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Christians awake!

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So strong are our religious beliefs in this part of the world that the army of televangelists and radio-evangelists most of them American have a ready made, captive audience. The opportunity for them to reach people right in their homes is enhanced by the proliferation of TV sets and the fact that many of their viewers and listeners are aged, with restricted mobility, given them even greater access to preach whatever they will.

All too often this privileged is abused, particularly by those who adhere to what they call the “Christian Right” in North America. These people do not hesitate to preach what they consider to be “Christian values” (I have some difficulty in determining the “value” of much of what they spew), practically forcing their ideas down the throats and into the minds of the audience, at the pain of “fire and brimstone” should one ignore them. {{more}}They do clever and, not so clever manipulation of Biblical sayings and Christian principles to reach the message of reaction, whether it is on HIV/AIDS, the rights of women, abortion or social transformation.

A certain Rev. Pat Robertson of the 700 Club fame (or should I say infamy?) is considered the doyen of that group. The 75-year-old preacher has a television audience estimated to be in the range of 7 million, therefore his words cannot be taken lightly. He has had failed bids to win the Presidential candidacy of the Republican Party in the USA, the party to which unfortunately some Caribbean political parties, including our own NDP became mistakenly affiliated. So Pat Robertson is an influential figure, accustomed to speaking out on a number of social and economic issues. His views make chilling reading.

For example, he is on record as saying that feminism encourages women to “Kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” He has branded liberal judges in the US who do not agree with his reactionary conservatism as “a worse long-term threat (to America’s security) than al-Auaida.” In the same vein he has contempt for sober minds in the US State Department who do not go along with his and President Bush’s war-mongering and in October 2003 even suggested that the US State Department be blown up with a nuclear device! What a Christian!

Robertson has now turned his anger on Venezuela and President Hugo Chavez in particular. On Monday this week, he could not hold back his ire at President Chavez not only visiting Cuba again but signing agreements to give that country cheaper fuel than if it had to purchase from the rapacious US oil giants that he went completely overbroad, clothes and all. This venerable 75 year old Christian preacher called for Chavez assassination and had the gall to place it in financial terms, “cheaper than a $200 million war”. He justified this by describing Chavez the duly elected leader of a sovereign country as a “terrific danger” to US interests, by wildly asserting that Venezuela is “a launching pad for communist infiltration and Islamic extremism”. But all this red-baiting propaganda had a clear motivation. Not any ungodly or undemocratic one. No, for Pat Robertson, as it is for the Bush administration, Chavez is, in his own words: “a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil that could hurt us badly.”

Does this not sound familiar? Simply replace Chavez by Saddam Hussein and substitute Iraq for Venezuela, and you have the war formula. The Saudi princes, one of the most undemocratic regimes in the world, pose no danger, it is Chavez, because he befriends Castro and makes oil cheaper for Jamaica and 11 other Caribbean countries, including our own.

The mask falls right off the face of Robertson and his ilk. Feminism is dangerous because he perceives it as a threat to the exploitative system of capitalism. Chavez is an enemy because he dares to assert Venezuela’s right to control its natural, (including petroleum), resources. Castro is evil because he has dared to defy the might of the Empire and to proclaim Cuba’s right to self-determination. The Caribbean is not friendly because we will not sign an exception to the International Criminal Court which in effect would place US citizens above and apart from all other people in the world. Ralph is to be considered a foe because he signs agreements with Castro and Chavez which benefit the Vincentian people.

Such backward, self-seeking diatribe must be condemned. Pat Robertson is no more interested in saving our souls than he is in upholding the principles of Jesus Christ. Worse, his call for assassination of Chavez reveals him to be nothing but a dangerous terrorist, as evil in thought as those who blew up the Cubana plane off Barbados in 1976 and who are now being sheltered by the Bush administration.

The assassination call has already provoked widespread condemnation world wide. We too must add our voices. Only recently Chavez himself accused the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of plotting to kill him. One of the 1976 Cubana murderers was himself exposed by Cuba of planning to assassinate President Castro on a visit to Panama. Castro himself has survived so many attempts on his life that they are too much to mention.

But it is not just the assassination call that we must reject. The ideology behind it, an ideology of the supremacy of some over others, of the superiority of one religion to all others, of the right of might and power to subjugate other peoples in the crux of the matter. Our own goodly Christian pastors, followers, worshippers and people as a whole must wake up to the real danger of such extremism. We must learn to cipher out what is in our best interests and to serve the Lord through peace and love, not the language of hate and war. If we truly believe in “Love thy brother (and sister)”, why do we want to follow those who would isolate and crush our brothers and sisters in Venezuela and Cuba? CHRISTIAN AWAKE.

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