The priest and the pastor own iconic roles in Caribbean society. Our populations feature the classic scenario where the masses take regular solace in church. And I wont make the mistake of pretending religion and church are so different as to not be related. They are very much intertwined. The church is part of a social and economic phenomenon in which religion is practiced.
Unlike Central America, the whole idea of liberation theology does not exist in the Caribbean. In fact, the pastor and priest are facilitators in the main for the status quo. This is unfortunate because in the main it is the most ordinary and the less fortunate who rely most on their words and inspiration and ‘pay’ their way. Ironic even.
So when a society features growing distress and yet the priests and pastors generalize and roll their words under their tongues, what is to be concluded ? Unfortunately, same as Africa, Caribbean people have not yet learnt that continuous praying doesn’t cause an economy to get better or for bad things to go away. In fact the converse applies (I recommend whywont godhealamputees.com as a test of your faith).
Of course after a 20 year timeline when a series of organic events causes a regime to collapse, advocates of religion and faith are quick to use the ‘ God don’t sleep’ reasoning. You cant beat the zealots with that logic. As one friend put to me…God may not sleep, but he doesn’t vote or agitate either.
It is one of the more cynical cons of life that most poor people across the region have to wait to the afterlife for justice, whilst their tormentors live large in real life. That is a nice reason to encourage people to wait till death to see justice exacted against the rich, powerful and corrupt. You will win in the end, but only after the credits completely roll, the screen goes dark and there is no audience. Yes…got that.
Myself, I rarely go to church. Its partly because church is boring. Also, I figure if all I want is for things to get better for me and my family and anyone else I like, I could stay home. At some point all this cross praying must be creating one big stalemate. And I haven’t even factored in other faiths.
However as a networking forum in a small society dominated by religion and faith, it cannot be beat. Just like the Masonic lodge (another irony), they do flock together. It is part of a rites of status quo passage which is very powerful in our societies. Yet at no time, not in Antigua, not in Jamaica, not in Guyana has the religious hierarchy done anything but stay in line with the leading horse.
Napoleon Bonaparte once said that religion is what prevents the poor from murdering the rich. I am inclined to agree.