The concept of equality of religion was established in 1957
Stabroek News
August 11, 2001

Dear Editor,

I wish to correct an historical error in the letter [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] written by Mr Hamilton Green captioned "Forbes Burnham made a major contribution to our nation" (9.8.2001). I would not comment on other than one point he made, although I could say a lot about National Service and Mass Games.

Mr. Green states that it was under Mr Burnham's "watch" that all religions in Guyana were given equal status. This is not correct. I can remember almost the exact moment this process started. As Minister of Labour, Health and Housing, I opened the Port Mourant Hospital. I was shocked that the religious aspect of the opening formalities was performed by a Catholic priest. No other religions were invited and I was upset at this, for in my opinion, all religions are equal. Besides, this was not a Christian community.

After, I discussed this with Cheddi Jagan, who was then Chief Minister, in a country that was still a colony, British Guiana. From that time on (l957-58) the government led by Cheddi Jagan, the Chief Minister, and later Premier (l96l-64) consistently practised the principle of equality of the religions and there were representatives of the three major religious groups - Christian, Muslim and Hindu - who were invited to all official gatherings and performed their religious functions as equals.

Thus, the concept of equality of religion was established, a concept which British colonialism did not respect, since at that time, Christianity was deemed to be better than other religions. Christian missionaries and proselytizers were part of the colonial system.

Also, it was the PPP government which corrected another religious injustice whereby non-Christians were denied employment in schools.

Yours faithfully,
Janet Jagan