Michael Abrahams, Online Gleaner Columnist
The firing of Prof Brendan Bain from the leadership of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training Programme is one of the most polarising events I have ever witnessed in Jamaica, with venom being spewed left, right and centre. Many Christians have been very vocal with their opinions, often failing to recognise the conflict of interest involved and blaming his dismissal instead on the gay agenda.
Some of their comments have reinforced my impression that a disproportionate amount of fire and brimstone is directed by the Church at the LGBT community, while other transgressors of biblical laws receive lighter sentences.
For example, before the last general election when then leader of the Opposition, Portia Simpson Miller, stated that she would have no problems with gays in her Cabinet, the Reverend Al Miller, one of our most popular church leaders, made it clear that he was very much against it. He argued that having gays there "would be to declare homosexual behaviour as normal and right".
His comments perplexed me, as I strongly suspected that fornicators, adulterers, liars, thieves, woman beaters and, possibly, impregnators of underage girls have been in Cabinets and wondered why they were tolerated.
The Church is a powerful force, and comments made by members of the clergy can strongly influence their parishioners and other members of the public. I would love to see church folk unite and direct equal energy towards other issues that are negatively affecting our country.
So I humbly submit a shortlist of issues I would love to see the Church confront and make a big stink about:
1) The maltreatment of our children
As a society, we have failed our children. Children are being abandoned, abused and murdered at an alarming rate. They are abused and killed by adults, including their parents and caregivers, and also by other children. The majority of abuse cases go unreported or are covered up and the victims continue to suffer in silence. Our children's homes are being shut down. Glenhope and Windsor closed their doors some time ago and Alpha recently shuttered its dormitory facilities because of serious issues.
2) The murder rate
Jamaica’s murder rate is consistently in the top 10 globally. It is in the range of a country at civil war. As a matter of fact, at the height of the Iraq war, more people were being killed, per capita, in Jamaica than American soldiers. And the murders are becoming more barbaric, with beheadings no longer even raising eyebrows. We are all at risk. Men, women, pregnant women, children, the elderly, straight, gay; no one is spared the wrath of our vicious murderers.
3) Political corruption, 'bandoolooism' and 'a nuh nutten' mentality
Thank God for the Reverend Rennard White, who recently stated: "This is a country that has made a way of life out of dishonesty.” He is right. Our political leaders have been very weak on transparency and accountability, and political corruption is rife.
It is not uncommon for large contracts to be given to friends and associates of our politicians through questionable channels. Kickbacks and extortion are par for the course. Taxes are waived for cronies. Some of our leaders have enabled the institutionalisation of electricity theft in their communities, and in doing so have empowered their constituents with a sense of entitlement. All these actions have cost us billions of dollars.
And when a member of parliament can tell a female news anchor on live television to "go to hell" and a mayor can say that police must "shoot first and ask questions later" and no punitive measures are taken, we know that, as a nation, we have a serious problem.
The actions - and inaction - of some of our leaders have set the tone for the 'bandoolooism' and 'a nuh nutten' mentality that prevails in our country, as when other Jamaicans, especially children, observe this type of behaviour and the subsequent lack of consequences, they feel free to say and do whatever they want and expect no repercussions. No wonder we have become world leaders in visa and passport fraud and lotto scamming.
I would love to see the church galvanise its Christian soldiers to come out in droves publicly and wage war against these atrocities. I encourage our church leaders to utilise social media and traditional media to take their messages from behind the pulpit and into the streets, to lobby, to advocate and to make their voices heard loud and clear.
We really could use some divine intervention.
Michael Abrahams is a gynaecologist and obstetrician, comedian, and poet. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com, or tweet mikeyabrahams.