing debate over rights for same-sex couples in long-term relationships in the Cayman Islands.

Bermudian voter Raynol Todd holding two thumbs down, indicating he voted no for the Same Sex Referendum which asked voters whether they supported gay marriage or civil unions for homosexual couples. - PHOTO: SIDEYA DIL, The ROYAL GAZETTE
Bermudian voter Raynol Todd holding two thumbs down, indicating he voted no for the Same Sex Referendum which asked voters whether they supported gay marriage or civil unions for homosexual couples. – PHOTO: SIDEYA DIL, The ROYAL GAZETTE

In a statement, released on behalf of multiple Cayman Islands churches, a joint committee of pastors said they were taking a “united stand” on the “biblical basis for the establishing and ordering of family life.”

The campaign, which the pastors said would be “educational and spiritually enriching,” will begin with a rally at the Lions Centre on Sept. 11.

The announcement comes just days after former law college professor Leonardo Raznovich won the right to be included as a dependent on his same-sex partner’s work permit.

It also comes amid an ongoing debate about the requirement for the Cayman Islands to update its legislation to create a framework to acknowledge same-sex partnerships, in order to comply with established case law through the European Court of Human Rights, the highest court of appeal for the territory.

The Cayman Islands Human Rights Commission has said that current legislation is discriminatory and would not withstand a legal challenge.

In their statement, the pastors say they are particularly concerned about what they describe as a “movement to effect cultural changes in Cayman from outside the territory.”

Alson Ebanks, senior pastor of the George Town Church of God Chapel, said Caribbean societies are facing “cultural colonialism and ideological imperialism,” which he described as an extension of what occurred in slavery.

The group says it is not limiting the campaign to the issue of homosexual relationships, but is broadly concerned about “all lifestyle choices that run counter to Bible-based values.”

“Alternative lifestyles include the disintegration of traditional marriage due to rising divorce rates,” Pastor Ebanks added, saying the churches’ opposition incorporated the “gamut of pre-marital and extra-marital intimacy, to same-sex unions and even to pedophilia.”

Bishop Nicholas Sykes said what is happening in Cayman is an example of the collapse of the Christian basis for society in the West. He said the ministers took comfort from the fact that some societies were pushing back, citing the rejection of same-sex marriage and civil unions in a referendum in Bermuda.

The campaign is led by the Cayman Ministers’ Association, as well as the Adventist and other churches.

The joint statement, which also includes endorsements from Pastor Torrance Bobb, chairman of the Cayman Ministers’ Association, Pastor Jeff Shion O’Connor, president of the Cayman Islands Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, and Pastor Jeff Jefferson of the Ebenezer Adventist Church, indicates the campaign will be a long-term effort to raise awareness of biblical teachings on family life.

“The aim is to join forces locally and regionally to provide a platform for promoting traditional values, particularly in view of perceived efforts to change cultural values regionally and locally.”

The Sept. 11 rally will include speeches from Pastor Pastor Ebanks, David Gibbs, a lawyer with the U.S. National Center for Life and Liberty, and Brendan Bain, a doctor and church elder described as a pioneer in treating AIDS patients in Jamaica.

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