The Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC) has called for the leadership of the country's two main political parties and civil society to do more to quell the "cass cass' that now surrounds the Jamaica 50 celebrations.
Adding that, from a biblical standpoint, such an observance expands beyond mere joviality, the umbrella group of churches said everyone must seek the higher ground "which is in keeping with the lofty ideals enshrined in our nation's motto, our national anthem, and our pledge".
"We all agree that the celebration of this year's Independence is very special; it's a Jubilee Year observance," declared Archbishop of Kingston Donald Reece, president of the JCC. "From the perspective of our biblical tradition we consider such an observance expanding beyond mere joviality and merrymaking. It's a year of redemption, liberation, the righting of relationships, restitution, and debt-forgiveness."
Added Reece: "Given these biblical characteristics of a Jubilee Year, the Jamaica Council of Churches is encouraging the membership of our churches, the political directorate of each major (political) party as well as the rank and file of the electorate and civil society to get a firm grip on the spiritual understanding of Jamaica 50."
Year of change
He said: "Right now in our society there is a tremendous amount of 'cass cass' and the usual tribal politics that we, as Christian followers of political parties, have accepted as the norm. This Jubilee Year is a call to make our Christianity real; to forgive, to liberate and be liberated, to regularise relationships in families that are far from harmonious or life-giving, and to close the gap of 'them and us' wherever we find it."
Reece's comments appear to in part be a reference to recent conflicts between Culture Minister Lisa Hanna and her predecessor Olivia Grange. The two women have for several months tussled over the handling of the preparations for the Independence celebrations by their respective administrations.
Yesterday, Reece said the Jamaica 50 celebrations can be seen as an appropriate occasion to challenge both congregants in local churches and political leaders to take the higher ground.
"Proper to our situation is the unity we ought to seek as one people under God - a people forged by bitter, inhumane slavery, demeaning indentureship and the accompanying struggles resulting in freedom and liberation," Reece said.
"Conversely, the lower ground will forever plague us: divisiveness, negativity, the inability to work together for the common good for all Jamaicans, greed, and political one-upmanship."