NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Salem Baptist Church Pastor Heuter Rolle yesterday threw his support behind changes to the Sexual Offences Act Amendment that would criminalize marital rape and pushed back against generalizations that all churches were against the move.
Minister of Social Services Obie Wilchcombe said that the next step in the consultation process is a meeting with the Bahamas Baptist Missionary Educational Convention.
Although he does not represent the association, Rolle is the senior pastor of one of the largest Baptist churches in the capital.
“I do believe that marital rape ought to be criminalized, I do believe that a man can rape his wife; that’s my views and wrongdoing ought to be punished in its, at whatever form that it is committed,” he said.
Rolle added that contrary to popular belief, he wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that the majority of churches and pastors are against criminalizing marital rape.
“I don’t know if I can say that the church at large has rejected criminalizing marital rape,” Rolle continued.
“I dont know if I could say that, that might be the outlook from some particular denominations but I don’t know that I can say that the church at large has rejected it…Maybe it is certain voices in certain corners of the church that is rejecting it.”
Rolle furthered that critics who lump together all churches, speak inaccurately when accusing the church in general of having an ‘archaic view’ in the marital rape discussion.
“It’s an arcane view as I believe that those, the women’s movement and the rest of them are hitting the church with, but that’s just a partial view of the church, it’s not the entire church.
“And with respect to government’s consultation with the church, I do believe that it is, I consider it to be a Godly perspective of how church and state ought to operate,” Rolle said.
Press Secretary Clint Watson said that the time frame on when dialogue with community organizations on the Sexual Offenses Draft Amendment has not been solidified as yet, stating that Wilchcombe has said that he wants to do a thorough consultation to get all perspectives on the matter.
Watson said: “The government wants to make sure that it’s making the best representation for the Bahamian people and the only way you can do that is by having a full consultation.
“In the past governments have been scolded for not having enough consultation, but we don’t want that to be the issue regarding something that’s very important or something that’s very controversial to people but make sure that there is full consultation.
“[…] Meeting with all the relevant groups who have requested a meeting is the only proper thing to do,” Watson said.