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On October 23, Andrew Holness, a Seventh-day Adventist, was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Jamaica. A former government education minister, the 39-year-old Holness is the youngest person to ever hold the high office.
In a ceremony at King’s House on Sunday afternoon, the new prime minister did not swear on the bible as is the custom because of his faith. Rather, as is allowed under the constitution, Holness ‘declared and affirmed” due allegiance to Jamaica and his intention to carry out his duties as Prime Minister of Jamaica.
Seventh-day Adventists currently hold both of the top positions in Jamaican government. The Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen, Ph.D., is also an Adventist and a graduate of Andrews University. In addition to serving in various public capacities, Allen worked in various levels of Jamaican conference leadership before becoming president of the West Indies Union of Seventh-day Adventists.
Unlike Allen, Holness does not seem to have attended Adventist schools or worked for the denomination. He speaks about his working class background and describes himself as pro-business and pro-people. At his inaugural address, he said: "I love the poor but I hate poverty."
Holness vowed to "conscientiously and impartially" serve all Jamaicans during an hourlong speech and pledged to ease the island's poverty by increasing access to education, creating meaningful jobs and ending "garrison politics," a reference to populist alliances with gang leaders in vote-rich slums.
"Jamaica is yearning, crying out, for a new politics to emerge," Holness said to applause. "Criminals must never be seen by the community as protectors." . . .
He earned a bachelor's degree in management and a master's degree in development from the University of the West Indies in Jamaica before becoming a lawmaker at age 25. He was a protege of former Prime Minister Edward Seaga, serving as his special assistant from 1996 to 2000.
According to the U.S. State Department, Seventh-day Adventists make up the second largest denomination in Jamaica—about 11% of the population. Various Pentecostal churches make up much of the religious landscape, with about a quarter of population belonging to the Church of God of Prophecy. Interestingly, it has 29 Prominent Teachings.