Practise what is preached
The Editor, Sir:
I refer to the article published in The Gleaner on January 4 titled 'Church failing Jamaica'.
A church is supposed to spread the good news about Jesus Christ. But a church is also a community organisation that bears a responsibility for the community in which it sits. The Church must play a greater and more prominent role in the inner-city areas that will lead to help to eradicate crime and violence.
I don't think the Church is doing enough to confront the issue of crime in Jamaica. Gangs and churches both offer a 'nurturing community' of 'loyalty and mutual aid', but often it is only criminals and not the clergy who live in violent communities. Religious groups must do more to build relationships with young people, and listen to their views in order to build their self-esteem and stop them falling into gangs.
If we are honest, too often our own beloved churches are investing considerable energies and resources in building million-dollar places of worship, family life centres and opulent sanctuaries instead assessing the needs of its constituents. Most churches are independent and financially solvent. But the individuals who constitute the church and community are often plagued by poverty and violence.
The entire Jamaica is facing warlike conditions and the country needs strong leadership to cope with the grave situation. However, nothing will be accomplished unless there is strong and decisive leadership at the national level, backed up by grass-roots support in the field. It is the time for visionary leadership!
The churches must declare war on criminals. Work with the community and police to go after - and do so aggressively - criminals, no matter where they hide. I'm perplexed as to why there is no war against violent crime and gang activity. I read about murders and other violent crimes, but I don't read about anybody at war. There are many churches in Jamaica, but I don't see local church officials, neighbourhood leaders, congregations and other citizens at war in these crime-prone areas.
Unity and commitment
We have to mobilise and bring together faith-based and community-based groups with the politicians, police and other leaders. The solution to the crime problem will take a large number of individuals a long time to achieve. And, before that can happen, there must be a long-haul commitment.
Churches need to raise their voice more explicitly in the fight against crime. We can't fight the war in the inner-city areas from behind closed doors; you need organisations in the streets which are in touch with the people.
Therefore, any church that refuses to get involved in battling the issue of crime is not truly representing the gospel; the leaders of that church are moral cowards, and the church is exhibiting one of the major evils that the gospel is supposed to root out - fear.
It is now time for unity and action - time to practise what we teach and preach.
I am, etc.,