We must build communities, not preach hate against individualsWednesday, January 31, 2018
The impending visit of Pastor Steven Anderson has generated much interest, debate, angst and, in some areas, applause. The question has been asked: Should he be banned?
It is a question which probably deserves more of a complex response than a quick “no” or “yes”.
Jamaica has had a rich history of being open and welcoming. Generally speaking, it is not our style to be quick to ban or censure. Establishing an argument with regard to inciting violence is best informed by clarity and, as a matter of protocol, any legal determinants available.
There is a January 29 to February 3 Jamaica missions trip. A YouTube video shows Anderson stating, “Sam Osbourne is already there. There is gonna be two months of planning.” He notes that the people are very receptive. They have already made appointment for preaching in multiple schools. Some 15,000 compact discs are to be circulated. The goal is to preach to 9,000 students.
Anderson notes that, “There is a little resort, but when I talk to people who go to Jamaica, they don't leave the resort.”
It is also significant that he notes“, [Jamaica] has a ton of Christians. It has a Christian culture, but it does not mean the people are saved.”
He also addresses our Rastafarian religion: “The only reason anyone knows about this obscure cult Rastafarianism is because of Bob Marley.”
None of these comments would merit his being banned. The fact that some African countries or Canada have banned his entry within their borders is also not sufficient reason for a country to necessarily effect a ban. However, the various petitions and discussions have raised an important conversation which we should continue.
What if someone had a history of preaching in support of slavery? What if someone had a history of preaching in support of racism? What if someone had a history of preaching in support of any crime against humanity? Would you support a ban on someone with such a history in support of oppression coming to Jamaica? If so, how would you substantiate the claim of inciting violence?
The prejudicial approach of stereotyping marks the style of this preacher who, in the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub tragedy, declared all the victims to be paedophiles. Even intelligent and honest conservatives agree that paedophilia is not determined by sexual orientation.
We still live in a country in which many people suffer from abuse in the form of naming, shaming, and bullying with the use of Jamaican pejoratives for LGBTQ people, in the workplace, on the playing field, in school, and, sadly, even in the home.
Jamaica's Vision 2030 plan affirms appreciation for diversity. Someone with a history of preaching homophobia and misogyny is not likely to come with a message that builds community. Let us remember that Jamaica has a rich appreciation for the wisdom and leadership of women. Let us also celebrate the fact that some of our most productive citizens who contribute everyday to nation-building are members of the LGBTQ community.
This man's history of promoting stigma and discrimination, homophobia and misogyny, is an insult to the human dignity of our women and sexual minorities. If he were a Jamaican dancehall artiste, do you believe that his “work” would be welcomed from a foreigner to his homeland? Should Jamaica remain spineless and silent?
While Jamaica is not the society it used to be regarding ready violence against gay people, it has been internationally recognised that this robs minority groups of their right to equality and protection under the law. It is still one in which there is a high level of stigma and discrimination. And stigma and discrimination also hinder/interfere withagainst positive health and dignity for people living with HIV/AIDS. The prevailing evidence shows that where this is common, the fight against the spread of HIV is further challenged.
Homophobia and misogyny have no place in any country which seeks to serve the work of goodwill for all people within the community of nations. When someone has such a history of oppressive preaching, causing pain and insult to gender and sexual minority concerns, those with power and influence should seek to represent what is in the best interest of building community.
The Caribbean region has had a long history of oppressive teachings in the name of church and evangelism. We now need to facilitate healing and protection from further division, pain, and tragedy that is often motivated by characters with a history of preaching hate.
Fr Sean Major-Campbell is an Anglican priest and human rights advocate. He is the recipient of the 2017 Ally of the Year Award for Advancing the Protection of LGBTQ Persons around the World. Send comments to the Observer or email@example.com.