Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
Barriers that exist among different religious groups have been criticised by Dr Martin J. Schade, senior lecturer in the Department of Liberal Studies at University of Technology, who said it is a strong problem in society today.
"Even within Christianity there is division - Christians don't like other Christians - and I have a personal mission in my life to break down this division," he told The Gleaner in an interview.
Schade, who tried to address the issue through his annual Interfaith Day celebration at the University of Technology, said much more needed to be done to bring about unity.
Alluding to teaching of religious education at the primary level, Dr Schade said it is a good move to introduce the different religions from that early stage.
His views were echoed by president of the United Theological College, the Reverend Dr Marjorie Lewis, who urged members of religious communities to unite and break down the barriers.
"I want to say to those who fear that they will lose their faith if they interact with others that, in fact, the opposite is the truth. We learn from each other and we strengthen in our own faith," she said.
Lewis said the different religious groups should build on the things that they have in common, rather than highlight their differences.
"The life that we live is the best testimony to our religious belief. Many persons have grasp concepts of the different religions. Their judgement on our religions will be based on how the members of the religions interact with them," she added.
But head of Jamaica Association of Full Gospel Churches, Rohan Edwards, said the long-standing barrier between the religions is seeing some amount of improvement.
Break down barriers
However, Edwards, who heads the association representing 50 churches, conceded that much more needs to be done to correct the situation.
"There are barriers in the Christian fraternity and they need to be dealt with. These barriers bar positive movements and, of course, it shouldn't continue," he said.
"But we have fraternities of pastors now that are now merging and we, as pastors, are trying to see how much we can see eye to eye for the good of the nation," he argued
He encouraged the different groups to unite.
"We must try to work together because we realise what is taking place. The nation is being destroyed because of division among politicians. The gangs are divided among themselves, and if the church is divided, then it is not sending a positive sign because we are to lead by example," he continued.
Gary Harriott, general secretary of the Jamaica Council of Churches, said the associations that have been formed within the groups are clear indications that there are some changes.
"More and more churches have been working together, recognising that people have different doctrinal positions on some things, but outside of those, we have come a far way in terms of how the churches have been able to speak with one voice on a number of issues and work together," he said.