656: PRESIDENTIAL PRAYERS by Kevin Baldeosingh

Background: Kevin Baldeosingh is a witty atheist writer who has a regular column in the Trinidad Guardian. In a week when the President’s expenses are under critical scrutiny in the island’s press, the President, whose parents named him after a Catholic saint, decided to invoke God at every opportunity. This is Kevin’s take on it.

Last Saturday, President Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona announced that he had asked God to cure cancer.

The President was speaking at a book launch for amateur historian Angelo Bissessarsingh, who has terminal pancreatic cancer and who said that that event was probably his last public appearance. “It has been a wonderful life. It has been a short life, but you have made it a very rich experience for me.” Bissessarsingh told the appreciative audience. But President Carmona was having none of it.

“We will continue to pray hard and we will continue to invoke the power of God because as long as you sit, as long as you stand, we feel deep in our hearts anything is possible and we continue to pray for that miracle,” he said from the podium to Bissessarsingh. So whether Bissessarsingh has come to terms with his fate or not is irrelevant, because President Carmona feels deep in his heart that God, once asked nicely and by the right person, will suspend the laws of nature. That is also why, two Saturdays ago, President Carmona enjoined the Catholic faithful to not “concede to those who are non-believers, to those who are agnostics, to those who are doubting Thomases. Because you know what ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we believe in the power of God, we believe that in fact there is a God that will bring miracles to this land of ours.”

As an atheist I cannot claim to know the mind of God in the way all religious believers do except when children are killed in hurricanes, in which case God’s ways become mysterious, but the logical inference from President Carmona’s  injunction is that God doesn’t perform miracles for a nation which allows people to express doubt about miracles. Which was why the Catholic Church had to have the Inquisition back in the day.

But, if God does indeed answer President Carmona’s prayers for a miracle this will also prove that Prime Minister Keith Rowley lied about giving his approval for the September meeting between National Security Minister Edmund Dillon and the President. After all, would God grant the President’s request if the President is a liar? Of course not, because Job 34:12 clearly says “Of a truth, God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice.”

Admittedly though, such a response  from God would raise other issues, such as why President Carmona presented Minister Dillon with a crime-fighting programme. After all, the government has quite a few people trained in criminology and security and other relevant disciplines, so why does a former High Court judge feel he knows what works better  than these experts? Unless, of course, his crime plan was miraculous.

To be sure, in his September 28 address to the nation, President Carmona did say, “I cannot see things going wrong and remain quiet.” But Proverbs 17:28 says “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent.” However, he argued that he was “a citizen of this country and like every other citizen of this Republic I can legitimately offer suggestions, within my constitutional remit, to alleviate certain issues that plague us as a nation.”

Now I too  am a citizen of this Republic who has read more experts on crime than President Carmona; but, if I call Minister Dillon’s office and ask to have a meeting with him on October 31 or any other day when witches walk the earth, I suspect I would be told he’s not available and never would be. That would make me not a citizen like President Carmona as well as Romans 13:6 which says “This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.” since the President pays no taxes on the nearly $100,000 including allowance she gets every month. However as he pointed out in his speech, he did have to buy a generator and a water tank and sundries for two years until the President’s Cottage was refurbished, amounting to $300,000 (or about 16% of his  earnings in that time frame) which he never asked back for.

“I am a simple man with a big heart,” he said, and research does indeed suggest that wine is good for the heart. In this regard, President Carmona explained that the Office of the President decided to buy red white and sparkling wine in bottles with the Presidential seal at a total cost of $1,483,638 in order to save money and prevent theft. However, he did not say why this wasn’t also done for rum and scotch and vodka, which are less variable spirits, nor did he reveal whether the “quality wine” was dry or just sarcastic.

In concluding his address, President Carmona failed to address one other allegation but asserted, “I’m all for transparency, accountability and integrity.” So I guess ordinary citizens will soon be told whether his mother in law is on staff at the President’s House and, if so, whether she’s paid for wondering why her daughter married him.

The Trinidad Guardian, Commentary (5 October 2016) p.A20
on line: guardian.co.tt, where full texts of other articles by Kevin Baldeosingh are available on subscription


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