Latin America & Caribbean

Jamaica bans Bible preaching on commuter buses

Commuters at Jamaican bus stop, 23 Oct 2012
Jamaican commuters say the authorities should now tackle other forms of disturbance, such as loud music on buses

Jamaica's public transport authorities have banned lay preachers from addressing commuters in public buses.

Jamaica is a predominantly Christian country, but many passengers have complained about the noise and disturbance.

Drivers have been instructed to politely warn religious ministers that they are no longer allowed to evangelise fellow passengers.

Preachers say the decision infringes freedom of speech and religion.

"I am all for evangelising, but they cannot use the bus as their platform," Hardley Lewin, managing director of the Jamaica Transit Company Limited said.

He told The Gleaner newspaper that commuters resent being a captive audience.

"I think this is what makes the bus an attractive mobile church. I suppose you cannot just get off because you have spent your money," said Mr Lewin.

Correspondents say lay ministers - many of them Christian evangelicals - have accepted the decision for now, but may decide to challenge it by citing Jamaica's constitution, which inludes the right "to manifest and propagate his religion".

Prominent evangelical pastor Herro Blair said preachers should have approached the public transport company before embarking on attempts to evangelise commuters.

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