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Without a doubt, early religious beliefs were underpinned by undemocratic values and horrendous acts. Most notable were the medieval crusades aimed at salvation, subjugating and emasculating the conquered natives, and fulfilling feudal ambitions, among others.
In the Middle Ages and the period immediately after, European Christians and Arab Muslims effectively used their religions to enslave thousands of Africans. During this period most enslaved Africans sadly lost their cultural identity, and new religions were foisted upon them and by extension their descendants. Fortunately, the Age of Enlightenment brought a greater understanding of arts, philosophy, and politics and the concomitant results of the abolition of slavery, decolonisation, democracy, good governance, and universal human rights inter alia.
Though the church was complicit in slavery, oddly enough the clergy played a major role in the abolition of slavery in the British Empire and since then the church has been a vocal voice in the promotion of social justice and defence of human dignity. Moreover, the church is a symbol of freedom, a place where people can express themselves without reprisal.
Locally, the church most specifically the Anglican and Roman Catholic fearlessly confronted the Burnham/Hoyte regimes on issues of democratic governance during the 1970s to 1990s. The current state of democratic governance in Guyana makes the role of the church in the promotion and defence of social justice even more apposite. However, it appears that the clergy does not have the grit to confront the Ali administration on issues of human rights and social justice.
Regrettably, leaders of a greater proportion of the Christian denomination seemingly are satisfied with the state of governance in Guyana. Their silence is worrisome, torturous, deceitful and a grave deviation from enlightened Christian values and belief systems. In face of a persistent onslaught on their congregants, some leaders have abdicated their responsibilities and appear to be consumed with tithing, donations, and concession from the central government.
Cowardice and narcissism are not characteristics of the clergy, but courage and the will to defend humanity. It is sinful to remain silent or give tacit support to the government’s wanton abuse of some sections of the population. Some members of the clergy would not be absolved since their silence cannot earn them tickets to heaven.
The superficial coziness between the Mocha SDA Church and the government, undoubtedly caused the community pastor to applaud the government’s action in the destruction of the Caneview community. He lacks empathy and compassion, qualities that are embodied by the clergy, and therefore should amend his personality and immediately seek forgiveness from his God.
The majority of Christians in Guyana are poor and predominantly African Guyanese. They comprise the bulk of the public servants whose real income has depreciated over the past two years and most public servants who were unceremoniously sacked from their jobs in 2020/2021 yet the clergy is still to make a public pronouncement on these issues.
The clergy is apparently muted or subdued as developmental benefits, opportunities, and resources are inequitably distributed. Notwithstanding the challenges confronting their congregants, some members of the clergy eagerly look forward to their 10% tithes: a demonstration of selflessness and insatiable greed.
It is not too late for the church to collectively raise its voice against injustices. Arguably, their congregants are deeply affected, therefore they are affected. I urge the clergy to give leadership and adequately represent their constituents, without them, there will be no clergy, more specifically no Bishop, no Apostle, no Priest, no Pastor, no Evangelist, etc.
With the blessing of the Almighty, be awakened!