Churches Should Give Back COVID Relief $$ If They Did Not Need It

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By Sonje Greenidge, Journalist

Updated 9:22 AM AST, Sat May 21, 2022

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(PLTM) - Bishop John Cline, the Senior Pastor at the New Life Baptist Church stated that the public funds provided to churches that were not in need of COVID-19 relief, should give them back.

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In an interview with BVI Platinum News, Bishop Cline explained that most of the churches in the BVI are independent churches without international support systems.

This significantly affected the church’s ability to pay staff and to meet other financial commitments, like utility bills, loans and mortgages, Bishop Cline expressed.

“The pandemic was a tremendous financial setback for churches because, unlike other businesses that could have opened, the church opens once a week and most of the church’s income come from parishioners giving,” Bishop Cline noted.

According to the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) report, over $2.3M was distributed under the Religious Institution programme, with $1,370,000 going to churches, and an additional $55,000 to “Religious Groups”. The funds that were distributed by the Government were allocated for the safe resumption of face-to-face worship sessions.

However, the CoI report stressed that churches that did not apply received funding. The report notes that 75 % had not applied for assistance and of the 19 that applied, 16 had congregations of below 200.

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Bishop Cline stated in the interview that COVID 19 relief was necessary for most churches if not all. He proposed that the churches which did not apply were likely to be unaware of the program.

He explained that the granting of funds to churches that did not apply was a possible attempt by the government to be fair and balanced to ensure there was perceived bias in how the funds were distributed.

Despite this, he was adamant that “If the Church did not apply because they did not need, then I think it is the responsibility of the church to say, ‘thank you but no thank you’ and they should give it back if they received and did not need.”

The CoI report stated that although the program was conceptualized in 2020, when the funds were distributed, most of the churches had their attendances back to full capacity and were functioning normally.

Further, the CoI report noted that the program was administered with very limited accountability mechanisms in place, including former Premier Andrew Fahie’s unilateral decisions on changing the policies and criteria for the distribution of funds. The CoI report also stated that funds awarded to religious organizations around the Territory were inflated by 662% where the committee’s recommendation for disbursement stood at $185,772.67 and was increased to $1,415,000. However, $1,554,000 was disbursed.

The Premier's Office which administered the COVID-19 relief funds is currently under criminal investigation as recommended by the CoI report.

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26 Comments
Archbishop Of Banterbury
Dear Jesus. Thank you for delivering us from Evil and leading us to the land of Coke and Money. Thank you for the fellowship of Honourable Drugs Man, whose belief in witches and magic will keep us safe in the dead of night - provided we stay safely indoors and away from the transhipments. Hail Redeemer of my nostrils, who shall keep these islands free from the scourge of drugs. And may the blessings of Obeah be amongst you now and forever. Hallelujah. Can I have a government tithe?
Like · · 6w ago
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More Excuses
I have never heard of anyone saying that they didn't need money once it offered to them. So I guess this church will be able to keep it because they will say that they NEEDED it. They should ALL give the money back they didn't deserve it, most of these churches are just a bunch of **** and **** anyway
Like · · 6w ago
2 Likes
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What A Mess
The churches should not have taken that money in the first place. I am concerned about the spiritual guidance that is being provided by the churches to the people of the BVI. The pastors have gotten political and are endorsing politicians under the guise of Gods chosen ones. Many spoke of Andrew as Gods chosen leader for the BVI. If they had any shame at all they would keep off the pulpit. The country is in the mess it is partly because of the church and these spiritually weak people we have as pastors. Andrew was working ****** and all the pastors had him on their pulpit praising some other God and none of them had any discernment that something was not right. What does this tell us about these so called pastors?
Like · · 6w ago
13 Likes
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Vi
hope you plan on giving back what you get also
Like · · 6w ago
11 Likes
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Oop
this is the comment yeah
Like · 6w ago
0 Likes
@ CAN'T STRESS ENOUGH
PLEASE DON'T TELL THAT TO HIS HOLINESS MR SLICK CSC , PLAYER , CITY HUSTLER AND HIS SHOW SHOULD BE RE NAMED ( ABSENT OF THE TRUTH H
Like · · 6w ago
5 Likes
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Crystalis
What took him so long to say that, I wonder???
Like · · 6w ago
18 Likes
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Give It Back
It is shameful that the church has to get caught up in this saga too. Greed knows no barriers
Like · · 6w ago
2 Likes
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GREED
How about those who did not need it but still apply. Look in the mirror. It is a shocking disgrace that over 1.5 millions was given to the churches who frankly does not need it while the poor minimum wage workers who are contributors to the SS were given checks of $120 dollars and eighty dollar. These people have immediate needs for food, water, electricity and rent. These churches are artificially created needs turned into a business to generate wealth and power for the chosen few who can set million dollar annual targets while impoverishing most of its members. This was the time when the church should be giving back to its members who are undergoing hardship instead of hoarding more into its clutches. The churches should be involve in the redistribution of wealth for the poor, not creating wealth for the few. Instead they feed them a milk and honey dream there after while the few are drinking the milk and honey now. Then they baulk about slavery and colonialism while using the same premise of white religion to to enrich themselves. Slave to the plantation and slave to religion, same difference.
Like · · 6w ago
7 Likes
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@GREED
I strongly agreed with your Comments. This Church Business is getting more and more inconspicuous. What truly gets Me is the Burial Fees in Church and Church Burial Grounds. These Churches following Foreign Mega Churches. Church Secretaries;Treasurers;PRs and whatever they call their Leaders of said Church. Collecting Offerings and not hearing about any Services being rendered throughout the Territory. But the Leaders living LARGE
Like · 6w ago
3 Likes
Real Talk
Real talk :y does the church need help when the the congregation giving the pastor all there earrings already set a ****
Like · · 6w ago
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Amen
I 100% agree with Bishop. Churches, set the example. Give back that money. But I guess all of them will say that they needed it. Those who did not apply and those who got more than they requested. GIVE IT BACK!!!
Like · · 6w ago
8 Likes
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Homegrown
Why the fishermen and farmers too should give back their money. And consultant whi never produce any report on project.
Like · · 6w ago
17 Likes
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SMH
Buh look who opening them trap! Said the Spider to the Snake
Like · · 6w ago
20 Likes
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Licker And Sticker
This little **** prophet. I dont want to see him. What about interests and opportunity costs. They should give that back too. Since he in the giving mood
Like · · 6w ago
11 Likes
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Lol
lol done spent
Like · · 6w ago
5 Likes
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Solo
You first.
Like · · 6w ago
14 Likes
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0%
You take the lead and give back yours.
Like · · 6w ago
25 Likes
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Do As I Say
I wonder how much he charging for the HOA meetings?
Like · 6w ago
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New Wife
Sir, when are you going to return yours? Because you did not need it. Andrew did not discriminate he gave to every denominations. But you all still criticize Andrew for giving the s****l man ****,that is pure hypocrisy. none of you had said anything when you and your colleagues received nearly 2,000000 $ from poor Andrew. If you were grateful you should initiate a day of prayer for Andrew. Yes he has done something bad but he was sharing the cake with you all.Man ,just be quiet.
Like · · 6w ago
19 Likes
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Magwitch
Sharing the cake? Sharing the taxpayer's money more like, because he believes in *** and ****.
Like · 6w ago
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@ D BIS ,- HOP
SO HE HAS TO TELL THEM THEY SHOULD ( YOUR HOLINESS , WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT YOUR TEAMMATE ,HIS HOLINESS , THE SWEET TALKER > CSC , NOT FORGETTING YOURSELF . WE ALL KNOW THE TRUTH WILL BE REVEALED SOONER OR LATER ( NO ONE CAN FOOL GOD
Like · · 6w ago
10 Likes
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Caribbean Girl
I agree. It is the right thing to do. Are you doing this?
Like · · 6w ago
9 Likes
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A Barrel Of Dishonesty.
I have to agree with you Pastor. Also those that applied need to justify how the monies were spent,. The most important piece in this unfinish puzzle would be those that didn't apply, How did they get? Why did they get? That person/s that approve they getting tax payers monies need to be held responsible and face serious consequences...
Like · · 6w ago
15 Likes
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Give Back
Be the example and give back yours
Like · 6w ago
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Cant Stress Enough
Religion and politics does not/should mix.
Like · · 6w ago
18 Likes
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