Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day
On March 30th each year, Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day is celebrated in Trinidad and Tobago. This holiday commemorates the repeal of the Shouter Prohibition Ordinance that occurred on March 30th, 1951. This ordinance prohibited the activities of the Shouter or Spiritual Baptist religion.
Trinidad and Tobago is currently the only country in the world that celebrates a public holiday for this faith. The Spiritual Baptist religion is a faith that’s observed in several Caribbean countries and is a combination of African rituals and customs along with elements of the Protestant religion.
The History Of Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day
The Spiritual Baptist faith in Trinidad is a product of the Merkin community. The Merikins were African-American refugees of the War of 1812. They were free slaves of the British who were released during the war. They would establish a community in southern Trinidad and combined elements of the Baptist religion along with the Protestant religion and African customs together.
Under British colonial rule, this religion was banned under the Shouter Prohibition Ordinance of 1917. This ordinance banned the religion because of its perceived noise levels disturbing the peace. At the time, Sir Henry Gollam described how members of this religion practiced it as an unmitigated nuisance to the general community.
This religion would be against the law for the next 34-years until the ordinance was repealed on March 30, 1951. The holiday celebrating the day that the ordinance was repealed wouldn’t be started for another 45-years, however. It was first observed as a holiday in 1996 and has been observed ever since.
Observing Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day
This holiday is observed with religious celebrations and observances all of Trinidad and Tobago. Since it’s a public holiday, many businesses and schools are also closed on this day.