For decades, Jamaica has been credited for having the most churches per square mile in the world. It is fair to say based on the number of rum bars close to almost every one of them, it might also boast the most bars per square mile too. It makes one wonder if the intoxicating nature of a rum bar and the presence of spirits and wine tends to be a mocker in so many churches. This is not in any way an indication that Jamaica also leads the world in perverse stories coming out of churches, but it should also be a given that spirituality, guidance, and protection is a guarantee to young impressionable minds.
One story of sexual abuse and assault coming out of the church is one too many and far too many have been told over the years. The cover-up and denials have been commonplace, the possibility of legal resolutions, the endless time in court and the willingness of victims to come forward has given guilty church leaders a sanctuary of sorts. What we see happening is that the leadership defends their accused members, some belief in using prayers and fasting or temporary removal of pastors as a form of resolution and absolving the “error” made by the shepherd of the faulty followers and flock. This is usually matched with a deliberate attempt to sully the character of the accuser and in some instances, blame the victim for having been “used by the devil to tempt a man of God”.
Of course, the hushed words and defiant silence that follows a court case with a guilty verdict are telling and certainly not through the gift of tongues. Many women have been removed from the choir, sent to sit in the back, ushered out of the church and even banned from returning for service. This, while the pastors quote bible verses and pour scorn on those of little Christian faith who are ‘doubting Thomases’. The most disturbing thing about all of this is the continued growth of churches, the increasing numbers of cases and the resilience of the church is simply moving along as if this is not a crisis of serious proportion.
No matter what the denomination, congregations are made up of those who claim to want fulfillment and enlightenment from the word of the Lord delivered through the teachings of the pastors. The rules and guidelines outlined by some churches are far more stringent than others with some dictating lifestyle, sexuality, sexual behavior, dress code, eating habits and a long list of prohibited activities. The last place one should feel devoid of reassurance and instead filled with spiritual emptiness is in church. The position of a pastor is seen as one of power and higher moral responsibility, integrity, and authority. However, it should be noted that many of the victims of rape, sexual abuse, and predatory actions are underaged girls and boys. Many girls have become mothers as a result of this sick and twisted perversion on the part of pastors and church leaders.
It has been condoned, excused, aided and abetted by the core group of followers who happen to be women who see the pastor as the Lord’s anointed and men who subscribe to the typical male dominance belief system. Interestingly, it has been discovered that many of these cases are generational with the mother has been a victim and one or two of her young daughters now being subjected to the same abuse. The element of financial dependency, socioeconomic shortcomings and even…believe it or not…a brainwashed believe in tales and deception sold as Christian principles has made victims easy targets for many of these demented and dangerous men parading in the cloth. Their moral fabric must be made of rags and tattered scraps to spew from the pulpit while living as a pervert.
Recently a pastor was found guilty of having sexual relations with a minor who he got pregnant, challenging the results of at least two DNA tests. He claimed he never had sex with her and clear the tests must be questioned…until it was proven on both counts he was categorically and factually the father. Imagine what would have happened if these tests were not done, imagine how many other victims have remained silent and ashamed to stand up and declare their case. The same pastors and church leaders have found a loud voice to speak on societal lack of morals and conscience, dancehall and carnival, homosexuality and some are even closet economists, speaking to financial matters and the national budget with a political slant. The silence and seeming code that governs so many of these churches is why they wait until years after to make mention of “the unfortunate departure from the Lord this pastor took”.
There seems to be no serious intention on the part of the church, and its varied leadership, to ensure the message is clear and consistent in advising the public, potential congregants and church leaders collectively that sexual abuse and any related activities will not be tolerated or covered up. If we keep sitting down and making sermons lull us into being blinded by this scourge and stain in the church…
and if the church continues to wrap itself in the betrayal of its members and cannot admit and change this love of warped scripture for carnal weakness and underaged children, we will see the entire country become hell on earth. Let’s face it.