Fri | Jun 25, 2021

Sobers' rhetoric one-sided

Published:Monday | March 19, 2012 | 12:00 AM


I have just seen Daniel Thwaites' article ('The Christian root of human rights', March 13), but having read in The Sunday Gleaner of March 18 the tirade of Hilaire Sobers against Christianity ('Religion's overreach a threat to rights for all', albeit clothed in the finest intellectual appeal, I would like to present some questions to him:

Do you see a problem in the march of Western societies towards proscription of the freedom of Christians to have prayers in their own schools, have their own rules in their own adoption agencies, preach what is in their own Bible?

Do you see a problem in people not being allowed to have a different view on sexuality on the basis of their convictions, and being called bigots?

Why are people who do not discriminate at all, but have decided not to endorse alternative sexuality, set upon as discriminatory on account of their non-acceptance, and declared to be outdated and religious whatevers?

Why is the clear and experiential influence of Christianity on the moral underpinnings and legacy of our own nation glibly ignored in your article, in favour of some generalised far reach to a nascent beginning in a secular transition, when the former is clear?

This same Christianity whose positive influence you so skilfully disavow is notably not so disavowed by leaders in countries far more liberal than ours.

Perhaps, Mr Sobers, you should not be so quick to award the Enlightenment movement for human rights conception. (There is very little confusion that is new in a world where 'the created' from the beginning have been attempting to extricate themselves from dependence on the Creator).

The so-called Cyrus Cylinder is said to represent decrees on rights by the Persian king, some of these decrees being recorded in the Old Testament. The Code of Hammurabi (ca. 1780 BC) shows rules, and punishments if those rules are broken, on a variety of matters, including women's, men's, children's and slave rights. Many ancient societies attribute rights to divine understanding.

Moral-legal issues

Mr Sobers, you are concerned about some moral-legal issues which you clearly understand better than I and many others. However, on some of the issues you raised, I deeply suspect that the secular Jamaican Parliament listened to the audible expectations and values-based bias of the citizenry far more than it listened to the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship.

In any event, if a small group of 'ragtag', unknown lawyers with little resources did in fact persuade the secular Parliament with religious argument, against the researched, enlightened views and influence of more organised, more powerful and materially endowed groups, perhaps more than any kind of political expediency of the Parliament, the God of this Christianity does quietly save after all.