November 20, 2012
Jamaica Bans Preaching on Public Buses—Even by the Pope
Transit director: ""I am all for evangelizing, but they can't use the bus as their platform."
Jamaica's government-run public transit system is banning evangelism to bus passengers because they are a "captive audience."
Following complaints from some passengers, Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) issued a directive to its bus drivers "to 'politely' tell preachers that they could no longer trumpet their divine messages on the state-owned buses," the Jamaica Gleaner reports.
JUTC director Hardley Lewin told the Associated Press that he issued the policy after customers complained of feeling "harassed by preachers who sometimes loudly evangelize on buses in the overwhelmingly Christian island of about 2.8 million people."
Some preachers are saying the policy inhibits their freedom of religion guaranteed by the Jamaican constitution, which states that each citizen has the right "in public and in private, to manifest and propagate his religion in worship, teaching, practice and observance."
However, Shirley Richards, president of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, says that right should not be exercised at the expense of others' rights.
JUTC also has the support of local law enforcement: Police superintendent Radcliffe Lewis warned that preachers who breach the law by proselytizing on buses "can be charged with disorderly conduct on a public-passenger vehicle."
"It doesn't matter who it is, even if you were the pope," Lewis said.