Religionists and moralists hastily assume the position that it is immorality – abortion, prostitution or homosexuality – that is destroying our world. Unfairly, their moral sensibilities always highlight some form of sexual decadence for the greatest concern. This is, nevertheless, understandable. The Bible sort of laid the groundwork for such preoccupation. The apostle Paul ranks fornication as the “greatest sin”, for the reason that of all other sin it takes place inside the body.
“They will not take up issues that will cause them to risk middle class sympathizers.”
Our moral crusaders in Jamaica are most disappointing. They rake down unquenchable fire on prostitutes, homosexuals and the abortionists; while they plunge into a state of silence or reticence about many other things which strangle people’s existence. They say little or nothing about the perennial injustices which characterize the Jamaican society.
I have never heard them, the moralists, speak out against police extra-judicial killings; neither do they mention a word about the corrupt politicians or the middle class penchant for classism. Particularly the religionists tend to confirm that religion has lost its relevance. But in a desperate attempt to be heard they join debates which have the least chance of earning opposition. They will not take up issues that will cause them to risk middle class sympathizers. God help the poor little fornicator or the woman with six children and contemplating abortion; pastor has no tolerance for you.
I have no inherent problem with the church. Religion is a good thing, whether god exists or not. An unvarnished religious body is ideal in being the epitome of a national conscience. This is critically needed in our nation to help lobby for citizen’s human rights.
The problem arises when the church is only prepared to go the easy route in seeking significance. This brings them pitifully close to be described as cowards or down right hypocrites. I would listen to Dr. Martin Luther King any day about morality. I would even listen to the Rastaman, though, I would separate their religiosities from the pillars of the constitution of Jamaica .
I am extremely cautious about using morality or religion as a guide for a constitution. And I think anybody who is objective will agree with me.
For the intention behind the establishment of religious propositions is entirely incongruous to the objective of a secular state or what a secular state should aim at. Religion exists to prepare individuals for the life to come. The Judeo-Christian religion strikingly demonstrates this. In the society of the Jews, God was believed to be ever present and leading them to an eschatological place, thus a theocratic institution was thought to be imperative. The early Christian thinkers thought that the end of the world was imminent. Therefore it was of the greatest necessity to prepare for the judgment which was expected to be less than a generation away.
Now, the task of secular society is to uphold the rights and freedom of its citizens. In such a concept the fundamental principle underling the constitution must be that, “in as much as a person’s freedom does not impinge upon the right and freedom of others he should be free.”
There was a time in history when religion was married to the state constitution, and the world was not a better place. Some of the most callous crimes against humanity took place then. People were being jailed because they chose to work on Sundays.
Women were denied equality with men and a host of inhumane prohibitions followed. Thousand of people were being slaughtered in the name of god. Witches were burned at the stake. Slavery existed in that era and no other act can exceed slavery in its scope of horror and humiliation.
“There was a time in history when religion was married to the state constitution, and the world was not a better place.”
This secular society must recognize its independence in deciding what citizens are permitted to do. Abortion, homosexuality, prostitution etc must be treated as a matter of choice. No man or woman should ever have to stand before a court of law because of any of these acts. If they must be judged let their judgment be reserved for god, for these acts affect only the individual.
The issue of abortion must be viewed from a pragmatic angle, whether we are taking into question the woman’s health, be it physical or mental or the degree to which an additional child will deplete a family’s resources.
In countries like China and India where health conditions remain poor and life expectancy is about 65 years (in India), the population size is of great concern. In 1958 a massive famine caused huge death in China because of the relationship between population size and food supply. When the former exceeds the latter the result is catastrophe. So it is within a domestic household in Jamaica .
The size of the family does affect the quality of life for each member. A one bedroom can hold a very limited number of people. Also Ja$3,000 can feed only a few children. Hence, it’s excessively unfeeling to suggest that abortion should remain a criminal offence.
Regarding homosexuals or prostitutes my idea is consistent. Their actions do not impinge upon anybody else’s freedom. I will have no difficulty being a heterosexual even if my neighbour is a homosexual. And society must protect the prostitutes not prosecute them.
Homosexuals, abortionists or prostitutes are not the scum of the earth. For if post modernity marks the age of the individual tendency for sensual gratification, it also brought with it better days. These are better days despite arguments to the contrary. People are living longer then before. More concerns are being given to human rights issues than any other time in human history, also we have fewer diseases to contend with.
If Jamaica seems to be riddled with social ills it is because of the perpetual injustices which are characteristic of this society, combined with the unacceptable silence of the church and the awful indifference of the privileged classes.
Ricardo Mckenzie, Portland Nine_Zero13@yahoo.com