Justices, Magistrates and Members of The Bahamas Bar Association on Friday, January 12 beginning at 10:00 a.m. attended the Opening of the 2018 Legal Year-Northern Region Service at the Pro-Cathedral of Christ the King Anglican Church.
Attorney General Sen. Carl Bethel, Q.C. and Acting Chief Justice Stephen Isaacs as well as Minister of State for Legal Affairs, Ellsworth N. Johnson traveled from New Providence to participate in the service, which was attended by hundreds of students representing both public and private schools across Grand Bahama.
The Venerable Harry Bain, Rector and Archdeacon of the Northern Bahamas set forth a thought-provoking charge, during his homily based on biblical scripture Mark 12:13-17, which states, “And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, why tempt ye me? Bring me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought it. And he saith unto them, whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marveled at him.”
Seeking to explain the coming together of members of the legal profession in the historical Parish, Archdeacon Bain, said that in a profound way, the presence of the Justices, Magistrates and Members of The Bahamas Bar Association affirms the integrity of a meaningful relationship between Church and State, as well as how each can benefit from such a relationship.
Noting that in other countries where opponents of a meaningful relationship between the same have had some success, Archdeacon Bain lamented, “Prayer has been taken out of many schools, religious observances have been deleted from the public school’s calendars, and in public places, references to God are either omitted or vague.
“We must learn from their mistakes, for when a nation has lost its sense of God and disregard the things of God, that is a nation which has lost its soul and will self-destruct.
“The God of the Christian experience made the Church and the State, each to serve the needs of humanity to His glory; for God dwells, not only in temples made with human hands, but His glory is in all the world.”
Honing in on the fact that in order to understand the nature of the relationship between Church and State in the 21st Century, it requires a redefinition of the Justices’, Magistrates’ and Members of The Bahamas Bar Association’s role in the legal profession, Archdeacon Bain reminded them that in the administration and preservation of justice, they are the conduits of God’s justice acting for, and at times, on behalf of God Himself, who is wise and just.
Urging all members of the legal profession to seek out the Lord and inquire what He requires of them, Archdeacon Bain pointed out that the answer may be surprising, as it is quite simply to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with God.
“As lawyers you are the advocates of justice, which is something one does and to do justice means to work for the establishment of equity for all people especially those who are powerless,” said Archdeacon Bain.
He noted that there are many examples of failure to do justice, which results in the powerful oppressing the powerless and laborers being exploited as well as courts being corrupted.
Revealing that he has long been appreciative of a modern writer’s paraphrasing of the words of the Prophet Amos, Archdeacon Bain gave a stern admonishment to all as he recited, “Going to church on Sunday is no good, unless your religion makes you honest on Monday.
“The money you put in the offering plate is money I do not want if it comes from ill-gotten gain; the anthems you sing make me sick, unless your living is in harmony with the Ten Commandments.
“If the person who raises the tunes at Sunday School also raises the roof at home, if the person who offers long prayers in worship is also the person who makes the lives of employees miserable the rest of the week, then I despise your potluck suppers and I take no delight in your dignified services of worship.
“But let civil rights roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream!”
A chorus of applause and praise broke out in the parish due to the weight of the admonishment issued by the archdeacon.
He reminded all that it is both the Church and State’s responsibility to ensure that all are treated with dignity and respect at all times especially in the carriage of justice as the refugee, homeless, hopeless, widowed, poor and defenseless are all God’s people and the Lordship of Jesus Christ must be brought into every area of our lives.
Furthermore, he noted that lawyers have a unique role to play in society, as they are to be the bulwark against oppressive governance; hence, they ought to speak up and be the defenders of the rights of those who cannot do so for themselves.
“Your profession should not be just about making money; get involved, give back, do pro bono work and be the legal guardians of this nation.
“Help the poor, disenfranchised, the victims of society seeking always to protect and defend the rights of our people,” Archdeacon Bain declared.
Noting that a review of the preamble of the country’s Constitution reveals that the early shapers of a new Bahamas interpreted justice through the lenses of sacred scripture, Archdeacon Bain lamented that what is righteous, just, fair and honest must be consistent with God’s overall plan for the redemption of mankind which was created in His image and likeness. “For whenever we are influenced by a dictatorship of relativism, we create the climate for human selfishness bringing catastrophic results.”
Acknowledging the fact that it is then imperative that members of the legal profession whom God has chosen to administer His justice are spiritually serious, intellectually keen and zealously driven to faithfully execute this task, Archdeacon Bain urged them to return the much needed sound spiritual perspective to their profession, which can go a long way in positively reshaping our society.
“Give to god the things that are God’s; give Him your entire self!
“Strive to positively maintain the Church/State relationship in harmony by committing yourselves to enabling more citizens to understand the law.
“Through partnership with other institutions, the legal profession can encourage discussions, debates and symposia at all levels of society, creating greater awareness among our citizens of their legal rights in the application of the law.
“The view that just is costly and, beyond the reach of the “small man” will be dispelled if you take the initiative in educating ordinary people.
“In commending the establishment of legal aid clinics, I now challenge you to inject more energy into making them work!
“Insidious forms of intellectual and mental slavery which cripples so much of our national and political life, will only disappear when those like yourselves, who have been embraced by the light of knowledge and wisdom and, have been led out of the darkness of ignorance, accept it as your obligation to the wider society to expose them to the same light, as knowledge is power,” Archdeacon Bain declared.
With much of the Bahamian society respecting the legal profession, the archdeacon reminded the Justices, Magistrates and Members of The Bahamas Bar Association that the wider society is looking to them for direction and leadership, and as leaders in matters of our judicial system they have the responsibility to employ the highest moral and ethical standards, buttressed by professionalism of the first order.
Demonstrate that principle really matters and deal with disagreements and matters of discipline in your profession in a manner that is fair, decent and honorable, Archdeacon Bain advised.
He noted that under no circumstance should it be seen or perceived that those in the legal profession can be compromised, as the integrity and honor of the profession must be maintained and should not be sacrificed on the altar of financial gain.
“Make a positive difference in this country; give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.
“So we begin this new legal year by praying that God whose presence we invoke and acknowledge today, may enable us to restore and affirm the dignity of His whole creation, as we do our part in making the kingdoms of this world, the kingdom of our God and of His Christ, Amen,” Archdeacon Bain concluded.
With so much food for thought and advice given Archdeacon Bain pronounced a blessing on all and encouraged everyone to do justice as unto the Lord.