A New Crusade
More than 100 individual churches in St Vincent and the Grenadines, grouped together under an umbrella, called the Christian Coalition, have declared a virtual war against a legal challenge to our buggery laws, currently before the High Court. The Coalition has indicated its willingness to fight the challenge not only by seeking to be enjoined as an interested party in the High Court proceedings, but also by mounting a mobilisation campaign to win public support for its position.
Rarely has there been such unity in action among our churches, but the seriousness of the Christian Coalition can best be gauged from the fact that it has gone into the public domain to rally support for its cause. On Thursday of this week, November 14, one day after the Court will hear a pre-trial review, the Coalition is staging a big March and Rally in Kingstown. The level of mobilisation and the strident tone of it suggest that these churches are very serious about what they regard as their “Christian duty”.
There is fertile ground in the society for the Christian counter-challenge which resonates for a variety of reasons. First, we pride ourselves on being a “Christian society” committed to defend traditional Christian values. Then there is a centuries-old homophobia which tends to breed intolerance for persons with different views on the issue of same-sex relations.
But the legal intervention by the Christian Coalition makes it explicit that it is not based on opposition to homosexuality, but rather on moral and legal grounds. Indeed some of the more traditional churches with global reach, have themselves been accused of covering up, if not condoning such “immoral” practices over the years and millions of dollars have had to be shelled out by these churches in compensation to the victims of such sexual abuse.
The issue is a very emotional one in our society which calls for a great deal of rationality and the exercise of tolerance while trying to reconcile the strident views of the moralists with the insistence on the part of others that their human rights must be respected and accommodated. It is a situation which can easily be exploited by demagogues to the detriment of our society as a whole.
It is commendable, whatever one’s views on the rationale behind it, that a Christian Coalition has emerged. The direction it would take is quite another matter for such groupings have been known to sometimes take ultra-conservative and even backward positions on social issues. We are more and more entering unchartered waters on such social issues and find it difficult to reconcile opposing views. The legal challenges aside, there is need for responsible dialogue on such sensitive issues while of course respecting our traditions and religious beliefs.
In addition we cannot ignore the fact that not only is the world changing, so too are views on social norms and practices. There are bound to be more social disagreements on a range of issues and it is important that we handle them with maturity.