By Caribbean News Now contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia -- Ahead of a public meeting last Sunday, Nancy Charles, treasurer of the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) in Saint Lucia, issued assignments to party members to attend church services in the constituency of Anse La Raye/Canaries for the now widely criticised purpose of canvassing for votes.
Screenshots of Nancy Charles’ message to the UWP candidates
The social network group message included assignments to new candidates as well as former prime minister Stephenson King, leader of the opposition Gale Rigobert, other parliamentarians and political leader of the UWP, Allen Chastanet.
The Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has expressed surprise that the UWP would use churches 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," the SLP said in a press release.
According to the SLP, 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," the SLP pointed out.
"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," the SLP added.
According to the SLP, the UWP has crossed the line and ought not to use the church as a political tool or platform.
The UWP did not respond to a request for comment.