Letters to the Editor

J'can pastors are a bunch of jokers

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

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Dear Editor,

Throughout history the Christian Church has built universities, research institutes and charities. Though some churches continue to promote human flourishing, modern Christianity in Jamaica is essentially a joke.

It may be a surprise to many, but the influence of Christianity on Western law, capitalism and liberalism is immense. St Thomas Aquinas, St Augustine, and William of Ockham were brilliant Christian writers during their time. Therefore, in the 21st century, one would expect Christianity to be an intellectual tour de force. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Christianity in Jamaica is simply a business for charismatic charlatans. Reason is rarely emphasised in the Jamaican Christian Church, since most pastors are mystics specialising in the divine. Religious leaders do not even spare time to deliver proper sermons. Anyone listening to local televangelists, street pastors or crusade preaching will realise that the typical sermon is discombobulated.

Like entertainers, pastors usually appeal to their audience by referring to envy, since this is the easiest way to rile up Jamaicans. In the Christian Church one is always failing, due to the malicious intent of others. Hence, if you are a perpetual victim of what Jamaicans call “bad mind”, then you can never be responsible for your own failures. Under this scenario, the pastor emerges as a hero, because he can claim to deliver Christians from evil forces. By facilitating a victim mindset, pastors become influential and rich.

Interestingly, the power of a Jamaican pastor grows even faster when it is discovered that he is a prophet. Modern-day prophets, however, are only able to predict extremes. The prediction either indicates that one will become very rich or he is under the influence of witchcraft. These prophets never say that self-improvement results in material blessings. Other than prophesying, condemnatory preaching is probably the most effective method to draw a crowd. Prophesying will make a pastor popular, but the condemnation of sinners will ensure that he keeps the crowd.

After depleting his reservoir of vitriol, the pastor evolves to become a teacher of a prosperity gospel. At this stage he is so revered that his teachings are treated like a biblical text. So, a fanatical personality cult may emerge.

When this cult becomes the hallmark of Christianity churchgoers can spend an eternity without learning the history of the institution. This is not funny, but unfortunate, since like most aspects of Jamaican culture, Christianity is no longer scholarly, but instead, mere amusement.

Lipton Matthews


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