Church grants stir up storm

| 15/04/2013

Stewardship_Collection_Plate.jpgCNS): The public backlash over the donations that are still being given to churches via the Nation Building Fund continued to mount over the weekend, with hundreds of people commenting about the issue of the CNS website, most of whom were opposed to the way the grants are being distributed. With the decision regarding who receives grants and who does not appearing to be arbitrary and apparently in the hands of the former premier, the idea that this controversial fund is nothing more than a political slush fund has become a serious issue as Cayman counts down to the polls — but there has been no comment from the election authorities.

Following the revelation on CNS that the now premier had announced to the congregation of the church she attends in Red Bay that it would be receiving $100,000 from the fund, post Nomination Day, the already controversial subject has raised some serious questions about its influence on the election. Nevertheless, the elections office, the police and the governor’s office have made no comment about the issue and its potential to unduly influence voters, despite the promises to clamp down on any form of election bribery, influence or vote buying.

As controversy mounted and negative publicity about the grants grew, the Hillside Chapel in Cayman Brac became the first church to hand back its cash grant of $50,000. Meanwhile, in the light of the negative publicity, the Red Bay Church of God Holiness, which was at the centre of the latest storm, was also considering whether to hand back its cheque but there has as yet been no confirmation if it will give up the money it said it  needs for roof and car park repairs.

The Nation Building Fund was created by the former premier but it is also supported by the current interim administration. Established to help churches and other important local cultural establishments, as well as students who are unable to get scholarships through the normal channels, the fund has become exceptionally controversial as a result of large donations handed to churches, apparently without any 'value for money' test regarding the public purse. In addition, the grants seem to be arbitrary and, according to the current premier, the decisions have been made by former premier McKeeva Bush.

Although a committee was supposedly established to examine applications to the fund, Premier Juliana O'Connor-Connolly made it clear on Thursday that the decision to give a grant from the fund and how much was at the discretion of the former premier.  

Although more than $4.5 million has been given to churches since 2010, when the money was first handed out, the reasons why one church gets hundreds of thousands and another just a few thousand dollars has not been explained.

The former premier and the current premier, however, have both vigorously defended the fund and the grants to churches on the basis that they play a significant lead role in the community.  The politicians also say it is cheaper for government to give the religious organisations money to repair churches so they can become hurricane shelters or set up after school programmes rather than run everything via the public sector.

More than $10 million dollars has been given away so far and close to half of the donations from the fund have gone to churches. The next most significant chunk of public cash has been spent on specialist scholarships for students who did not meet the criteria to get one via the education ministry and for other forms of training or adult learning. The rest has gone to a mix of charities, NGOs and community organisations outside of the payments that government makes formally to community groups via purchase agreements in the annual budget.

Although the audit office is understood to have examined the issue in its latest special reviews of government spending, the Office of the Auditor General has confirmed that it will not be releasing any further reports until after the election. The office must lay any document it produces with the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly before it can publish any of its work in the public domain. However, with the parliament now prorogued and no speaker in situ, the auditor general will not be releasing any reports until June.

CNS is currently awaiting the release of the latest list of donations from the ministry but if it follows the follow timeline provided in the freedom of information law, the list may not be available until after the elections.

Related articles on CNS:

Brac church gives cash back

Premier defends church grant

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Category: Politics

Comments (52)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Donkey-faced carrot and milk eaters!  How ugly are those who don't go to my church!  Pray, I say PRAY for the salvation of those who carry the offering plates through the church! PRAY I say!  Then give generously.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I wasn't in total oppostion of the fund at first but the more I hear the more I am starting to feel like this should be abolished.  Keep religion and politics separate.  I am a church member and Christian but whatever projects the church wants to put forward let the members whoever they are be those who donate and contribute.  That is how it was done in Bible times.  There are no scriptures to support that any Government should be responsible to give in this way.  This would end the mounting confusions.

  3. Elloisa B. says:

    Let's face it.  If religions could not brainwash children and use government to support them, they'd go away in a single generation.  Religion was invented when the first con artist met the first fool.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Anyone remember JuJu predicing the end of the world was near back when she was Speaker of the House?

     

    I have been trying to find a written report on that rant, but I can't find one.

  5. Anonymous says:

    All Nation United Pentecostal recieved KYD$175,000.00 from the Nation Building Fund by way of the former UDP leader, and not coincidentally has erected 20 by 40 foot billboard tributes for the UDP from their parking lot abutting the ETH north of Butterfield roundabout!  Shouldn't David Baines and all of these so-called election anti-corruption watchdogs be speaking with Pastor Dr. Dolbert A Clarke about this obvious moral turpidute?  Are they waiting for the flashing neon, or direction from the governor?

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed, that is also the church that Ellio got baptised in recently. It's no coincidence that they will allow that huge sign to be erected on their property. Solid evidence of vote buying in my mind. 

  6. The lone haranguer rides again! says:

    The fact that these churches will take this money that is stolen from the people of this country and then deliver to Ceaser they congregations on a silver platter convinces me that most of the preachers on this island do not believe in God and the devil are are infact rapacious business people who are looking to take care of themselves right here right now and are sucking the blood of the congregants.

    But then again that is just my opinion.

    • Anonymous says:

      and I, and many people agree with your opinion. They are also sucking the blood out of me!

  7. JJTA says:

    What we have here is a clear and present danger to democracy in the Cayman Islands. This threat cannot be underestimated. If the powers that be who are charged with responsibility for upholding free and fair elections do not hold JOCC fully accountable and she is not made to pay consequence for what she has done then the coming election will be rendered null and void due to this blatant act not being prosecuted for what it really and truly is. JOCC and the former twerp are two individuals who are and have been the enemies of the Cayman Islands. The Governor, the Police, the elections office and anyone else charged with the responsibility of ensuring that democracy is upheld have no choice but to hold her accountable, (foot washings and all too insular relationships notwithstanding) if there is to be one iota of respect and/or validity given to any of them and if they wish to retain even a modicum of integrity. There is absolutely nothing less that is acceptable to the populace of the Cayman Islands. Do your job or turn in your badges.Things like this are the creation of anarchy, dictatorship and all encompassing corruption and lay the groundwork for revolution.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This might be the best way to go. I couldn't afford to put money in the collection plate and buy beer. Now I bjust buy beer and government takes the beer tax and gives it to thr church.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The real problem with this so called 'Nation Building Fund' is the manner in which the funds are distributed.  That they are being doled out, without guidelines, without oversite, at the apparent discretion of a single individual smacks of vote buying and slush fund.   I work hard for my money,  I have paid the ill conceived and idiotic duty and fee increases.  Why, on God's green earth, should my money go to a slush fund for Mac and Julie to hand out willy-nilly? 

    • Anonymous says:

      Why is Juliana O'connor Conolly not being investigated and charged for abuse of office and misuse of public funds?  We want to know! We have a right to know! She is disgraceful just like McKeeva Bush.

      • Anonymous says:

        It is not fear that Mckeeva is taking all the blame, while julie is continuing with the game. Very , very unfair.The Public is not pleased at all.

  10. Anonymous says:

    When I worked in Government, the nation building fund and similar funds as created by former Premier McKeeva Bush were done with all good intentions.   The criteria for churches were that they had to provide after school programmes and they had to provide evidence of qualified teachers being a part of the programme.  SO, all churches said they were offering this programme and all got the money.   I do not know if anyone is still checking to see if they meet the criteria but that makes sense and if so I can support the funds.    For sports clubs the same principle applied.  They had to show that the children were being tutored by trained and qualified teachers and so they had to submit an achievement report before they got funding and if they reapplied the following year, their progress reports were needed.  Now, Julianna and CNS are still saying the decision to give this money is (Present tense) the fault of the FORMER Premier. I disagree.  Regardless of my feelings about Mr Bush, he is no longer the Premier and Julianna, if she thought it was not the right thing to do could have said to the churches that she needed to review their applications, review their progress reports and then make a decision.  She did not have to do it just because Mac did it.  She has a mind of her own and if she wants to do what is right she cannot use the blame game to abdicate herself.  SHe is responsible.  Not Mac.   He is not the Premier.  Its like someone gets fired from a job and the new employee keeps blaming the old one for everything that goes wrong.

    Do the churches tell its congregation how much money they got and what they are doing with it?   Or is it a secret and the pastors can spend it as they will without the voice of the people in their congregation?   Regardless, what happened to the good old days when the churches were spiritual and believed that God through the congregation and fund raising would supply all their needs.  Notice how many pastors have fancy homes, the nicest cars that they change every three years.  The wives are always the best dressed in the church and never wear the same outfit twice.  hmmm.    I know some Pastors would not perform a marriage to a couple if one of you was married before but they see nothing wrong in taking the Politicians money.  Double standard to me.

    Well, God is still in control and if anything is done in darkness, it will come to light!

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Shame on you Juju! Doing your own dirt and blaming Mac. That is not being CHRISTIAN. Shame on you! I WILL NOT be voting for you ever again.

    • Anonymously says:

      If it was up to me I would not have let one single new church in this island since 1965 since then we have lost our religious compass. Religion in the mid 70’s to date is a joke and all about money this is why our country is in such a bad state spiritually and morally. We now have a band of money changers and ponzie scheme artists masquerading as people of the cloth. Many of these preachers in Cayman save for a few of the well established churches are players like Jim Jones and Jim and Tammy Baker.

  11. Anonymous says:

    How about the gargantuan wooden UDP signs that are being erected on Church properties?!?  I mean, come on, how overt do you need to be to trigger a vote buying investigation?!?  

    • Anonymous says:

      Planning permission?

    • Keen Observer says:

       

      I blogged about this few days ago- and my worst nightmare was realized yesterday when I saw the pictures of the GT UDP candidates eventually posted on the then blank sign obviously saying "In your face". And I say-my! Oh my! What a disgrace!!

       

      It sure looks like the Anti-Corruption Unit will have to be funded rather soon; they could sure use some more staff to deal with all these suspected breaches of the law. Hopefully money won’t be a problem, if it is I think it would make good sense to use some of the Nation Building Funds to try and build back this Nation and restore it to some semblance of Honesty and Integrity.

       

      Could members of this party please explain why this sign was placed at these premises- and better yet, “NT Church”, could you please explain why you allowed it?

       

      Keen Observer

       

       

       

  12. Anonymous says:

    I am at a loss for words. ( Well, almost). What will a church do with a million dollars?  Seriously.  This is corruption courting religion.  It is amazing and honourable that a little church in Cayman Brac stood up and said "take your money back; we will not be bought".  

    • Anonymous says:

      It would be remise of me not to give praises to CNS for such a good service. Without CNS most of us would not know what is going on and what went on. Then it gives us a chance to express ourselves. Long live CNS, keep up the good works. Perhaps with a good Government you will be awarded .

  13. Unison says:

    My question to those church ministers or officials who were so bless to recieve government funds- didn't you realized that if the funds come from government, it come also from unbelievers, pagans, and infidels to your faith?  Was it the money and what you could get from the money, which distracted you from seeing this?  Or, was it because of a lack of faith in the power of God to evangelize Cayman and grow the church because God didn't bless the members enough with big paychecks to do the Lord's work?  The more I see it, these ministers should hang their heads in shame. They fail to realize that they serve a powerful God and if God is not blessing their church, it means they have apostasize, fell in some grave sin as to the reason why the church is not growing and being supported. Something is not right, because according to the gospel, Christ has declared that His church will grow through the Holy Spirit, not by corrupt governance of the temporal powers. Christ also stated that the gates of hell will not prevail against his church. It would stand and wouldn't need any support from earthly institutions. How is it that these churches in Cayman are branches of larger churches and their missions overseas, and yet they don't have the monies?  I can only conclude that the Holy Spirit has left the churches, because their would be unity and those overseas would support the churches here too. Have the ministers thought about what overwhelming emotions took them when our politicians offered them thousands of dollars?  What manner of spirit took over them to not see where these funds where coming from?  I am not a judge and not prepared to judge ministers or church officials. It is not in my place to judge because I don't know their hearts. But it makes sense to me that if you are a man of God and called to do His work on earth, your complete trust will be in Him and Him only. You wouldn't need a handout because the Lord will provide, the Spirit of God will provide for all your needs. If not, I would be on my knees asking in the spirit of contentment and contrition, "Lord, why has thou forsaken me?  Why are other churches like Catholic and certain other churches dont need handouts, they are always prosperous, yet you have us scrapping for monies?"  Could it be, could just be that "sin" has made most of the churches in Cayman lukewarm, nonevangelistic, and cold. The guardians of society are no more guardians, but empty houses with no spirit and societal outreach. To me that we have drifted so far, is a very troublesome thought. God help us.

  14. Anonymous says:

    i demand an official response from the governor….

    • Anonymous says:

      Our Governor is a good man but if caught up with julie will get very unpopular. We need you to check on her trips and spending too Sir.

  15. Lord says:

    Dear Caymanians,

    I need more money.

    Love,
    God

    Ps. Just give it to the preachers and prieasts to hold for me. They are all so very trustworthy.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dear 12:53 

      Please leave God out of your idle talk.  Galations 6:7 Be not deceived for God is not mocked. 

      • Anonymously says:

        Dear ministers of religion and government please leave God out of your deception for God is not mockery the bible tells me so, go get a real job and stop bilking honest but other wise gullible people. This is why I’m losing my religion and another good reason to chase those crazy bald heads out of town, bunch of fakes grabbing for the almighty dollars and nothing more. I hope God will do into you as he did unto Annais.

      • Anne T. Krist says:

        Who speaks for the invisible fictitious person under the guise of "Anonymous"?  Is your belief structure so weak you can't bring yourself to risk being identified?  Anne T. Krist 4:23, Be not anonymously religeous lest ye be mocked by the mockers.  Yours Truly, Anne.

      • Anonymous says:

        Looks like a tie – 18 up, 18 down, a couple trolls and 10 people laughing at the whole thing.  I say the Trolls got to the devil so Satan wins.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I wish as much attention of corruption was placed on certain individuals in power at the colleges. They are in bed with the churches and have chased away rational individuals and in place created a culture of petty despots and infantile policies.  Many of the students want to leave to the US because they feel like they are retaking primary school.

    A bunch of con men(and women) ,hence the strange diversion of scholarships through the churches. They have lined thier pockets and made more friends by creating useless positions while the teachers continue to suffer. 

  17. Anonymous says:

    The govt id broke & these donkey sre giving away $$$! The better give back our 3.2%!

    Wp

  18. JTB says:

    I thought the Cayman Islands Government was undergoing a financial crisis? Massive deficit, massive debt, revenue shortfall, that kind of thing?

     

    But apparently, there is still enough spare money lying around to be unaccountably distributed to the Premier's friends.

     

    Such a relief.

  19. Anonymous says:

    "…it is cheaper for government to give the religious organisations money to repair churches so they can become hurricane shelters or set up after school programmes rather than run everything via the public sector."

     

    Where is the evidence for this claim?

  20. Anonymous says:

    The ignorance of politicians like the current and former premier cannot be underestimated as regards the damage they are doing to these islands under the cloak of what they call religion and indeed they that claim to be christians.

    The vote buying, obvious corruption and secret deals are morale crushing to any population and especially so if it is running unchecked, we are becoming a welfare state just so they can line their pockets and could give a damn about the damage they leave behind.

    This latest cash give away from the public purse that has no committee to decide the distribution is a classic example of corruption being so ingrained in the government it continues without thought especially after recent arrests and that this is why we are about to become the T&C islands.

    The fact that they will both probably be re-elected is proof that using the public purse like their own bank account works so why should they stop if it means huge salaries and pensions payments before you even retire and not to mention the big payouts on private negotiations with public lands sold and lost forever and fabulous deals for developers who pay no fees for generations. Also having a support with the combined intelligence of a, well a former premier doesnt help. They listen to and believe their masters lies.

    If this pond scum gets back in and manages to be the ones making the decisions again that will mean there will be a free for all the like we have not yet seen and that is truly a frightening prospect and a guarantee the FCO will be landing with judges and police without a shadow of a doubt. I beg you my fellow Caymanians, dont let these bastards back in.

  21. Slowpoke says:

    Since politicos are no longer able to give away food and drinks at their meetings, I guess it is all now BYOB (Bring Your Own Bible).

  22. Hon. Absurdistani says:

    What criteria are in place for the award of these grants and are they open to followers of other religions in Cayman? As a diverse society we have Muslims, Hindus, Jews etc that are productive and peaceful members of our society.

    .

    How would the population feel if these grants were used to build or enhance non-Christian houses of worship? Would politicians equally support the use of these funds for temples, shrines, mosques (even if they have "hurricane shelters" attached)?

    .

    Without clear criteria we cannot be sure others are not being discriminated against. Are human rights being violated by the biased award of these grants suppressing other religions?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yup they'd soon complain if a buddhist temple or a mosque was built, but they're happy to take money collected by the government as taxes from religions of every denomination and put it into their "christian" churches!

      Separate Church and State Cayman.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Just thought I post the following list so everybody can see for themselves where tax-payers dollars went to: –

    Wesleyan Holiness Church (McKeeva Bush's Church) in West Bay KYD$1,300,000.00 !

    Church of God Bodden Town KYD$1,000,000.00 !

    Church of God West Bay  KYD$450,000.00 !

    Seventh Day Adventist Church West Bay  KYD$275,000.00 !

    Light of the World Christian Fellowship KYD$180,000.00 !

    All Nation United Pentecostal  KYD$175,000.00 !

    New Testament Church West Bay KYD$130,000.00

    90 & 9 Outreach Ministry KYD$125,000.00

    Church of God Frank Sound  KYD$125,000.00

    Wesleyan Holiness Church George Town  KYD$122,585.00

    Convent Moravian Church KYD$104,991.00

    Seventh Day Adventist Church KYD$100,000.00

    Church of God Holiness Red Bay KYD$100,000.00

    Hillside Chapel Cayman Brac  KYD$50,000.00 – This is the only Church that has returned the thrity pieces of silver back to the devil.

    Note: That most of the members for these churches, had no voice whatsoever in the decision making that was done between their church ministers / officials and our politicians. It just shows to you how we love to do things without consulting the people and the experts. Those in leadership love to lead by themselves, talk much and listen less – a dangerous style I must say we have adopted over the years.  

    • Anonymous says:

      , The Bodden Town Church of God is the Speaker, Mary Lawrence's Church. She is clearly Mac's supporter but the church hall supposed to benefit the island is dead in the water. Nothing has been done in ages and it looks terrible, Hopefully we will have a new non politically aligned Speaker after the next election.

      • Anonymous says:

        it may have been her church but I dont believe she has attended in quite a while.

        PS I dont believe that the Government is paying the full cost for building that church. I believe that they are paying for upgrades they needed for it to be a category 5 building. But I could be wrong.

        • Anonymous says:

          How much did she give her Watering Place church beside the paving of the yard? Shocked if she did not get a million for that one. The Hill Side Chapel with such a small congregation really would be the one that need the help and the good honest members is returning the money.

      • Anonymous says:

        The BTCOG is not Mary Lawrence's church; she stopped attending there many years ago. Nothing has been done in ages because govt. has not paid half of the sums due from them.  

      • Anonymous says:

        Maybe after the election, Ms Lawrence will be replaced with Ju Ju. Remember when she was speaker before she drove the Public out of the LA LIKE DOGS AND CALLED THEM STRANGERS. Sometimes after that she told usthat the Hon Alden Mclaughlin had taken the bible out of the schools,yet now she is so desperate to retain power that she is telling Alden that she can work with him IF elected. These people certainly have no memory.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Brac schools without qualified teachers, teaching assistants, grounds keepers, working toilets, playground equipment, art supplies and the UDP giving money to churches to fill their bank accounts all clearly represents" value for vote buying" monies. What a disgrace! JOCC and the Ministers know the deplorable conditions that exist in the schools on Cayman Brac but refuse to help the non-voting segment of her district….. the children! CNS please publish real investigative journalism on the conditions of the schools before the elections so the real tragety of the last 4 years and the victims, the children, can be brought to light. Just ask the parents at every school… they will be more than happy to help you expose this horrific abuse of power and neglet of the most critical segment of our future success as a community.

    • Anonymous says:

      What is Moses Kirkconnell saying/doing about this? Oh yeah thats right, him and Juju work together. Disgraceful.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Keep on digging CNS!! Cayman really needs to know who got what, from whom,  and why…hopefully that information will show the future administration that NBF is fine, if it is transparent and open, but in no cases should it be left to premiers to decide where it should go, nor should money go to churches..