Secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha Satnarayan Maharaj has accused Prime Minister Patrick Manning's of attempting to perform a "con job" on the population through a statement to the Parliament on the controversial church on the Heights of Guanapo.
Maharaj stressed that Manning failed to address concerns about his secretive behaviour on alleged links between him and the controversial church, The Light of the Light House of the Lord Jesus Christ. Maharaj also said that no one engaged in denigrating the Prime Minister's faith although Manning called on born-again Christians such as himself to stop their religion from being persecuted. He said: "Nobody has denigrated the faith. Everybody has complained about the secrecy that surrounds the church. Everybody has complained about the secrecy and non-response of Manning. "That is what the complains are about," Maharaj said, during a telephone interview yesterday. "Rather than responding to it (the mystery surrounding the church), he (Manning) kept the secret going (and) nobody complained (about his). Anybody could be anything (religion) that they want to be. "And here we have a mysterious church, nobody know about it, Manning must come forward and tell us exactly who this person is and who is getting it." It was alleged that church was being built using state resources in an improper manner to facilitate Manning's spiritual adviser or seerwoman, Rev Juliana Pena, who was also known as Juliana Pierre Devenish.
In a 53-minute statement to the House of Representatives yesterday, Manning sought to dispel concerns about relationships drawn between him and the church. Manning said it was "grossly inaccurate" to refer his spiritual adviser as a "seerwoman" or a "prophetess." Maharaj said Manning's statement was "an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the population. "This was an attempt at what I would normally describe as a con job...I think Mr Manning has not come clean," he said. "He is trying to shroud the whole debate that has been taking place for the last week on all kinds of extraneous things. "Without answering the question, you bring in all sorts of issues that are not relevant to being upfront on the State lands and a church going up there." Maharaj also sought to defend the Maha Sabha against Manning's statements that denominational schools like those of the Maha Sabha were major beneficiaries of state lands, such as The Light of the Light House of the Lord Jesus Christ.
"His (Manning's) whole response and his attack, I call it an attack, on the denominational boards and our school systems are regrettable," Maharaj said. "Mr Manning talks about how much money they pump into the denominational boards. He did not mention that we provide 80 per cent of the secondary schools placements. "Mr Manning did not even mention that, or that the quality of the students that come out of the denomination schools and colleges are way above academically. Manning did not mention that. He ignored it totally." He said the State was the biggest landowner in Trinidad and Tobago and that "if we are doing the job that the State cannot do, which is to provide total services–religious services, educational services–then obviously the State must make these lands available to us because we are doing the job that they cannot do."