Sun | Feb 5, 2023

No place for theology

Published:Saturday | April 21, 2012 | 12:00 AM


I have keenly followed the debate about Christianity and human rights by Hilaire Sobers, Daniel Thwaites and Ian Boyne. As a Jamaican atheist, it is encouraging to see critical conversations about the place of religion in our society in public discourse.

I believe humans can be ethical and moral without gods. Morality is relative, varying throughout time and across cultures. It is not the fixed entity conservative Christians like to claim it is. Religious dogma constrains our understanding of morality and often justifies outdated thinking. For this reason, we must not be afraid to question the views advanced by religious leaders and adherents.

The stranglehold of the clergy is most apparent with regard to conversations about homosexuality in Jamaica. Faith-based leaders simultaneously advance a message of universal love and tolerance while preaching that homosexuals should be pitied but never accepted.

moral disapproval

These inspired men and women of 'God' distance themselves from violence against gay people, while affirming their right to condemn homosexual practice. Evidently, they are unaware that moral disapproval of homosexuality undergirds the hatred that leads to violence.

The Bible does not endorse progressive gender and sexual politics. It is a compelling work of literature with some elements of fantasy that describe the societies in which the writers lived. By blindly appropriating historical teachings for use as moral directives to demonise homosexuals, we are proving why Christian theology has no place in public discourse on sexuality and human rights.

Hilaire Sobers should be lauded for his courage. It is far too easy to yield to majoritarian views on religion. Jamaican agnostics and atheists should now realise that they are not alone.