National Day of Prayer: PM addresses separation of state and churchPOSTED: 01/11/16 5:22 PM
St. Maarten – “The idea of separation of church and state does not mean that those who run the state shouldn’t go to church or that those who run the church should not get involved in the affairs of the state,” Prime Minister William Marlin says yesterday at the National Day of Prayer.
Marlin referred to US president Barack Obama and his breakfast prayer meeting at the beginning of the year, Pope Francis (credited for a role in opening up relations between the US and Cuba), Archbishop Desmond Tutu (for his role in breaking down apartheid in South Africa) and of course Martin Luther King. “He would be called a political activist today, more than a religious leader,” Marlin said.
The PM also mentioned Haitian President Arisitide who contested the elections and became his country’s leader. The Government of St. Maarten continues to pay the salaries of several members of the clergy, Marlin pointed out. “Nobody thus far to my knowledge has complained about that being against the separation of church and state.”
The PM noted that “the church should not impose itself on the state and vice versa. There should be no confusion about the fact that the two are separate institutions and should function as such, each with its distinct role, but actually complementing each other when necessary.”
Marlin also had a quip in store for Wycliffe Smith, leader of the Christian Party: “We are here today under these friendly skies, politicians, some of whom at times may sound like preachers, and preachers, some of whom have decided to become politicians.”