Ahead of a public meeting in Jacmel on Sunday, February 28, 2016, Nancy Charles, Treasurer of the United Workers Party (UWP), issued assignments to churches around the Constituency of Anse La Raye/Canaries, with instructions that the purpose of attending the church service was to canvass for votes.
The message included assignments to new candidates as well as Hon. Stephenson King, Hon. Gale Rigobert, other Parliamentarians and Leader of the United Workers Party (UWP), Allen Chastanet.
The Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has expressed surprise that the UWP would blatantly use the church in that manner. Whereas it is not uncommon that politicians would attend church services across denominations and across Saint Lucia, it is very disturbing that a political party would declare a church a canvassing zone.
Churches are generally viewed as a sacred place, where the focus is on fellowship and worship, over selfish and personal ambitions. Historically, worshippers and church members have resented being used in that manner.
To add insult to injury, photographs were taken of unsuspecting churchgoers and posted to UWP pages on Facebook to show presence and support. Some were even shown indulging in refreshments provided by the UWP.
One is left to wonder whether the leaders of the various churches were aware that the presence of politicians in their sanctuaries was not simply to be fed with the word of God and to worship with them, but to speak to members of their congregation about voting for the UWP.
According to the SLP, the UWP has crossed the line and ought not to use the church as a political tool or platform.
Photographs of Nancy Charles’ message to the UWP candidates are attached.