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: