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Roman Catholics Getting A Taste of Their Own Medicine
Posted: Sunday, May 14, 2006

By Corey Gilkes

So now Roman Catholic Archbishop Edward Gilbert is expressing concern that certain Christian Churches are plotting to take over the Caribbean. Well if this is indeed so, then it's poetic "justice" I suppose, since that is precisely how the early Catholic Church swelled its own ranks; by mentally (and later physically) coaxing devotees of very ancient belief systems- from which it also copied myths, dress and rituals- that it then turned on and condemned as "pagan" (for political, not divine, reasons).

But anyways, the fact is that here in the Caribbean, what Archbishop Gilbert is describing is nothing new at all. Since the illegitimate beginnings of the colonizing of the Americas in the 16th century, through the period when missionaries from the Baptists , Moravians, Quakers, Presbyterians, etc came to the Caribbean, religion was the vanguard of a tremendous ideological campaign waged against native peoples, enslaved and colonised Africans and Indians. Then, as now, while the intent was ostensibly winning converts and "saving" lost souls, the real reason was inextricably tied to the bigger picture of European/Euro-American nationalism. We haven't yet come to terms with this aspect of our history.

Many well-meaning persons delude themselves into believing that religious denominations are devoid of specific cultural ideologies and prejudices. The fact is that they are and have always been excellent vehicles for spreading the values and biases of a given culture. In this context, the Roman Church and the Protestant evangelical faiths that came after have all injected into us the patriarchal, intolerant, myopic world views of primordial Eurasia along with the imperialistic designs of later Western countries. Additionally, US evangelical faiths incorporate a curious blend of military-style lexicon that further aggressively plays on people's sense of guilt and fear. Anyone who denies any of this is either dangerously na´ve or a liar.

There is no arguing that missionaries who came before and many of those who are coming even now have done a lot of good, commendable work. That however, does not excuse the long legacy of bigotry cloaked in mantles of peace and charity. This is a golden opportunity for the learned people, believers and non-believers, to finally deal with this can of worms and how these religions' sordid past paved the way for the new Christian churches that seem to be eclipsing the older ones.

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