“Welcome to Zingcreed, Peter Turner’s personal polemic on religion and life, written from a unique Christian/ Atheist perspective. I hope you get something from it!”
Honours and accolades flowed his way, from the president of the republic to local universities. His weekly column appeared in the national media, and he was consulted by everyone on issues such as youth, drugs, crime and Aids. Pastor Clive Dottin of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) church of Trinidad and Tobago had come a long way since he taught Science at Barataria Junior Secondary School.
Every year when I stay in Trinidad with my family, I come across some reference to this man. He strikes me as very sure of himself. He irritates me with his cockiness, his simple solutions to complex social issues. Essentially, I see him as a well meaning bumbling amateur, who quotes sociologists and psychiatrists without really understanding what they are talking about.
Eventually it just got too much and I wrote him a letter. In 2009, the SDA had organised a convention in Tobago for “800 powerful righteous” men. This number later grew to “1000 exciting visionary men”. Lectures to these guys included such catchy phrases as “Sin thrills and kills. It fascinates and assassinates.” And (about premature ejaculation) “he comes before he goes.” Did you know that kids raise by single dads do better than kids raised by single moms?
The convention concluded with an address telling the men to beware of dangerous women who wanted to have romantic flings with them. “If she is in the choir, leave the choir. Accept no gifts from her. Do not spend time alone with her. Never go to church with her. Do not be in the same committee with her.”
When I wrote my letter on 16/10/2009, I didn’t realise that Dottin was in the SDA. He never replied, and on my last visit this year I saw no articles in the press by him or about him.
I am writing to express my disquiet over your ringing endorsement of a conference organised by that sub-Christian sect, the SDA. (“Tobago Men of Might and Mission.”)
Is it not ironic that this church, one of the very few whose teachings are based on the writings of a woman (Ellen White) should today apparently be emphasising the supremacy of men. “We must be sure who heads the home.” No need to spell it out, we know what you mean. Women were portrayed at this conference as dangerous “temptresses”. Remind me, what century are we living in? This is so medieval – Moslem even. I think most police and social workers would say that most inter-gender problems start with testosterone-fuelled males, and blaming “temptresses” is putting the cart before the horse.
I had already heard that the SDA was racist. The West Indian press in London described it as the Apartheid church after its decision to maintain separate black and white congregations. Now I learn it is sexist as well. (So much for St Paul’s admonition that “Ye are all one in Christ: Jew and gentile, male and female, Greek and Roman.” Or words to that effect.)
From a brief time spent as a teacher in an SDA school I also know this American sect rejects evolution. Put bluntly, it teaches our children lies in the science lab. In my book this is an infringement of human rights amounting to child abuse. It is certainly intellectual dishonesty.
It is all very well urging men to be more responsible, something we all know in our hearts to be a worthy goal, but how can any clear-thinking male be responsible whilst belonging to a sexist, racist, intellectually dishonest organisation? Suppression of thoughts/ Compartmentalisation of the brain? It must be quite a juggling act. But then, fundamentalism never was a recipe for good mental health.
In my experience of conferences the most valuable sessions are the question times, the discussion groups, the informal get-togethers and networking. Your article doesn’t touch on these. Perhaps the SDA doesn’t encourage questions or expression of doubt. I don’t know. “Just stick to the party line guys”? Just guessing.
I don’t know your denomination. If you’re not SDA yourself you’re being more ecumenical than they ever are. have you read their mathematical ‘proof’ that the pope is Satan? It’s hilarious. How can anyone take such people seriously? And they are getting the ‘Dottin seal of approval’ in a respectable broadsheet.
Sad times indeed!
(i) The Trinidad Guardian 13.10.09 p. A12
(ii) The Trinidad Guardian 20.10.09 p. A22
Related Posts on the Zingcreed blog:
I accuse #1: “Adventists are racist!” (June 2013)
I accuse #4: “Adventist paedophile cover up!” (July 2013)
LOL #1: “Maths proves Pope is Satan!” (June 2013)