One of the stalwarts of the Jamaican public sphere is Ian Boyne, columnist, speech writer, pastor and host of TV programmes Profile and Religious Hardtalk. Last week he produced an exceptionally good episode of the latter looking at the subjects of Atheism and Secularism in religion-obsessed Jamaica (9/18/2012). It must be said that Boyne himself is a superb example of Christian practice at its best. He’s not afraid, as you can see from watching the video (linked below), to engage openly with views that depart drastically from his own. In the process he allowed time and space for a dissenting view rarely heard in Jamaica.
The two young people he had on were very articulate and gave a spirited critique of the kind of Christianity espoused in Jamaica and its insidious seepage into all areas of national life. One of them, @Chatimout or Javed Jaghai, has even gone so far as to start a group called Jamaicans for Secular Humanism for those like himself who want a space to articulate their doubts about the dangers of the all-enveloping, unquestioning forms of religiousity adopted by many Jamaicans. In fact its quite heretical in Jamaica to express the view that God might not exist or that there is something problematic about the de facto embrace of Christianity as a state religion.
I know a young man who as a child at St. Peters and Paul, a prominent Jamaican prep school, innocently announced in class that he didn’t believe in ‘god’. He was then subjected to disbelieving, disapproving scrutiny all day by other teachers who would pop into the classroom to have the ‘godless’ boy, who was all of 8 years old, pointed out to them. I was reminded of this story when I noticed with amusement the caption under Javed Jaghai’s image stating baldly “DOES NOT BELIEVE IN GOD.” In fact so narrow and hidebound are Jamaicans in their practice of Christianity that this episode of Religious Hardtalk was not repeated at the normally scheduled time because the powers-that-be were afraid that schoolchildren might be exposed to such apostasy!
Fortunately the TV station has made it available online. I highly recommend it, in fact its a must see for anyone trying to understand Jamaican culture:
19 thoughts on “Atheism in Babylon: Questioning Christianity’s right to rule in Jamaica”
As someone who is a member of the online group, I am quite proud of the young man for being willing to take that stand in Jamaica.
oh absolutely! he was really good….
I hope that neither young person finds themselves exposed to either the threat of violence or direct violence as a result of coming out as non-believers.
So glad to see you highlighted this. It was one of the VERY FEW episodes of “Religious Hard Talk” I watched, but I found these arguments very worthy. I hadn’t thought about it before, but as a RastafarI, the domination of all aspects of Jamaican life by the Christian establishment often presents confrontation. Why, for example, if I say our family’s prayers each morning with my child, should he/she have to say prayers again at school and, moreover, to ‘God” and not the ‘JAH” he has been brought up to believe is the name of the Almighty Creator? What about Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist children?
The Christian religiosity in Jamaica is nothing but hypocrisy. How can a nation that has the most churches per capita in the world have so much crime, violence, injustice and corruption?! With so many churches, I would expect our island to be a peaceful one with fairness, equality and justice for all. I would expect the rate low rates of illiteracy, communicable disease, ignorance, unemployment and physical and sexual abuse. Unfortunately, this cannot be said of JA, I would also expect a high rate of marriage and stable family life – not so in JA, The majority of our children are now born out of wedlock, most being raised by struggling single mothers with no help or input from the fathers. It’s obvious that Christianity in JA has failed because other religions there have far better track records and family life (e.g., Judaism, Islam, Rastafarianism, Hinduism and Buddhism)
J’can pastors and preachers are the first to tell you that you will burn in hell if you do not worship or believe the way they do. J’cans will deny their own children and themselves to pay big tithes and offering so that the pastor and his family can live good. And too many J’can women are now single and don’t want to be because of the church telling them not to be unequally yoked and to wait for that perfect Christian man. Now if you wish to be single that’s okay.
I perfectly understand where these young people are coming from. I too have rejected Christianity and I changed my religion. I’ve adopted the Jewish faith as my own and I’ve never happier…Live and let live – that’s something that Christianity in JA needs to learn…
Thanks for your comment TAL and for sharing your experience….i’m just glad these conversations have finally started.
My reply to people who tell me that I am headed to hell is to ask if they’ll be going there. If they inform me that they aren’t then I express pleasure in the fact that I won’t be spending eternity in their company.For some reason that does not seem to please them.
Good point Barbara,. Annie, good article (as usual :-), be warned though….you might just be burnt in the public square for this….for the record…which square would you prefer?? lol! We really need more of these……
hehehe Winsome! Papine Square…
Annie, I highly recommend the Facebook site ‘Jamaicans for Secular Humanism’. An island of civilised and rational discussion (and much humour). Like Fragano, I too am a member. They would welcome you!
hi Susan! long time…yes definitely plan to check it out…
And no one is brave enough to point out the fact that this “belief” by the young man may be all encompassed in his will to explore his homosexuality? A belief that is frowned upon in most if not all religions that look to a higher power.
Lets not get blind sided by the ulterior motive of the panelist or this “secularism” group. It is rather evident that in order for them to embrace whole scale debauchery and increase the secularism in society to include all “sex” and pedophilia etc, the must come with some footing or launching pad. It is more than clear that this is just a means to reject socially acceptable norms by attacking the moral fabric of a society that looks to a God as its means for embracing such morals.
Ignore the existence of Sodom and Gamora (sp) all you want. But God or not, lack of morality will not be embraced. As it is how we can protect and ensure the continuation of the future generations.
I’ve approved your comment as a sample of the kind of irrational argument so prevalent in the Jamaican public sphere. This is precisely why we need a 100 societies dedicated to humanism and the will to question.
Dear “Point to note”, I am an atheist. I am also married (to a woman, in case you’re wondering) and the father of two grown children. Are you aware that, in the United States, the religious category least likely to be in prison is atheists? Even less likely than Buddhists. What does morality have to do with religion?
As for lack of morality not being embraced in Jamaica. That must clearly be the case, given the extremely low rate of crimes on the island. Why, no one has ever been murdered there, nor has anybody ever been robbed, even once. Sexual intercourse only takes place within the bounds of marriage, and no one has ever seen the inside of a rum-shop.
This is for the author: Point to note
It is evident to me that like most christian, the person has not researched or even did a slight reading on what his humanism or secularism. If he had read it, he would have see than most countries which embrace this are doing way better of than this country of Jamaica which forces Christianity down our throats. It is also worth noting that we secularist do actually believe in rights, so for him to say compare homosexuality to pedophilia shows how misguided he is. Because stylistically heterosexuals commit about 90-95% of these crimes annually. The fact is a secularist believes that all people should e free to do as they please provided it does not infringe upon the human rights of another person. So yes 2 consensual adult homosexuals can have sex in private without fear of the law arresting them, but if an adult has sex with a child, that is a crime because children cannot make a decision to have any form of sexual activities no matter the circumstance. I think these people are so wrapped up in their christian bible, they never really stop to question things. Just follow blindly.
Thanks Paul, actually i would put down most of Jamaica’s problems to this kind of vacant, misguided ‘Christianity’. Demons in disguise mi seh…
1. Is hypocrisy limited to Christianity?
2. Do intellectual non-Christians have a genuine appreciation of the Christian “relationship” that is experienced with God as opposed to the Christian “religion” that is generally perceived?
3. As it relates to blind faith, isn’t this what evolutionists rely on in subscribing to the “THEORY” of evolution?
4. Do guns kill people or do PEOPLE ‘use guns’ to kill people?
5. Does love fail or do PEOPLE fail to love?
Incorrect perception is one key to being misguided/misled/misjudged/misunderstood/mistaken. False teaching is another.
Ultimately, where does the responsibility lie in the quest to ascertain truth? Is anyone here, in this comment feed, more rational, more religious, more sane, more humanly right, more religious, more judgmental, and dare I say more LOVING than any other?
No of course not, we just happen to be talking about Christianity in this instance because its what prevails in Jamaica. and i agree with you about the evolutionists: sometimes secularists go on just as bad as the people they’re critical of, assuming that they’re always right, unwilling to hear any other arguments or criticism etc etc. But the two people under discussion in this blog are not examples of blind secularism. Thanks for raising the level of the discussion!