Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Response to Easter Attack in Jamaica


Response to Easter Attack
From The Reverend Canon Durrell Watkins, M.A., M.Div.
on behalf of the Canon Circle of the Sunshine Cathedral

According to frequent reports, Jamaica remains a very dangerous place for same-gender loving people, and even for people who are merely suspected of being gay or lesbian. Just over a week ago, young men presumed to be gay were attacked by a mob at the MoBay Nite-Out Carnival. And more recently, on Easter Sunday, a funeral was reportedly disrupted by a threatening mob objecting to the presence of mourners who were thought to be gay.

According to a J-FLAG (Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals, & Gays) press release, a number of individuals left the church where a funeral was being conducted on April 8th and returned with a crowd from a nearby community. The crowd, reportedly armed with machetes and knives, surrounded the church and threw objects through the windows of the church while the funeral service was in process.

Words fail to communicate the despair and righteous indignation such reports cause justice-seekers, human rights activists, and peace loving people of goodwill. Homophobia cannot be allowed to disrupt sacred ceremonies that are meant to honor the departed and bring comfort to the bereaved, nor should violence be considered an acceptable way to demonstrate disapproval of any minority group.

We at the Sunshine Cathedral call for an end to institutionalized homophobia. Pulpits and political platforms should no longer be used to dehumanize same-gender loving people. Disguising anti-gay prejudice as a religious value gives the more zealous in any community perceived permission to strike out against gay and lesbian members of society. Surely these incidents show that homophobia is the true danger to a society. The Sunshine Cathedral, a progressive and inclusive Christian church, affirms the sacred value of all people and we continue to offer a message of hope and liberation to all who have been oppressed by homophobia and other forms of prejudice that fan the flames of intolerance and violence.

The Sunshine Cathedral continues to call upon religious and political leaders as well as individuals throughout society to denounce violence against any class of people. Violence limits freedom, not diversity. Violence limits the safety of society, not the differences within it.

We at the Sunshine Cathedral hope the police will thoroughly investigate the most recent attacks and work diligently to protect all inhabitants of Jamaica. We continue to call upon the Jamaican government to take anti-gay violence seriously and to propose viable, fair solutions. And, we continue to pray for our lesbian, bisexual, and gay brothers and sisters who often fear for their very lives simply for being who they are.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." This is not simply an internal matter for Jamaica, nor is this simply a matter for same-gender loving people. The present situation in Jamaica shows that justice everywhere must be valued, promoted and protected. And so, we at Sunshine Cathedral continue to speak out for justice and equality for same-gender loving Jamaicans and for all people in all places.

The Reverend Canon Durrell Watkins
The Right Reverend Grant Lynn Ford

Sunshine Cathedral
Affiliated with The Center for Progressive Christianity
Office Phone: 954.462.2004
Fax: 954.462.7070

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