Columns

No need to fight over sabbath; unite

Sean
Major-Campbell

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

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Some of the most sincere and decent human beings I have met are members of the Seventh-Day Adventist tradition. There are those Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA) with such a profound sense of community and respect for others. I know those with an inner beauty that shines through. They bear what, in biblical terms, we call “the fruits of the Spirit”.I refuse to stereotype anyone and so I take you as you present yourself. If you come across as bigoted and holy righteous with a monopoly on God, truth, salvation, etc, I see that. However, I am not impressed in the least!

And so I will not assume that all SDA adherents would quickly condemn me on the basis that I am not one of them. It is true that I have often been condemned, since I was a child, for 'bearing the mark of the beast' since I am not SDA. I recall being told categorically that going to church on a Sunday was a mark of the beast. It was also clearly stated in pamphlets circulated by the group.

I have been meeting quite a number of individuals who got caught up in the euphoria of a crusade and went to the altar call. They are now disillusioned. They realise that this focus on sabbath-keeping as a panacea is just not cutting it at all. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that they have been so taught over the years to condemn everyone else, that now there is nowhere else to go. Many find that they are left with no choice but to give up Christianity and religion altogether.

What should have inspired faith has now become such a source of unbelief, confusion, and pain.

Who will acknowledge that it is grossly unfair in the workplace when you cannot be available for the particular occasional assignment that takes place on a Saturday, but you are very much available for the accolades given for the completed work? Who will acknowledge that it is dishonest to be absent from the class group work activity on Saturday, but go on to accept the grade given for the group work? Who will accept that too much time is spent judging others on the basis of their not observing the Saturday sabbath?

I always remember a little girl who was very worried. Her ears were pierced and she wore knobs. Her SDA friends at school told her that she will have to tell God where the piece of flesh is that came out of her earlobe. Of course, if you know about ear piercings, no such thing occurs. She wept bitterly as she contemplated her potential fate in hell!

Has the time come for us to recognise that many of our people have been frightened into religion? Has the time come for us to face the reward-punishment focus of Jamaican Christianity? Who will bell the cat and say that?

The religious landscape is full of people competing to show who is more “blessed and highly favoured”. Many waste time in the workplace with long 'impressive' prayers. Others are self-appointed judges of anyone who does not think like they do when it comes to authoritatively presenting the mind of God.

Maybe one day we might unite around some things that build us up as a nation. Unite around fighting child abuse. Unite around addressing violence and corruption and hatred. Unite around developmental goals. Unite around being a more compassionate people so that Jamaica may indeed increase in beauty, fellowship, and prosperity for everyone.

Fr Sean Major-Campbell is an Anglican priest and advocate for human rights. Send comments to the Observer or seanmajorcampbell@yahoo.com.

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