Haitian Churches and the issue of Human rights in Haiti

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Haitian Churches and the issue of Human rights in Haiti

Post by Guysanto » Fri May 04, 2007 1:25 pm

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Haitian Churches and the issue of Human rights in Haiti
by Fritz-Gérald Romulus

May 1st, 2007

HAITIAN CHURCHES AND THE ISSUE OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN HAITI

Understandings of human rights can be different depending on the society. According to Donnelly: “The first world stressed civil and political rights and the right of private property. The second world gave priority to social, economic and cultural rights as prerequisites to civil and political rights. The third world also emphasized social, economic, and cultural rights, as well as the right to self-determination and the right to development.”[1] In this paper I will use the concept of human rights in the context of a third world country, Haiti. As the report of section V from the Nairobi Assembly put it, I will insist that human rights are: “Primary concern, the right to basic guarantees of life (work, food, health, housing, education), followed by right to self-determination and cultural identity, right to participate in decision making within the community, right to dissent, right to personal dignity and lastly right to religious freedom.”[2] In fact every responsible society should take care of its members; this is the fundamental need or the primary concern. I will about Haitian churches and the issue of human rights in Haiti because, after more than 200 years of independence, Haiti is still confronted by many problems about this primary concern or fundamental need.

Haiti is one of the Caribbean countries. The Caribbean region has known much social, political and economic turbulence and seeks stability. All the countries in the Caribbean have a common history of colonialism, neo-colonialism, exploitation and conquest, as well as resistance, dignity and the struggle for survival and for sovereignty. Haiti was the second country in the Western hemisphere, after the United States, to establish its independence from the colonial rules. But the country was immediately isolated, ignored and discriminated against by its slave-owning neighbors and the trading countries of Europe. “In addition, chaos and corruption have characterized Haiti's politics since its inception.”[3]

Looking at this socio-historical image of Haiti, one can ask what the churches in Haiti did to help this nation to lift up from its misery. The churches in Haiti were and are a victim of this colonial context. “The European colonizers imposed their christocentric religion on both the indigenous people and the African slaves, so that outwardly Christianity became the religion of the newly settled colonies. Anglican and Catholicism were the major expressions of the faith.”[4]

Later from 1816 to 1823 the Protestant denominations started with some foreign missionaries who began fighting against the Catholics to have converts.[5] In consequences divisions persist until now.

Today, in the context in which the churches all over the world struggle with many challenges, it is necessary for the churches in Haiti to bring their forces together. It is for this reason that in this work I'd like to propose to the churches in my country that, instead of maintaining their confessionalist division, they be inspired by ecumenical social ethics to face this issue. This paper will be developed in two parts. The first will give some details about the issue of human rights and the situation of the churches in Haiti. In the second part I will focus on the ecumenical attitude needed to face this issue.


A- HUMAN RIGHTS and CHURCHES IN HAITI: BRIEF DESCRIPTION.

As I mentioned in my introduction, my main focus will be the primary concerns (rights of work, food, health, housing, education). The following information about human rights in Haiti is not an invention. It is difficult to accept, but it is real. According to Country Reports on Human Rights Practices the conditions in Haiti are very critical.

In the matter of health, there is a lack of clean water and safe sanitation. Poor housing, shortage of doctors and environmental disasters contribute to poor health conditions, especially in the rural areas. The World Health Organization, UNICEF and other UN and donor agencies are supporting the government in rebuilding its primary health care system.

Nevertheless, nearly 50% of health services are provided by non-governmental organizations. In the absence of adequate health care, 80% of births in Haiti take place without qualified assistance, resulting in alarmingly high maternal mortality rates. Children are equally affected, comprising a third of all deaths in Haiti, with malnutrition, diarrhea and acute respiratory infections prevalent among many 0-5 year olds. The average life expectancy is only 51 years, primarily as a result of AIDS malaria and tuberculosis. Despite 60%-80% of Haitians being at risk of exposure to malaria, no national prevention plans are in place. [6]

The issue is not only the health, the economic and political life are very critical too. From the departure of Duvalier until now, the majority of citizens are unemployed. Some people have lost their jobs. Violence, turbulent politics, the absence of investment - all those things contribute to explain the following sad statistics found in an article by Anup Shah written on 1 September 2006:

· Haiti is the third hungriest country in the world after Somalia and Afghanistan

· The richest 1% of the population controls nearly half of all of Haiti's wealth

· Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere

· Haiti is the fourth poorest country in the world

· Haiti ranks 146 out of 173 on the United Nations Human Development Index

· Haiti has a life expectancy of 52 years for women and 48 for men

· Adult literacy is about 50%

· Unemployment is 70%

· 85% of Haitians live on less than $1 U.S. per day.

· Haiti ranks 38 out of 195 for under five mortality rate.[7]

Other reports relate that extreme poverty, combined with political, social and economic instability and recurrent natural disasters have exacerbated vulnerability to food insecurity for large sectors of the population in Haiti. Young children, pregnant mothers and lactating women are at particular risk.[8] Very few of the population are able to go to school. As a result, more than 70 percent of the population are confronted by the problem of illiteracy.

When we observe this difficult or unbelievable situation, questions could be asked. Where are the churches in Haiti? What are they doing? Did they respond to the responsibility God gave to them? What is their real situation?


Situation of Churches in Haiti.

Christianity in Haiti was imported. First, Catholicism was brought by the Spanish colonizers; second, Protestantism was brought by imperialism. Since Haiti's independence, the Haitian people are divided on different levels, including unfortunately the religious level. I have observed a lack of dialog between the main confessions, such as Catholicism, Protestantism and Anglican. To help you to understand clearly why I said there is a lack of dialog, let me briefly relate something which touched me. On Wednesday, 13 December 2006, I and two other students of the Master's Course went to the minister's office of Celigny Parish. We found the minister of this parish together with the Catholic priest leading a program for children. Immediately I asked myself if I could do this so easily in my context in Haiti. Another consideration is that among the Protestant churches there is not enough cohesion, also among the members of the local churches very often there are problems, and non constructive discussions. In 2005 a sister church in Haiti was split on three occasion. It's one case among others. There is also rivalry between the leaders? Last February there were three Haitian pastors who wanted to become president of Haiti, and who in “the name of God” struggled in the media by accusing one another.

As long as we accept this situation we cannot struggle for human rights. The churches in Haiti should be inspired by Ecumenical Social Ethics to face the issue of human rights.


II- ATTITUDE OF THE HAITIAN CHURCHES

In this second part I would like to suggest some ways that the churches in Haiti can overcome their divisions, to lift up their witness in front of this Haitian nation full of pain. I will invite these churches to promote unity amongst themselves, to be inspired by some positions of WCC, and to find a theology of human rights. First, I think the promotion of unity is a very important issue to face. Jesus Christ, the Lord, recommended that his first disciples love one another, so that the world will recognize that they are his disciple. I want to suggest a unity not in conformism, but in love.

Many times I have heard from people their preoccupation with this divided Christianity in Haiti. In Haiti there are no religious wars but the polemic between the confessions is very strong, which is not a good image for the Haitian people divided. As Richard Snyder underlines it: “In a world as tragically divided as ours, it is scandalous that the church falls so short of the vision of unity that was promised in the New Testament epistles. Our divisions fly in the face of the fundamental claim of scripture that we are one n Jesus Christ.”[9] Snyder mentions the threefold tragedy of our division: first our division is against God s intention for us, then our divisions run counter to the delight of those moments when we have experienced that oneness firsthand, also our divisions irreparably damage the possibilities for redemption in our time. In front of those tragedies, the churches in Haiti need to reconsider their understanding of unity. They need to be ready to sit down at the same table to analyze seriously the effect of the colonization at the beginning of the 21st century. They must remember that Christ prayed to the Father for unity, so God wants us to be one. All initiatives which contribute to keeping them divided are demoniac, coming from evil.

In fact, talking about unity among the churches in Haiti is not easy, because my fellow people have not had a culture of dialog. But it is necessary for the Protestant churches to be united in a real Protestant federation of churches which could became a National Council of Churches in Haiti, so that they can have a common position to start a sincere dialog with their Catholic and Anglican sister churches, and so together all those churches can struggle more to face the challenges. One of the examples of a statement of unity that I would like to commend to the Haitian churches is this part of Section II, 19 from the Nairobi assembly:

We ask the churches to undertake a common effort to receive, re-appropriate and confess together, as contemporary occasion requires, the Christian truth and faith, delivered through the apostles and handed down through the centuries. Such common action, arising from free and inclusive discussion under the commonly acknowledged authority of God s word, must aim both to clarify and to embody the unity and the diversity which are proper to the church s life and mission.[10]

“Undertake a common effort to receive together,” here I understand and the Haitian Christians could understand this effort to receive together as a rethinking of their assessment about the other. The Catholics will not consider the Protestants as rebellious children, the Anglicans will end their silence, and the Protestants will give up their idea that the Catholic Church is the great Babylon and the Pope is the Antichrist. They will receive together in a symmetrical relationship. Also, to receive together without discriminating against one another, to have the courage to offer their mea culpa one to another, to forget the polemic of the pass, to overcome the accusations from one another. So the Christian Faith and Truth will appear clearly for the world, particularly for the Haitian people. Free and inclusive discussion implies sincerity, honesty, respect; it reflects also a capacity to dialogue without loosing our identity, under the submission of the will of God's word that we find in the commitment to love Him and our neighbor.

By understanding one another, the Haitian churches can struggle for respect of human rights in Haiti, starting with the fundamental concerns. They will be able to take up the difficult task conscientiously carrying out a prophetic and pastoral role in the face of the Haitian issues. “Christians and Christian churches should in their own relations set an example of respect for human dignity, equality and the free expression of thought.”[11] Together, these churches are invited to take a common action to struggle for the liberation of the Haitian people who need the fundamental things to survive. It is unacceptable, in this 21st century, to have a situation like that in Haiti. The churches should work in the spirit of solidarity, to help Haiti to find its dignity. Taking inspiration from some decisions of the WCC, the churches could work for the acceptance and full implementation of human rights standards through effective instruments.[12]

To finish my suggestions for the churches, I will consider an important point which is a theological view of human rights. This aspect is not easy because the theological approach to human rights sometimes appears problematic. Some people think that the quest for human rights should be kept independent of theology. Others think that it is better for theologians to learn the bitter lesson of history and leave politics to the politicians and human rights to the secular world. At the beginning of the article on “Human Rights” in the Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement, Erich Weingartner does not give the churches to much credit in this area. He emphasizes that: “In the light of official church opposition to human rights, viewed for much of their history as the product of humanistic philosophy, the claim of a theological basis of human rights might be considered somewhat presumptuous.”[13] However, I think the churches and the theologians, as in many efforts of the WCC, have to work and to engage in a deeper theological reflection to find a common perspective. This perspective could be what Charles Vicencio proposed in his book:

Human rights have to do with the realization that all people are created in the the image of God, enjoying equal human worth. In order to realize and fulfill their destiny as the bearers of God's image, the fundamental rights of all people are to be fully claimed and concretely appropriated, recognizing that without certain basic rights ( as outlined by WCC and the Vatican) people are not able to realize their full God-given potential. To deny these rights to people is to oppose the work and purpose of God in the world.[14]

The Haitian people are also created in God's image. They need to live a normal life where the fundamental things such as food, work, health, education are taken in consideration. The churches in Haiti should recognize and act quickly under to enable this image of God to appear clearly on national level and international level. At this point also, I think some statements on human rights made by the WCC can be helpful. For instance, reflecting on different assemblies of the WCC, Ans van der Bent asks if is there is an ecumenical theological basis for human rights. He thinks in the St Polen consultation we can find a theological statement on human rights. One part of this statement is reported by Bent and I found it very interesting to encourage the churches in Haiti for the struggle for human rights: “The emphasis of the gospel is on the value of all human beings in the sight of God, on the atoning and redeeming work of Christ that has given to man his true dignity.”[15]


CONCLUSION

The issue of human rights in Haiti is a large one, reflecting all aspects of human rights in the world. In this paper I have just proposed some reflections in order to help the Haitian churches which until now have not had a real or strong practice of ecumenism. The need for this kind of practice to face this issue persists. Haiti is in a sad situation. Many people have died. In the past, some people thought that the solution was to abolish the army, but nothing has changed. Others proposed elections on different occasion, again nothing has changed. The United Nations thinks the solution is to maintain the UN force in Haiti, they are present in Haiti, but the situation is still critical. All confessions in Haiti pray every day, some Christians think that because of their prayer God keeps the country alive. But I ask sincerely: where is God in Haiti?

Perhaps my question should be: Where are the people claiming to be Christian, to whom God has given a mission?

May all the Christians, all the churches, became responsible in Haiti, or more responsible. Responsible to participate in the struggle to liberate our theology from imperialism and from denominationalism, in order to live the word of God as human being created in God's image. Responsible to help the Haitian society to repent of their mistakes in the pass, to recognize the misery of the Haitians, to work together for the development of the country. Responsible to defend our country at the national, regional and international levels. Responsible to act concretely for the koinoia and the diaconia. Responsible to build this Haitian nation. As the WCC acknowledged in the statement on Haiti adopted in September 2005, the churches in Haiti have an important role in building peace, justice and reconciliation, and the WCC called on them to intensify ecumenical initiatives in this respect.[16] May the churches in Haiti respond to the call of the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, 16-19 May 2006, which invited the member churches and ecumenical partners to seek common approaches and develop common codes of conduct for promotion and defense of human rights of all people.[17]



BIBLIOGRAPHY


BOOKS AND DOCUMENTS

Dicionary of the Ecumenical Movement, 2nd Ed., WCC Publication 2002

Gassmann, Gunter: Documentary, History of Faith and Order

Kinnamon, Michael: The Ecumenical Movement, An Anthology of key Text and Voices , 1997 WCC Publications

Raiser, Konrad: Ecumenical Social Ethics, Handout No.7

Snyder, T. Richard: Divided we Fall, Ed. 1992 Westminster, John Knox Press

Thompson, J. Milburn: Justice and Peace: A Christian Primer

Van der Bent, Ans: Commitment to God s World A concise critical Survey of Ecumenical Social Thought Uppsala Assembly 1968

Van der Bent, Ans: Vital Ecumenical Concerns,

Vicencio, Charles: A Theology of Reconstruction, Cambridge University, press 1992 NY, 10011-4211, USA



INTERNET RESSOURCES

http://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/d ... haiti.html





Human Rights For All, Haiti and Human Rights, http://www.globalissues.org/HumanRights ... /Haiti.asp

United Nations, World Food Hunger Programme 2006,

[1]
J. Milburn Thompson: Justice and Peace: A Christian Primer, p.94

[2]
Teacher s notes, Ecumenical Social Ethics, handout No.7, p.3

[3] J. Milburn, op. cit. P.106

[4]
Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement, p.142-143.

[5]
According to our teacher of ecumenical theology. Odair Pedroso.

[6]


[7]
Human Rights For All, Haiti and Human Rights,

[8]
United Nations, World Food Hunger Programme 2006,


[9]
T. Richard Snyder: Divided we Fall, p.21

[10]
Gunter Gassmann: Documentary, History of Faith and Order 1963-1993, p.30

[11]
Ans Van der Bent: Commitment to God s World A concise critical Survey of Ecumenical Social Thought, p.91, Uppsala Assembly 1968

[12]
Michael Kinnamon: The Ecumenical Movement, An Anthology of key Text and Voices,
P.324

[13]
Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement, p.

[14]
Charles Vicencio: A Theology of Reconstruction, p. 126

[15]
Ans Van der Bent: Vital Ecumenical Concerns, p.249

[16]


[17]

jafrikayiti
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Mea culpa

Post by jafrikayiti » Sun May 06, 2007 9:41 am

The author have me completely lost in his text.

How can one discuss the role of Christian churches in Haiti, especially as pertains to human rights issues, without mentioning:

1) The political role played by the Catholic nuncio which has historically stood on the side of the oppressors.
2) the complicity of the Catholic Hierchy in political persecution, including when its own priests are victimized (e.g. Gérard Jean-Juste).
3) The active involvement of Protestant and Catholic leadership in the various Electoral Councils that have been established recently. Where scandal after scandal suggest that these men tried to deny the Haitian people the power of their vote.

This weird sentence attracted my attention in particular:
"to receive together without discriminating against one another, to have the courage to offer their mea culpa one to another, to forget the polemic of the pass, to overcome the accusations from one another. So the Christian Faith and Truth will appear clearly for the world, particularly for the Haitian people.".

To "receive" what together? "God's blessing? (The resources shamelessly sqeezed from an impoverished people? - probably not what he was refering to)- have we lost something in translation or is this reigious lingua that I am failing to grasp?

What about this reference to "courage to offer their mea culpa one to another"? If these Christian leaders were to be genuine, they would not be offereing such mea culpa to one another but to the non-Christian population, in particular the Vodou practitionners who have and continue to suffer from their ethnocentric violence. From the Campgne des Rejetés where Catholics and Protestants combined their barbarism against the Africans who chose to reject the white supremacist superstition adopted by the denatured Africans who ruled the nation....to modern-day aventurists who fuel violence in the population on account that they are on crusade to convert Boukman, liberated Haiti from the so-called satanic curse and other racist stupidities of the sort. But, this is not what the author is talking about.

The "polemic of the past", the author is concerned about is one between Protestants and Catholics. As usual, the majority of the Haitian people are not at the center of preoccupations. What Romulus seems not to realize is the fact that "the Christian Faith and Truth" already appears clearly for many around the world".

The imposition of ethnocentric superstitions on colonized populations is an evil that has left its marks on the natives peoples of every continent of this little planet of ours. As pertains to Christianity, ask the Aboriginal people of Australia, ask those of Africa, ask those of the Americas and they will all show you the deep wounds they carry "in the name of Jesus".

M ale!

Jaf

Gelin
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Re: Haitian Churches and the issue of Human rights in Haiti

Post by Gelin » Mon May 07, 2007 8:37 pm

[quote]...Protestantism was brought by imperialism...[/quote]
Historically inacurrate.

[quote]The churches in Haiti should be inspired by Ecumenical Social Ethics to face the issue of human rights.[/quote]
Not true. They need to be good citizens. They need to respect and uphold the law of their country. It's that simple.

gelin

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Guysanto
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Post by Guysanto » Mon May 07, 2007 10:14 pm

Gelin, I did not write anything. I merely reprinted the article.

Leoneljb
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Post by Leoneljb » Tue May 08, 2007 2:26 pm

Gelin, I would like to get a more ellaborate answer or challenge than "Historically not true" etc.
You are much more too articulate than that!
It is a Fact that Religion favors the Powerfuls and Mightyfuls. It is also a fact that the Weaks are getting Weaker and Poor.
Mwen pa konn kote sa'a pwale...
But I can tell you one thing: etan done manje sa'a ke yo bannou an se Blan kolonizatE yo ki ban nou'l. E nou konnen ke se pa paske yo te renmen nou ke yo te ban nou'l. mwen panse ke Relijyon an jeneral se eksploitasyon sikolojik malere... An dotre tEm, relijyon se opiyOm pEp!
Aksepte jezi kOm sovE'w, pita w'a va sove...
Kidonk, ni katolik. Ni pwotestan yo mache kOt a kOt ake Enpeyalis vOlE tE, renmen lajan ake lOt bagay.
Pa gen anyen mal non nan renmen lajan etsetera. Men, lE ou renmen yo twOp w'ap vOlE. W'ap touye, lapide, fE kadejak sou pi piti pou'w ka anpare de byen yo.
An nou pran tout listwa gwo moun nan la bib yo. Se toujou oun gwoup ki vle asasinen pi piti paske "Il est ecrit".
Survival of the Fittest.
Tout gwo enperialis yo fE richEs yo sou lOt moun ke yo panse ki enferyE de yo selon la bib...
Nou sonje oun seri de gwo makout relijye ki te genyen an Ayiti: Ligonde, pE Atis, pastE Nere etsetera?
Leonel

Gelin
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Post by Gelin » Tue May 08, 2007 9:15 pm

Guy, sorry I forgot to remove your name when making the quote.

leo, when I say it's historically inacurate, I think I am right. It's only after 1804 that protestant missionaries were invited to the new republic to help in education, among other things, particularly in the Northern kingdom. As far as I understand it, protestantism has never been imposed on the haitian people (by any imperial power). We can argue about the flaws of that branch of christianity....but the statement I quoted from the article is simply wrong.

se pa vre?
gelin

jafrikayiti
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Same difference

Post by jafrikayiti » Wed May 09, 2007 9:49 pm

Gelin, while I agree with you that the Catholic Church was the major player in Haiti as opposed to Protestant Christianity, we must remember that the so-called reformation took place around the same period as the MAAFA (the great tragedy) begun. And, as pertains to the trade in African human beings as slave, Protestants amd Catholics alike took part in the crime. The french were mostly Catholic but the British, the Danes etc.... were Protestants.

So, at various times when the Bristish occupied large parts of the Caribbean, including parts of the island of Haiti, they used religion as a weapon of zombification as shamelessly as the other colonizers did.

[quote]
"Nan lavil Bordeaux (peyi Lafrans), amatè osnon biznismann ki finanse youn ekspedisyon bato negriye kapab Katolik osnon Juif epi Kapitèn bato a limenm li Pwotestan. Moun ki etidye listwa legliz tankou Listwaryen Roger Bastide, eksplike nou kijan ni men legliz katolik ni men legliz pwotestan (sitou disip John Calvin yo) te sal nan dosye lesklavaj sa a".[/quote] Viv Bondye ! Aba Relijyon !, 2000

So, for instance, if Henri Christophe called upon the Protestants, it is likely due to his own experience as an enslaved African held by Protestants on the neighboring islands.

The tragedy suffered by our ancestors isno different than that known by Australia's, Canada's or South-Africa's Native peoples. After a few generations, the enslaved or colonized people have lost all connections to their own ancestors and end up willing worshippers of the ancestors of the occupiers.

It is amazing to see how native people who have lost several generations to abuse, including sexual abuse at the hand of criminals in robes .... continuous to kneel religiously, every Sunday to worship in front of the self-portraits of Leonardo da Vinci and Michel-Angelo - said to be god.

Whether it is Catholic or protestant, the God of Abraham, Isaac , Jacob, Napoleon, Cromwell, Washington ended up uprooting the God of Kebinda, Boukman, Makandal.....and whether it is Dessalines, Christophe, Mandela, Jean-Juste or Aristide, they end up perpetuating the process of evanjelizazonbifikasyon - willingly or unwillingly.

Now, Leonardo Boff and others have fought through liberation theology to make the Catholic church truly universal and at the service of humanity.... but, as I have been arguing all along, these folks are only slowing up an inevitable process. Christianity is beyond repair. Ethnocentric violence and injustice is imbedded in its DNA. Ratzinger's participation in this CELAM and any number of conferences or councils will not reverse this. As Europeans give up on the use of this powerful weapon that had served the cause of colonization so well, humanity - especially non-Europeans, had better use this opportunity to free their populations once and for all.

Pwotestan, katolik, kolon angle, kolon franse, kolon panyol .... pa gen kolon ki pi kolon pase kolon. Libète se sèl opsyon pou pitit Bondye !

M ale

Leoneljb
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Post by Leoneljb » Thu May 10, 2007 8:54 am

Gelin, I don't know what you meant by:[quote]
Protestanism was not IMPOSED[/quote]

Do you mean it was not Imposed, for, there were no applied-forces.

Mwen an ti jan twouble. Pase ke, lE ou di sa. Mwen entEprete'l oun lOt jan. Enpoze kapab fizikman oudimwen sikolojikman (ou dakO).

Just look at the flow of Protestants from the Masses in Haiti! Don't you think that Imperialism has its prints all over?

Antouka, banm alle, na pale ankO.

Leonel

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Guysanto
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Post by Guysanto » Thu May 10, 2007 11:43 am

[quote]Christianity is beyond repair.[/quote]
Jaf, I am not convinced. I think that it's humanity that is beyond repair. Since we are stuck, literally, with what we have [modifying mankind's gene code might produce a "betterman", but is a genetically modified man truly still a man?], we are left to improving the Nature of Man (some call it civilization, some call it salvation, some call it ethics, some call it social justice, some call it religion, some call it morality, some call it spirituality, some call it peace, some call it love... but for now, let's simply call it "a good neighbor policy") by taking steps to reduce our unaltered thirst to assemble privileges for our individual selves and loved ones, at the expense of other men (particularly when it can be shown that "they are different than us"). In order to accomplish that, we need tools. Perhaps no more effective tool has ever been invented than the Christian fear of Hell or should I say more accurately, the Fear of Hell (as conceived, constantly refined, and fervently exploited by the Christian Faith). Most Christians that I have met do try to play the delicate act of balancing earthly pleasures and privileges, just enough to enjoy life but not excessively to the point of ending up burning in Hell forever. Singing the Glory of God in the Afterlife is just icing on the cake (for those who fancy having a good singing voice).

Do not take this lightly: while scientists have been able to peg "absolute zero" at -273.15° C or -459.67° F degrees, the temperature where it is so cold you could sell tickets to the remotest corners of Siberia and Antarctica as Tropical Paradises, the Nobel Prize still awaits the physicist who could conjecture convincingly the hotness of hell fire. Is there such a thing as "absolute hotness"? [No, Jaf, Serena Williams does not apply.] I would argue not: no matter how hot you think it might be, the Good Lord can always turn up the heat one degree more. In fact, He can apply Himself infinitely to making Hell hotter for his most disobedient subjects. If I were George Bush...


So, the point of all of this is, Jaf, that Christianity is just a tool as all other religions, take away the one you believe in. A tool by itself is not flawed, but the mind who directs the hand that holds the tool can indeed be flawed beyond repair. Take a machete. It can be used to weed out a plot, making room for a beautiful flower garden. On the other hand, it can also be used to decapitate a rat [or anyone you consider as such].

Christianity is not necessarily a bad thing, as you preach, Jaf. The proof of it is, take away Christianity and you soon realize that humankind is as screwed up as it ever was. It is the people who use Christianity to accomplish their selfish purposes, whether they are Popes, Nuncios, Bishops, Ministers, Priests, Preachers, Kings, Presidents or Obtuse Morality Crusaders, that you should go after, and not the Religion as a whole. This is not to say that the basis of faith or historical underpinning of religion should not come under scrutiny. Of course, it should be. I know that my friend Gelin would not agree with me, but there is a horrendous record of human rights violations embedded in the Good Book that were sanctioned by the Christian God or should I say the Biblical Leonardo Da Vinci. Your own book, Jaf, Viv Bondye Aba Relijyon does a masterful job of this, but it often appears that you go after Christianity as the source of all evil, when in fact, it is our flawed humanity which is the source of all evil (no disrespect to the Great Satan).

As I read the New Testament, I think that Jesus was a pretty cool dude. He preached love. He not only preached love, but he loved in fact. He loved men. He loved women. Courageously enough, he loved prostitutes, as Marie-Madeleine was reputed to be. He loved the righteous and he loved the sinners. He even loved his enemies His love of animals is a little bit suspect, in my eyes. He had loving thoughts about sparrows in the fields, but he did not hesitate to cast demons onto pigs, which then ran out to drown miserably in the sea. I think that Jesus must have disliked pigs as much as I dislike cockroaches. But all in all, I think that Jesus's love quotient is higher than that of any man I have ever met. Coincidentally or not, I think that the men and women who have exhibited the highest degree of love in my particular human experience have been devotees of this cool dude, named Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, I also have to admit that the haters I have met, the most racist, misogynist, what have you (total assholes!) have also claimed that they were the followers of Jesus Christ and they constantly swear by it. Go figure!

Again, it goes back to the nature of humanity.

Christianity has been a powerful tool for good [right now I think of two priests in particular who sacrificed immensely for the betterment of conditions of Haitian slave workers in the Dominican Republic, and I also think of the network of religious people on the board of Haiti Solidarity Network of the Northeast whom I have worked closely with for the past several years to advance social justice for Haitians, in Haiti and in the United States]. I am almost certain that you will say that this is just a drop in the bucket. But a drop in the bucket in the sea of man's inhumanity towards other men is still better than nothing, and it is precisely their faith in a loving Jesus that propels them to love as he did. That is Christianity as a good tool, I would argue. But Christianity has also been used (perhaps more powerfully) as a tool of enslavement, apartheid, thievery, alienation, and dehumanization. With bible in hand, of course, which is why the term that you coined, evanjelizazonbifikasyon, is so devastatingly accurate.

But again, take away Christianity, some other tool would be immediately devised to accomplish the same purposes, and perhaps with less ambiguity. Besides absolute atheism (which like "absolute zero" can be closely approximated but never be achieved, because we have the God gene programmed in our genetic code and molecular structures), there are all sorts of faiths and religions on Earth, major and minor, older and newer, that mankind has always used to achieve its purposes. For the better or for the worse.


Now, I wonder if the guy upstairs has turned the temperature a couple of degrees more while I was writing this... I am starting to feel the heat.

Gelin
Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2007 2:52 pm

Post by Gelin » Sat May 12, 2007 9:33 pm

I guess the question is: Was humanity in a better shape BEFORE Christianity? We all know the answer. It's certainly NOT the teachings of Jesus-Christ that motivated the rapists. And don't be surprised, Guy, I agree with you. Almost anything can be used for evil purposes. That's why it's so critical to focus on the law of the land, in the case of Haiti.

leo, I do not have evidence that protestantism (that particular form of Christianity) was ever IMPOSED on the Haitian people. In my own experience I have taken part in countless worship services (indoor and outdoor), and at the end it's ALWAYS an invitation to the audience to come willingly. And the law of the country has never made protestantism the 'official' religion of the land. The numbers of protestant churches has increased dramatically in Haiti during the last decades FOR OTHER REASONS.

To address one of Jaf's statements, I do not see myself as a zombie or a zombified man because of my faith in Christ. And I do not see more life in a non-believer than what I experience every day because of my faith. The Vodou religion you seemingly want to defend at any cost, I am not sure you really know what's going on behind the scenes. Dig into it.

m ale,
gelin

jafrikayiti
Posts: 218
Joined: Fri Dec 29, 2006 7:16 pm

Aba Relijyon !

Post by jafrikayiti » Sun May 13, 2007 11:35 am

[quote]I guess the question is: Was humanity in a better shape BEFORE Christianity? We all know the answer.[/quote]
I would think the answer to this question depends on who is doing the analysis. I would venture to say that for the Tainos, the Astecs, the Congos, the Igbos, the Iroquois, the Australian natives and countless other people who suffered the consequences of Pope Nicholas V's Bull of June 18, 1452 (http://www.romancatholicism.org/popes-slavery.htm ), the world was a much better place before the arrival of Christianity on their shores.

[quote]It's certainly NOT the teachings of Jesus-Christ that motivated the rapists.[/quote]
But Gélin, research studies keep revealing to us how the actual teachings of Jesus – who was latter called Christ have so little to do with the religion that would eventually be created in his name. When we neglect this historical context, indeed we allow the rapists, the genocide makers, the global thieves to continue exploiting the few real teachings of Jesus that may have survived centuries manipulation – for purposes that are absolutely contrary to what Jesus himself would have defended if he were still alive.

[quote]Almost anything can be used for evil purposes.[/quote]
True dat ! In the case of Christianity, the problem stems from the fact that 21st century people are being asked to adopt pre-ice-age ‘philosophy'. Myths like the idea of a chosen people, the existence of hell, Satan etc…hold very negative consequences not only for the individuals who believe in such superstitions but on millions of others – religious wars is just one of these many manifestations. Now, remember that in 2007 crazy folks in Washington or in the Middle-East do have access to nuclear weapons. Knowing that these weapons could be used to defend "the glory of Jesus" or "Allah" - by blowing the whole of humanity to pieces, don't we have an obligation to expose as much as possible the shaking sand on which these superstitious beliefs are based?

[quote]That's why it's so critical to focus on the law of the land, in the case of Haiti.[/quote]
I agree. But, this “law of the land” should be free from the influence of all religions both in the spirit of the law and in its effective application. So, you would agree with me that representatives of the Catholic and Protestant churches have no business being reserved a seat on the Electoral Council. Neither should our political leaders continue to sit in the legs of the Nuncio to discuss matters of interest to the People of Haiti. These are outrageous manifestations of how evanjelizazonbified our society still is in 2007.

[quote]the law of the country has never made protestantism the 'official' religion of the land. The numbers of protestant churches has increased dramatically in Haiti during the last decades FOR OTHER REASONS.[/quote]
Gelin, as you know, the competition between Protestantism and Catholicism in Haiti, never stopped adepts of the two to work in tandem to oppress Vodou practitioners. The reason being that, at a more fundamental level, the warfare that is engaged on the island is between Eurocentric superstition and Afrocentric superstition. So, although various constitutions identified the Catholic Church as State religion, this was never meant to be in opposition to Protestant Christianity but rather, it was an affirmation that the Eurocentric superstition and its power structure will continue to have dominion over the lives of the displaced Africans of Haiti. And, since it is the Catholic version of Christianity that held the fort, it declared its supremacy….but who were attacked during “la Campagne de rejetés”? It was not the “Protestants”, but the Vodou practitioners. Afterall, one should remember that the feud that led to the Reformation has to do with politics and power. The god of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Constantine, Las Casas, Calvin, Washington, Rochambeau, Wilberforece, Cecil Rhodes, Adolph Itler, P.W. Botha, George Bush…. wears a Catholic or Protestant robe from one day to the next as it blows to pieces the native peoples of Africa, Asia, Australia or America. Our ancestor Boukman standing up at the Bwa Kay Iman gathering was not admonishing against a bloodthirsty Catholic god….by experience, having been enslaved on a British colony (Jamaica) before arriving to Haiti, Boukman must have known that the god who enjoyed seeing the children of Africa bleed to death can switch easily from protestant rhetoric or catholic Rhetoric to justify its barbarity – just as it spoke with equal ease in French, Portuguese, Spanish or English. Tout kolonizatè se vòlò tè !

[quote]To address one of Jaf's statements, I do not see myself as a zombie or a zombified man because of my faith in Christ.[/quote]
Sorry for the offence Gélin, I did not mean to say, you are zonbified. My point is that the Christian faith arrives to our people as part of a package of psychological violence. We faced Christianity in a situation of warfare where our enemies had made a decision to commit genocide on our whole race. And one of the powerful tools they used was the Christian religion. The many reference in Jean Fouchard's “Les Marrons de la liberté” and “Les marrons du syllabaire” leave no doubt that the Christian priests were active agents in the colonial enterprise. The slave plantations were more than mere concentration camps were physical and mental torture took place on a constant basis. The Chusrch service every Sunday, the only day of rest for the enslaved African, was actively used to secure white domination on the island. So, the evanjelizazonbification I speak about is not something that left any one of us untouched. Practiced over several centuries, its marks are inevitably present in our lives today.

[quote]The Vodou religion you seemingly want to defend at any cost, I am not sure you really know what's going on behind the scenes. Dig into it.[/quote]
I am not defending Vodou because, in truth, I find all superstition to be useless in this day and age. Whether it is Afrocentric like Vodou or Eurocentric like Christianity. What I am defending is the right for people who decide to practice an Afrocentric superstition not to be harassed by those who decide to adopt a Eurocentric one – especially in a nation peopled at 99% by Africans.

This discussion seems to be following me these days. Yesterday, I attended an interesting conference in Toronto (Marxism 2007) where one of the discussions was titled :”Can people of faith be Marxists” and this morning I woke up listening to an interview by famed scientist and atheist Richard Dawkins whose latest book is titled “The God Delusion”. If I find some online references to these two events, I will share them with the list in the coming days. They were quite interesting.

M ale kanmarad !

Gelin
Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2007 2:52 pm

Re: Aba Relijyon !

Post by Gelin » Mon May 14, 2007 8:31 pm

I do not have enough time now to discuss all of your points, Jaf; I may try to return at a later date...busy season for me. But let's consider this one:

[quote]...So, you would agree with me that representatives of the Catholic and Protestant churches have no business being reserved a seat on the Electoral Council...[/quote]
It's questionnable. All depends of the make up of our society. Do these religious groups represent a large (or very large) sector of the society? Yes, they do. As a result you may find it difficult to exclude them simply BECAUSE of their nature. Democracy is not easy game, and it should never start with exclusion unless that's based strictly on the law of the land. I will keep returning to the law, because as Père Adrien once said: "si nou pa respekte konstitisyon an nou bannann". The last episode has just confirmed that.

When talking about our agonizing nation, it does not matter much to me if a guy worships a cockroach and bows down to him every thursday night at 11:37 PM. My question is this - again when looking at the nation's welfare: is that cockroach worshiper a good citizen? does he know and respect the law of his land, and does he encourage fellow cockroach worshipers to love their country? That's all.

na gen tan pale,
gelin

jafrikayiti
Posts: 218
Joined: Fri Dec 29, 2006 7:16 pm

Ou ofri m lapèrèz pou lapè monpè ?

Post by jafrikayiti » Mon May 14, 2007 10:32 pm

Speaking of the temperature in "hell"...

See Richard Dawkin's The Virus of Faith, Hell House: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_UI-EBGnqk

Apparently, Ratzinger also had some new revelations to make about the place they call "hell". His statements apparently reverse the admission made by his predecessor Carol Wotila.

Meanwhile, a very real warming is happening here on earth -the only home we all have access to, so far.

M ale anvan gwo mouche yo monte tanperati a... pa menm gen yon grenn sen Toussaint ki pou defann kòz mwen nan mitan tout towo gwonde sa yo.

Nekita kote ou ye makòmè? Sa ou wè?

Jaf

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