Church Leader calls for a Moral Agenda to Guide Jamaica

Church Leader calls for a Moral Agenda to Guide Jamaica

Past president of the Jamaica Theological Seminary, Dr Garnett Roper, believes the credibility of those who lobby for morality is waning due to the cherry picking and focus on certain issues like abortion and the rights of homosexuals, even as social exclusion continues to fuel high levels of crime and violence in the society.

Roper, who was delivering the convention lecture during the Jamaica Baptist Union’s 171st General Assembly at the Bethel Baptist Church in Kingston on Wednesday, believes these issues are more ideological than moral, and often deflect from the struggles for the more fundamental rights of other groups. 

“Those who proclaim in the name of these issues are concerned about the threat of marginalization of the power of the church,” he said.

“Those with eyes for these issues have no eyes for the more vexed moral consideration of certain existential issues in our midst such as social exclusion and the debilitating social condition that are part of the antecedent causation of high crime and violence,” said the theologian, who served as a pastor in the tough inner-city community of Parade Gardens between 1977 and 1997.

Jamaica’s rising homicide rate has been a source of concern for many and has resulted in the country now having the highest crime rate in Latin America and the Caribbean.  The United Nations considers any homicide rate of 10 per 100,000 citizens or above to be an “epidemic”. Jamaica’s homicide rate is at 46.5 per 100,000 people.

Roper argues that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fact that a segment of the society has not been included in the development agenda and as proof, has pointed to inequalities in access to basic commodities like internet connection and the platform or equipment to participate in virtual learning.

“We are often befuddled by our violence producers and by our hot spots of crime and violence, and then we ask ourselves why are they like this?  But it seems to me that if we look below the surface at the public goods which they have been denied and the personal goods that they have been unable to afford it might give us some clues,” he said.

“But more profoundly, the society has done too little to affirm their equality with the rest of us and their dignity and humanity.  We have not invested in them and they have not invested in themselves or the rest of us. Their lives are under-valued and so they place no value on human life,” said Roper, during the delivery of his lecture which was focused on giving a Christian perspective on moral vision and moral practice in the public square.

The JBU kick started its General Assembly on Wednesday under the theme:  Keeping Faith with the Word in an Ever-Changing World- Reaffirming Identity. The event, which is being streamed live at www.jbu.church, will wrap up with a closing service this Sunday.

-30-

Church Leader calls for a Moral Agenda to Guide Jamaica

Past president of the Jamaica Theological Seminary, Dr Garnett Roper, believes the credibility of those who lobby for morality is waning due to the cherry picking and focus on certain issues like abortion and the rights of homosexuals, even as social exclusion continues to fuel high levels of crime and violence in the society.

Roper, who was delivering the convention lecture during the Jamaica Baptist Union’s 171st General Assembly at the Bethel Baptist Church in Kingston on Wednesday, believes these issues are more ideological than moral, and often deflect from the struggles for the more fundamental rights of other groups. 

“Those who proclaim in the name of these issues are concerned about the threat of marginalization of the power of the church,” he said.

“Those with eyes for these issues have no eyes for the more vexed moral consideration of certain existential issues in our midst such as social exclusion and the debilitating social condition that are part of the antecedent causation of high crime and violence,” said the theologian, who served as a pastor in the tough inner-city community of Parade Gardens between 1977 and 1997.

Jamaica’s rising homicide rate has been a source of concern for many and has resulted in the country now having the highest crime rate in Latin America and the Caribbean.  The United Nations considers any homicide rate of 10 per 100,000 citizens or above to be an “epidemic”. Jamaica’s homicide rate is at 46.5 per 100,000 people.

Roper argues that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fact that a segment of the society has not been included in the development agenda and as proof, has pointed to inequalities in access to basic commodities like internet connection and the platform or equipment to participate in virtual learning.

“We are often befuddled by our violence producers and by our hot spots of crime and violence, and then we ask ourselves why are they like this?  But it seems to me that if we look below the surface at the public goods which they have been denied and the personal goods that they have been unable to afford it might give us some clues,” he said.

“But more profoundly, the society has done too little to affirm their equality with the rest of us and their dignity and humanity.  We have not invested in them and they have not invested in themselves or the rest of us. Their lives are under-valued and so they place no value on human life,” said Roper, during the delivery of his lecture which was focused on giving a Christian perspective on moral vision and moral practice in the public square.

The JBU kick started its General Assembly on Wednesday under the theme:  Keeping Faith with the Word in an Ever-Changing World- Reaffirming Identity. The event, which is being streamed live at www.jbu.church, will wrap up with a closing service this Sunday.

-30-