Church undermines progress in Jamaica

Church undermines progress in JamaicaI know what you are thinking from the caption on this post, yeah I know I will get a lot of jeers for this but I don’t care. I am not an aesthesis either. As a “yute” who grew up in Sunday school I have become more and more disillusioned with the church and its role in society and Jamaica in particular. Let me be very blunt. I think the church in Jamaica is full of crap. They are oppose legalizing abortion and they are opposing casino gaming. These people are picking little fights with an infant government while ignoring all the other massive social ills that plaque our land of wood and water.

I was peeved a while back when the church had their annual prayer meeting and lashed out at tourism minister Ed Bartlett on his efforts to set the industry of casino gaming on the distinguish path in Jamaica. From the mighty stage behind the pulpit Rev Notice singled out the minister who was not present and made a sizeable portion of his sermon to bashing the minister. The headline the following day in the one newspaper was:

Churchman lashes tourism minister over casino

I guess part of the lashing was because of this article that appeared in the daily gleaner a few days before the prayer meeting.

Bartlett bashes church’s anti-casino stance

The leading news story the evening of the prayer meeting on television and radio was about the trashing Rev Notice put on the minister. The real argument here is forward thinking vs backward thinking. We are not in the middle ages and the last time I checked the Ten Commandments did not mention anything about gaming. The potential windfall from gaming for an ailing economy like Jamaica is much needed, not to mention the additional jobs that will be created directly and indirectly through a virtually new sub industry for tourism. Studies after studies have shown that the much conceived myth about gaming being harmful is just that, a myth. Gaming has shown to be beneficial to economies with substantial contributions in all the things I mention earlier.

Today Las Vegas, Nevada is the fastest growing city in the states where gaming is the core industry there, some people in Jamaica like to say “why are you comparing Jamaica with the United Sates?”. That’s probably a fair point. Let’s look at the Bahamas a country more similar to us in geography and economy. When I read about the Bahamas Atlantis Casino on Paradise Island or the Crystal Palace Casino hosting hundreds of players enjoying blackjack, craps, roulette, baccarat, Caribbean stud poker and many others I feel both depressed and optimistic about what we have failed to do here in Jamaica and also the potential we still have. The 20,000-square-foot Bahamas Princess Resort and Casino, on the grand Bahamas island and the lavish 28,000-square-foot Crowne Royal Oasis Casino attracts thousands of adventurous tourists each year who want a mix of white sands, blue beaches and a little blackjack.

 

Dealer, pit boss, cashiers, chefs, waiters, inspectors, surveillance and security men and women, croupiers, baggage handlers, slot machine maintenance, admin and marketing etc, etc. The scores of newly created jobs and other indirect jobs created by the industry are very much needed. The added money spent by visitors and employees of casino can spur a consumer driven economy not to mention the flow of new revenue into government coffers through taxes.

Don’t get me wrong, to be honest not all is honky dory about casino gambling and money is not the ends and means to all things. If you should weigh the potential benefits and disadvantages of gaming , the advantages clearly trumps the disadvantages. It is hard to understand the churches concern about gaming in Jamaica. I am going to discuss a few supposable concerns that they might have. Prostitution is said to be more prominent in areas where gambling is legal. The truth is this is a simple issue of law and enforcement. Prostitution is illegal. The fact that the law only has to be enforced makes it a mute issue. In New Kingston, Jamaica’s financial district prostitution is wickedly open for all to see. Las Vegas has a prostitution problem where it is illegal or is it?. Truth is in some countries they have brothels and where prostitution is legal; where it is illegal they only enforce the law half-heartedly. It is believed that sex and gaming sells well together. That does not have to be the case if the law is followed. The Bahamas does not have prostitution issue because of gambling. The truth is prostitution is the world’s oldest profession that will be here before any of us were here and may even become legal by other generations to come.

The association with crime is also false. The mafia who once run Vegas is now long gone and even with them crime was no more an issue than in any other big cities. The Bahamas has not seen any signs of crime due to casino gaming, in fact while the rest of the Caribbean is crippling with a spiraling crime wave they are more stuck in the sane section comparatively speaking.

Pathological gamblers and the effects on family might be another concern. I believe that apart of the law in some countries like the Bahamas are that residences of the home country are not allowed to gamble but these are still personal issues that any country will have to deal with as with alcoholics or drug addicts. There will always be those who over do things but does that mean we should shoot ourselves in the leg for their sake. Fast food is not healthy and people still over eat and become obese. Should we ban fast food? Cigarettes are unhealthy and you still have chronic smokers, you have addicts of sex, booze and cocaine, pathological liars and thieves. These are all individual choices and frankly if the church was as effective as it should be in heightening moral standards in Jamaica then these issues should not be of grave concern.

After saying the church is full of shit at the start of this post, it is with deep grudge that I agree with them on this issue of abortion .For a long time I have supported abortion which is now another contentious issue the church is embroiled in with the government. I will admit to having been literally brain washed by a liberal American media with a clear agenda. Now older and a wiser I hope, I can say that it’s wrong to take the life of an unborn fetus. It’s disgusting and very immoral. I can not look at an ultra sound with that baby then suck him or her out in a tube and dispose of it in a sink like nothing. Having heard of skulls and finger nails being crushed make me absolutely sick. I really don’t care whether it’s late term, mid term, full term or no term at all. First trimester or one hundredth trimester it’s just horribly wrong. I am not some conservative nut like some people, I am reasonable. If the life of the mother is at risk the difficult decision will have to be made. In America they have issues about stem cell research which is another exception for medical research. If a teenager gets pregnant then that teen should have the child. Some might say the lives of these adolescent will be destroyed especially if they are from poor families. Some might argue we are breeding more criminals where there is no food or place for them in society. I think these are excuses, what ever happened to personal responsibility. Jamaica should promote more safe sex practices and contraceptives. There are rambling recently about distributing condoms in Jamaica’s schools, maybe that’s not such a bad idea but it should not appear to be encouraging sex to children, we all have seen the tapes and pictures. If you have seen the movie Juno it conceptualize adoption which I think should be encouraged more in Jamaica. Instead of passing laws to legalize abortion the government should pass laws to make killing an unborn child a murder because that is exactly what it is. Revoke medical license of those who break the laws.

The church has an important role to play in Jamaica. They like the politicians and every institution are to blame for the many social ills we have today. Some Jamaicans like to say with much delight that we have the highest of number of churches per capita in the world. We also have the highest number of murders per capita in the world. I ask which of those two statistics is more significant. If those two statements say anything to me is that the church has failed us on a grand scale. They have failed to hold up the basic morals that all civilized society needs exist sanely. They have failed in promoting marriage and family life which is a vital part of the socialization tools of any country. Looking at the massive corruption, they have failed in preaching convincingly and reaching stray minds of basic honesty and integrity. I draw to the outcry last year of the pastor who observed and taped schoolers in his vehicle literally raped a young girl. The pastor who took jabs from the pulpit at those who helped the police in their investigation of the crime.

The church has failed and failed miserably. They ignore the rampant corruption of government officials, run and hide from the ghettos where their word is much needed for thirsty souls. I laugh when I see them in those scanty poorly organized “peace march” that achieve absolutely nothing. The church is prominently featured in the forex alternative investment clubs recently which many associate closely with gambling.

It is increasingly clear that religion is getting more and more involved with politics in Jamaica. In last year’s election the then prime minister Portia Simpson Miller openly courted the church. Who can forget the prophet Dr Phinn. Then opposition Bruce Golding in a counter campaigning visited churches to sure up his religious base. Portia Simpson Miller said she would appoint at least one religious official on all government agencies. High level government officials and business leaders attend the yearly National Prayer Breakfast. Television Jamaica turns into television religious circus every Wednesday or Thursday night as chatting heads from a thousand denominations interpret the same bible a million ways on the Ian Boyne hosted Religious Hard Talk. Now we have them trying to sway government polices. Who are they so high and mighty who have failed so much to steer government policy. I thought church leaders have degrees in theology not economics or government policy. I am starting to think of the church in the same light as Muslim extremists shit heads who would have women wear veils and not drive nor learn to read and write. Stone those committing adultery and fornicators. They want to create a religious state.

I think politicians are afraid of the church especially as their voice and importance in government grows. To me this is greatly disturbing. This government sounds as if it getting ready to cave to the religious gangster of our day. They are afraid of the shots fired from those at the pulpit with sizeable listening ears at their mercy. If this government cave to them then I know they are practicing triangulation and poll driven politics. If they fold we wouldn’t have leaders’ just puppets that do whatever those with a big mouth say they should do. The politics of appeasement where almost every decision is on getting re-elected to office. It is never good when any government in permanent election mood, it means they are not governing just pandering.

I think the reason we don’t have casinos in Jamaica today is mostly because the church opposed it and the PNP was afraid to upset the mighty church. They bullied and they caved. They should get credit however for laying the ground work for its introduction by introducing many of the daily and weekly games played by a large number of Jamaicans today. Ask any ordinary Jamaican “what play this evening?” and they know that you are talking about the famous cash pot. Many play the lotto; pick three, scratch and win and the recently introduced Bingo. Ever see those betting shops on a Saturday?

The ground work should make it easy for this government to have a general consensus with the majority of Jamaicans to introduce casino gaming in Jamaica. They should keep highlighting the many benefits and assure those on the fence of the strict regulatory framework that will encompass this exciting venture. In the semantic games it is important to use the word “gaming” instead of “gambling”. The government should also make a commitment that a reasonable portion of the revenue earned will go toward paying for the expansion and upgrading of schools for the children of Jamaica. Create scholarships from the casino revenue and toot their own horn, in other words make everyone know about the good you are doing. The longer this is in the public domain for debate the harder it might be to get good support. Opponents will have too much time talk it down. I don’t know anything about laws and drafting bills but this should be done pronto. Try and give the bill a name that associate it with something positive. “The gaming act for education funding” or something.

This whole thing remind me of the big banks fight small investment clubs. There are those in society, the status quo who would not want anything to change. The can not evolve. What are they so afraid of?

God bless.

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~ by RB on February 17, 2008.

One Response to “Church undermines progress in Jamaica”

  1. […] the Jamaica Gleaner comes as no surprise to me, in fact I speculated in my post just last weeks ago Church undermines progress in Jamaica that the Patterson administration who also faced opposition from the church in introducing casino […]

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