Jamaican bus company, JUTC has taken a bold step to halt the practice of preachers using the public transportation system as their platform to spread the holy word.
Managing director of the Jamaican Urban Transport Company Limited (JUTC), Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, said that a directive has been given to the drivers to 'politely' let evangelists know they can no longer trumpet their divine messages on the state-owned buses.
"I have sent a memo to the drivers, basically, telling them to politely request that people do not preach on the buses," he added.
He said the bus company had received complaints from some commuters about the preachers on the buses. Lewin argued that when persons board a JUTC bus they become a captive audience. "I think this is what makes the bus an attractive mobile church and I suppose you can't just get off because you have spent your money."
Lewin, however, said "If somebody feel that their constitutional rights are being breached they should seek remedies". He said persons aggrieved could approach not only the courts, but the JUTC board or the Ministry of Transport and Works.
In the meantime, Shirley Richards, president of the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship, indicated that while the Constitution guarantees certain rights in relation to freedom of expression and freedom of religion, the objections of the audience should be respected and taken into account.
Section 17 of the Charter of Rights in the Constitution states: "Every person shall have the right to freedom of religion including the freedom to change his religion and the right, either alone or in community with others and both in public and in private, to manifest and propagate his religion in worship, teaching, practice and observance."
In contrast many Jamaican have disagreed with the bus company stating that if preachers are no longer allowed to spread the gospel then secular music should not be played either.